BY STEPHANIE FOX
Summer means Minnesotans finally come out of hiding and head out into the streets, flocking to outdoor celebrations. The first Open Streets, scheduled for Saturday, June 10, is expected to bring Twin Citizens to East Lake Street to enjoy the crowds and the sunny weather.
This is a free, family-friendly event. No cars are allowed, but bring your dogs, and walk, ride your bike, and skate or skateboard down Lake Street between 2nd Avenue and 22nd Avenue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open Streets began as a way to expand the community imagination beyond car-centric street design, said Ember Rasmussen, Open Street’s community development and events manager. “The events are a small spark of what our city could look like if we centered people and community first,” Rasmussen said.
Along the 10-plus blocks of the usually busy vehicle corridor, 200 contributors will offer performances, feature arts and crafts, and serve food from trucks and booths. Political and social groups will be there as well. Maps are available at the Open Streets booth and from volunteers stationed along the route.
Jawaahir Dance Company
Laura Crocker has been a member of the Jawaahir Dance Company for 16 years. Translated as “jewels” in Arabic, Jawaahir focuses on traditional styles of Middle Eastern dance, often called belly dance. The 15-member troupe will be on stage at the corner of Lake Street and Elliot Avenue. “We’ll be focusing on the traditional dance style of Egypt,” said Crocker.
This is the first year for the dance company to move from local indoor theater stages to the outdoor venue of Open Streets.
“Like a lot of arts organizations, there’s been a lot of change during the past couple of years,” Crocker said. “We want to get out and interact with the community. We want people to stop by, because there will be earthy and exciting music and dance styles you don’t see every day in Minnesota.”
Queerhaven Art Collective
The Queerhaven Art Collective’s artists will be selling prints, cards, stickers and T-shirts. And again this year the group will offer an area where even non-artists can express themselves with chalk art.
“My art is whimsical advocacy,” said artist Andrea From, who is nonbinary. “I have a background in comic art. I’ve always been drawn to visual story telling. I like transparency and bright colors, adding layers to the work.”
This is From’s second year at Open Streets on East Lake. “It’s super fun. I got to meet some neighbors I’d not met before and reconnect with those I knew,” they said.
Other artists will be joining Queerhaven, offering artistic media including needlepoint and acrylic pours, a technique where pouring paint lets the artist create patterns.
“Open Streets is important,” From said. “My partner is a cyclist. My kids like to ride bikes. This event brings communities together and helps envision a city that has more public transit. It includes everyone, and other queer artists feel very comfortable there, surrounded by our community.”
Corazon Mexicano, a Mexican arts and crafts store on Lake Street, sells a variety of gifts inspired by the Mexican southeast and Mayan culture. Owner Anna Del Rivero’s shop is a multi-generational family business, started by her father in Mexico.
Their booth at Open Streets will feature jewelry, crafts, hand-painted art, T-shirts and handmade Mayan-style clothing. Del Rivero opened her Lake Street shop to share her culture with others. That’s what brings her family to Open Streets for a second year. “I get to meet people and show a little of Mexico,” she said.
The family includes Del Rivero’s daughter Anna. “We all work together as a family, artists here in Minnesota and in Mexico,” she said. “We hope to welcome a lot of people to our booth and will be happy to answer questions about our shop’s merchandise and about our culture.”
Friends of the Cemetery
Driving down Lake Street, it’s easy to ignore the cemetery on the northeast corner of Lake and Cedar. Many think it’s simply an historic curiosity, but Susan Hunter Weir knows better and hopes to show that the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery is much more.
The cemetery, at 2945 Cedar Ave., was founded in 1853. It closed in 1919 and then reopened in the 1930s to bury the widow of a Civil War veteran. The last burial was in 2021. History, Weir said, lives on. There are 22,000 people buried there. And, unlike many cemeteries, it was never segregated.
“You know this is a Minnesota cemetery,” Weir said. “There are 1,035 people buried there named Johnson and 823 named Anderson.”
During Open Streets, volunteers will be at the cemetery gate to give mini-tours and answers questions. And a woman re-enactor, dressed in a hoopskirt, will entertain the children with 19th-century toys and games. “We have one game where they drop clothespins into a bottle and one where they ‘fish’ with a fishing pole with a magnet and little metal fish to win a prize,” said Weir.
“People tell me that they drive past but never go in,” said Weir. “At Open Streets, they can.”
Eastlake Craft Brewery
The Eastlake Craft Brewery, inside the Midtown Global Market, will be serving their award-winning beers and other beverages on their patio. People can enjoy drinks and bring food from the restaurants inside the market.
“It was decided that we need to dial back our Open Streets presence this summer because we will have key members of staff gone that day, me included,” said Davin Haukebo-Bol, who organizes events and outreach for the brewery. “I am bummed because I love this event.”
They were hoping to include a Scandinavian lawn game, Viking Chess, Haukebo-Bol said, where “we throw blocks of wood at each other.” Maybe next year.
Friendly bartenders will serve friendly beverages, including a variety of award-winning light lagers, sour and hop-forward beers. But there are options for non-drinkers, too, including non-alcoholic beers, kombucha, root beer, ginger beer and bubbly waters in various flavors. And thanks to recent legislation, THC seltzers with 5 mg of THC but no calories will also be available.
Open Streets has become an important tradition in Minneapolis, said Open Streets events manager Rasmussen. “The family-friendly events are celebrations of the unique neighborhoods and cultures that make our city great. On East Lake Street, food vendors, community partners, musicians, performers, local makers and thousands of residents from the surrounding neighborhoods will all join the party on three joyful miles of city street.”
Look for more Open Streets events throughout the summer and fall, held on different thoroughfares, including Glenwood, Cedar, West Broadway and Lyndale Avenues, one each month through October.