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Viewpoint: Kick off summer with art, music and dance

Geoff Glasrud is vice president and manufacturing manager at the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount.

Summer is almost here. For us at the Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery, that means our favorite event of the year is fast approaching. Round up the kids in your life, and kick off your summer with us at the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival June 3-4.

The festival, now in its 17th year, keeps getting bigger and better. One of the largest events of its kind in the nation, the festival takes over downtown St. Paul with art, music and dancing for all ages to enjoy. We at Flint Hills Resources are so proud of our longstanding partnership with the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts — one of the nation’s leading arts centers — to present this one-of-a-kind event.

The festival includes family-friendly indoor and outdoor performances by talented international singers, dancers and actors. This year’s festival will feature 640 artists representing more than 25 different countries and cultures. In addition to performances, kids can enjoy face-painting, yoga, balloon artists, henna tattoos, dance lessons, and juggling — all completely free!

And that is my favorite part about the festival — families can enjoy it at little to no cost. The hundreds of performances and activities outside are completely free. Indoor performances on Ordway stages are “Pay What You Can,” a new program that allows everyone, regardless of income level, to experience the world-class performances. Those who want guaranteed admission to these shows can book their tickets online for $8 per ticket.

Every year, there is a whole new lineup of terrific performances and this year’s festival is no exception. Indoor performances will include everything from high-energy drumming and Native dance to puppetry and an interactive mystery adventure. I’m particularly excited for “The Whale’s Tale,” a large-scale, interactive outdoor performance by a group from Australia. It is sure to attract a lot of attention in downtown St. Paul.

More than 60 Flint Hills Resources employees volunteer each year at the Flint Hills tent, located across the street from the Ordway entrance, and help children make different crafts. This year, our project will be pennant flags that children can pick out and color however they’d like.

Whether attending the festival is an annual tradition for your family or you haven’t yet experienced it, I hope I’ll see you there this year. In the meantime, take a look at the schedule of events at www.ordway.org/festival and start planning your day of family fun!

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