Walz’s announcement brings excitement for summer events in Mankato, southern Minn.

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - With COVID-19 restrictions set to end this summer, some of Mankato’s biggest events have a chance to return to almost normal.

“With the announcement yesterday, that kind of puts us back into the Ribfest as we know and love realm,” said Eric Jones, co-director at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. “We are going to kind of push to have it look like it has always looked.”


The pandemic left a mark on nearly everything in daily life. One industry that was significantly impacted was the hospitality industry, which was forced to have limited capacities and create dining spaces on outdoor patios for their customers.

NaKato in North Mankato is one restaurant that has taken what the pandemic has taught them and used it to build on what they had. They have expanded and improved their outdoor dining area so customers can enjoy their food in the sun.

Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota health officials announced a plan to safely end all COVID-19...
Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota health officials announced a plan to safely end all COVID-19 restrictions in the state during a press conference Thursday, May 6, 2021.(Minnesota Department of Health)

“It has been pretty nice, actually. We just doubled our patio size last year. We had sort of the same thing, but we had a snow fence around it,” NaKato general manager Tony Dell said. “This year we put up a permanent fence to make a permanent adjustment. A lot of stuff that we did because of COVID, I think some of that business model is going to stay in place”

With the announcements made and restrictions set to eventually end, the city is looking forward to what summer may bring for the communities in Mankato and southern Minnesota.

“We have been planning all spring, well winter and spring, on continuing with the amphitheater, but yesterday’s announcement sure made things a lot brighter out there,” Jones said.

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