Best of 2015
Looking back at a Year of Big Fun in RiverSouth
We’re down to just a few days left in 2015, but it’s been a year to remember! Check out our top picks for the year, and get a sneak peek at what’s in store for 2016.
The Renaissance Festival celebrated its 45th year in 2015, with over 300,000 festival goers turning out to celebrate times gone by. The Festival also helped local non-profits raise nearly $500,000 for their causes through concessions, ticket and other fundraising methods.
Over 4,500 dogs attended the Renaissance Festival in 2015! Dog lovers came out in droves for the Canines and Christmas weekend, featuring a variety of pet-focused events including the 4th Annual Wiener Dog Race, a pet costume contest, and even a peanut butter licking contest! Animal lovers, mark your calendars for Pet Fest weekend September 17 – 18, 2016, featuring the return of many popular pet-focused events including the 5th Annual Wiener Dog Race.
Art and Shopping
The Renaissance Festival’s first-ever mural competition drew more than 20 entries from talented artists. The competition returns in 2016 when the top three murals chosen by Festival patrons will win prizes— be sure to vote for your favorite! Over 900 ladies turned out to shop unique offerings by the Festival’s 250 artisans on a special Ladies Shopping Day. The popular event returns on September 30, 2016.
Back by Popular Demand
The Renaissance Festival added quite a few new attractions this year, and they proved so popular they’ll be back for 2016! Plan to visit (or re-visit) Castle Escape, Princess Garden, Cinderella’s Glass Slipper, Sherwood Forest, Hookah Bar and the Renaissance History Tour. Themed weekends for 2016 have just been announced, so it’s not too soon to start planning your visit.
Run & Ride
In May, Valleyfair was off and running for another season of thrills—literally! The upper Midwest’s largest amusement park marked opening weekend with the inaugural Run & Ride race series, including a half marathon, 10K, 5K and one mile fun run through the park. Participants spent the rest of their day with some post-race rides in the park. The Run & Ride race series returns again for opening weekend in 2016.
Thrill seekers submerged themselves in even more fun in the sun in 2015 with a massive new expansion at Soak City Waterpark. New attractions included the Breakers water slide complex featuring Breakers Pipeline—a combination of four 65-five foot high slides. The highlight of the expansion is the 90-foot Breakers Plunge slides. More than 65,000 sliders took to the country’s tallest side-by-side body slides, which will be featured on the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks, scheduled to air in June 2016!
Fans of local live music had a new spot to catch their favorite artists with Valleyfair’s summer concert series. Valleyfair Live! featured a number of popular local and regional artists on the Gazebo Stage every Friday and Saturday. The summer-long series included a memorable performance from The Voice Season 6 finalist, Kat Perkins.
40 Years of Fun
With another summer in the books, Valleyfair will mark its 40th anniversary in 2016 with a season-long celebration that includes the return of an original park ride, Flying Eagles, as well as the renovation of a popular entertainment venue to feature an all-new extreme sports show called All Wheel Extreme. Work is already underway on these two new attractions which are scheduled to debut when park opens in May. Experience Valleyfair in a whole new way with a 2016 Season Pass! Enjoy exclusive benefits such as unlimited visits including ValleySCARE and Soak City Waterpark, free parking, early entry to the park, discounts on food and merchandise, special offers and more!
Live Racing Highlights and Records Set
It was an unforgettable summer of live racing at Canterbury Park, and the crowds came out for the biggest season in Canterbury Park’s history! The park set a new single season attendance record of 468,634, with an average daily attendance record of 6,695. Their Fireworks Spectacular on July 3 drew a record 20,376 people. And 12,226 people watched history in the making at the Belmont Block Party, as American Pharoah become the first Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978. On Saturday, July 5, Burning Fuhry won the eighth race at odds of 75.5 to 1 to set a record for the largest win payout at Canterbury Park or Canterbury Downs history—returning a whopping $153 for a $2 win wager!
It’s a Real Zoo
Lots of animals other than horses raced at Canterbury this year, including bulldogs (Memorial Day), wiener dogs (Labor Day), camels and zebras (Extreme Day). The 2015 state ban on bird exhibitions kept the ostrich races from returning on Extreme Race Day, but they’ll be back next summer!
Poker on Tour
Canterbury Park went all in August 27 – 31, hosting the nationally televised Poker Night The Tour. The tournament drew 278 players, generating a prize pool over $400,000. Watch for the tournament broadcast this winter on CBS Sports.
Concerts and Events
In addition to high-thrills racing and high-stakes poker, Canterbury Park hosted many popular events this year. ISOC Snocross racing in 2015 drew nearly 10,000 people for two days of racing action. The event returns to Canterbury January 8 – 9. The final year of the Soundset concert at Canterbury drew over 31,000 people to see a full day of music headlined by Atmosphere, Ice Cube, Ludacris and more. The first Night Nation Run drew more than 9,000 decked out in neon for a night race and concert. And Festival Palomino’s second stint at Canterbury Park featured Trampled By Turtles, Father John Misty and a host of bands, drawing more than 9,000 people for the infield show.
Love Me Tender Valentine’s Weekend
Love was in the air Valentine’s Day weekend at Mystic Lake. Popular Elvis stage show Elvis Lives thrilled fans of The King in the Mystic Showroom, and partygoers enjoyed Elvis and Priscilla Presley impersonators, stage games and prize drawings and throughout the casino. Romantic dinner specials made it a perfect date night destination, and three couples tied the knot in a legal ceremony officiated by “Elvis”! The Love Me Tender weekend returns February 12 – 14, 2016. Tickets for Elvis Lives performances February 12 and 13 are on sale now.
Rock and Rockets
Thousands turned out on a beautiful summer evening for Rock and Rockets, Mystic’s Lake’s annual 4th of July bash. From corn on the cob to cheese curds and cold beer, it’s got everything that makes living—and eating—in the U.S.A. spectacular! The free outdoor festival featured fun for the entire family, including an arcade tent, free slot tournament and live music. And of course, it’s not the 4th without a show-stopping fireworks display! Rock and Rockets returns July 4, 2016.
The Great Midwest Rib Fest
Over 30,000 rib and music lovers turned out for three days of food, fun and music at the second annual Great Midwest Rib Fest at Mystic Lake. The event drew the top rib cookers in the country to compete for thousands in prizes—and the popular vote for the Best of the Fest people’s choice award. Free concerts, plenty of delicious food and The Great Midwest Art Fest with unique items from Midwestern artists made for the ultimate summer festival. The Great Midwest Rib Fest returns for its third year July 22 – 24.
Lakefront Music Fest
Beautiful summer weather makes July the ideal time for a major music festival in Minnesota, and RiverSouth is home to one of the best in the state. The Lakefront Music Fest featured two days of music, sun and fun on the shores of beautiful Prior Lake. Fans enjoyed seven bands over two days, highlighted by Friday night headliner Dwight Yoakam and Saturday night superstar Daughtry. Lakefront Music Fest returns July 15 – 16, 2016.
That’s it for our tour of memory lane. Stay tuned and keep an eye on our events calendar for 2016 announcements in the Land of Big Fun!