Monthly Archives: May 2018

Traveling the Great River Road in Minnesota

Thursday, May 24, 2018

One of the most memorable trips on the Great River Road will take you to where it all begins. The headwaters of the Mississippi River can be found in Minnesota, in a small glacial lake called Lake Itasca. The Great River Road travels 575 miles through Minnesota, so there’s a lot of country to explore. The route will take you through impressive northern forests, past the homes of American icons and through rich farmland, charming river towns and vibrant urban centers. You’ll encounter 10 Interpretive Centers – pay them a visit to learn about the fascinating history and heritage of this region.

Here an overview of the Great River Road through Minnesota.

Mississippi Headwaters – Itasca State Park to Bemidji (30 miles): Discover the river’s humble source in Itasca State Park, Minnesota’s oldest state park. The park covers 32,000 acres and it’s a wild place; hear the call of the loon and watch bald eagles soar above the majestic virgin pines along Wilderness Drive.  Be sure to stop by the Jacob Brower Visitor Center. Visit Bemidji – first city on the Mississippi – and be sure to capture a photo memory with legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his faithful pal, Babe the Blue Ox. It’s a perfect spot for a selfie!

Mississippi Northwoods – Bemidji to Grand Rapids (100 miles):  This is a wild and beautiful drive. You’ll   follow the river past a series of iconin Minneota Lakes: Bemidji, Cass, Winnibigoshish and Pokegema. There’s plenty of culture and heritages to explore as well–discover the stories of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and its rich heritage.  Learn the history of the lumberjack.  Visit Grand Rapids to tour the paper mill, Forest History Center and Judy Garland’s birthplace.

Mississippi Crossings – Grand Rapids to Little Falls (145 miles): This is a land of travelers; by river, rail and road, people of this region have traveled the Mississippi for centuries. Today it plays host to thousands of vacationers each year who bike, golf, fish, bird or simply seek respite. Come to play and to explore the historical routes inspired by the river. One popular attraction is the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls.

Scenic Mississippi – Little Falls to Elk River (92 miles): Wild and Scenic River is the designation given to this pristine section of Minnesota’s Mississippi.  The river here is ideal for canoeing, picnicking, fishing and scenic biking.  Remarkable main street architecture, historic museums, lovely parks, magnificent gardens and scenic rural farmland provide a backdrop for a relaxing river experience.

Metro Mississippi – Elk River to Hastings (75 miles): Abundant parkland and trails invite you to the riverfront renaissance taking place in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  Enjoy theater, major sports venues, museums, concerts, headline entertainment and shopping. You’ll also encounter thoughtfully preserved riverfront parks, historic sites, and the falls of St. Anthony. For a good overview of the river, stop by the Mississippi River Visitor Center in Saint Paul.

Mississippi Bluffs – Hastings to Iowa Border (140 miles): Bring binoculars to bluff country because the river vistas are remarkable and the wildlife viewing – especially birding – is some of the best in the country. This is eagle country and the National Eagle Center is a good place to learn about these majestic creatures. Follow the river through more than a dozen charming river towns complete with historic main streets, riverboats, unique shopping, museums and warm hospitality.

Pigs Weekend

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Explore the ins and outs of Minnesota’s pork industry and how it’s changed over time. Discover what it takes to raise pigs from farrow to finish. Plus, enjoy readings of classic pig tales from Charlotte’s Web to The Three Little Pigs and sample BBQ-pulled pork in the Learning Kitchen.

Hours are 10 am-5 pm on Sept. 15 & 16.

Threshers & Combines Weekend

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend and the culmination of the grain growing season at the Oliver Kelley Farm. Help farmers bring grain bundles in from the historic field, thresh the grain in an 1856 Cox and Roberts horse-powered threshing machine, bag up the grain, and rake away the straw.

Then compare that experience to a modern combine at the Farm Lab. Explore a variety of grains, their uses, and flavors in the Learning Kitchen in the visitor center.

Hours are 10 am-5 pm on Sept. 1, 2 & 3.

Farm to Fair Weekend

Discover how farm animals are raised, prepared, and judged at state and county fairs. Test your judging skills to determine the perfect sheep, an award-winning Hubbard squash, and a blue-ribbon pickle. Then sample some “snacks-on-a-stick” in the Learning Kitchen.

Hours are 10 am-5 pm on Aug. 25 & 26.

Pickling Weekend

In the 19th century, pickles provided families with a variety of foods and flavors to help them survive the long winter months. Today, pickles are less of a necessity, but still a flavorful addition to meals.

Explore and sample historic and modern pickles in the historic Kelley Farm kitchen and the visitor center’s Learning Kitchen. Visitors can make a jar of refrigerator pickles to take home for $4 per jar.

Hours are 10 am-5 pm on August 18 & 19.

1968 Weekend

As 2018 marks 50 years since the events of 1968, explore a 1968-era garden and sample food from 1960s recipes in the Learning Kitchen. Plus, examine 1960s farm equipment while learning about Minnesota agriculture in the shadow of national conflict and change. Hours are 10 am-5 pm on Aug 11 & 12.

Poultry Weekend

Discover the ins and outs of the world of poultry in Minnesota from eggs to full-grown birds. Explore how farmers raise poultry, meet newly hatched chicks and turkey poults as well as laying hens, and sample favorite recipes in the Learning Kitchen. Hours are 10 am-5 pm July 21 & 22.

Farmer’s Fourth of July

Celebrate the most important 19th-century holiday, the Fourth of July, with the Kelley Farm staff. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the front lawn while listening to rousing speeches. Play 19th- and 21st-century games and then sample ice cream in the Learning Kitchen. Hours are 10 am-5 pm.

Dairy Weekend

Discover how farmers cared for their dairy cattle in the mid-19th century versus today and meet the cattle of the 1860s and cows of 2018. Help make butter and cottage cheese in the historic house kitchen and sample ice cream and cheeses made in the visitor center’s Learning Kitchen. Hours are 10 am-5 pm June 23 & 24.

Father’s Day

This Father’s Day join the Kelley Farm staff as they work on typical 19th-century farm chores, like woodworking and machinery repairs. Then visit the Farm Lab Barn to explore animal husbandry skills of today.

Fathers are admitted free when accompanied by a child. Hours are 10 am-5 pm.