Photo Credit: Courtesy of Walker Art Center & Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988). 

The shows are coming back, the live music scene is back in full force, we are seeing a resurgence in the local theater scene…so many shows coming up…

Alyssa Hayes

Public Relations, Explore Minnesota

We chat with Alyssa Hayes of Explore Minnesota, we love to have them stop by and give us a run down on trips and events nearby. Our favorite events are anything festivals, like 70+ bands in one weekend, a 75th annual city-wide celebration, a Shakespeare festival that is a true summer destination and some favorites for the kids.

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Frozen River Film Festival

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. We chat with Alyssa Hayes of Explore Minnesota, we love to have them stop by and give us a run down on trips and events nearby. Our favorite events are anything festivals, like 70+ bands in one weekend, a 75th annual city-wide celebration, a Shakespeare festival that is a true summer destination and some favorites for the kids. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music, and events on our website I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:11
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:12
And this is La Crosse Local.

Brent Hanifl 01:15
At La Crosse Local we love to have Explore Minnesota stop in, you know, kind of give us a rundown of trips that are nearby La Crosse. You know some of our favorite events, which a favorite of ours is coming up at Winona. But we love festivals, festivals related to music, festivals related to food. Can you kind of give us a rundown of nearby festivals and events that are coming up in the area?

Alyssa Hayes 01:36
Yeah, I’m happy to do that. Thanks for having me. I mean, it’s been a couple years. Minnesota events, festivals, whether that be music or art or food, are making a really well deserved comeback after two years since the start of the pandemic. So I think we’re really excited for 22. They’re making a really big return this year, everything from signature events to milestone anniversaries. Coming up here just in another week is the Mid West Music Fest in Winona as you know, the 29th through the 30th. This is great, you know the festival it was, in 2020 it was held virtually, it was smaller scale in 2021. And I think everybody’s really excited that this year’s gonna kind of return to that original, multi venue, multistage format throughout the city. And it’s kind of cool, because I love that it’s modeled like a mini South by Southwest for the Midwest. And they have like, from what I understand 70 regional and local artists sprawling throughout the town, you know, within strolling distance of each other, of course, which makes things a lot easier for everyone attending, I’m sure.

Brent Hanifl 02:44
Yeah, I mean, I just love Winona, and I love Mid West Music Fest. I’ve gone probably the last five, six years except for that little break there. What I like about it, too, is that there’s a mixture of free entry and also ticketed, but also a lot of outdoor activities so if you’re not that comfortable with being indoors, there’s a lot of outdoor activity. Plus, I think it’s like an open mind to go there and not expect to know anybody on the bill, but be blown away by original music.

Alyssa Hayes 03:08
Yeah, I think that’s great. And you know, with that in mind, indoor versus outdoor, it looks like there are still some COVID safety measures in place for this year’s festivities, including proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within that 72 hour range, you know. They’re still keeping things really nice and safe and comfortable for people who are ready to kind of get back out there and enjoy the scene.

Brent Hanifl 03:30
So what else do you have coming up, it looks like you got one that’s been around for quite some time coming down in Winona, too?

Alyssa Hayes 03:36
We are seeing, kay, so we’re seeing so many milestone anniversaries, it’s kind of like the stars have aligned, you know, now that events are making a big comeback in 22. You know, we’re seeing a lot of milestone anniversaries, including the 75th Annual Steamboat Days that’s coming up in June 15 through the 19th. It does look like there’s a lot of announcements that are still coming, which is, you know, that’s kind of typical, you know, with COVID you know, things are coming together a little bit later than usual. And it’s very much understood and should be understood if you don’t, because, you know, it’s been a while, two years, and planning a festival is a really big hall. So they’re going to be celebrating their 75th. It’s basically an annual city wide celebration, as I’m sure you know, you’re from the area. I just thought this was really you know, it’s worth a quick mention because music is typically part of the scene, food, all the quintessential like summer activities. I think there’s like town ball and things like that. Just this festival also what I love to hear about it is it kind of it’s so time honored, but it also ushered in this kind of new era of summer and arts and music festivals throughout the city of Winona. And Winona is making a name for its festival scene for sure.

Brent Hanifl 04:51
Steamboat Days is just a classical festival. It’s something that’s been around for a while but it’s something like you have a hankering for going for those main things that a festival, community festival represents. It’s a fun one to check out. Another one that, you know our favorite is the Great River Shakespeare Festival too, which is such a great event to be, you know, right in our area.

Alyssa Hayes 05:12
Absolutely. We love to talk about that at The festival is your summer destination for great theater literally under the bluffs and beautiful Winona like it is. It goes on for what five weeks. It’s like June 18 through the 31st, biggest summer Arts Festival in the area. The 22 season is slated to feature three main stage shows. There’s a lot of other things for the family. You know, there’s ice cream socials, there’s talks and other events and just lots of food, art and outdoor adventure. Like yes, it’s about arts and theater, but there’s just a lot more elements involved too and fun for, like I said, the whole family.

Brent Hanifl 05:49
You know, it’s interesting, I actually have a friend who kind of takes tours around Europe, or at least he did. And he was taking a group and he had planned on there to do a few Shakespeare events and plays in Europe. And there’s a lot of people from Winona and they go you know, if we wanted to go see Shakespeare, we just stay at home.

Alyssa Hayes 06:06
Right? I love No, I love that. Like, this is such a cool thing for the Midwest. And it’s something you know, so I handle PR here at Explore Minnesota and I’m always pushing this out there to regional and national media to just you know, to talk about it and hopefully, hopefully get it published in, you know, a magazine or something like it’s just such a cool thing for the Midwest. And again, you know, Winona, it’s just they keep winning here with the festivals.

Brent Hanifl 06:31
One thing I think that’s always cool about their festivals, too, is you know, like the family aspect of it. There’s either sometimes a free ticket or just a quota that includes everybody in it. One of my favorites, which I stopped down quite a bit, or at least quarterly is the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. That’s one of a favorite of ours. How’s that been going with opening up and everything?

Alyssa Hayes 06:51
They’re doing well. It looks like they’re actually they just started a couple days ago, April 19th. And it runs through May 1st. But they’ve got a cool exhibit that I’m really, you know, curious about because I’m familiar with that name, that photographer named Eric Mueller. He’s a Minneapolis based artist and photographer who basically used his photography throughout the pandemic to connect communities and share ideas, and the exhibit is called Reset 2021. He had this one day photo project where he captured his daily experiences throughout the COVID-19, shutdowns, quarantines, isolations. And just photography, excuse me, his photography features Minnesota landmarks, people, the waters of the state, you know, I think it’s just a really cool thing to kind of look back on. I mean, this is a historical time that we all went through. And I think this exhibit is going to be really, really cool. I’ve seen his name through my own Instagram and follow him, and like, I think it’s just something you should check out if you’re in the area.

Brent Hanifl 07:57
You know, another thing that I loved about the Marine Art Museum also is, now which are coming back, Seasonal Saturdays. So it’s like one buck, and you basically get in your whole family. You know, what, one buck per kid, and then you get in there, they do a bunch of different art making activities, music, it’s super fun. And it’s a way to really experience art and have your kids run around and they allow you to do, well probably walk briskly. They allow you to go and explore and do all sorts of activities there.

Alyssa Hayes 08:25
I love hearing that, you know, as a parent myself, it’s like, some parents don’t always expect that you can go to the local Marine Art Museum for a kid friendly activity, right? Like, you know, a lot of parents are like, oh, I have to go to the Children’s Museum or I have to go to the zoo. And there’s a lot more lesser known activities for kids out there and we need to keep talking about them for sure.

Brent Hanifl 08:47
So you know, kind of heading that direction a bit more down the river road there and also, you know, to the Twin Cities. So what’s happening in those bigger markets?

Alyssa Hayes 08:55
So yeah, you gotta hit you gotta head north up the river road, the Great River Road, All American Road. Like, if you have not taken this road trip at some point yet, you need to make it an annual if not more, more than that, you know, part of your travel scene. It’s not a long drive. It’s a couple hour drive up to the you know, the Minneapolis, St. Paul area where you can immerse yourself into some of the best culture, theater, music, fine dining, time to get back into the cities. People are starting to kind of move, you know, usher back in, the shows are coming back. The live music scene is back in full force. We’re seeing a resurgence in the local theater scene between Minneapolis, St. Paul and in the greater surrounding area, of course, a long awaited calendar full of Broadway shows, comedy tours, you know, lots of just just a lot of different things. I actually, you know, I just saw this on the news the other night, they were talking about local news in the Twin Cities they were just talking about, like how there are just so many shows coming up and people are just really excited and jazzed to kind of get back out there into the city scene.

Brent Hanifl 09:58
Yeah, you know, I follow a few Minnesota venues in the cities there. And it’s just great to see this ongoing list of bands that are coming through town and I know you know, our area is a little bit smaller, we don’t get the bigger bands. So it’s exciting when I go up there to the cities, you know, I always try to find somewhere good to eat, always maybe stop by the Sculpture Garden or the Walker beforehand, grab some food, grab some beer at the local breweries and then go to a show. So it’s always a great time when you’re visiting.

Alyssa Hayes 10:24
Exactly it. I mean, it’s one of the top art scenes in the US and the museums and galleries are all kind of must stop places on any road trip throughout the Twin Cities, whether that’s your final destination or if you’re going through. Like you said earlier, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that’s a great stop, you know, a lot of renovations there over the last couple of years. And then they also have my favorite thing there is really outdoorsy, so when you can combine the outdoors with art, I am there. They have an artist’s design Skyline Mini Golf that starts May 20th. So that’s a really fun thing to do, if you’ve never tried it.

Brent Hanifl 11:01
We really just went over quite a bit. You know what’s happening especially at festivals, live music, art. What’s the best spot for people to go to find out more information?

Alyssa Hayes 11:11
Explore We have a really extensive database on festivals and events and activities all basically everything I just listed and 1000s more listings throughout the entire state. And if you go to the website again,, we have great trip planning resources, lots of really fun articles like, you know, 3D Art and culture itineraries throughout the Twin Cities. We even have an article dedicated just to Winona’s music and art festivals. We’re here for the people. We want to give you the resources to get out there and try something new. Tell your friends about it. You can also call 888-VisitMN, live chat with Minnesota travel experts online. I mean, we’ve got a lot of people here to help travelers trying to plan their next trip in Minnesota.

Amy Gabay 12:02
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.


About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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