Grand Old Day returns to St. Paul this weekend

Grand Old Day returns to St. Paul this weekend

Grand Old Day returns to St. Paul this weekend

After missing the past three years, a popular summer festival is returning to St. Paul this weekend.

Grand Old Day is taking place on Sunday for the first time since 2019.

The Grand Avenue Business Association says it’s the largest free festival in the Midwest.

The one-day festival includes yoga, a two-mile run, a parade, a car show, wiener dog races and free music throughout the day.

A two-and-a-half-mile stretch of Grand Avenue will be shut down from Snelling Ave. to Dale S. There will be at least seven stages and about 225 vendors.

“It’s going to be very full,” said Chris Jensen, the Grand Old Day co-chair and president of the Grand Avenue Business Association.

Nine months ago, a group of volunteers including Jensen decided to re-imagine what the event could be.

“We started fresh,” he said. “All of the previous board information had been lost.”

They started from scratch with fundraising too. This year’s event is estimated to cost about $100,000.

While free to attend, the wristbands — which cost $10 in advance or $15 the day of — are required for access to the beer gardens and certain stages. VIP passes are also available for $50.

There will also be free music performances, including at the Pride Family Stage and Youth Performance Stage.

“We wanted to do it more family-friendly and community-oriented,” said Jensen. “Just come out and celebrate being with your neighbor and your friends and have a good time.”

There are four zones this year, including a family zone and an art zone.

“A couple of art shanties, the women’s drumming center, there’ll be a little stage from the Saint Paul Conservatory, there will be little projects the kids can do,” explained Rene Meyer-Grimberg, a volunteer who coordinated the art and non-profit corridor. “Where you’re interacting with something, where you’re thinking about your place in the world.”

Grand Old Day will also mark its 50th year. 

“I think it needed to be revitalized,” said Maeve O’Mara, the co-owner of Irish on Grand. “It puts Grand Avenue on the map again.”

After the pandemic years, she is welcoming the possibility of a lot of foot traffic along the strip.

“It’s like we’re back,” said O’Mara.  “I hope we’ll have it next year, and the year after, and the year after.”

Irish on Grand plans to have music and Irish dance performances out front after the parade, which starts at 9:30 a.m.