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Attendees to last weekend's Street Faire at the Lakes walk down Front Street and look over some of the booths offering crafts. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Big crowds for Street Faire

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Blue skies -- at least, most of the time -- an army of helpful volunteers and an exciting lineup of artists both new and familiar made this weekend's Street Faire at the Lakes a resounding success, according to event organizers.

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"It was very smooth from our perspective," said Mary Beth Gilsdorf, who has been the logistics coordinator for the festival since its beginnings nine years ago.

"I can't say enough about the cooperative effort of all involved," she added.

Sue Braun, who has also been on the Street Faire organizational committee since the beginning, said that there were "record crowds" on Saturday.

"I would say there were probably 12,000 to 14,000 people going through over the course of the day," she said, adding that the street dance which ended the day's festivities also had good crowds.

"There were great crowds on Saturday -- it was just packed all day," Gilsdorf agreed. "The street dance was a lot of fun. The wind died down, and it was a nice, mellow crowd."

Though the numbers dwindled on Sunday -- Braun estimated there were between 6,000 and 7,000 people at the festival for the second day -- the crowds were steady throughout the day. Even when a brief rain storm swept through Detroit Lakes for about an hour on Sunday, there were still quite a few people who stuck it out, she noted.

"We got a nice downpour around 3 p.m. (Sunday), but who can complain about 80 percent of it being great weather," Gilsdorf said. "I think everyone was expecting worse weather than Saturday, but I thought it was actually nicer... warmer, and with less wind."

Gilsdorf also said she received "a ton of compliments from people at the show," who were excited about all the new artists and artwork they saw on display.

"We always try to have some repeat (exhibitors), but we also work hard to find new artists and keep it fresh," she added.

Braun said she had heard from some exhibitors who said they had a record show in terms of sales, and were "very pleased" by their reception from the community.

"I think Detroit Lakes embraces its street fair more than some cities do," she continued. "We have (exhibitors) from Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Washington State, Montana -- things you don't always see in Minnesota. They say they really enjoy coming to Minnesota, the people are wonderful to them."

But local exhibitors and vendors also do very well at the Street Faire, Braun added, and the live music that was provided throughout the event covered "every possible genre."

"The entertainment was wonderful," she said.

Part of the reason why the Street Faire does so well, Braun believes, is because it's the first festival of the summer for the lakes area -- which is precisely what organizers envisioned when it was created nine years ago.

"It's become a tradition for some people," she added.

Another part of its success, she added, has been the Street Faire Committee, because each of its members has different organizational strengths. Besides herself and Gilsdorf, the committee includes Dawn Olson, David Larson, Deb Pratt, Tovson and Jerry Wagendorf.

And of course, there are the volunteers. Gilsdorf said she gets compliments every year, from exhibitors and visitors alike, about "how nice everyone is, and how clean it is."

"The Breakfast Rotary Club is our Clean Team," Gilsdorf said. "They do an awesome job -- we get rave reviews every year about how it's one of the cleanest shows that the artists participate in. All of our volunteers are so wonderful.

"The Sentence to Serve workers helped us move the picnic tables -- we were so grateful. The Eagles were tireless... they were there from beginning to end on Saturday. And our committee is awesome.

All in all, Gilsdorf added, "It was really fun. I think we'll do it again."

And speaking of next year's event, the Street Faire will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2010.

Gilsdorf and Braun both said the committee is open to ideas about how to make the celebration extra special.

"We want to try to do something exciting," said Braun.

"We've tossed around a couple of ideas, but if anyone has a vision of what they think would be appropriate, go ahead and fire it off to the Chamber (of Commerce). We're open to input."

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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