Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate lyricist. Prince, visionary pop sensation. Harold Loeffelmacher, legendary trombonist and leader of the polka band the Six Fat Dutchmen. When it comes to musicians, Minnesota has blessed the world with more than our fair share. That’s why when we hold our annual State Fair, the world owes it to us to send their very best musicians in return. Here are some of the tributes to our greatness we’re hosting at the Grandstand this year.

Earth, Wind, & Fire

Sunday, August 26

Formed in Chicago in 1969, Earth, Wind, & Fire’s unique synthesis of soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, and rock have earned them their place in the Panthéon of pop luminaries. With eight Double Platinum albums, nine Grammy awards, and arguably the greatest use of video feedback of all time in their video for “September,” Earth, Wind, & Fire is one of the best acts that will ever have graced the Grandstand. (As if having all that talent wasn’t enough, these guys apparently have discovered the secret to immortality to boot — they look like they discovered a time machine on Michigan Avenue back in the early 70’s.) What’s even more, the riotous Sinbad is opening for the band this year. This tour de force oughtn’t be missed.

The Beach Boys

Monday, August 27


More than 50 years after their first concert, The Beach Boys are still going strong under the leadership of original band members Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. Their early popularity rested on surfing and car songs, which epitomized the freewheeling California spirit of the era and united school boys across the country in the desire to be older. The band grew some serious teeth with their 1966 album “Pet Sounds,” which had ethereal harmonies that would inspire The Beatles to produce “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” the next year. Could there be a better song to roll over the corn dog waggling throngs at a summer fair than “Kokomo?” God only knows. The Righteous Brothers, masters of blue-eyed soul, will open for The Beach Boys this year as well. Boomers of Minnesota take action.

Life Tour feat. Boy George and Culture Club, The B-52s, and Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey

Monday, September 3

If we were just receiving the only band whose lyrical depth could make their listeners ponder how the sum of a color changing lizard’s actions might impact its fate in future existences, it would have been enough. If we were just receiving the first band to have a Billboard Hot 100 song about a crustacean, it would have been enough. But that Boy George and Culture Club are teaming up together with The B-52s, and that the great Tom Bailey is coming along for the ride, too, makes their Life Tour all the more special. (Fun fact: The “Tin roof rusted” line in “Love Shack” actually has nothing to do with tin roofs or their proclivity for corrosion.)

Those juggernauts aren’t the only performers coming. Irish pop sensation Niall Horan (formerly of One Direction), country music duo Sugarland, San Diego coffee shop scene singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, alternative rock heroes 311 and The Offspring, and even hidden camera reality stars the Impractical Jokers will all perform as well. Whatever your tastes may be, unless they are very bad, there will be a show at the Grandstand for you this year.


David Scheller