The Flint Hills International Children’s Festival 2014 is full of entertainment for children of every size!
Free Outdoor Entertainment featuring
- Cirque Mechanics’ Gantry Bike
Saturday 10:30AM, 12:15PM and 2:45PM
With opening performance by Loveworks Academy Drum and Drill TeaM — 10:15AM 12:00PM and 2:30PM
Sunday 10:30AM, 12:15PM and 2:30PM
With opening performance by The Brass Messengers — 10:15AM, 12:00PM and 2:15PM
- Flint Hills’ World Stage–Dancers and Music
- Wells Fargo Stage–Dancers and Music
- Roaming Performers
- Xcel Energy Storytime Garden
- Clear Channel Outdoor ARTwalk
- Activity Tents
$5 Indoor Performances in the Ordway Performing Arts
- Step Afrika! – Musical Dance Performance developed by African College Students
- De Temps Antan – Trio from Quebec, Canada
- Alice in Wonderland – Flying Foot Forum invites you on a musical, dancing journcey with Alice.
- Love – by Terrapin Puppet Theatre in Australia
You can read all about our experience from last year below. Many of the activities will be similar, but every year you can expect something new.
The day was perfect. The sun was shining. There was a slight breeze and it was warm. Not hot. Warm. The kids loaded themselves into the van while I prepared lunches, water bottles, extra clothes, and camera. I hopped into the car, cranked up the music, and was joined by the excited children in rambunctious song all the way to downtown St. Paul–the Ordway–for the annual Flint Hills International Children’s Festival.
Last year, I went by myself and enjoyed myself. This year, I invited my mom and aunt to come with us. It was nice to have help so that the kids could choose to do something next door and not wait for the rest of us. But it was very doable to do without help, too.
We packed a lunch of fruits and veggies knowing that concessions and food trucks were going to be at Rice Park. It was a great way to make sure we all had some vitamins and nutrients for the amount of walking we would do. Even though we wandered around a lot, the festival is relatively compact. Rice Park is not a large park, and after they set the stage in the middle, only half the park remains for booths and activities. Even though the festival is in a small space, the ground plan utilizes the space well.
The World Stage in Rice Park was for musical performances by different bands. The Landmark Stage was across the street in the Landmark Plaza where they featured dancing and Heartbeat of the Drum by Steppingstone Theatre. It also featured Swoon!, an Australian Sway Pole performance — more to come on this later.
We made it to the Story Time Garden in Hamm Plaza this year. The Story Tree was carved from an old tree that was dredged up from the Mississippi. The roots create the branches and flowers are the leaves. It is a wonderful work of art. It screams make believe but without screaming!
Flint Hills International Children’s Festival is exactly that: a celebration for kids about different cultures/countries. On one hand, you have the traditional face painting and balloon artists. Then, you turn around and your eyes see a Tibetan dancer or a Ugandan flute.
I need to highlight some of our favorite activities because I could go on and on.
We arrived just before 11:00 am, so we stopped by the Flint Hills Tent and picked up a bag to collect all our goodies and to get a map. (I highly recommend doing this–it is so helpful!) After checking out a couple of booths and waiting in line for face painting, we had lunch.
A Brazillian band was playing while dancers performed. It was a great lunch!
There are so many activities to choose from. MN Center for Book Arts gave you the chance to make and decorate a book, Regions Hospital let you be a Junior Doctor, Minnesota Children’s Museum had a building play area. And that is just the beginning. Here is a picture of Tori with her MN History Center project.
Here is our kitty and our puppy. They also had nail painting so you could have the Indian flag on your fingernails and henna art. And we did it all. Kyla and Dash are pictured in the tent where we hid out from the rain. The dark clouds rolled in and sprinkles started to fall. And we found shelter. That was one thing I didn’t bring–an umbrella. There was no way I was toting that around as well.
Steppingstone Theatre presented Heartbeat of a Drum, and I was excited to watch this performance because I have always wanted to see it. However, whenever I was at the Landmark Stage, I was always in the back. I never stood in the front. So all my pictures of this stage are from “backstage.”
I must explain something to you. If you have never seen this (which I am guessing you haven’t, but what do I know), you may not be impressed by watching the video. My husband sat with me and his comment was, “So they just go back and forth?”
But it’s really cool in person when you see them coming AT you and not falling off. It’s incredible! Trust me!
To enjoy this performance, I suggest you pack a huge backpack with five full bottles of water, a camera, a wallet, extra clothes for the potty-training one, and anything else you can think of. Even though you have to lug 35 extra pounds around all day, you will be grateful for your own portable chair for the Sway Pole performance. Just sit on the ground, and rest against the backpack. You have your own personal chair.
Swoon! was the only thing I was determined to see the whole day. The rest of the day, we let the kids direct us. But I was very intrigued by this unique act. So we sat down to watch and waited for several minutes. Just as they had finished putting the poles in the stands, Kyla leaned over and said, “Mom, I gotta go the bathroom!”
What? I waited all day for this one thing, and now you have to go to the bathroom?
So I took a deep breath, ran into the Landmark Center with her, dashed up the flight of stairs to the 2nd floor, told her not to talk while she was doing her business, and dashed back 2 minutes after they had started. Certainly, it could have been worse.
The music and dancing went on for about 10 minutes when the rain started to fall. Since rain is extremely dangerous for the performers, they had to halt the show. They begged everyone to come back the next day.
I could have been upset, but I was so happy to have seen them at all. (Confession: I did go straight home and look it up on youtube and watched the whole performance from beginning to end)
This reminds me of one thing I learned at the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival–if someone wants to do something, just do it right away. We caught the last performance of Swoon! and only saw half because of the rain. We missed the balloon man because I kept telling Jack, “We will get to it, I promise,” and by the time we did, the line had been cut off. The Henna Artists closed shop right after Kyla was done with her design.
So if you are going to do this next year: Don’t stall (except to maybe go to the bathroom), just get in line and do it. Even though we waited one hundred bazillion minutes for Dash’s face painting and Jack’s arm painting, they were happy the rest of the day…until they wanted a balloon and the balloon man was done. Then, I had to pay $3 for 2 Popsicles so they could get balloon swords from the Leprechaun’s Dreamscycle (St. Paul’s very own tricycle riding ice cream man).
Last year I parked in the River Center Ramp for $5. It went up this year to $10, so next year I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another price hike to $12 or more. Also, next year, I hope to make it to one of the shows inside.
Despite those few disappointments, everyone had fun. We spent 5 hours there, and Tori still hadn’t made it to every activity booth. So the parking paid off: $2 per hour isn’t so bad. We came home with bags of stuff. We had experienced so much music, dancing, and acting that we were full up. We stopped for supper at McDonald’s and headed home to our pajamas, books, and bed.
Flint Hills International Children’s Festival Family Weekend is the first weekend in June. And except for parking, food, and the indoor performances, everything is FREE! It’s the perfect outing for a large family.