Taste of Minnesota finally dies

So long, Taste of Minnesota. Waconia will (probably) miss you.

So long, Taste of Minnesota. Waconia will (probably) miss you.

A Taste of Minnesota — the long-running Twin Cities music/food/fireworks festival — is no more. In terms of surprise level, the news announced Thursday by Taste general manager Linda Maddox charts pretty low.

In 2010 the fest filed for bankruptcy and went on a three-year hiatus. It returned in 2014, moving from its longtime home at St. Paul's Harriet Island to Waconia, Minnesota — about an hour's drive southwest of the metro. Last year's Taste brought the Gear Daddies, the Suburbs, Foghat, P.O.D., Fuel, and Jon Pardi to the Carver County Fairgrounds over Fourth of July weekend.   

Founded in 1983 by Ron Maddox, Taste started out at the state Capitol grounds before moving to Harriet Island in 2004. In 2009, Maddox sold the fest to International Event Marketing, which tried to lure fans with bigger names (Elvis Costello, Judas Priest, the Offspring, 311) but much higher ticket prices ($20-$30). IEM owed creditors $1.6 million following its bankruptcy filing in late 2010, the same year Ron Maddox died. 

Here's the full announcement issued Thursday by Ron's widow Linda:

"With a mixture of sadness and excitement, I’m announcing today my retirement and the closure of A Taste of Minnesota. This festival was the pride and joy of my late husband Ron, who created it in 1983. I grew to love the event as we managed it together from 1996-2008. When the festival was sold and later closed, I missed the fun and exhilaration, and I often thought about making a comeback with the original team — minus Ron, who passed away in 2010. This dream became a reality in 2014, and our last two festivals have brought joy to a whole new generation in a new host community, Waconia. The 2014 and 2015 festivals fulfilled our goal of providing a fun, family-centered event for Minnesotans over the Fourth of July weekend – the same goal that Taste was founded upon decades ago. I’m confident that now is the best time for me to begin the next chapter of life as a retiree. Thank you to the fans, vendors and visitors who supported A Taste of Minnesota throughout the years. I’m also deeply grateful to our gracious hosts in Waconia and Carver County, and to the team in Saint Paul who supported us in our first 26 years."