Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fun at the festival

"Grandma, this is a fun day!"

When two little 4-year old girls say that in unison, you know it's a hit.

We were having this fun day at the annual Flint Hills International Children's Festival. Held in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul, it is sponsored by Ordway Center for Performing Arts.
The day is all about children (and learning, but that's a secret).

Together with performing artists from around the world, cultural music and dance events, international cuisine, demonstrations and hands-on crafts, children become aware of the world around, and beyond, them.

 The two girls enjoyed a live Ordway musical performance by Dala, a wonderful, young singing duo from Canada.

They not only entertained children and adults alike with their beautiful music, but they invited the children to come to the stage floor to dance and twirl.

They started the performance by emphasizing "this isn't a shush show." Clapping, singing along, and snapping fingers were all encouraged.

Many craft tents offered children the opportunity to use paper, glue, sparkles, beads, pom-poms, wooden sticks, and markers to use their imaginations and create to their hearts' desire. Paper hats, rockets, flowers, and even buttons the children drew themselves were seen, with the children proudly wearing or carrying their objets d'art. 

Two granddaughters (mine) working on their projects.

The outside of the nearby Lawson Building served as the dance floor for Project Bandeloop from California. A 20-minute, amazing performance involved the two dancers being suspended by wire rope from the roof of the building and dancing in mid-air, pushing themselves off with their feet from the side of the multi-story brick building.

Latin American culture was interpreted in dance. Performed by a local St. Paul group, their colorful costumes and lively dances were energizing and interesting to watch.

An exhibition of children's artwork from schools and community organizations across Minnesota was displayed throughout storefronts and skyways in downtown St. Paul. You could see these signs on every sidewalk surrounding the festival.

Crafts, face painting, outdoor performances, exhibits like the butterfly garden, take-aways for children, the is all free.  No admission charge. No tickets to buy. No rides. No carnival atmosphere. No charge for face painting.

International and local food is available for purchase, but picnicking is encouraged, and seating is provided for all, right in front of the Flint Hills World Stage...where performances are, of course, free.
It is Ordway Center's gracious gift to Minnesota, and a generous gift to our community. 

I know two 4-year old girls and their Grandma are very grateful. My son and daughter-in-law agree as together we joined in the celebration of children around the world.

I can certainly see why my little girls considered it a "fun day." 

And I'd be hard-pressed to say who enjoyed it more.