Skip to main content

Start saving those empties! Milk carton boat races are back this summer

The former mainstay of the Minneapolis Aquatennial is a free-standing event now, along with sand castle building.

It was a sad day a couple of years ago when one of Minneapolis' popular summertime traditions reached its "sell by" date.

But, ahoy there, milk carton boat racing fans! The spectacle is returning to Lake Calhoun this July – and sand castles are, too.

A non-profit group is signing up entries for the Twin Cities Beach Blast, which is coming to Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun on July 16.

For about 40 years boats made out milk cartons (or juice cartons or other half-gallon containers) were part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial festivities. The boat races developed quite a following as teams of builders tried to outdo each other with ever-more-elaborate creations – most of which were actually seaworthy, at least for awhile.

Videos like this one or this one can give you a taste of the aquatic scene. Meanwhile, there was also building underway on the beach, as the Aquatennial's sand castle contest matured.

But in 2015 organizers announced the festival was downsizing from 10 days to four. The Lake Calhoun events ended as the Aquatennial focused more on the Mississippi Riverfront and downtown Minneapolis.

The Star Tribune says the last two summers small groups of milk carton boat fans have still gathered at Lake Calhoun to keep the tradition alive. But now they've gained a sponsor, Spire Credit Union, and are resuming a competition that's open to the public.

The Beach Blast includes a handful of categories for milk carton boats. There's one for kids 12 and younger (one adult allowed on board), one for teenagers, another for adults. There's a separate competition for the biggest boats – the "Whales" – with a $1,000 prize going to the most creative.

The sand castle competition will be open to teams of four or five people, who will each have a 10-foot square plot of sand to work with.

It's all separate from the Aquatennial, which will take place the following weekend, July 19 through 22.

Next Up

Xcel Energy Center

NHL announces make-up dates for Wild postponements

The Wild will play 40 games in the final 77 days of the regular season.

the mayo clinic - edit

Group says Mayo should be 'severely punished' over research puppy's death

The puppy died two days after undergoing a procedure at a Mayo research facility.

FLickr - minneapolis police - Tony Webster - Feb 2020 - crop

Charges: Man kidnapped woman, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint

The suspect faces three separate felony charges.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

St. Cloud 'Boogaloo Boi' who discussed attack on MN Capitol gets 2 years

He was charged with illegally possessing a machine gun.

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.


Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.

gov tim walz

Walz's $2.7B infrastructure plan includes $940M for climate projects

Projects will help Minnesota prevent or adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts, the governor says.


The Saints will let you get Twisted in St. Paul this summer

The Saints will turn their outfield into the world's largest Twister game for one night in August.

Goldy will be bobbling as he rows the boat this summer

A new bobblehead combines the Gophers' mascot with the new football coach's rallying cry.

Goldy will be bobbling as he rows the boat this summer

A new bobblehead combines the Gophers' mascot with the new football coach's rallying cry.

Here's the plan for loving winter in the Twin Cities

Big winter events in St. Paul and Minneapolis will join forces to promote the fun as 'The Great Northern'

The Monsters are back: Huge trucks return to MN after 3-year break

The Monster Jam tour skipped the Twin Cities during construction of U.S. Bank Stadium. But hungry fans can get their fill this weekend.

So much nostalgia: The original Tamagotchi is back

Are you ready to relive your childhood?

You can try out the new Ps4 Pro at Best Buy on Saturday

Two locations in Minnesota are offering a free demo of the game.