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Nearly 70 Years of Can't-Miss Family Fun at the World's Largest Wild Rice Festival

With more outdoor activities than you can imagine and scenery you’d only find on a postcard, Deer River, Minnesota, is one of the ultimate destinations for your next summer excursion.


Located three-and-a-half hours north of the Twin Cities, Deer River is a beautiful and friendly community in the heart of Minnesota Lake Country. The town’s close proximity to the Chippewa National Forest has given it the nickname “Gateway to the Chippewa”. This means you have easy access to one of the most beautiful parks in the state. The parks and surrounding areas have fun outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, photography, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, swimming and more. You’ll encounter quality restaurants serving up a variety of meals in town, and there are some great local shops to check out, that sell everything from fishing bait to unique souvenirs. Lodging is in no shortage in the area, and you’ll find a variety of resorts in close proximity to town. Deer River is also home to fun events and festivals like the World's Largest Wild Rice Festival.


For nearly seven decades the World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival has been a can’t-miss small town event. This community has roughly 900 residents until the weekend of the festival, when the town's population explodes to include over 7,500 families and fun seekers. This festival has something for everyone, from a wonderful fireworks show to a midway filled with a bunch of fun things to do for children. Great live music will be performed and you’ll find a solid selection of festival food to enjoy. Make your next family excursion one that the entire family will remember for years to come and head to beautiful Deer River for the World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival. got the opportunity to interview Brad Box, representative for the World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival, to talk about this great event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

BB: This year marks the 68th Annual World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival. Because we don’t charge admission, we don’t really have a firm attendance number, but we estimate that the event attracts between 7,500 and 10,000 people annually. This event has something for everyone and we strive to make it full of family fun. We encourage anyone and everyone to come join us.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

BB: Though we may be a bit biased, we believe that the World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival is one of Minnesota’s premier small-town festivals. The combination of the midway, entertainment, food selections and other activities make it a festival at which there is something for everyone.


RAL: Take me through a typical day at the event.


  • Midway filled with rides, games and activities

  • Live music all three days

  • Fireworks extravaganza Saturday night

  • 5K run

  • Sunday parade

  • Lions Club Bingo

  • Medallion hunt


Friday’s live band is The Great Outdoors, Saturday night’s street dance will feature a Chicago-based band called Sushi Roll, and Sunday White Oak Casino is sponsoring a free concert on our street stage by nationally known, Blackhawk.


There are a lot of dining options including carnival foods, a wild rice dinner, a full turkey dinner, Avenue of Pines Lions Hamburger stand, and the Sportsman’s Café.


Our event is held in downtown Deer River and is primarily outdoors.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

BB: There are numerous hotels, motels, resorts and campgrounds all within 20 miles of Deer River.


RAL: Does the event drive business to your local economy?

BB: Absolutely! When you bring that many people to a small town, the only businesses that don’t benefit are those that choose not to. The opportunity is there and the people are there. Businesses have to decide for themselves the best approach to capturing added business.


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

BB: The World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival is the primary fundraising event for the Deer River Lions Club. The Lions use the funds to support many causes in the local community, such as our swimming program in which we offer swimming lessons to youth at no charge. Additionally we support the Lions Eye Bank, the Lions Sight First initiative, Leaderdog, and several other state and national causes.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

BB: The Deer River Lions pride themselves on the fact that this event offers something for everyone and it's family-friendly appeal. We do not charge admission and many of the events, including the live music performances are free of charge. By doing this we keep the entire event affordable for everyone.


For more information about the World’s Largest wild Rice Festival, please visit their website.