The first weekend of June, the Ordway in St. Paul hosts the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival in Rice Park, the Landmark Plaza, Hamm Plaza, and of course, the Ordway. For 5 years, I have wanted to go and finally, last year (2012), we did it. We parked for $5 in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s parking ramp (which was an experience all of its own), slathered on the sunscreen, and made our way to Rice Park.
The first thing we heard–rather than saw–was the Block Party. The Dance Theatre of Ireland hosted this event. And it was a blast.
They built things out of the blocks: a house or furniture or pathways. It was pretty cool. But even better was the way they danced around or inside their creations to the beat of their rhythm band that beat out exciting rhythms. It was fantastic! After the performance, they invited all the kids to come and climb all over the blocks and play. And THEN, they utilized the children and had them each participate in cleaning up!
The Dance Theatre of Ireland is based in Ireland and comprised of dancers and muscians from Ireland, the UK, and a random Italian. And their accents? Totally cool! They come to the US specifically for this event.
Meanwhile, Rice Park was full of activity tents. As was the Landmark Center Plaza! We got there early in the day so that could miss most of the crowd. It worked out pretty well.
Tents were full of different crafts and activities. They were sponsored by many different organizations and companies such as:
- Flint Hills Resources
- Ordway Center
- Science Museum of Minnesota & Children’s Theatre Company
- St. Paul Public Schools
- Minnesota Children’s Museum
- Minnesota History Center
- Young Artists Initiative & History Theatre
- Steppingstone Theatre
- Child Reach Uganda
- Bell Museum & Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
There was facepainting, haircoloring, henna art, roaming artists, food trucks and tents, some different outdoor stages for musical performances, and a story garden with storytellers (in Hamm Plaza–we didn’t make it that far).
Irish dancing that was deemed live Tinkerbell music.
This is the eccentric St. Paul Ice Cream Man. He is known as the Leprechaun Dreamcycle because he has an ice cream tricycle!
The balloon man. There was a line to see him 1/2 block long. We didn’t see the line for 10 minutes. And after waiting and watching (which was fascinating), he finally told us where the line was. When I looked, I almost choked and had to tell the kids we couldn’t wait that long. But he was AMAZING!
Watching the block party! It was so exciting!
Her paper bag windsock! She worked hard on this.
The Children’s Museum had this creative play area. My boys completely enjoyed being in the shade and playing with the balls and large foam tinker toys.
The balloon man gave this to JackJack to keep him occupied while we watched the balloon creations!
Every staff member and every volunteer and every tent knew kids and made this a perfect kid experience. While the shows and exhibits were awesome for the adults, the kids were the target audience. This is the perfect kid experience.
- Everything was at kid level.
- There was stroller parking that was guarded so you could leave your stuff and feel like it was safe (safer than in your car). I would suggest utilizing the stroller parking and just walking with your kids. There are a lot of people and the stroller was hard to manuever.
- Free!!!! (minus the food tents and the performance inside the Ordway and Landmark Center).
- There was a lot of shade to get out of the sun.
- Constant activity with quieter spots to regroup.
- Staff everywhere was helpful. They were all eager to make sure you were involved and having fun.
- I would suggest this to anyone. Go early in the morning to avoid the massive crowds, but expect to be there for a while!
This year, the Flint Hills Children’s Festival Family Weekend is taking place on Saturday, June 1- Sunday, June 2. Starting Tuesday, May 28-Friday, May 31, the Flint Hills Children’s Festival School Days is taking place. There are many free activities in the park over the lunch hour from 10:30-1:00. The performances during these particular days are for school groups. But you can enjoy the Artwalk and the Wall Art and the performers in the park during lunch.
The weekend is a blast. I highly recommend going. Just put on your busy hat, know it’s going to be a little crazy, pack a lunch, and plan for an entire day of fun! I can’t wait for Saturday! Hope to see you there!