Aquatennial Blog | Saturday, July 23



Welcome to the final day of the 2016 Aquatennial! This is our Official Civic Celebration, and we’re excited to share it again with you here in Minneapolis for the 77th year. Join us on this fun four-day adventures that will include a combination of food, fitness and fun ranging from flagship events like the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade to the Target Fireworks all the way to new events like Mess Hall, AquaJam and the Big Waters Classic: Fulton Downtown Drag Race. There is something for everyone at this event.

In order to fully appreciate all the events that are going on, we’re giving you a daily breakdown of all the things you can see and do at the Aquatennial. Sit back and enjoy this recap as we take a look at some of the highlights from a big week in Downtown Minneapolis.

Saturday is our last day of the year here at Aquatennial, and it’s filled with annual favorites like the Target Fireworks as well as new staples like Mess Hall and AquaJam. You’re able to really enjoy and appreciate the history of our city as these events are lined along the Mississippi Riverfront, making it easy to walk or bike from place to place while getting to enjoy and appreciate one of the oldest and most influential places in our city.

Thanks to everyone who braved the rain during the afternoon and still came out on Saturday evening. It turned out to be a perfect day after the rain cleared, and we had a blast wrapping up the 2016 Aquatennial with you.



U.S. Bank Stadium Grand Opening Open House Tours

U.S. Bank Stadium is open, folks! The stadium opened its doors on Saturday and Sunday over the weekend for a free preview of what people can enjoy when they come to Vikings games or other events there for decades to come. This state-of-the-art facility is filled with amenities and incredible views of the downtown skyline though its huge glass windows on the west side of the facility. Fans were able to come through the Legacy Gate, view the stadium from the suite level and in the east end zone, walk through the concourse and experience some of the unique nuances that make U.S. Bank Stadium one of the most exciting and must-see destinations in the NFL. We’re excited that the stadium opened during Aquatennial so we could have the chance to celebrate with everyone during this exciting moment in downtown Minneapolis’ history.


Historic Aquatennial Presented By Cambria

Now in its second year in the Aquatennial lineup, the Historic Aquatennial presented by Cambria is a great way to relive some of the past experiences and looks of the Minneapolis Aquatennial. This event, located in the Cambria on 7th Gallery at 625 2nd Avenue South, highlights some of the sights and sounds of Aquatennial over the past seven decades. We’ve seen a great response to this event as there are many in the state who enjoy taking a look back at what they experienced at Aquatennial in the past throughout its evolution. There are great photos, videos, apparel and costumes, decorations, poster boards with historical context stories, a full Skipper Pin collection, guides and more. This particular event ran Wednesday through Saturday at Cambria, so it was available each day during Aquatennial to stop by. Plus, the Cambria on 7th location is a fantastic gathering spot for any business or group looking to do an event.


Twin Cities Carifest

Twin Cities Carifest has been an annual staple of summer in Minneapolis for the past two decades, and it continued this year during Aquatennial on West River Road between the Plymouth and Broadway bridges. This event features Caribbean art, food, crafts, music and a traditional carnival parade with colorful costumes and dance. If you’ve never been before, it has really delicious items to try out. Plus, it is just across the Plymouth Bridge from the Mess Hall and AquaJam and just a mile and a half from the Target Fireworks preferred viewing area.


Mess Hall

Mess Hall is a brand new event that was rolled out in 2016, and it’s got a bright future here in the Minneapolis area. Mess Hall brings out the foodie in you: Located at Boom Island, it turns this massive green space with a beautiful view of the skyline into a food and beverage celebration. There were 12 different food options on hand ranging from burgers and egg rolls all the way to fried chicken, mac & cheese and tacos. Plus, Fulton Beer, FINNEGANS, Lakes & Legends Brewing Co. and Sociable Cider Werks were all on hand providing their signature craft brews. At 3 pm (and a little later due to inclement weather), Alchemy provided an A10 fitness class on the grass. And from 8 pm to 10 pm, there were musical performances by Sam Cassidy and Nooky Jones. It was a great first event that will continue to grow and evolve.



Right next door to Mess Hall at Boom Island was AquaJam, a legacy Aquatennial event that made its return in a big way this year. AquaJam was popular in the 1980s, and thanks to Fulton Beer and Familia Skateshop it came back with a huge turnout in 2016. The event featured a mini-ramp, a Skate your State ramp, rails, barrel jumps and more. It was packed along the course as people watched talented local skaters, both young and old, try out different tricks. Cash prizes were handed out based on judges’ discretion of how difficult the trick was, and there was even a barrel-jumping competition where multiple people cleared 10 barrels in a jump. It was a captivating experience for everyone involved, and it brought people over from Mess Hall to get in on the action as well. This was a wildly successful return event, and we’re excited to see how it grows in the coming year.

Photo Credit: Sridhar Thayur

Photo Credit: Sridhar Thayur

Target Fireworks

The grand finale (as always) at Aquatennial is the beloved Target Fireworks, considered one of the top 5 annual displays in the country. The evening always kicks off with the Pre-Fireworks Festivities from 6-10 pm, and this year it included four bands performing consecutively including the Command Steppers, Nicholas David & The Feelin’ Band (a local celebrity from NBC’s The Voice), The WCCO-TV Blues Band and The Grateful RED—an always-popular group of Target employees who play an incredible Big Band set. There were also food trucks and treats on hand, and there was a kids zone with a mini-water slide, a Keys 4/4 Kids ‘Paint a Piano’, a Crayola Experience, face painting/Henna Tattoos and more.

Then, at 10 pm, the Target Fireworks kicked off with perhaps its best version yet. Approximately 150 man hours were logged in designing, choreographing and setting up the show, which lasted 23 minutes and set off approximately 10,000 pounds of explosives. It was intricately set to music, and the ‘pyromusical’ was simulcast on Go 95.3 FM (due to the Twins game going long—it was scheduled to be simulcast on Go 96.3 FM). The display featured odes to Luke Bryan and Metallica performing at U.S. Bank Stadium this summer, and it also had two popular Prince songs in the lineup including Purple Rain midway through and Let’s Go Crazy as the finale. The finale began with a spectacular “waterfall” of fireworks off the 3rd Avenue Bridge, a new twist that was a surprise to the crowd on hand and had never been done before.

In all, the Target Fireworks typically attract about 250,000 people to the riverfront. The Minneapolis Aquatennial thanks everyone who came out to this year’s events, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2017. Follow and our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for announcements on next year’s dates and new events throughout the year.