Festival Season: Waconia’s Artstock, Chaska’s Bonspiel and River City Days

The month of July is packed with events celebrating everything from wine and art to curling and beer.
Festival Personalities: Elise Wilson, Lucy Wentink, Lauren Manna and Natalie Dolan perform from 4-6 p.m. July 30 at the gazebo in City Square Park during Chaska River City Days.

Once summer finally arrives, we have to grab every opportunity we can to enjoy the great outdoors. The logical choices are the active ones—swimming, boating, fishing, biking, hiking or camping. But just because it’s finally outdoor time doesn’t mean putting art and music on the back burner until the snow flies—far from it. Check out these fantastic arts and music festivals happening in the southwest metro this month.

Artstock Art and Wine Festival

Sponsored by the Carver County Arts Consortium with contributions from Charter Bank, this annual festival at Parley Lake Winery is so popular that it’s expanding into two days this year. No matter what form of art interests you most, you’ll find it here: sculpture, photography, painting, glass, fibers, wearable art—it’s all on display. (You can even enter a drawing to win a barn quilt tapestry.) Enjoy food along with some of Parley Lake’s local wine offerings, and take a closer look at the Artisan Series wine bottle labels—they feature the artwork from an annual competition offered by the winery. Parley Lake Winery itself is on 125 acres of rolling grounds next to the Carver Park Reserve, with 20 acres reserved for orchards, meaning you’ll get a great taste of Mother Nature at this event. This year’s festival also features the bluegrass music of Monroe Crossing, a Minnesota band that’s developed a stellar national (and international) reputation, and other musical acts over both days—there is even an open-mic poetry slam.

July 9 Noon-7 p.m. & July 10 Noon-5 p.m.
Parley Lake Winery
Admission: Free

Fire & Ice Bonspiel Festival

This new event is a great way to check out the brand-new Chaska Curling Center and Firemen’s Park in Chaska. No, you don’t have to have a curling team to participate (and in fact, spots for the bonspiel—or curling tournament—filled up long ago). Besides learning about the increasingly popular sport of curling, you can enjoy live music by GB Leighton, The Tuxedo Band, Brian Congdon, and Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs. In addition to live music, activities include a root beer float spectacular, beach bash, Clayhole Olympics, climbing wall, water blast contest, the Edina Yacht Club Demo and Boat Parade, bean bag tournament, paddle boarding and log rolling on the lake. An event like this wouldn’t be complete without food and beer—and a special beer at that: Long-time Minnesota brewery Schell’s is unveiling a new brew just for the festival. Note: on July 23, activities from 4 p.m. and later are only for the 21-and-over crowd, but the rest of the weekend is family-friendly.

July 22 2-10 p.m.; July 23 10 a.m.-Midnight (for ages 21 and older after 4 p.m.); July 24 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Chaska Curling Center/Firemen’s Park
Admission to the non-Bonspiel events: Free

Toast & Taste in the Gardens

It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a beautiful summer’s evening: wandering through the lush gardens at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, all the while enjoying bites of food from the Twin Cities’ best restaurants and sips from local and regional wineries and breweries, all to benefit the arboretum itself. The featured chef for Taste & Toast is James Beard Award Winner Alex Roberts of Brasa and Restaurant Alma; the event will also include bites and sips from the Dakota Jazz Club, the Minneapolis Club, Gardens of Salonica, Lakewinds Food Co-op, New Scenic Cafe, Oceanaire, Terra Waconia and many others. Take your time, bring your friends, and relax while strolling through the winding garden paths.

July 27 7 p.m.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Admission: $75 for general admission at 7 p.m. ($65 with early registration), $125 for special early entry at 6 p.m. with added benefits.

Chaska River City Days

In its 41st year, Chaska River City Days has become a long-time community favorite. Located in the scenic and charming downtown Chaska City Park, River City Days has events for everyone: an arts and crafts fair, a triathlon Saturday morning (register ahead of time at the Chaska River City Days website), footgolf and disc golf tournaments, city-wide scavenger hunt, sidewalk sales, and a parade, along with a wide range of family-friendly activities such as a dunk tank, minnow races, a bounce zone, visit from the fire truck and toddler and preschool activity areas. You’ll need plenty of fuel to keep going, and you’re covered here too; there is a variety of food offerings from both retail and civic organizations serving everyone’s favorite fair foods, as well as a beer garden. Live music will be offered throughout the weekend, including professional and community bands as well as karaoke and Chaska’s Got Talent. Plan ahead for parking: Streets adjacent to the park are likely to be closed, or held for disabled parking.

July 29 4 p.m.-midnight, July 30 10 a.m.-midnight and July 31 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Chaska City Square Park
Admission: Free