2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners


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Illustration by Brent Schoonover

Comedy Club – Acme Comedy Company


Acme Comedy Co.

It’s hard to understate Acme Comedy Company’s place in the national comedy scene. When the club said it could face closure if the adjacent parking lot was developed, both fans and comics, like Marc Maron, voiced their support to “Save Acme.” The reputed club, which has served as a launchpad for locals and a testing grounds for established comedians, is your choice for Minnesota’s Best Comedy Club.

Comedian – Nick Swardson

A native of the Twin Cities and an outspoken Vikings fan and critic on Twitter, Nick Swardson’s comedic stylings have a knack for making us laugh while simultaneously making us question our basic decency because we’re laughing.

Theater – Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater

Minneapolis boasts more theaters per capita than any city in the U.S. after New York. But there’s one shining star gleaming brighter than the rest: the Guthrie Theater. Since opening in 1963, the company has had world-class acting veterans performing in impeccable plays—and a Tony Award to top it all off. Bravo!

Museum – Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota // Photo via facebook.com/sciencemuseum

Science Museum of Minnesota // Photo via Science Museum’s Facebook page

Want to soar through space without leaving your seat? What about performing hands-on biology experiments? Or even sleep over for the night next to dinosaurs or a mummy? Well, it’s right here in St. Paul. Capturing the curiosity of kids and adults, the Science Museum of Minnesota proves that science is seriously cool.

Public Art (Single Installments) – “F. Scott Fitzgerald” in Rice Park


“F. Scott Fitzgerald” in Rice Park

Visit Rice Park and you’ll see him, hat in hand, standing observant in front of the Landmark Center. The life-sized bronze statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald sculpted by Michael B. Price pays homage to the St. Paul author that defined the Jazz Age and is your favorite piece of Public Art.

Public Art Parks – Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (Walker Art Center)

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden // Photo via Minneapolis Sculpture Garden’s Facebook page

Minneapolis feels like it’s missing a piece of its identity with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden closed temporarily for renovations. We’re going to bet that when it reopens in summer 2017, it’ll be better than ever.

Bookstore – Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus

There’s a certain magic in books. They can transport us to far off places, allow us to travel through time, and introduce us to new creatures. The venerable children’s bookstore, Wild Rumpus, celebrates this magic and brings it to life with a stable of animals, in-store readings, and an imaginative decor.

Tattoo Parlour – Leviticus Tattoo

Leviticus Tattoo and Piercing // Photo via facebook.com/leviticustattoo

Leviticus Tattoo and Piercing // Photo via Leviticus’ Facebook page

Beautiful designs, attention to detail, and a peaceful koi pond to calm your nerves, Leviticus Tattoo has been given your stamp of approval for another year. Every tattoo is hand-drawn for every client, so whether it’s an intricate full sleeve or a little tatt on your ankle, the Longfellow neighborhood parlour will make sure it’s a piece of art.

Bike Shop – The Hub Bike Co-op


The Hub Bike Co-op // Photo via The Hub’s Facebook page

The Hub Bike Co-op has an extensive selection bikes and accessories for avid bikers and beginners. But it isn’t just a bike shop—it’s a change agent. The Twin Cities’ only cooperatively owned bike shop, The Hub sets aside five percent of its profits to support the cycling community, the community at large, and the environment.

Outdoors Store – REI

REI Bloomington

REI Bloomington

Maybe you want to head deep into the wild on a backcountry camping trip. Or scale a gnarly rock face. Or just spend a night under the stars, cooking over the campfire. Whatever your outdoor needs are, REI has you covered with the right gear and knowledge on how to use it.

Clothing Store (Men) – Duluth Trading Co.


Duluth Trading Co. // Photo via Duluth Trading Company’s Facebook page

Whether you’re chopping down trees, changing your oil, or doing other hands-on projects, Duluth Trading Co. has the durable and ergonomic clothes for the job. Dealing in no-frills, utilitarian garments at its three Minnesota locations, including its namesake city, Duluth Trading Co. is this year’s Best Clothing Store for Men.

Clothing Store (Women) – Primp


Primp // Photo via Primp’s Facebook page

Primp is becoming a fast fashion chain, outfitting ladies all across Minnesota, from St. Paul to Rochester, in dresses, skirts, and tops—all for under $100. With a wide selection of prints and patterns at affordable prices, Primp is making it easy to be a snappy dresser all year long.

Heritage Brand – Red Wing Shoes


Red Wing Shoes

It’s rare to see a company that started hand making their products over a hundred years ago still doing so in 2016. But that’s exactly what sets Red Wing Shoes apart. The company’s dedication to hand making their popular work shoes and heritage boots has endeared them to Growler Nation, and the community of Red Wing where they’re located.

State Park – Gooseberry Falls State Park


Gooseberry Falls // Photo via perfectduluthday.com

Just 45 minutes north of Duluth, Gooseberry Falls State Park presents a spectacle of thunderous waterfalls, rocky river gorges, forests upon forests of trees, Civilian Conservation Corps historical shelters, and wildlife. Gooseberry is quite simply the perfect gateway to the North and your pick for Best State Park.

Lake – Lake Superior


Lake Superior

Lake Superior, Gitche Gumee, “Big Water.” Whatever you want to call it, you have declared the largest freshwater lake in the world as the destination hot spot for lake life in Minnesota.

TV Weather Person – Belinda Jensen (KARE 11)

Belinda Jensen

Belinda Jensen // Photo via kare11.com

Frozen tundra one day, 50 degrees the next, we never know what to expect regarding Minnesota weather. But the one person we turn to get the five-day forecast is KARE 11’s Belinda Jensen. Poised and detailed—all with a welcoming smile—her warmth makes the impending polar vortex seem a lot easier to take.

Block Party – Basilica Block Party

Basilica Block PartyBasilica Block Party

Basilica Block Party // Photo via Basilica Block Party’s Facebook page

Started as a fundraiser for the Basilica of Saint Mary in 1995, this Minneapolis block party and outdoor music festival has become annual tradition for Minnesota’s musicheads. The incredible views of the downtown skyline and the historic basilica, and big name headliners like The Fray and Death Cab for Cutie, set this block party above the rest.

Community Fairs / Festivals (MSP) – Minnesota State Fair

Schell's Sangria, our must-have beverage at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, Photo by Aaron Davidson // Growler Magazine

Schell’s Sangria at the Minnesota State Fair // Photo by Aaron Davidson

The Great Minnesota Get-Together is the granddaddy of them all. From the food to the beer, animal barns to people watching, and crafts to tractors, there’s something for everyone at your favorite community fair.

Community Fairs / Festivals (Greater MN) – Minnesota Renaissance Festival (Shakopee)

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Minnesota Renaissance Festival // Photo via Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Facebook page

Jousting knights, fairies, turkey legs, and barrels of mead galore. Since 1971, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival has celebrated all things medieval and has grown to be the largest Renaissance festival in the U.S. And with that, you have knighted this festival as the crowning winner. Huzzah!

Music Festival – Rock the Garden


Rock The Garden

Even with a temporary venue change this year to Hall’s Island in Minneapolis, 89.3 The Current and Walker Art Center’s annual summer concert, Rock the Garden, remains the best music festival in Minnesota in the eyes of our readers. Acts like Nathaniel Rateliff, Chance the Rapper, and The Flaming Lips just scratch the surface of the kind of talent Rock the Garden brings to the stage every year.

Outdoor Live Music Venue – Bayfront Festival Park


Bayfront Festival Park // Photo via Bayfront Festival Park Facebook page

Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park has hosted an array of musical talent: Trampled by Turtles, Paul Simon, The Monkees, Willie Nelson, Wilco, and so many others. With good tunes and views of ships from around the world, it’s no wonder why this is Minnesota’s Best Outdoor Live Music Venue.

Indoor Live Music Venue – First Avenue


MUTEMATH performs in the First Avenue Mainroom on April 3, 2016 // Photo by John Lukas via First Avenue Facebook page

There’s nowhere quite like First Avenue’s Mainroom to catch a live show. The renown venue has an illustrious past, and is responsible for bringing some of the biggest names in hard rock, indie alternative, soul, and dance music to town. That’s why you selected First Avenue as Minnesota’s Best Indoor Live Music Venue.

Record Store – Electric Fetus


Records at Electric Fetus // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Music fans know that when they’re searching for the newest album from their favorite artist or that obscure record from the ‘70s, Electric Fetus has them covered. But it’s the in-store performances they host and the deep-cut music knowledge of its staff that truly sets Electric Fetus above the rest.

Local Band – Trampled by Turtles

Trampled Palomino 2014

Trampled by Turtles // Photo via Trampled by Turtles Facebook page

After touring for nearly 13 years, Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles announced in October the band would be going on hiatus. The response from their loyal fans, who were sad to hear to the news, speaks volumes to the bluegrass outfit’s impact on the local music scene. Despite the fact they are taking a break, Trampled by Turtles is your choice for Best Local Band.

Local Album of the Year – “Fishing Blues” by Atmosphere


Atmosphere’s “Fishing Blues”

Minneapolis’ Atmosphere released their eighth studio album, “Fishing Blues,” back on August 12. By September 3, the album hit number one on Billboard’s Independent Album chart, propelled by fans like you, who voted “Fishing Blues” the Best Local Album of the Year.

More 2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Award Winners:

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