BEST FESTIVAL Minneapolis 2004 - Grand Old Day
The six-figure turnouts at this annual street fair reflect more than ballooning civic ecstasy at the onset of summer. It's a sign that, deep down, St. Paulites may not be ready to fully yield one of their most distinctive thoroughfares to corporate invaders. While it's still lined with some of the Twin Cities' best-loved independent businesses, Grand Avenue has watched its more vulnerable locally owned storefronts give way to big chain stores and a creeping 50th-and-France-ification over the last couple of decades, particularly in and around Victoria Crossing. Accordingly, Grand Old Day is that rare occasion when you can not only count on a wealth of food, shopping, and live entertainment options for every conceivable age group, but also gather up 50 of your closest and/or drunkest friends in front of Pottery Barn to shout down The Man. Beer garden or no beer garden, we need this mighty display of mob revelry and neighborhood communion to disrupt the gathering forces of banality. Plus, it's a rare Sunday when even St. Paul's most steadfast Catholics can tip a few back before noon and not feel like a heathen--or, at least, not the only heathen.