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Festivals in the Heartland

Courtesy Park Rapids COC

Legends and Logging Days
Park Rapids, Minnesota
For more than 35 years, the people of Park Rapids, Minnesota, have been celebrating the second weekend in August by releasing their inner lumberjacks — and “lumberjills” — with their annual Legends and Logging Days festival. The festival began in honor of the rich heritage of logging in the Park Rapids region of the country and has become one of the mainstays on the town’s annual calendar.

From chainsaw sculpting and kickboxing demonstrations to live music and a chili and hot-wings cook-off, there is something for everyone in the group to see, taste, discover and enjoy at the festival. Along with a farmers market and tons of food vendors — try the buffalo burgers — the main event at the festival is a wood-chopping and -sawing contest that puts world champion and world-record-breaking lumberjacks to the test.

“We have added many demonstrations of historic crafts and activities, such as black powder encampments, Black Swan Cooperage making oak whiskey barrels on-site, dutch-oven cooking, historic book binding and much more,” said Katie Magozzi, executive director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Office.

Great River Folk Festival
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Recently celebrating its 37th year, the Great River Folk Festival is a delight to the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and beyond.

“The Great River Folk Festival is a wonderful day, evening and weekend full of music and fun,” said Karen Houlihan, administrator for the city of La Crosse. “Even the food vendors are carefully chosen and offer really good ethnic food,” she said.

The 2012 festival ran from Aug. 24-26 and featured an expansive lineup of talented musicians and bands. A mecca for the musically inclined, as well as those not so inclined who just enjoy good tunes in a great atmosphere, the yearly festival includes a songwriters contest, craft sales and demonstrations, music workshops, ethnic dancing and children’s music.

Kristy Alpert

Kristy Alpert has traversed more than 50 countries in her quest to uncover stories for her outlets in Food & Wine, Men's Health, Group Travel Leader, American Way, and more. When she's not on the road, you can find her teaching yoga and exploring around her new home in Germany with her husband and her Boston Terrier, Tobias.