The 44th Minnesota Renaissance Festival near Shakopee has announced its schedule for the year. The site contains 22 acres of activity, with more than 250 merchants in a mock 16th century village. Theme weekends include:

Aug. 16-17: Highland Fling!

Aug. 23-24: Buccaneer Beer Fest

Sept. 13-14: Wine, Chocolate and Romance

Sept. 21-22: Oktoberfest

Sept. 27-28: Shamrocks and Shenanigans

Other 2014 highlights :

• A celebration of the playwright William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

– A new selection of locally brewed craft beer.

The fest is weekends Aug. 16 to Sept. 28, plus Labor Day and Friday, Sept. 26. Gates are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine. The site is seven miles south of Shakopee on Hwy 169. The fee for adults is $22.95, for children 5-12 $13.95 and younger kids are free. Discounted tickets are at many Super America, Walgreens, and Menards locations.

More information is at


Ruth Ann Willius to read from her picture book

Author Ruth Ann Willius will read from her book, “Go Daisy, Grow!” in multiple settings this weekend.

It’s a children’s picture book that “takes the reader into the life of a seed that wants to grow into a beautiful Shasta daisy,” organizers say. “She encounters many challenges in her ability to grow.”

The illustrations are done by 6th graders from Scandia Elementary School, Scandia, Minn.

The July 12 readings are at:

• Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center at Freedom Park, 200 Monroe Street, Prescott, Wis., from 10-12 a.m.;

• The Orange Dragon Art Gallery, 122 Orange Street, Prescott, from 12:30-1:30 p.m.;

• The LeDuc Historic Estate, 1629 Vermillion Street, Hastings, from 2-4 p.m.

Admission is free for kids and for adults is through a ticket for the Art in the Garden Tour or for the LeDuc Historic Estate.

Willius is a retired teacher who now volunteers in schools as a Spanish instructor.

The LeDuc Historic Estate is owned by the city of Hastings and managed by the Dakota County Historical Society. For further information, see or call 651-437-7055.

Staff reports