The culture of Minnesota is a subculture of the United States with influences from Scandinavian Americans, Finnish Americans, Irish Americans, German Americans, Native Americans, Czechoslovak Americans, among numerous other immigrant groups. They work in the context of the cold agricultural and mining state.


people watching about seven street dancers with a large blue dragon puppet
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre May Day Parade, Minneapolis

Stereotypical Minnesotan traits include manners known as Minnesota nice with very strong family ties and a sense of community exclusive to those with shared beliefs[citation needed]. Potlucks, usually with a variety of hotdishes, are popular at community functions, especially church activities. Movies such as Fargo, Grumpy Old Men, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, the TV series Fargo (loosely inspired by the film), the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and the book How to Talk Minnesotan deliberately exaggerate and satirize Minnesota culture, speech, and mannerisms.


See also: Cuisine of Norway, Cuisine of Sweden, Cuisine of Germany, Cuisine of Poland, and Minnesotan Cuisine

chest high portrait of a woman customer eating in front of neon-lit Lynn's Potato Lefse stand
Lefse at the Minnesota State Fair

Some common wild Minnesota edibles include wild rice, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, chokecherry, morels, and hazelnuts. A variety of fish, such as walleye, panfish, and trout are available in Minnesota's lakes, rivers, and streams. Many of these foods were long staples of Native communities before the Industrial Revolution and white settlement in the region. The Ojibwe, for example, consider wild rice not only an important foodstuff but an "object of veneration, and an important ingredient of social and ceremonial life."[1]

18 layer kransekake
Various salads, including dessert salads, potato salads and pasta salads are popular in Minnesota

With an increased immigration from abroad, Minnesota's culture appropriated traditions from Scandinavian, German, and Slavic heritages. In areas settled by Scandinavian immigrants, such as the countryside around Northfield, Moorhead, and much of the state's northern part, traditional cuisine such as lefse, lutefisk, rosettes, gravlax, krumkake, kransekake, and lingonberries are popular.

Due in large part to the public radio program A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Minnesota native Garrison Keillor, Minnesotans are generally stereotyped as being of Scandinavian descent. In reality, German-Americans are by far the state's largest ethnic group. During early settlement, Minnesota's German-Americans were divided between secular Forty-Eighters and religiously active Germans, who included Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, Mennonites, and Amish. But like their compatriots throughout the United States, Minnesota's German-Americans overwhelmingly chose to assimilate in response to persecution during World War I and, later, horror and shame over Nazi war crimes. In historically German-speaking parts of the state such as the farming country surrounding St. Cloud and New Ulm, marzipan, lebkuchen, gingerbread, stollen, Shoofly pies, potato pancakes, Spätzle, bratwursts, and sauerkraut remain popular.

In the regions settled by Polish, Czech, Slovenian, Rusyn, and other Slavic immigrants, such as the farming country surrounding St. Stephen, Little Falls, Browerville, Holdingford, New Prague, and the Mesabi Iron Range, parties with smorgasbord-style tables filled with kolaches, potica, halušky and pierogis are still held.

Even in communities with too small a Greek-American population to host a parish or mission of the Greek Orthodox Church, restaurants serving gyros, baklava, and spanakopita are popular.

In parts of the state with historically large Italian-American communities such as the Twin Cities and the Mesabi Iron Range, Italian cuisine is popular.

Due to the historically large Cornish-American community in the Mesabi Iron Range, the pasty remains popular there and has been adapted to the cuisine of other local ethnic groups.

In parts of Minnesota with a historically large Ashkenazi Jewish population such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, St. Cloud, and the Mesabi Iron Range, traditional foods like latkes and hamantashen remain popular on the High Holy Days. After the passage of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park had a large influx of Soviet Jews, who brought their own culinary traditions to Minnesota. The 1979 overthrow of the Last Shah also brought a large influx of Iranian Jews to the Twin Cities.

Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many non-Jewish Iranian-Americans have also brought their culinary traditions to Minnesota.

The aftermath of the Vietnam War brought Vietnamese-American, Laotian-American, Hmong-American, and Cambodian-American refugees and their culinary traditions to Minnesota.

Minnesota is also known for what is called "hotdish", a type of casserole; "jello salads"; the "Jucy Lucy", a burger with melted cheese in the patty;[2] South Minneapolis vanilla ice cream; wild rice soup; Cornish pasties;[3] corn dogs; Minneapolis-style pizza;[4] dessert bars; Bundt cakes; Minneapolis-style hotdog; deep-fried cheese curds; and walleye fingers.

The relatively short growing season demanded agricultural innovation. The Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota has developed three new apple varieties, the Haralson, Honeycrisp, and the Sweetango. These fare well in the harsh Minnesota climate and are popular fruit.

At the Minnesota State Fair dozens of foods are offered "on a stick", such as Pronto Pups and deep-fried candy bars. Though not typical Minnesota cuisine, these are archetypal fair foods. Minnesota is also home to several breweries, including Hamm's, Summit Brewing Company, Surly Brewing Company, and August Schell Brewing Company, which also produces Grain Belt.


Minnesota is known for its church potlucks, where hotdish is often served. Hotdish is any of a variety of casseroles, which are popular throughout the United States, although the term "hotdish" is used mainly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Hotdishes are filling comfort foods that are convenient and easy to make. Tater tot hotdish is popular, as is wild rice hotdish; Minnesota is one of the leading producers of wild rice. Dessert bars are also common at Minnesota potlucks. Other dishes include glorified rice, German baked apples and cookie salad.

Sports and recreation

Main article: Sports in Minnesota

six lanes and a woman bowling solo at Bryant Lake
Bowling, Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis

Sports in Minnesota include professional teams in all major sports, Olympic Games contenders and medalists, especially in the Winter Olympics, collegiate teams in major and small-school conferences and associations, and active amateur teams and individual sports. The state has a team in all four major professional leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) and the University of Minnesota is one of the founding members of the Big Ten.

In the Twin Cities, which has always had a large Irish-American community, the Gaelic Athletic Association has a club named after Irish republican icon Robert Emmett. The club fields hurling, camogie, and Gaelic football teams. On August 2, 2019, the women of the Robert Emmets Hurling Club's Camogie team won the Silver Cup at the 2019 Gaelic Athletic Association World Games at Croke Park in Dublin.

Natives and tourists enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in Minnesota's warm summers, though it is mostly known for its winters. The state has produced curlers and skiers who have competed in the Winter Olympics, pioneers who invented the snowmobile, Rollerblades, water skiing and legions of ice fishing enthusiasts.[5] It is also known for enthusiastic ice hockey players, both at the amateur and professional levels. Eveleth, Minnesota, home to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, boasts of the city's and the rest of the Mesabi Range's contributions to the growth and development of hockey in the United States.[6] The abundant indoor and outdoor ice rinks provide ample opportunity to learn and practice several winter sports.

Minnesota's more than 10,000 lakes play an important role in the state's recreation patterns. It has the most per-capita boat registrations of any state.[7]

Children in Minnesota play the game Duck Duck Gray Duck, in contrast to other American states, where "Duck Duck Goose" is played. In "Duck Duck Grey Duck", all ducks are given a color, often "Grrrrr-eeen Duck".[8][9]


In a 2021 interview with the St. Cloud Times, Sauk Rapids resident Tracy Rittmueller, the founder of the Lyricality poets and writers organization, said, "We have literally one of the best literary cultures in the United States. It's, as far as I'm concerned, as good as New York, as good as California. We don't get the national press because we're in that flyover zone... They're just not paying attention. So I felt it was our job in Minnesota to pay attention."[10]

Native American writers

William Whipple Warren, who was born in 1825 in La Pointe, Wisconsin, into a family of mixed Lake Superior Ojibwe, French Canadian, and White Anglo-Saxon Protestant descent, moved in 1845 to the drunken and hedonistic boom town of Old Crow Wing, Minnesota, where he worked as an interpreter for fur trader Henry Mower Rice. Bilingual and educated in the manner of America's elite, Warren collected stories from the oral tradition of the Ojibwe people to tell their story before and after their first encounter with voyageurs from New France, which Warren carefully compared against documents from French, British, and American sources. After having suffered from tuberculosis for many years, Warren died at age 28 on June 1, 1853, and was buried in Saint Paul. The Minnesota Historical Society published his unfinished history in 1885.

Charles Eastman, who was born in 1858 into a family of the Santee Dakota people in a tepee near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, published many literary works about the history, culture and folklore of the Dakota. He is considered one of the first Native American authors to write about American history from a Native perspective.

Anton Treuer's 2011 book The Assassination of Hole in the Day tells the story, based on government documents, old newspapers, and the oral history of the Ojibwe people, of the life of Chief Hole in the Day and his ambush and murder by members of the Pillager Band of Ojibwe on a road near Gull Lake, Minnesota, on June 27, 1868. On the day of his death, Hole in the Day had left his home in a horse and buggy and was on the way to Washington, D.C. to renegotiate the treaty regarding the Ojibwe's planned migration to the new White Earth Reservation. In the meantime, he had issued orders that no Ojibwe people were to move to White Earth until the federal government actually built everything on the reservation that it had promised in the previous treaty. The chief's murder was national news, but for decades, the reasons for it remained a mystery. The names of the assassins were known, but no one was ever charged. In 1911, the surviving assassins testified that they had been hired by a group of mobbed-up Métis (mixed-race) businessmen and illegal whiskey peddlers led by Clement Hudon Beaulieu, the Democratic Party's political boss of the region that surrounded Old Crow Wing, Minnesota. The reason was the chief's recent vow to "use the knife's edge" to keep certain "mixed-bloods" off the new White Earth Reservation and to have them cease to receive tribal annuity payments from the federal government. While negotiating with a previous group of hired gunmen, who had demanded half their money in advance, Beaulieu had said that Hole in the Day was like a great big log and, if he was not killed, it would be impossible for Beaulieu and his confederates to get past him.[11] According to Treuer, the assassins risked the vengeance of Hole in the Day's relatives and testified about the murder because they had come to regret their actions. Beaulieu and his confederates had kept none of the lavish promises they had made to their hired gunmen. Furthermore, Beaulieu, the other conspirators, and their families had also taken control of the government, law enforcement, and business community of the White Earth Reservation and enriched themselves by defrauding and impoverishing everyone else. Their hired assassins had grown aware, not only of Hole in the Day's ability to force the federal bureaucracy to keep its promises to the Ojibwe people, but also of the chief's ability to keep Clement Beaulieu and his confederates in check. For these reasons, all the chief's murderers had come to mourn his absence. Treuer describes the chief's assassination as a watershed moment in the history of the Ojibwe people and argues that the aftermath of his murder was a major factor in the continuing collapse of their language and culture.


Since the early days of settlement, Minnesota has been home to poets who wrote in English and every other language spoken by the many immigrant groups who settled in the state. The best-known English-language poets from Minnesota are Oscar C. Eliason, Robert Bly, Gregory Corso, Siri Hustvedt, and Thomas M. Disch. The state Poet Laureate was Joyce Sutphen, who grew up in St. Joseph and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. The current state Poet Laureate is Gwen Westerman, who teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato.[12]

Although Henry Wadsworth Longfellow never visited Minnesota, his poem The Song of Hiawatha is set there and is based on Ojibwe and Ottawa legends collected and published by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, on Mary Henderson Eastman's 1849 book Dahcotah, or Life and Legends of the Sioux Around Fort Snelling, and on an 1855 photograph of Minnehaha Falls by Alexander Hessler. The epic tells the story of Hiawatha, a warrior from the Lake Superior Ojibwe, and his star-crossed love affair with Minnehaha, a Dakota woman. Longfellow's hero is based heavily upon the Ojibwe legends surrounding the trickster spirit Nanabozho and also contains Longfellow's own innovations.

Some locations, such as Lake Nokomis, are named in honor of the poem. The Dakota people called the falls "Minnehaha", which means simply waterfall, long before the construction of Fort Snelling, and Longfellow named Hiawatha's wife in honor of the falls and set romantic scenes between them there. For this reason, Minnehaha Falls remains a very popular tourist site.[13]

In Minnesota folklore, the ghost of Confessional poet John Berryman, who killed himself on January 7, 1972, by jumping from the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis onto the west bank of the Mississippi River, is said to be seen sitting on the railing of that bridge.

German poetry written in Minnesota was often featured in the many German-language newspapers formerly published in the state. For example, on July 18, 1863, Die Minnesota-Staats-Zeitung, a newspaper published by and for German-speaking Forty-Eighters in the state, printed An die Helden des Ersten Minnesota Regiments ("To the Heroes of the First Minnesota Regiment"), a poetic tribute to the Union soldiers of the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment and their iconic charge from Cemetery Ridge during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The poet was G. A. Erdman of Hastings, Minnesota.[14] Another important Minnesota poet in German was Rose Ausländer, a Jewish immigrant from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and future survivor of the Holocaust in Romania. While living in Minneapolis during the aftermath of World War I, Ausländer worked as an editor for the German-language newspaper Westlicher Herold and was a collaborator of the anthology Amerika-Herold-Kalender, in which she published her first poems.[15]: 7 

While serving as a Roman Catholic missionary to the Ojibwe and local Irish and German-American pioneers, Francis Xavier Pierz wrote many works of Slovenian poetry about his experiences.

Hieronim Derdowski, a major figure in Polish poetry, emigrated to the United States from Torun in Prussian Poland, and settled in Winona, Minnesota, where he died and was buried in 1902. Poems were written and published in both English and Polish by Victoria Janda, who was born in Nowy Targ, Austria-Hungary in 1888 and died in Minneapolis in 1961.

Among Blue Earth County's Welsh-American pioneers, the most highly regarded figures in local Welsh poetry were James D. Price, whose Bardic name was "Ap Dewi", Ellis E. Ellis, whose Bardic name was "Glan Dyfi", Edward Thomas, whose Bardic name was "Awenydd", and John I. Davis, whose Bardic name was "Ioan Idris".[16]: 128 

According to a memoir by D.M. Jones, Price (Ap Dewi) was so highly regarded by his compatriots in the state that he was urged to act as Prifardd, or "Chief Bard", of Minnesota.[16]: 138  Also according to Jones, during the late 19th century a group of Welsh-language Bards regularly met under Ellis's leadership at the Cheshire and Jones Shop in Mankato, where the packing paper in the shop was often used to write down englynion in Welsh.[17]

In 2016, award-winning memoirist Kao Kalia Yang, who was born in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand and grew up in St. Paul, published The Song Poet, a biography of her father, Bee Yang, a well-known poet in the Hmong language, cultural critic, and highly respected figure in the Hmong-American community in and around the Twin Cities.

In the Twin Cities and other communities such as St. Cloud that are home to large Somali-American communities, the composition of Somali poetry in traditional verse forms remains a large part of Somali culture in Minnesota. By 2017, some younger poets from the community had begun adapting traditional Somali verse forms to the rhythms of American English and composing poems about their experiences as immigrants.[18]


After the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851, Welsh immigrants settled much of what is now Blue Earth County. The first Welsh literary society in Minnesota was founded, according to Price, at a meeting in South Bend Township in 1855.[16]: 129  Price wrote, "The first eisteddfod in the state of Minnesota was held in Judson in the house of Wm. C. Williams in 1864. The second eisteddfod was held in Judson in the log chapel in 1866 with the Rev. John Roberts as chairman. Ellis E. Ellis, Robert E. Hughes, H.H. Hughes, Rev. J. Jenkins, and William R. Jones took part in this eisteddfod. The third eisteddfod was held in Judson in the new chapel (Jerusalem) on January 2, 1871. The famous Llew Llwyfo (bardic name) was chairman and a splendid time was had."[19]

According to the Mankato Free Press, the custom of local Eisteddfodau went into abeyance during the 1950s. The Blue Earth County Historical Society and the League of Minnesota Poets made an effort to revive the tradition by in the early 21st century. During the 2006 Eisteddfod at the Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm, adjudicator John Calvin Rezmerski awarded Brainerd poet Doris Stengel the Bardic Chair.[20] After Rezmerski's death in 2016, the custom of local Eisteddfodau again fell into abeyance.

League of Minnesota Poets

On February 10, 1934, 33 Minnesota poets met at the Lowry Hotel in St. Paul and became the charter members of the newly formed League of Minnesota Poets. Marie d’Autremont Gerry became the league's first president. Three meetings were held annually. By year's end, there were 74 members.[21]

The first two books the League published that year are Maude Schilplin's Anthology of Minnesota Verse and Clara Clausen's Steps in Creative Poetry. These early members endeavored "to make Minnesota poetry conscious, and conscious to its own poets."[21]



Minnesota has been home to many great fiction writers.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's novel On the Banks of Plum Creek is based on her memories of living in a dugout as part of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant pioneer family near Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up in a wealthy, cultured "Lace Curtain Irish" family that lived on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Fitzgerald graduated from Princeton University and became, during the Jazz Age, a major figure in 20th century American literature. In several of his short stories, such as "The Ice Palace" and "Winter Dreams", he depicts his upbringing in the Twin Cities.

Although his award-winning novel Giants in the Earth takes place among Norwegian-American homesteaders in South Dakota, Ole Edvart Rølvaag wrote both it and its sequels while a professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The Northfield house where the author lived is now a museum.

Rølvaag's novels and his own research in memoirs of Swedish settlers on the Minnesota frontier inspired Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg to compose The Emigrants series of four novels between 1949 and 1959. They describe a Swedish family's emigration from Småland to Chisago County, Minnesota in the mid-19th century.

American poet, novelist, and essayist Siri Hustvedt grew up in Northfield, where her father, Lloyd Hustvedt, was a professor at St. Olaf College. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sinclair Lewis was born and grew up in Sauk Centre, which he satirized as "Gopher's Prairie" in his novel Main Street. Although the people of Sauk Centre were reportedly deeply offended by the novel, Sauk Centre now celebrates it and uses it to attract tourism. The Stearns County Historical Society in St. Cloud has an extensive collection of materials relating to Lewis and his family, including many taped oral history interviews with Sauk Centre residents who knew him as a child.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area is the long-standing home of several fandom organizations such as SF Minnesota, MISFITS, and Mnstf, which annually hold Diversicon, CONvergence, and Minicon, respectively. These are large gatherings of fans interested in science, speculative, and fantasy fiction; panels are held where authors, publishers, and scientists interact with readers, viewers, and fans of filk music with the goal of increasing knowledge of the topics discussed.

Minnesotan Dialect



Word-initial th-stopping is possible among speakers of working-class backgrounds, especially with pronouns ("deez" for these, "doze" for those, "dem" for them, etc.). In addition, traces of a pitch accent as in Swedish and Norwegian persists in some areas of heavy Norwegian or Swedish settlement, and among people who grew up in those areas (some of whom are not of Scandinavian descent).

Phonemic incidence

Certain phonemes appear in particular words, setting the North-Central dialect apart from some other American English:




Main article: Music of Minnesota

heads of people cheering in front of Dylan acknowledging five band members for the most part in grey suits wearing black hats
Bob Dylan and his band in 2007

Music has played a significant role in Minnesota's historical and cultural development. The state's music scene centers on Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and most Minnesotan artists who have become nationally popular either came from that area or debuted there. Rural Minnesota has also produced a flourishing folk music scene, with a long tradition of traditional Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian music.[26]

In Avon, Minnesota, Cy Pfannenstein Music Service both records and distributes, among other things, traditional music by local German-, Polish-, and Slovenian-American folk musicians.[27]

In 1893, during his stay in the Czech-American farming community of Spillville, Iowa, composer Antonín Dvořák read a translation into Czech of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha and decided to visit Minnehaha Falls. Dvořák's visit on September 5, 1893, inspired him to compose a tune he wrote down on his shirt cuff that later became the second movement of his Sonatina in G Major. Fritz Kreisler dubbed the tune the "Minnehaha Melody".[28]

Minnesota's modern local music scene is home to thousands of bands, many of which perform with some regularity.[29] Some performers from nearby regions of neighboring states, such as western Wisconsin and Fargo, North Dakota, are often considered part of the Minnesota music scene.

Minneapolis has produced a number of famous performers, such as Bob Dylan, who, though born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, began his musical career in the Minneapolis area, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who eventually formed The Time and produced for Gladys Knight and Janet Jackson. Minneapolis's most influential contributions to American popular music began in the 1970s and 1980s, when its music scene expanded the state's cultural identity and launched the careers of acclaimed performers like the multi-platinum soul singer Prince and cult favorites The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. More recently, the Twin Cities have played a role in the national hip-hop scene with record labels Rhymesayers Entertainment and Kamorra Entertainment and artists such as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, P.O.S and Manny Phesto.[30] Musicians of various other genres have been popular, including harmony singers The Andrews Sisters, the alternative rock group Semisonic, Owl City, and the cult favorites Motion City Soundtrack.[31]

Fine arts

view from the Mississippi river side showing the Guthrie's design and bridge to nowhere and green foliage
Guthrie Theater on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area is considered the arts capital of the Upper Midwest. Its major fine art museums include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. The Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are prominent full-time professional orchestras that perform concerts and offer educational programs. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is high, which may be attributed to the cold winters, the large population of post-secondary students, and a generally vibrant economy. In 2006 the nationally renowned Guthrie Theater moved into a new building overlooking the Mississippi River with three stages. The number of theater seats per capita in Minneapolis-Saint Paul ranks behind only New York City among U.S. cities; in 2000, 2.3 million theater tickets were sold.[32] The Minnesota Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of theater, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids' shows, visual art, and musicals. It consists of over 800 performances in 11 days, and is the nation's largest non-juried performing arts festival.[33] Minneapolis's Children's Theatre Company, and St. Paul's SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development are leading youth theaters.

The public radio program A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Minnesota native Garrison Keillor, aired live for many years from the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul. The show ended its run in 2016, with its successor Live from Here also airing from the same venue.


Main article: Climate of Minnesota

hundreds of spectators in front of the ice castle which is lit blue-green from inside
St. Paul Winter Carnival, 2004

Minnesota's climate has done much to shape the state's image and culture. Minnesotans boast of their "theater of seasons", with a late but intense spring, a summer of watersports, a fall of brilliantly colored leaves in the state's parks and hardwood forests, and a long winter made bearable by outdoor sports and recreation.

"Summer at the lake" is a Minnesota tradition. Water skiing was invented in Minnesota by Ralph Samuelson, and the Minneapolis Aquatennial features a milk carton boat race. Contestants build boats from milk cartons and float them on Minneapolis-area lakes, with recognition based more on colorful and imaginative designs than on actual racing performance.[34]

To many outsiders, Minnesota's winters seem cold and inhospitable. Even among Minnesotans, a common expression is that there are only two seasons, winter and road construction. (The long winters damage road surfaces, and the annual frenzy of repair work causes traffic congestion.[35]) A World War II newscaster, describing the brutally cold conditions of the Russian front, stated that at least Minnesotans could understand it.[5] A New York journalist visited St. Paul and declared the city "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation." In response, the city built a huge ice palace in 1886, similar to one that Montreal had built in 1885. It hired the architects of the Canadian ice palace to design one for St. Paul, and built a palace 106 feet (32.3 m) high with ice blocks cut from a nearby lake.[34] This began the tradition of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, which spawned a legend with the King Boreas. Each winter, Boreas declares a ten-day celebration with feasting, fun, and frolic, along with the Queen of the Snows and singer Klondike Kate. Ice sculptures are featured, and periodically ice palaces are built; one was the setting of Fitzgerald's story "The Ice Palace", published in Flappers and Philosophers. On the tenth day of the festival, Vulcanus Rex, the king of fire, storms the castle with his Vulcan Krewe, compelling Boreas to relinquish winter's hold on the land until he returns again.[36]


Tourism has become an important industry, especially in the northern lakes region. In the North Country, what had been an industrial area focused on mining and logging has largely been transformed into a vacation destination. Popular interest in the environment and environmentalism, added to traditional interests in hunting and fishing, has attracted a large urban audience within driving range.[37] The memory of the great logging industry is exemplified by local folklore.[38]

The headwaters of the Mississippi River are at Itasca State Park, where archaeologists have found artifacts showing that the lakeshore was inhabited more than 2,000 years ago and that, at that time, American bison were routinely driven into the swampy ground along Lake Itasca to be speared to death at close range.

Pipestone National Monument, where the Dakota people used to quarry pipestone long before European settlement, remains a popular tourist attraction.

In 1732, when Minnesota was still part of New France, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, built Fort St. Charles on Lake of the Woods as part of his many expeditions to the far west of Lake Superior and into the Great Plains in search of the Northwest Passage. It was found in 1908, based on the oral tradition of Natives, excavated, and rebuilt in the 1950s by the Knights of Columbus.

Grand Portage National Monument is on Lake Superior's north shore and preserves a vital center of fur trade activity and Anishinaabeg Ojibwe heritage. Until the end of the American Revolution, Grand Portage was one of the British Empire's four main fur trading centers in North America, along with Fort Niagara, Fort Detroit, and Fort Michilimackinac.

Fort Snelling, built by the United States Army during the 1820s at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, remains a popular tourism site and sometimes hosts historical reenactments.

Sites related to the Dakota War of 1862 are also popular tourist sites. These include the battlefields at Fort Ridgely, Birch Coulee, and Wood Lake. In Hutchinson, Minnesota, a statue of Dakota Chief Little Crow stands where a settler shot him in the back while picking raspberries.

Marshall Sherman poses with the 28th Virginia battle flag in 1864
Marshall Sherman poses with the 28th Virginia battle flag in 1864

The American flags Minnesota's Union Army regiments carried during the American Civil War are displayed under the rotunda of the State Capitol. During the repulse of Pickett's Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Private Marshall Sherman of the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment captured the regimental colors of the 28th Virginia Infantry,[39] which now belongs to Minnesota as a war trophy. For this feat, Sherman was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Despite the State of Virginia's repeated requests, demands, and threats of lawsuits for the flag's return, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton once explained, "It was taken in a battle with the cost of the blood of all these Minnesotans. It would be a sacrilege to return it to them. It's something that was earned through the incredible courage and valor of the men who gave their lives and risked their lives to obtain it... ...As far as I'm concerned it is a closed subject." Some years earlier, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura had been more succinct: "We won... We took it. That makes it our heritage."[40]

Minnesota is not usually considered part of the Wild West, but the James-Younger Gang's 1876 failed bank robbery and gun battle with local townspeople is celebrated annually with a festival and historical reenactment in Northfield.

The childhood home of aviator and best-selling memoirist Charles Lindbergh is preserved as a tourist attraction in Little Falls.

The Minnesota State Fair, advertised as The Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an icon of state culture. More than two million people attended the fair in 2018.[41] The fair covers the variety of Minnesota life, including fine art, science, agriculture, food preparation, 4-H displays, music, the midway, and corporate merchandising. It is known for its displays of seed art, butter sculptures of dairy princesses, and the birthing barn. On a smaller scale, these attractions are also offered at the state's many county fairs.

Other large annual festivals include the Minneapolis Aquatennial, Lakes Jam, the Mill City Music Festival, Detroit Lakes's 10,000 Lakes Festival and WE Fest, and Moondance Jam & Jammin' Country, both held every summer in Walker.

In St. Paul, which has a large Irish-American community, there is an annual parade on St. Patrick's Day. There is also an annual Irish Fair in Eagan, Minnesota.

As Minnesota has always had a very large Polish-American population, the Polish Cultural Association of Minnesota hosts an annual Polish Festival in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival takes place every year in Chaska.

Popular culture

full length portrait of Garrison Keillor with a microphone and three performers behind him and someone seated on the stage
A Prairie Home Companion live radio show


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  3. ^ Viren, Chuck (December 26, 2019). "Passion for Pasties on the North Shore". Northern Wilds Magazine. Retrieved March 26, 2023.
  4. ^ "What is Minneapolis style pizza, exactly?". Discover The Cities. April 17, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Lass, William E. (1998) [1977]. Minnesota: A History (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-04628-1.
  6. ^ "U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame". Retrieved February 4, 2007.
  7. ^ "Boat & Water Safety: Minnesota DNR". Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  8. ^ "Why Do Minnesotans Play Duck Duck Gray Duck Instead of Duck Duck Goose?". Star Tribune. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  9. ^ "Duck Duck Gray Duck Isn't Just a Stupid Regionalism; It's a Better Game". October 10, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  10. ^ Sauk Rapids writer's literary organization showcases and connects Central Minnesota poets St. Cloud Times, September 20, 2021.
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