Last year's Live@the Levee holiday edition was a resounding success.
by AMELIA WEDEMEYER
Live@the Levee’s holiday edition is back this Saturday to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. The second annual day-long community festival will offer an array of activities beneath a heated tent, including live music, holiday-themed crafts, and a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Food and beverages will also be for sale, as well as unique artisan gifts for last minute holiday shoppers. “It’s a great social event and we love to cover all age ranges and walks of life,” said Cherie Harkenrider, a Live@the Levee volunteer. “Take a break from chores and dance to music, grab a bite to eat, purchase last minute items and participate in activities.”
This year’s holiday Live@the Levee, which goes from noon until 8 p.m., will also include a presentation on the new Downtown App, which is available for free from the iTunes and Android app stores. Event attendees will also be invited to partake in a celebratory cake honoring the grants received by Live@the Levee and Downtown Main Street from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. “There will be a short presentation and cake for everybody as a way to say ‘thank you,’” Harkenrider explained.
Throughout the day community members will enjoy a variety of live musical acts, including the hand bell choir of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona State University student and musician Bobby Briggs, former Winona resident and blues/folk artist Jake Ilika, concertina band Karl & the Country Dutchmen, and the country rock band Maiden Dixie. People are also encouraged to make holiday crafts with supplies provided by the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Children will also want to have their Christmas list handy for when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the tent around 12:45 p.m. “Kids and adults alike love [the crafts and activities],” Harkenrider said, emphasizing the low cost and high entertainment value of the event. “The activities and music are free. If you want to spend money it’s to fill your tummy or buy last minute gifts.”
Harkenrider suggests mingling with family and friends while also grabbing a bite to eat from a plethora of vendors selling items such as crepes, Thai food and baked potatoes, all at reasonable prices. “If people end up bringing their kids we don’t want them to have to spend an arm and a leg,” Harkenrider explained. “We’ll have pulled pork sandwiches, chili, fancy cutout Christmas cookies, cider and hot chocolate as well as adult beverages,” she added.
In addition to food and beverage vendors, artisans will also set up shop under the tent. Last minute holiday shoppers will find one-of-a-kind gifts such as German paper-cut items, handmade mittens and accessories, stained glassware and alpaca apparel. “We’re trying to offer things that you can’t normally purchase [in town],” Harkenrider said. “We are not trying to compete with downtown; we just want to offer something different.”
Created to help revitalize Levee Park, Live@the Levee organizes approximately four day-long festivals each year, as well as several fundraising events in between. “We have awesome community sponsors and donors, which is why we can put this on for free,” Harkenrider explained. “[Live@the Levee] is all done by a team of volunteers. We really want to celebrate what we have in the downtown and Levee Park area.”