ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - This week, the Ordway Performing Arts Center kicked off a beloved event that's been virtual for the last two years during the pandemic.
The 22nd Flint Hills Family Festival brought out students, teachers and families filling the streets surrounding Rice Park in downtown St. Paul on Friday afternoon.
They were listening to all types of live music with the goal of encouraging kids to find a passion or love for the arts.
This is the first time since 2019 that the festival has been in person.
"The pandemic through a monkey wrench in it so to speak," said Nealie Christopher, a 3rd Grade Teacher at Nellie Stone Johnson School. She has been bringing her MPS students to the festival for years and was thrilled to bring them to this event again after a two-year break. Christopher said the timing couldn't have been better.
"With the news as of late, this is exactly what our kids needed, said Christopher.
This festival is the beginning of regularly scheduled programming for the Ordway. However, President and CEO Chris Harrington, says they are still trying to bring back some of their postponed shows.
"We're still in the process of catching up, but we have a really incredible team here at the Ordway who have been working tirelessly," said Harrington.
Harrington says the last big performance they need to reschedule still is "The Last Ship" with Sting. It was supposed to be at the Ordway in April 2020, but was canceled. Harrington says if you still have tickets to "The Last Ship," those tickets will still be honored when the show eventually returns to St. Paul.
"Be patient with us, but we're working on it," said Harrington, "I get that question [about that show] probably once a month."
In the meantime, live performances are back on the stages inside and outside the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
Even the littlest audiences are ready to enjoy them.
"[The students] will be so exhausted when they get on the bus back to school," said Christopher, "They'll be talking about it forever."
The Flint Hills Family Festival continues through 8 p.m. on Friday, and then again on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Most activities are free or low cost. The performances on Saturday are "pay what you can," so you can pay as little as $1.
The Ordway 2022-2023 Broadway lineup is on the calendar. To buy tickets, click here.
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