I have a soft spot for summer street festivals. And Marketfest in White Bear Lake, Minnesota is an especially good one.
It’s totally free and boasts a huge number of participating businesses and vendors (the website says over 130!), lots of street food, games and activities for kids, live music and a chance to get outdoors and enjoy a summer night in downtown White Bear Lake.
It happens every Thursday from mid-June through the end of July (which is impressive in and of itself) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., rain or shine. This year the party kicked off on June 16 (the week that I visited as part of my AmericInn summer road trip) and ends July 28.
The festivities are held between 3rd and 4th Streets. The streets in the charming downtown district are blocked off for pedestrian use only and a steady stream of people moves in and out of the neighborhood as the evening progresses.
You’ll find little kids splashing in the fountains in Railroad Park, families out walking together and groups of friends relaxing on benches (there are many, which is a wonderful, people-friendly touch) as they chat and snack on food from over 30 different vendors.
I’m a sucker for street food, so I had to do a little reconnaissance before I made my selections. I finally decided on a mini deep dish pizza from hometown fave Pizzeria Pezzo and something called frosting-on-a-stick (kind of a chocolate mouse ice cream sandwich on a stick) from Northern Frost. I totally choose correctly.
Downtown White Bear Lake is compact and walkable, with a friendly, small town vibe. In addition to the vendors set up on the street, the shops in the neighborhood are open during Marketfest, so you can explore a lot of local stores while you snack and stroll.
If you come to Marketfest, pack sunscreen and a water bottle since Minnesota summers can get warm. If you’re planning on listening to the music on either stage, bring your own chair or blanket since seating is limited.
The people watching by the stage was excellent. There are folks of all ages at Marketfest, from little ones dancing in the streets and on the sidewalks to sprightly great-grandmas tapping their toes to the beat.
Wearing good walking shoes is always a smart idea, because even if you don’t plan on walking much, you’ll probably find something compelling just down the next street. (And if you end up chasing your toddler up a giant inflatable climbing wall, you won’t have to navigate it in platforms. Bet you can’t guess how I learned this particular lesson…)
How about you? What do you like about Marketfest? Where do you shop and eat in White Bear Lake? What’s your favorite thing do to at outdoor festivals? Which festivals are your favorites?
I was an AmericInn guest during my stay in White Bear Lake. They’re giving away a free hotel room stay here and you should totally check them out! That said, all opinions expressed here are my own. I only partner with businesses I like and that I think you’ll like too.
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