Summer, like so many good things in life, is fleeting. With restrictions and cancellations, it’s easy to feel like this summer in particular is going to waste. I am reminded of a quote from Kate Krebs, who said, “Waste is a design flaw.” How can we redesign our lives so that we know they are not being wasted? How can we redesign our summer? One day at a time.

Friday

A summer without fair food feels like a summer wasted. That’s why we are so lucky to have Fair Food Weekend at the Brown County Fairgrounds! From 4:00-8:00pm vendors will be serving up all the classics: mini- doughnuts, cheese curds, lemonade, walking tacos, the list goes on. Don’t worry if you can’t make it Friday: they’ll be deep frying and BBQing all weekend long. My mouth is already watering.

Then you can head over to St. Peter for Jazz in the Pavilion, featuring live music from Larry McDonough. B.Y.O. seating and coolers (no glass bottles). Patrick’s on Third and other local vendors will be available for food and drink. As a former Gustie, I can say, nothing beats Patrick’s Spinach & Artichoke dip. This event is free, kid friendly, and all outdoors.

Saturday

Don’t waste the day! Rise, shine, and join all the lovely people at the Mankato’s Farmer’s Market, 8:00-12:00. I recently tried the Grassy Wood Goat body bar from Lakota Made, and it is so lovely. If it weren’t for social distancing, I’d be making everyone sniff how delicious I smell. Plus, Lakota Made’s ingredients are all sustainably harvested and organic.

For any Minnesotan who has not yet had the chance to try kayaking, Ney Nature Center staff will be teaching classes on Lake Washington. For just $10 you’ll get all the equipment and guidance you need. Register in advance with St. Peter Parks & Recreation. Some of my fondest memories on Minnesota lakes were made kayaking. It’s a great opportunity to spot wildlife, clean up litter, find treasures, and always a great workout.

Then, Pond Road Market will be having an outdoor flea market from 10:00-5:00. They specialize in up-cycled, antique, and refurbished pieces, which means they’re great for the environment, and beautiful in your home.

Sunday

Get more music for your mileage: on the way to Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm in Waseca, stop by Indian Island Winery in Janesville. They’ll be serving food, beer, and of course wine, all while local musician, Tanner Peterson, plays from 1:00-3:00. Peterson performs a blend of folk/soul and acoustic rock inspired by artists like Ed Sheeran and John Mayer. His single, Streets of Venice, is available on Spotify.

Then make your way to Waseca’s hidden treasure, Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm . They’ll be open 1:00-7:00 serving cheesy deliciousness, with live music from Watermelon Slush. Make sure to say hello to Dorothy the donkey and explore the nearby trails. B.Y.O. seating and beverages to this outdoor escape.

Bonus: Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July is an organization and a movement focused on making our lives more sustainable. I began participating in Plastic Free July a few years ago by committing to small changes that reduce my use of plastic: reusable straws, cutlery. This movement quickly spread throughout my household, and I have learned about many products and practices, from toilet paper, dish soaps, and laundry, to bringing my own thermos or shopping bags, that become easy, waste-reducing replacements and habits.

I know it’s already mid-July, but it’s never too late to make small, incremental changes. As the Zero Waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau, put it, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” You can read more at Plastic Free July.

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Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.

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