Labor Day Weekend Activities in Northeastern Minnesota

Labor Day weekend is the traditional last gasp of summer. Soon the leaves will change colors and youngsters will head back to school. For many families, Labor Day is the final weekend of the year to get away and have fun. A variety of activities await families vacationing in northeastern Minnesota over the Labor Day weekend.

In the Grand Rapids area, Labor Day weekend begins on Friday, September 1. That is the date of the WISOTA Classic Stockcar Races at the Grand Rapids Speedway on the Itasca County fairgrounds. The pit areas open at 4:00 and races begin at 7 in the evening.

The next day marks the beginning of Bovey’s Farmers’ Days. Bovey is the home of the famous Enstrom Studios photo, ‘Grace’, which shows an elderly gentleman bowing his head in prayer over a meal of bread. You may watch a Farmer’s Judging Contest or participate in a 10K race, both activities in past Farmers’ Days. The 95th year of Farmers’ Days culminates with a parade at 10:30 on Labor Day.

In the McGrath-Finlayson area of northeastern Minnesota, the weekend of Labor Day will find many taking in the White Pine Logging and Threshing Show. If you have never been to an antique threshing and steam engine show, if you have youngsters interested in the working of engines and machinery, your family will enjoy this. From the artisan handmaking barrels to the clamor of steam-powered tractors, threshers, and sawmills, you will find something interesting at every turn. Dances on Saturday and Sunday, a flea market, and demonstrations of different types await you. Admission is $8 daily per person 12 or older (12 and younger are free) or $12 per person for all three days. The parade of steam-powered antique tractors, some towering above the spectators, is fun to watch.

On September 2nd and 3rd, McGregor sponsors the 41st Annual Wild Rice Days. On Sunday before Labor Day, the Lions Club will have their 40th annual Corn Feed at the McGregor Community Center. For more information on the car show, parade, arts and crafts show, and live music, contact the McGregor Chamber of Commerce at or call (877) 768-3692 (toll free). Be prepared for several wild rice recipes and dishes!

Further north, Black Bear Casino and Hotel in Carlton hosts a free Get Country-Fied Music Fest. Bring your lawnchairs to hear eight bands over two days of the Labor Day weekend. The headline country bands are Trick Pony on Saturday and Diamond Rio on Sunday.

More music over the Labor Day weekend may be found at the historic NorthEastern Saloon and Grille during Cloquet’s Timberjack Days. This saloon on Dunlap Island in the St. Louis River was featured on Walt Disney Studios’ Iron Will, a movie about a sled dog race at the turn of the century. Besides live music on Friday through Sunday, men will compete in a two-man twelve-inch log sawing contest.

In Grand Portage, the last city on Lake Superior’s North Shore before you cross over into Canada, you can celebrate Labor Day weekend in a cajun way. The 15th Annual Bayou Boogie at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino promises Mardi Gras-like parades with beads, storytelling, cajun foods like jambalaya, and music. The voyageurs who worked for the fur trading companies were of French and Native American heritage, so a bayou celebration may not be such a stretch of the imagination.

On Labor Day itself, the city of Cloquet has several activities. From Thursday to Monday, a carnival thrills youngsters at Veteran’s Park. The fireworks show will be on Sunday evening, or, should bad weather prevent it, on Monday evening. On Monday, the Labor Day parade begins at 11:00 AM with a free picnic held afterwards at the Cloquet Labor Temple.

From Grand Rapids to Bovey, McGrath to Carlton and Cloquet, and on up the North Shore to Grand Portage, northeastern Minnesota offers many forms of entertainment for the family wishing to have a funfilled Labor Day weekend.

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