For most people, Labor Day signals an end to summer and the beginning of soon-to-be freezing weather.

But before you start pulling out the thermal underwear and snow boots, remember there’s still fun to be had this weekend -- even if there’s ongoing rules and limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From backyard barbecues to road tripping, here are five fun and safe activities that can be done around the Bemidji area this Labor Day weekend.

Take a hike

Labor Day weekend is a great time to get outdoors and explore some of the many trails the area has to offer. (Bria Barton / Bemidji Pioneer)
Labor Day weekend is a great time to get outdoors and explore some of the many trails the area has to offer. (Bria Barton / Bemidji Pioneer)

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We have finally reached the time of year where taking a hike isn’t an ongoing battle with nature’s pests.

So with less mosquitoes and ticks, now is the time to get some exercise and hit the trails -- all the while with the added perk of staying close to home.

Itasca State Park has a variety of trails to match individual needs and skill levels and has six miles of paved trails that hikers can share with cyclists.

Lake Bemidji State Park offers two miles of wheelchair accessible trails, one mile of self-guided trail and 11 miles of easy to moderate trails that take you through areas of maturing pine, aspen and hardwoods.

And although it’s a bit too early in the month for fall foliage in Bemidji, if you were to hike in the southern half of Minnesota, you might see some early signs of change, according to the Fall Color Finder on the Minnesota DNR website.

Feast on fair food

Although fairs around the state were canceled this year, Bemidjians still have the opportunity to fulfill their fair food cravings this week.  (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Although fairs around the state were canceled this year, Bemidjians still have the opportunity to fulfill their fair food cravings this week. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Although fairs around the state were canceled this year, Bemidjians still have the opportunity to fulfill their fair food cravings this week. The Bemidji Jaycees and myBemidji are co-hosting the Fair Food Rally, which will be going on through Sunday, Sept. 6, in the Marketplace Foods parking lot.

Community members can take their pick from at least nine different food trucks, which are serving up Italian fare, fry bread tacos, corn dogs, mini donuts, funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos, ice cream, flavored cheese curds, fresh cut fries and more.

The hours are:

  • 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 to Saturday, Sept. 5

  • 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6

Some trucks may be open earlier or later, or only available on certain days, based on their own discretion.

Get out on the water

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stressing boating safety for Labor Day weekend because this year has been the deadliest boating season in nearly a decade. Photo by Elena Elisseeva
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stressing boating safety for Labor Day weekend because this year has been the deadliest boating season in nearly a decade. Photo by Elena Elisseeva


Before cold weather strikes and lakes begin to freeze, why not get out and enjoy the water?

Although Labor Day is looking to be a bit chilly, Saturday and Sunday are expected to be warm and sunny -- a perfect combination for boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, among other water activities.

However, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stressing boating safety for Labor Day weekend because this year has been the deadliest boating season in nearly a decade.

The two most common causes of boating fatalities in the state are capsizing and falling overboard, and such incidents are more likely to be deadly during the spring and fall cold-water periods.

“We’re entering a transition period when the water temperature will start dropping, so now’s the time to prepare,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “All boaters should put safety above everything else, but new boaters, in particular, need to understand the risks associated with late-season boating and the steps they can take to minimize those risks.”

Boaters should keep the following in mind as they hit the water:

  • Wear a life jacket (foam is more effective than inflatables during the cold-water season). It’s the one thing most likely to help people survive a fall into cold water.

  • Distribute weight evenly and abide by manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.

  • Have a means of communication. Boaters also should let other people know where they’re going and when they plan to return.

  • Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms. Even strong swimmers can be incapacitated quickly after a fall into cold water.

Hit the road

Since living amid a pandemic is the new normal, travelers should now add a few more essential items to their packing list before heading out on the open road this Labor Day weekend. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
Since living amid a pandemic is the new normal, travelers should now add a few more essential items to their packing list before heading out on the open road this Labor Day weekend. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

For months, tourism industry experts have proclaimed that this was the summer of the road trip because of COVID-19.

Yet with social distancing orders still in place as we move into chillier weather, this autumn could very well be another season of road tripping.

The month of September is Drive the Great River Road Month, and Labor Day weekend is a perfect time to hop in your car and explore the national scenic byway and the Mississippi River’s eight geographic and geologic reaches in the state.

And for those looking to take an overnight road trip -- but don’t want to sleep in their car or stay in a hotel -- another great option to consider is renting an RV. Websites like RVShare.com help customers find the perfect recreational vehicle to take them on their trip.

If planning to take a road trip this Labor Day weekend, here are some things to consider:

  • Travelers should bring face coverings as well as disposable gloves, disinfecting wet wipes, sealable disposable plastic bags, tissues and hand sanitizer.

  • If renting an RV, be sure to disinfect and clean it thoroughly.

  • While out on the road, travelers should limit the number of pit stops they take to keep interaction with others -- as well as touching common surfaces -- to a minimum. To prevent frequent stops, stock up on food and drinks to keep in your car or RV.

  • Opt for wide open spaces to visit and avoid crowded destinations. Travelers can take advantage of scenic byways and national parks.

Get out the grill

There’s butcher shops around town that are having sales on select meats, so you can be sure to stock up for your Labor Day cookout. Photo: iStock
There’s butcher shops around town that are having sales on select meats, so you can be sure to stock up for your Labor Day cookout. Photo: iStock

Surely, all your Labor Day weekend fun is going to work up an appetite. And is anything more synonymous with the holiday than getting out the grill?

Luckily, there’s butcher shops around town that are having sales on select meats, so you can stock up for your cookout.

Stittsworth Meats currently has a sale on sirloin, porterhouse and T-bone steaks. And Bemidji Downtown Meats has a sale on pork chops, two types of ribs, bone-in ribeye, cooked brats and salmon.

However, if you are planning a cookout this weekend, do so with care.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, Gov. Tim Walz and state health officials urged Minnesotans to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 over Labor Day weekend, particularly at social gatherings and backyard barbecues.

Walz urged Minnesotans to stay vigilant with social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing.