All posts by travelingrachael

From weekend escapes to extended journeys, I adore exploring new places through food, music, and cultural experiences. Passionate about traveling, baseball and country music, I love having my bags packed and heading off on the next adventure. When I’m not traveling, I believe making the most of my daily journeys by checking out nearby coffee shops and boutiques...and always daydreaming about my next great getaway.

Why I Travel to See Garth Brooks

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but sitting here in my hotel room getting ready for my next Garth Brooks concert, the writer in me is compelled to share some thoughts.

Last night was my Sweet Sixteenth, Garth Brooks’ concert that it is, and it certainly wasn’t my last! (I’m actually going to tonight’s late show in Sioux Falls.) Over the years, I’ve traveled from Minneapolis to see shows in Kansas City, Vegas for two separate shows at the Wynn, Nashville, cashed in all my miles to go to a Croke Park Show in Dublin (but the show got cancelled), Milwaukee, Des Moines, Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, and now Sioux Falls. Why you ask? Well, for starters he puts his heart into every show, his music is the soundtrack of my life, and his shows offer the perfect mix of meaningful songs, rock-out melodies, party anthems, and rollicking moments.

But what I find so alluring about Garth is his connection with the fans. If you’re up at the top in the last row, or behind the stage, Garth makes an attempt to acknowledge and connect with EVERY fan. There’s no greater example of this than during “housekeeping”. It happens during the encore portion of the show. Fans bring signs requesting their favorites. Garth selects several of the songs to sing as part of his encore. Last night, I was lucky enough to have my sign selected. We brought this “We Shall Be Free” sign to the opening night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our seats were behind the stage to the side. He saw our sign earlier in the show, and came back during the encore to sing the first verse right to our section. It was absolutely incredible!!! I will never forget it!

In addition to our sign, there was a woman with a sign that said “I’ve waited 95 years to see Garth Brooks.” He saw the sign, and not only did he acknowledge it, but he came down from the stage, and went right over to the lady for a photo with her and her family. How many performers do that??

In addition to last night’s experience, I have to say my personal favorite Garth-related moment was when I happened to be walking to the elevator in a Milwaukee hotel at the same time as Garth. The hotel’s security asked us to wait for the next elevator, but Garth made eye contact with me, and said, “Come on in”!!! It’s been nearly two years, and I still can’t believe I got to ride in an elevator with my musical hero. The best part? He was as kind and genuine in person as he is on TV. I was so shocked by the whole experience, and I didn’t want to be rude, (and let’s face it, I was pretty much speechless) so I don’t have a photo with Garth. If you know me, you know, he’s the person in the world I’d choose to meet over anyone else, but I hope maybe someday I get another chance…

Until then, I’ll keep traveling the world to see Garth. It’s the best concert ticket money can buy, and I always leave feeling like I’ve seen a completely different show than the last Garth show, because of his unique connection with the audience.

Now, it’s time to get ready for the show tonight!

 

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#MnMondays: The Great Minnesota Get Together!

It’s officially that time of year…the Minnesota State Fair opens on Thursday!

Treasured by those around the state, this is a truly Minnesotan experience with bake-offs, farm animals, Grandstand concerts, tractors, and last but certainly not least, fried foods and everything on a stick!

Commonly referred to as “The Great Minnesota Get Together” this event draws people from all over the state (and the world) to come together to graze on buckets of cookies, while sipping all-you-can-drink cups of milk, then heading to the animal barns to see the largest swine, watch baby animals being born at the Miracle of Birth Center, nibbling on something fried or something on a stick, catching a live newscast by one of the local network affiliates, checking out the arts and crafts on display in the Creative Activities building, setting a spell at the bandshell for some live music, trying some MN Wines, eating some more fried foods or something on a stick, like a Pronto Pup, people watching, and maybe ending the day with a show by a favorite artist at the Grandstand, and capping off this year’s trip with fireworks. Or maybe checking out machinery, or going to the Midway, or taking the kids to ride the kiddie rides, or seeing the bees up close in the horticulture building, or checking out the 4-H displays. There really is something for everyone, and everyone really does seem to have a different favorite thing to do or experience at the Fair.

Personally, I have several favorites. I saw my first concert (Alabama) at the Grandstand when I was six, and nearly every year since then I’ve gone to a Grandstand Show. Of course I’m going again this year for the Dixie Chicks (and Alabama is back. As far as fair foods, I have several favorites including Fudge Puppies (Belgian waffle on a stick dipped in chocolate), several items at Mancini’s, the Reuben Bites at O’Gara’s and of course…corn on the cob! A trip to the Fair is not complete without it.

Another favorite thing of mine is the baking contests. Last year, I entered an original recipe for the first time, and I took second place in the Gold Medal Flour Cookie Contest. It was so exciting! I’m currently finalizing this year’s entry…stay tuned….

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2015 Gold Medal Cookie Contest Winners

What’s your favorite State Fair food or experience?

#MnMondays: Mill City Farmer’s Market

As the peak of the fruits and vegetable season is here, there’s no better time to head to the Mill City Farmer’s Market. Set between the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theater, I love the mix of nature’s bounty nestled amongst the urban landscape.

Mill-City-Farmers-Market-Guthrie

Held every Saturday from May to October, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., the market features a variety of freshly-picked fruits and veggies, along with local honey, fresh-roasted coffee, handmade soaps, jams, and Minnesota-made items.

There’s live music, along with demonstrations and theme days (this Saturday, August 20 is Pollinator Day). It’s the perfect spot to stroll around, sipping a cup of locally roasted coffee, get some delicious produce, and do some people watching.

Mill-City-Farmers-Market-Band

If you’re feeling like adding to your adventure, you can stroll over to Mill Ruins Park, walk over the Stone Arch Bridge to watch the roaring Mississippi River, relax in Gold Medal Park, learn about the history of Minneapolis’ flour industry at the Mill City Museum, or take in a theatrical production at the Guthrie.

Mill-City-Food-Truck

What’s your favorite stand at the Mill City Farmer’s Market?

The Uptown Art Fair

If you like strolling along the street, looking at art by a variety of artists, then the Uptown Art Fair is the place to be.

Typically held in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis on the first weekend in August, the fair draws more than 340 artists from around the world specializing in everything from printmaking to glass blowing.

This year, attendees were treated to especially perfect weather. With highs in the low 80s, soft breezes and plenty of sunshine, there was something even more magical about checking out the booths along Hennepin Avenue. I especially loved Adam Turman’s prints, Dogfish Media, and Greta Sandquist’s colorful paintings-especially her squirrel art!

Even the garbage cans were turned into works of art for the event!

Uptown Art Fair Art Can.jpg

In addition to art, there were a variety of local food trucks, including Bridgeman’s Ice Cream and the Kitchen Window had a paella stand that pretty much was its own art form.

Uptown Art Fair Paella StandUptown Art Fair Bridgemans

When it was time for a break (and some dinner), we decided to head to the rooftop patio of Libertine. What a view of the festival, and the bustling Uptown neighborhood. And I must say…the Fried Chicken Sandwich was pretty fantastic.

To top it off, the drive around Lake Calhoun leaving the Art Fair was a picture perfect Saturday evening with cool lake breezes, the Minneapolis skyline in the background, and a gorgeous sunset.

Lake-Calhoun-Summer-EveningSunset On Lake Calhoun

Did you attend the Uptown Art Fair? Who were your favorite artists?

If you didn’t go this year, mark your calendar for next year…there’s really nothing like it.

 

Unleash Your Creativity

Getting in touch with your creative side is always a good idea, and the growing number of paint-your-own-canvas options in the Twin Cities makes it easy.

If you’re looking for a fun experience, head over to Brush Studio in the the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Offering public paint nights most Wednesday to Saturday evenings, along with Sunday afternoons, Brush Studio is locally owned and operated. There’s also options for private group events as well (I highly recommend, as I organized an alumni event at Brush Studio and it was a great success).

First, you must check out the calendar to decide the date you want to go based on the painting design. When you arrive, you’ll put on an apron, select your spot with an easel and canvas, then get your supplies. Adults will want to make a visit to the bar to get a beer or wine to enjoy while you paint, and then the fun really begins.

IMG_6089An artist/instructor will walk you through the painting process step-by-step. Along the way, everyone’s artistic skills will be revealed, likely providing some fun and comedic moments. In the end, you’ll have a completed masterpiece to take home and proudly display, along with the pride of knowing you’re pretty good with the paintbrush after all.

IMG_6092IMG_6096Is looking at finished art more your thing? Be sure to check out the Uptown Art Fair, August 5 to 7, 2016. Featuring 350 artists from around the world, 22 food vendors, culinary competitions, youth art fair, and a family imagination station, there really is something for everyone.

 

 

 

The New Home of Purple Pride

Talked about for years, and under construction since 2014, the new U.S. Bank Stadium opened its doors to the public on Saturday, July 23 for an open house.

USBank-ExteriorThe highly anticipated stadium is the new home of the Minnesota Vikings and is set to host the 2018 Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four in 2019. Located on the former site of the Metrodome, and surrounded by a $400-million redeveloped area that includes a two-block community park, offices, access to the light rail, condos, and apartments, the shiny new building is a sight to behold.

U.S. Bank Stadium offers a climate-controlled, glassed-in environment, allowing fans to enjoy natural sunlight, while keeping the frigid temperatures away. On mild days, the stadium’s large glass doors that open toward the downtown corridor will allow comfortable Minnesota breezes. Guests will be able to select from a variety of local food offerings including Ike’s Food and Cocktails, Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, Murray’s Steaks and more.

Throughout the stadium there are nods to the team’s heritage, including a special bar designed to invoke the feel of Viking ships from long ago. There’s also an art museum with Minnesota and football focused art, and of course, there is plenty of purple, including all of the stadium seats.

In addition to football games, the stadium is set to host a variety of events including the Chelsea vs. A.C.Milan soccer game as part of the International Champions Cup. The inaugural concert is set for Friday, August 19 when Luke Bryan and Little Big Town will take the stage.

Stay tuned for more later this month…as I will be attending the inaugural concert!