It may not be as legendary a travel period as Thanksgiving, but MEA weekend ranks right up there for Minnesotans who use it to get out of town for four days.
One indicator: At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, this long weekend is as busy, or busier, than Thanksgiving.
Still colloquially known as MEA weekend, it's officially the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference, a two-day holiday for students that many parents take advantage of.
State tourism officials, resort owners and hunting organizations aggressively promote it in the hopes of luring Minnesotans to hit the road.
And at the airport, recession or no, it's expected to be roughly as busy as last year, said airport spokeswoman Melissa Skovronski.
One wrinkle this weekend: Because one of the runways at the airport is being rebuilt, weather that causes low visibility can compound delays for arriving flights, she said.
"Honestly, it'll be up to Mother Nature whether we have delays this weekend," Skovronski said.
According to the National Weather Service, cloudy and cool weather should prevail through the weekend in most of Minnesota, with a chance of rain or snow. No big winter storms are in the forecast.
Anticipating the weekend hordes, retailers at the airport are holding their first sidewalk sale throughout the Lindbergh Terminal.
"Because it's one of our larger weekends, we decided to tie it to MEA," Skovronski said. "At least if the weather delays folks, it'll give them something different to do."
BOB VON STERNBERG