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Three years ago, to commemorate the Minnesota State Sesquicentennial, Detroit Lakes was one of several cities in the state chosen to be Capital for a Day.
On that day in May 2008, a community picnic was held. Though it was intended to be a one-time-only event, it was so successful that Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk decided last year that it would become an annual celebration -- and a new community tradition, Parkfest, was born.
This year's Parkfest celebration is slated to take place Thursday, May 13, at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. The free community picnic is from 5 to 7 p.m.
Once again, the celebration will feature a silent auction where guests will have the opportunity to bid on mosaic glass windows created by area school students.
These windows were created during the annual "Mosaic Mania" art outreach project established three years ago by the Historic Holmes Theatre.
The project was the brainchild of glass artist Becky Mitchell, who also serves as a development and outreach coordinator for the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center.
Each year, Mitchell goes out into area schools and helps elementary school children in grades 3-6 create mosaic glass art projects.
Because school participation in the outreach project is on a "first come, first serve" basis, the list of participating schools fluctuates slightly each year.
This year's participating schools included Faith Christian (new this year), Holy Rosary, Roosevelt and Rossman elementary schools in Detroit Lakes; Circle of Life School in White Earth; Frazee; Lake Park-Audubon; and Perham.
"We also had a group of home-schooled students from the lakes area," said Mitchell.
Schools that have participated in the project in the past have included Waubun and Barnesville, Mitchell said.
Mitchell visits classrooms at the participating schools and helps each of the students create their own, individual 5x5-inch mosaic art piece. In addition, the students from each class contribute toward the creation of a full-size mosaic glass window that is then auctioned off as a fund-raiser.
In the past, all of the proceeds from the auction have gone toward arts outreach programming at the Holmes Theatre. This year, however, each participating school will get to keep 50 percent of the monies raised from the sale of their window, to be used for arts programming and supplies.
Another new part of the Mosaic Mania fund-raiser this year is that the schools in districts outside of Detroit Lakes can choose to hold their own auction fund-raisers instead of taking part in the Parkfest auction.
Two districts, Frazee and Lake Park-Audubon, have opted to hold their own auctions.
"It's a way for some of the smaller communities to have more ownership in the project -- and to expose the residents to what it (Mosaic Mania) is about," Mitchell said.
The themes for the window mosaics tend to center around Minnesota -- such as the state bird and state flower -- or other natural phenomena.
The key is simplicity, Mitchell noted; too much detail would make it difficult to complete the windows within the allotted time frame.
Supplies for the project are paid for through donations from local -- and some not so local -- businesses.
Mitchell said she also has a strong group of about 15-20 volunteers who help her not only in the classrooms, but with grouting and framing of the students' individual projects.
"It's been phenomenal," she said of their assistance.
Because of their help, she said, the students are able to get their projects back much more quickly than in previous years.
"The kids are thrilled when we walk back into the classrooms with their projects," she said.
For more information about Mosaic Mania, or Parkfest, contact Becky Mitchell at 218-844-4221, ext. 117, or by e-mail at email@example.com.