What to Expect at the Flint Hills Family Festival:
The festival is amazing with tents and activities galore, and you don’t have to spend a cent! What we’ve been disappointed in is missing some of the acts due to rain or arriving later than expected. The rain has never lasted very long so we can enjoy the rest of the activities, but it has prevented us from seeing some of the most anticipated outdoor free shows.
During a three-year span, we parked in the RiverCentre Ramp. The first year it cost $5, the second year $10, and the third year $5. I am keeping track of this for you. I am unsure why the discrepancy of the event pricing, but I would always have $20 in my pocket for the unknown parking fee — $20 and some water bottles. If you have a Science Museum membership, this would be a good time to take advantage of your member parking rates. Each year, they seem to have additional food trucks parked around Rice Park, too. However, if you don’t mind the hike, you can park further away and walk.
The following are activities from previous years. Many of the activities will be similar, but every year you can expect something new:
- We have enjoyed Rosenschnoz Puppets Monkey Mind Pirate, and Loveworks Academy Drum and Drill Team. We have watched Storytellers in the Xcel Energy Storytime Garden, and participated in as many different activities as we could whether it be arts and crafts, face painting, exploring the natural world, or active play.
- 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!
Sometimes there are long lines. Waiting in line for over a half hour was well worth it to get a dinosaur on his arm.
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.
In the Story Time Garden, every hour a new storyteller would come to the tent and weave elaborate tales for the audience: to listen and to participate!
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 Henna tent where we hid out from the rain.
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.”
A particular highlight was the Australian Sway Pole Performance Swoon!
On our first visit, 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 musicians from Ireland, the UK, and a random Italian. And their accents? Totally cool! They come to the US specifically for this event.
Let me say it again. They are AMAZING!
Tents were full of different crafts and activities are sponsored by many different organizations and companies. 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!
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!
Gianna’s Final Thoughts
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!
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!