Just about every city in Minnesota  sets aside a day or a weekend each year to come together, set out a few carnival rides, and eat deep-fried treats. Some of these events have a certain insiders-only feel; others attract visitors from a few towns over or even around the state.
Either way, these small-town festivals are a great way to experience Minnesota.
One of the biggest, thanks in part to its proximity to the Cities, is Northfield’s Defeat of Jesse James Days,  celebrating that town’s claim to fame the weekend after Labor Day.
Another Western icon is recognized in Lanesboro’s Buffalo Bill Days  the first weekend in August.
Several towns celebrate their ethnic heritage. You can get a little taste of Scandinavia at Moorhead’s Hjemkomst Festival,  one of the nation’s largest celebrations of Nordic heritage, held the fourth weekend of June. Scandia  and Nisswa both hold similar, but smaller fests.
Finnish-Americans celebrate the Finnish-American Summer Festival , held the first Saturday in June in Embarrass , and the Finn Creek Festival at Finn Creek Outdoor Museum , the last weekend of August in New York Mills.
New Ulm goes all out for its Bavarian Blast , the third weekend in July, and Pelican Rapids has a little something for everyone at the International Friendship Festival  in June, marking its status as one of the most diverse cities in the state.
While most festivals are held in June, July, and August, some communities like to celebrate the cold weather as well — and what better place to do that than in International Falls , which holds Icebox Days  every January, complete with a polar bear dip.
The Ely Winter Festival , which starts the first Thursday in February, attracts folks from all the way down in the Cities.
Little Aitkin starts the season with a Fish House Parade  on the day after Thanksgiving.
Other cities take an “any excuse for a good party approach”: Potato Days in Barnesville , Oxcart Days in Crookston , Buffalo Days in Luverne , Box Car Days in Tracy , Applefest in La Crescent , and, of course, Dylan Days in Hibbing .