Don’t be fooled by the stiff name. The Highland Business Association (HBA) knows how to throw a party. Highland Fest in St. Paul, July 17-19, celebrates its 26th year of entertaining, incorporating business with art, food, local music, and carnival-style fun. From bingo and kiddie rides to softball, beer tasting, fireworks, and Brazilian music, literally something will be of interest to everyone.
HBA Executive Director Shelly Harris says this fest takes pride in its variety: “There is something for everyone, and it’s family-oriented. Bring your dogs. Bring the kids. When we plan, there is no specific demographic in mind.”
Highland Fest has three different sections: a business fair, a home improvement expo, and an artists’ quarter with more than 70 juried artists. Check out the range of local businesses with a storefront in the community; get some helpful tips for remodeling your house; and browse tent after tent filled with unique works of art, including ceramics, glass, jewelry, photography, painting, fiber, wearable art, and even henna tattoos.
When you’ve worked up your appetite, hit the gigantic food court, filled with not only your fair favorites, but also treats for vegetarians and adventurous foodies alike. New this year, Highland Fest will feature barbecue spaghetti, a strange Italian-American combination not to be attempted in your own backyard. If it’s meat you crave, chomp your teeth on some pulled-turkey sandwiches, salty pork chops, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. Health-conscious fest-goers should check out the Italian Ice stand, offering 20 flavors of the low-calorie frozen treat.
Highland’s festive weekend also provides a couple of unique opportunities to explore the surrounding neighborhood.
Curious minds are encouraged to take advantage of the Highland Water Tower Tour, only available twice a year, and the Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam Tour, exclusive to the fest.
Grab a beer, and join the crowd of spectators ogling the Strongman Competition, a test of extreme strength and endurance. Burly individuals must carry heavy objects, such as beer kegs and anvils, around a track as fast as possible. If you’re feeling tough, join in the competition.
Two stages present live music throughout the fest, free and in close proximity to the beer garden. Bands like Roster McCabe, The Irresistibles, GB Leighton, The Rockin’ Hollywoods, and The Swing Daddies will force your toe to tap, while The Shimmy Twins will seduce you with their belly-dancing skills. The MNaked series of performances gives local musicians a chance to strip themselves of their usual band, and play a solo acoustic set.
If none of the above piques your interest, the list of activities goes on: bingo, amusement park rides, 5K Run, softball tournament, water wars, beer tasting extravaganza, costume kid parade—and last but not least, fireworks nightly.
Highland Park Neighborhood, St. Paul