Highlights of a Minneapolis summer are the Open Streets festivals, held all over the city over the course of the season. The city temporarily closes blocks and blocks of main streets to traffic, allowing pedestrians, bike riders, skaters and skateboarders to roam freely, visiting booths from nonprofits, local businesses, artisan craftspeople, political groups and candidates, city and county offices and much more.
Sunday, Aug. 26, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., will be Franklin Ave’s Open Street celebration, with the street temporarily closed to cars and buses, freeing up public space at least for a few hours.
At Open Streets you can listen to local bands like Hot Pink Hangover and Heart of a Tinman, visit the Afro-Brazilian Capoeira dance group, check out the electric car showcase or the Cycling Museum of Minnesota and take the kids for face painting.
There will be more than a dozen food truck vendors too, with foods from around the world.
Here are some of the highpoints of Open Streets Franklin Avenue.
If you are craving a sophisticated ice cream bar that goes beyond artificially flavored sugar water, try one of the specialty ice cream bars from the Frio Frio cart. While inspired by Latin American ice cream treats, the Frio Frio team created more than 15 homegrown flavors. Their cart has room for only four or five flavors per event, but plan on trying what is one of their best sellers, the Piñata, a lemon-lime concoction made with coconut water, gummy bears and sprinkles. Others might include pineapple, grapefruit-carrot with ginger, or avocado-lime. If it’s a hot day (It’s late August, so why wouldn’t it be?), a cool sweet snack is perfect; who can resist any of these, even if it rains?
Black Votes Matter
A non-partisan civic engagement organization with the goal of increasing civic participation within communities of color, Black Votes Matter holds candidate debates, gives workshops, and teaches young people about how politics, government and voting works. They also have a social media page focused on voter information.
At Open Streets Franklin Avenue, Black Votes Matter will be registering voters and directing them to its website where they can read candidate profiles. Black Votes Matter also plans to talk to already-registered voters asking them to commit to voting in the upcoming November midterm election. If you aren’t yet registered to vote, you can find their booth and easily sign up.
Black Votes Matter will also be talking to people about the 2020 Census, focusing on educating people about the Census and gathering public opinions about how best to involve and engage minority communities so that the information gathering is equitable and that everyone will be counted.
Norway House, a Norwegian Cultural Center on Franklin Ave, is a gathering place highlighting the values of contemporary and historical Norway. The center hosts a variety of programs and events celebrating Norway and other Nordic countries. Its member base is mainly in Minnesota, but its members come from all over the world.
This will be their second year at the Franklin Open Streets. They will be featuring a Scandinavian trivia contest, including Norwegian language questions.
This neighborhood still attracts new immigrant communities, but a century ago, many of those immigrants came from Nordic countries. That community’s influence is still seen locally. The group hopes that their presence at Open Streets will let them share their rich heritage with neighbors and visitors.
Takoda is the new name for American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center’s workforce development program, offering training and job placement services, a word that means “all are welcome” in the Dakota language. The booth will be located in front of the AIOIC’s headquarters at the corner of Franklin and Cedar Avenues. The organization focuses on the American Indian community, with a vision strongly rooted in the local community’s culture and practices, but they will help anyone who needs their services. At the booth you can learn more about training programs in careers such as warehouse certification, business, technology and healthcare. Takoda also gives workshops for those who are interested in getting involved in a new career, including helping people create effective resumes. The programs begin in October, but you can sign up for class information for the next semester at Open Streets.
The booth will also feature a photo booth with a summer backdrop and giveaway souvenirs—sunglasses, water bottles and pens, and for the kids, bubble makers.
National Kidney Foundation
For the NKF, Open Streets is an opportunity to meet the community in a non-clinical setting, to talk with people about their kidneys and their overall health. Their booth will feature educational materials, with health experts on hand to answer questions. Program Manager Katelyn Engle said that compared with traditional health fairs, at Open Streets, they see a greater variety of people looking for information.
“One of our primary goals as an organization is to raise awareness about the risk factors for kidney disease,” she said, “and help people get diagnosed early so they have more opportunities to make changes to protect their health.”
Engle says that Chronic Kidney Disease affects one in seven adults, about 30 million people in the country. But, 26 million don’t know they have it. The result—possible kidney failure, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and heart failure.
The booth will distribute kidney healthy recipes, offer a risk assessment quiz, and for fun, games have like Kidney Jenga and a beanbag toss.
Hennepin County Child and Teen Checkups
While Hennepin County Child and Teen Checkups’ main focus is on Medicaid patients, they will be promoting healthy lifestyles for everyone in Hennepin County, hoping to engage the crowds of pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders, or even the sedentary, to exercise more often.
In addition to educating and assisting the public on healthy lifestyles, staff members will be on hand to help parents with young children, as well as helping older teens, find suitable quality medical and dental clinics and other community resources. The booth will have a diverse staff available to help those who speak only Spanish, Hmong or Somali.
In addition, the staff will be handing out promotional items such as water bottles and sunglasses, while kids and adults alike can spin the emoji activity wheel to discover a secret good health message.
Mehndi & Henna
Mendi—the popular henna “tattoos”—is a form of body art, but unlike real tattoos, these don’t last forever. They are applied like paint, using henna, a natural plant. At Mehndi and Henna’s Open Streets booth, artist Amy Sysaath offers non-traditional style henna tattoos, free to kids age 8 and younger. Grownups can choose a variety of designs from the art book (birds, peace signs and more) or bring their own ideas. Kids can also get any design they want. Popular designs for children are dragons, horses and unicorns.
The henna is non-toxic, made of henna powder, water, sugar and some essential oils. Applications takes about five minutes, but prepare to sit down and relax for 15 to 30 minutes for the art to dry. Once dry, the tattoo will last for two to three weeks. This booth will be open only until 3 p.m., so come early.
While there will be no Vertical Endeavors climbing wall at Open Streets, there will be plenty to do at the Vertical Endeavor’s booth. In addition to brochures with information about youth and adult climbing programs, training and summer camps, folks will have the chance to win pens, stickers and day passes to one of Vertical Endeavor’s climbing facilities.
There will be harness and rope coiling races and mobility riddles as well. The purpose is to familiarize people with the sport of rock climbing in general and to inform the public that, despite a reputation of being dangerous, with training, it’s a safe and fun sport for all ages. They are also promoting Vertical’s nearby locations at Nicollet and 26th and in Prospect Park.