Having fun at a safe distance at community gatherings

Before the COVID-19 pandemic entered the U.S., people of all ages found ways to have fun with family, friends and neighbors through special community events.

Many of those events have been canceled or postponed this summer, including the six major city festivals in the Sun Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune coverage area, along with the Dakota County Fair.

Some replacement activities happened this summer, such as the Fair Food Festival weekends at the Dakota County Fairgrounds and The Relief Sessions music concerts in Burnsville.

Some fall events are attempting to save summer, too.

While a condensed version of Lakeville’s Pan-O-Prog and Rosemount’s Food Truck Festival had to be canceled this month, some events are set to occur with COVID-19 restrictions.

Among the September events that are still slated to be in person are the Lakeville Landscape & Home Show and Consumer Showcase, Eagan Art Block and the Lakeville Art Festival.

The Lakeville Expo was postponed from March at Lakeville North High School to Saturday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Steve Michaud Park.

The outdoor event will include COVID-19 prevention efforts, as a host of vendor booths will be representing a wide range of businesses and community groups.

The annual spring event is typically the time when friendships are renewed as people emerge from winter, but this year’s event might have even more meaning and many people have been staying at home more than usual.

The expo will include food trucks, live music, a K-9 demonstration, outdoor activities and more.

For questions or vendor information, email Brenda@LakvilleChamberCVB.org.

Eagan Art Block

Eagan Art Block 2020 will be celebrating art, learning and notable places Sept. 12-26. Over 20 collaborators will offer socially distanced or virtual opportunities for all ages.

Events take place in the “super block” of Wescott Road to the north, Lexington Avenue to the east, Diffley Road to the south and Pilot Knob Road to the west. Activities range from open houses, music, art sales and more.

Event organizers say they are following guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to ensure that participants are safe for all events.

Some of the Art Block events will have limited attendance, virtual events or a hybrid of both. Many activities will take place outdoors, which have looser requirements on gatherings. Participants are encouraged to check individual event listings for a venue’s specific guidelines.

“We believe that our community needs ways to connect, now more than ever,” said Julie Andersen, Eagan recreation supervisor. “The arts are inherently a perfect venue for connection and community.”

The event kickoff will be Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Eagan Art House, featuring dance, music, safe interactive art activities and a temporary art exhibit on display on the Art House grounds.

“It will be a time to celebrate the people and places that make Eagan’s heartbeat,” Andersen said. “Each organization is using their creativity to bring our community together during this unique time.

Events are planned at Art Works, Advent United Methodist, Caponi Art Park, Dunn Brothers Coffee and others.

“The creative process is a reflection of the human spirit,” Andersen said. “In the toughest of times, art, music, dance, public art, theater and film speak to the heart and express emotions that are sometimes difficult to articulate. Art Block is also a celebration of the places we share around the Art Block, right in the heart of Eagan. Each collaborator is reaching out to their own unique communities in meaningful ways. This event is a collection of many pieces to make a whole.”

Check the Eagan Art Block website at www.eaganartblock.org for details on any event changes due to COVID-19. Click on a mapping application that will navigate people through all the events during Art Block.

Lakeville Art Festival

The Lakeville Art Festival will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20, on the Lakeville Area Arts Center grounds.

The event will include a juried art show of about 60 artists, a take-home community art project, food and strolling musicians.

The festival typically has around 100 artists, but the number has been reduced this year in an effort to spread out the entrants across the arts center grounds.

In an effort to spread out attendance at the festival, organizers have created a SignUp Genius page for people to indicate the time they would like to attend at tinyurl.com/yxjvbmp4.

Organizers won’t have a ticketed entrance or be checking people in, but they say they just want people to be conscious about spreading out their visits and not lingering too long.

Sarah Stowell, chair of the organizing committee, said Sunday is the best day to avoid crowds.

In an effort to avoid people congregating in one spot, the event won’t have its usual Kids Art Tent, demonstrations, art activities or stage entertainment.

In their place will be a take-home community art project and strolling musicians.

“It’s exciting to be able to have an event in Lakeville this year of any kind,” Stowell said. “I feel really good about it.”

She said the main reasons the group wanted to continue to have the event was to support artists through a difficult time and give local residents a chance to interact at a safe distance.

More about the festival will be in a special feature in the Sept. 11 edition of the newspaper and online at SunThisweek.com, and at lakevilleartfestival.org.

Tad Johnson can be reached at tad.johnson@apgecm.com.

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