Highway 27 road construction inspires block parties

Instead of letting the Highway 27 road construction project put a damper on summer in Little Falls, block parties will be held every Thursday to promote all that Little Falls has to offer. Pictured in “Big Dig” construction cone outfits are (from left) Kris VonBerge, Ashleigh Uebelacker, Beth Uebelacker, Jonathan Wichmann and Amy Kowalzek.

    What does Little Falls do in the midst of an inconvenient, but very much needed road construction through town?     

    Use it as an opportunity to bolster area businesses, organizations, tourism and community relationships, of course, said Kris VonBerge, executive director at the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    “We call it ‘The Big Dig,’” she said.

    Besides holding several well-known, annual events, such as the Dam Festival and Rock the Park, weekly block parties have been added to the mixture.

    Where the block parties will be held will differ from week to week because of the construction. But will also give businesses and organizations within each block the opportunity to stay open late and gain more business.

    “People are meandering in the streets, but they are meeting their neighbors or they are seeing someone they haven’t seen in a while. And everybody is getting a little bit more business, but it is a way to get together. It makes the community a little bit locally tighter,” she said.

    The block parties will be held every Thursday, from June 6 to Aug. 29, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and are open to all. VonBerge encourages people to stop in during the block parties, even if it is just for a short time.

    “If they can’t stay the whole time, that’s OK,” she said.

    She also encourages people to bring their own lawn chair.

    The first block party will be held Thursday, June 6 at Kiwanis Park (near the Broadway bridge across the Mississippi River). From 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the Johnny Holm Band will provide music.

    Other attractions earlier that day is the free youth football camp coached by former Minnesota Vikings players from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Little Falls Community High School (pre-register by text messaging the child’s name and age to (218) 831-1400) and a former Minnesota Viking Meet and greet at A.T. The Black and White from 11:15 a.m. to noon.

    “Right now we have about 125 kids signed up for the football camp. We’re aiming for 200,” said James Kern with JJ Kern Promotions.

    Several attractions kick off summer, Thursday, June 13, in Le Bourget Park. Music will be provided by the Doo Wop Diva’s and the 50th Anniversary Woodstock performance.

    Other things to enjoy that day include attractions by Linden Hill, the Lindbergh House and Museum, Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame, Pine Grove Zoo, Minnesota Military Museum, Great River Arts, Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and a fire truck display.

    The Morrison County Animal Humane Society will also host a dog parade at 6 p.m. Visitors can enter their dogs into the parade for a small cost. Prizes for cutest, smallest, largest and best behaved will be presented at the event.

    All dogs must have a record of current vaccinations and be friendly toward other dogs and people to participate.

    The Dam Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, June 14-15 at Maple Island Park with sidewalk sales downtown.

    Thursday, June 20, the block party will be held at the Vermillion Heights block in front of the American Legion. Attractions at this block party include a Lone Eagle Auto Club Car Show, a military vehicle display, a fire truck, a police car and Henna tattoo and face painting.

    This is also the day “An Evening in Black and White” is held at Linden Hill from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Thursday, June 27 will bring events all day. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Great River Arts will host the Chalk the Walk competition at Second Street Southeast (the west block of the Historic Courthouse). Registration occurs on site.

    From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Kids Art in the Park will take place at Maple Island Park with Rock the Park starting at 6 p.m. There will also be a former Minnesota Vikings Meet and Greet from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Thursday, July 11, the block party will be held at Second Street Southeast (the west block of the Historic Court House). Attractions will be an ATV parade (register at the Little Falls County Club), Henna tattoo and face painting, Lone Eagle Auto Club Car Show and music provided by Harper’s Chord.

    Tuesday, July 16, visitors to Linden Hill may find themselves intrigued by the Linden Hill Log Jam, starting at 6 p.m.

    Thursday, July 18, the block party will be held at Washington Park (near Carnegie Library) with Little Falls native and international pop sensation Michael Shynes providing music. The Lone Eagle Auto Club Car Show and Henna tattoo and face painting will be on site to add to the event.

    Thursday, July 25, youth have the opportunity to show off their chalk skills at the Chalk Art Youth Competition at the Boys and Girls Club (bring chalk), which is open to the public. With Paul Christian providing music and attractions, such as inflatables, the Lone Eagle Auto Club Car Show and climbing the rock wall, young and old are bound to find something they like, VonBerge said.

    The weekly block party makes its way next to the block in front of Great River Arts, Thursday, Aug. 1 with Brothers Tone performing and the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. Additional attractions are open mic night at Great River Arts, Farmers Market and artists exhibits.

    The Linden Hill Raise the Roof concert will also be held at Linden Hill from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Aug. 1.

    The following week, Thursday, Aug. 8, the block party will remain in front of Great River Arts with King’s Ransom Band providing music and a former Minnesota Vikings Meet and Greet, a Bon Jos fashion show and artists’ exhibits to spice up the evening.

    Sunday, Aug. 11, a pre-game with kids will be held a the Little Falls Community High School field from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the PFL semi pro championship football game at 1 p.m.

    The block party on Thursday, Aug. 15 will be held at the block in front of Zoomski’s with Harper’s Chord providing music and an inflatable obstacle course.

    Thursday, Aug. 22, Power Plant will share their musical skills at the block party at Le Bourget Park with tethered rides being given in a hot air balloon.

    The summer block party season ends Thursday, Aug. 29 at the block in front of Touright Bicycle Shop with music from Jeff Engholm and the Charmed Ride Bike Giveaway.

    VonBerge said that at the block parties that are held near a food establishment, businesses have been given the opportunity to provide food.

    “That way they are not competing with food vendors,” said VonBerge.

    However, at locations, such as Le Bourget Park, where block parties are held with no food establishment nearby, food vendors will be on site.

    VonBerge encourages teams from local businesses and organizations to volunteer at one or more block parties as it is a great way to give back to the community and to connect with people.

    For more information, contact VonBerge at (320) 616-4959.

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