St. Paul's Grand Old Day fest returns this weekend after three-year respite

Chalk on a street
Kids add color to a chalk design outside the Wet Paint art store at Grand Old Day in St. Paul. The event returned after a years-long hiatus.
Estelle Timar-Wilcox | MPR News

Updated: June 4, 5:55 p.m. | Posted: June 2, 3 p.m.

After three years away, St. Paul's Grand Old Day celebration returned Sunday to celebrate its big 5-0 birthday — half a century since its inception.

Regularly drawing a quarter million people along Grand Avenue, the festival took over Fairview Avenue to Dale Street for most of the day.

Leadership said they first axed the annual event in 2019 because of COVID-19, security costs and other changes.

Chris Jensen is the president of the Grand Avenue Business Association, which is putting on the festival and is the primary funder. He said safety costs tripled this year from 2019.

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“Prices are up on everything. And that includes costs for police or barricades or trash — everything,” Jensen said. “So what we had to do this year was fundraise, and monetize even more than we ever have in the past. We were fortunate to get some great sponsors that came forward.”

The day includes a fun run, street parade and music on seven stages with artists including the Jayhawks and Bad Bad Hats.

Weiner dog on grass
Shake the dog and his owner Lorelei wait for the Weiner Dog Races at the 2023 Grand Old Day celebration in St. Paul. It's Shake's first year competing.
Estelle Timar-Wilcox | MPR News

“We felt that 2023 was the year to bring this event back in a different way. We created a separate taskforce. And we thought timing was right coming out of COVID,” Jensen said. “And we really need the city to try to get together and have a day, celebrating our community, celebrating each other and spending the day on St. Paul's main street.”

People walk by tents
Fairgoers walk through art tents on Grand Avenue during this year's Grand Old Day celebration in St. Paul.
Estelle Timar-Wilcox | MPR News

Amanda Black had a tent set to sell artwork from her business, Black Loon Studio. She hopes the festival is back on its annual schedule.

“It's really fun to have local art throughout the area, and having this nice artist corridor is fun,” she said. “I love doing art fairs throughout the year, just hearing people’s opinions on things and hearing their stories about how they feel about my artwork as well.”


8 a.m.: Yoga

8:30 a.m.: Two-mile fun run

9:30 a.m.: Parade

2 p.m.: Wiener dog races

11 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Car show and music performances

Find more information on the Grand Old Day website.