The Minnesota State Fair is something that draws a lot of people into Saint Paul. It makes traveling up Snelling Avenue a challenge, but there is something about the trail of vehicles that delights me with wonder—wonder about who is in those cars, who is part of the parade streaming into the gates, pausing at the cotton candy stand outside, in what part of the state their travels began that day, or even if they live in Minnesota.
The variety of stories behind the faces roaming the fairgrounds reminds me of the richness of those that we celebrate at the Almanac, each year in our award-winning book, in our different reading and spoken-word series, with Storymobile, and with projects like our TPT episode of Rewire’s TV Takeover titled “Where Are You Going?” During the live broadcast, one viewer tweeted that she was ready to move to Saint Paul. Whether you live here or not, we are here to tell you a few of the reasons to hang out with us in the Capital City.
In the Almanac Family
We are busy getting ready for next week’s 2015 Almanac Release Party (at which your attendance is very much desired), and we are still busy bringing life and story to Saint Paul.
Laresa Avent spent the middle of July in Philadelphia, much of it on the University of Pennsylvania campus for the Brave New Voices spoken-word competition as part of the 2014 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Team. On Thursday, September 4, she will be the headline attraction at Soul Sounds Open Mic. Laresa is a young artist who believes very much in community and the importance of education. She is not just an artist, but she is also an activist and an educator who strongly believes that in order to have a strong and vibrant community there needs to be a strong and vibrant educational system. Laresa speaks about community in the majority of her art work. She sings as well as writes and performs spoken word. Join your voice with hers and the crew. Lend an ear. Be Heard! Soul Sounds gets underway at 6 p.m. at Golden Thyme Coffee Shop at 921 Selby Avenue (at Milton).
The Little Mekong Night Market has proven to be an unexpected treasure for Frogtown summers, an even bigger success than its conceivers imagined. Storymobile will be there, again, on Saturday, September 6, from 5 until 8 p.m. The Market describes itself as an “unforgettable experience of new sights, sounds and flavors. If you have been to night markets in Asia, you know these open air street markets provide an amazing carnival experience for all your senses. A trip to the night market is an adventure.”
They have increased the number of food vendors from the first night, and you can still experience handicrafts, music, exhibits, cultural performances, and kids activities.
The Market has proven to be a great place to collect stories. It is also a great place to see the people for whom those stories matter. Your experience can last into the dark hours, until 10 p.m., in the 400 area of University Avenue, just east of Western Avenue. We’d love to see you and your story there.
Also on Saturday, several poets will be at the Twin Cities Friends Meeting House for “Cease Fire: Peace Poems.” They include Zoë Bird, Richard Broderick, Ethna McKiernan, Thomas Smith, and Almanac teaching editors Wendy Brown-Báez and IBé. They invite everyone to “join us to mourn and lament, to dream and envision Peace in our homes, our communities, our world.” An invocation will be given by Julian Coffman. The Friends Meeting House is at 1725 Grand Avenue. The reading begins at 7 p.m.
Words and Letters
With the State Fair still in our rear view comes the newly released Murder on a Stick,Sharon Smith’s third book in her Pete Culnane Mystery series. You can get just about anything on a stick at the fair, but no one knows where the booth is peddling murder. Smith’s tale unfolds amid the confusion and convergence of close eyewitness accounts. Like the Almanac is famous for noting, everyone has their own story. In this case, the stories are confusing the story the police want to know. This Saint Paul story also winds across the Twin Cities and down the highway
at points. The storytelling is at SubText: a Bookstore, on Wednesday, September 3. If you didn’t get your fill at the fair, stop by at 7 p.m. SubText is at 165 Western Avenue (at Selby Avenue).
If you keep your radio on a lot during the day, you might also know that renowned financial analyst and commentator Chris Farrell was at the fair. This week, Thursday, September 4, he is making the trip down Snelling Avenue to Common Good Books with his new book Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think about Work, Community, and the Good Life. Farrell will share some of his wisdom on how “retirement” years will mean something different and look different than it did for our parents. This event begins at 7 p.m. Common Good Books is at 38 South Snelling Avenue.
I never know where I will find a love story. As we travel the city, we are finding them everywhere. Two award-winning authors, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, have uncovered stories that have a backdrop of interesting romance. Their book GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love, chronicles lives of four British women who fell in love with American GIs and traveled to the U.S. to become their wives. Barrett and Calvi tell these stories with a depth not often seen in this lesser-known episode from the Greatest Generation. On Saturday, September 6, the authors will be at the Merriam Park Library to discuss the stories and the women who made them. The event begins at 2 p.m. The library is at 1831 Marshall Avenue.
Kids and Family
Did you know that the Red Balloon Bookshop has a Spanish Story Time? The next edition of stories is Saturday, September 6. For kids aged birth to 3, you can get stories, songs, and rhymes plus crafts and other fun. Language Sprout Learning Center brings the stories and the Spanish, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Red Balloon is at 891 Grand Avenue.
So as not to leave out the kids from post–State Fair withdrawal, Dreamland Arts is providing the toddler fix with The Stuffed Animal STATE FAIR Show . Leslye Orr leads the fun with an animated play/performance that stirs creativity, imagination, and fun for the kids. What to bring: a favorite stuffed toy, a camera (as they would love you to take pictures), and—oh, yes. Bring a child. This show is meant for children aged 3 and over. The fun begins at 11 a.m. Your child’s favorite stuffed animal can meet Leslye’s favorite stuffed animal, Zip. Dreamland Arts is at 677 North Hamline Avenue, just south of Minnehaha Avenue.
This Saturday runs from infants and toddlers to the middle grades, as we arrive back at the Red Balloon for the book release party for Shelley Tougas’s brand new book The Graham Cracker Plot. Daisy and her friend Graham must break Daisy’s dad out of jail. With humor, warmth, and suspense, the two embark on Graham’s ideas to rescue Dad from unjust placement in “Club Fed.” Tougas is an award-winning nonfiction children’s author. This is her first novel. The party and trimmings begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 6.
On Sunday, September 7, Addendum Books will host Margaret Peterson Haddix and Lisa McMann. Margaret Peterson Haddix is an acclaimed science fiction writer for young people. Her newest release is Revealed, the seventh in her multilayered, time-travel “Missing” series. In this offering, Charles Lindbergh shows up and at once brings the past and sends others into the future, leaving protagonist Jonah to save the world or some thread of reality. In Lisa McMann’s series The Unwanteds, we are taken to a world where creativity is a crime, punishable by death. Kirkus Reviews describes the series as “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.” The two authors will share their sci-fi work starting at 2 p.m. at Addendum, 165 Western Avenue, in the back of SubText.
As long as there is outdoor music, it must still be summer. Even if the kids have gone back to school, taking them to the eighth annual Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival is a great way to squeeze a little more out of a staycation. Many of our music and theater venues have been somewhat quiet over the summer, making way for festivals and other fun, as you may have noticed here in TWISP. Concrete and Grass celebrates the opening of the concert season for some of the summer sleepers.
The festival takes place in Mears Park from Thursday, September 4, through Saturday, September 6, and will feature The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Almanac artist Martin Devaney on Thursday; Prairie Fire Lady Choir and Salsa del Soul and the Adam Meckler Orchestra on Friday; and a full Saturday with the Ancia Saxophone Quartet, the Minnesota Opera, Breaking Brass presented by McNally Smith College of Music, and Joey Molland’s Badfinger.
It is time again for Lowertown First Fridays. It’s a good time to visit Lowertown before “To the Nines,” a Book Launch Celebration for the 2015 Saint Paul Almanac. The Saint Paul Art Crawl is a little more than a month away, but some of the artists will have their doors open in this monthly ritual that brings curious art lovers to Lowertown. There will be a lot of art, a lot of music, and a lot of energy.
During Lowertown First Fridays, be sure to stop by Flow Art Space in Lowertown’s Northern Building. Join Flow Art Space for the opening of a solo exhibition of Merrill Steiger’s “Dreamland” and a performance by Sendero Flamenco. Steiger’s work is “inspired by many places, people and experiences.” She works from impressions left by her travels to places such Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, and many European cities. She uses dotting, or pointillism, in the painting process, which creates a “mosaic-like graffiti.” Sendero Flamenco is Lowertown’s signature dance company whose work is inspired by the love of flamenco and getting people to move. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m., with Sendero Flamenco beginning at 8 p.m. Flow Art Space is on the second floor of the Northern Building, at 308 Prince Street.
As you can see, there is no need to suffer from State Fair withdrawal. This is a good week, and you can find more to do in the Saint Paul Almanac arts calendar. As you plan this week’s schedule, also keep in mind that next week is the SAINT PAUL ALMANAC BOOK RELEASE PARTY “To the Nines,” a Book Launch Celebration for the 2015 Saint Paul Almanac. We hope to see you there. In the meantime, enjoy this week and all Saint Paul has to offer.