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As part of RiverFest, St. Croix TRAILS Coordinator Mark Soulier will lead the Native American TRAILS Youth Dance Troupe in a performance on Tuesday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at Lakefront Park’s Picnic Point. (Submitted photo)

Native American celebration and concert featured at RiverFest

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The week-long celebration, River Fest: Party with a Purpose, will feature Native American dance, art, music, and activities at Lakefront Park on July 15 and 17.

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This annual event, which runs Saturday, July 12 through Thursday, July 17, celebrates the St. Croix River while also recognizing the need to preserve its health and beauty.

On Tuesday, July 15, families are encouraged to gather at Picnic Point, south of the boat launch and near the River Bench to enjoy a cultural dance performance by Traditions Respecting American Indian Life Styles (TRAILS), Native American Youth Dancers from the St. Croix Band of Lake Superior Chippewa from northwest Wisconsin.

This dance troupe began in 1996 and has over 30 dancers ranging in age from 4 to 17. They have performed extensively at schools, festivals, parades, and other community events throughout Wisconsin, as well as at the 2002 U.S. Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and on tour in Japan in 2004. Their performance is from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m., meet Medallion the Stallion, a life-sized horse statue traveling to pow-wows and other community events throughout the region this summer, and learn about the important role of horses in Native American history. Children will be encouraged to decorate Medallion with paint or chalk like Plains tribes do, or add their own unique design.

Medallion the Stallion is a project from the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee. Siobhan Marks, project coordinator, adds, “This is a great chance for children to learn about horses and have some fun along the way!” Medallion’s appearance in Lakefront Park is made possible with support from The Hudson House Grand Hotel and St. Paul Pioneer Press/TwinCities.com.

On Tuesday evening, see the 7-foot tall RiverFest mascot, Scrappy the Splashing Bass, which was created in 2013 by Twin Cities artist Mary Johnson using rebar and salvaged metal. Each year, community volunteers and students in The Phipps Summer Art Camp work with Johnson and local artists to transform the trash collected during the river clean-up to create a new “skin” for Scrappy to “wear” until the following year.

Scrappy will be on display stripped down to its armature, alongside the newly gathered bags of trash which will be used on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare the sculpture for its 2014 debut at Thursday evening’s band concert.

The Native American Celebration is free and open to the public. It is presented by The Phipps Center for the Arts in partnership with the Hudson Area Library, and is a program of the Art Bench Trail (www.artbenchtrail.org).

In the case of rain, the event will be held in the Black Box Theater at The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, Wisconsin.

A free concert on Thursday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Lakefront Park band shell will be the 2014 RiverFest’s culminating celebration.

This musical extravaganza features the St. Croix Valley Community Band under the direction of Kris Tjornehoj, with a special appearance by Metro Brass. The program of music themed around the river will include a performance of “The St. Croix Suite,” a tribute to the St. Croix River in original poetry by Laurie Allmann and music by singer/composer Carol Caouette. One hundred CDs of “The Saint Croix Suite” (as arranged for piano) will be given away at the event.

Audience members of all ages will be invited to participate in a piece or two during the drumming extravaganza, and will be encouraged to wave their river sticks. Create your own river stick at the event, or stop by The Phipps Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

In the case of rain, Thursday’s concert will be held in the Hudson High School Auditorium.

Come early and visit the RiverFest partner organizations booths with information and demonstrations before and during the concert from 6 to 9 p.m.

For full information on each of these activities and all of this year’s RiverFest events go to: www.stcroixriverfest.org. RiverFest is being made possible through grants, sponsorships and a large number of community organizations and volunteers.

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