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Eighth annual ComoFest has something for everyone

Posted on 11 July 2017 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
ComoFest will be returning this summer for its eighth year, with something to engage all ages and interests. According to Michael Kuchta, director of the Como Community Council, ”The festival began in 2010 as a ‘stay-cation’ concept. We were on the heels of the recession that had hit a couple of years before, and there were plenty of people who just didn’t have the resources to take a summer vacation. We thought, why not come up with some fun, affordable activities to do close to home?”

What started as just one weekend of events has morphed over the years into the last three weekends of July. “From a District 10 perspective,” Kuchta said, “we thought it was important to schedule events in different parts of the Como neighborhood. There will be something going on every Friday and Saturday and, if there’s more than one event, the times won’t conflict. We’re deliberately keeping ComoFest small and manageable, so people can just come and go.”

The District 10 Ice Cream Social will kick things off on Fri., July 14 from 5:30-8pm at the Como Park Street Car Station (1224 Lexington Pkwy.). The Hubert Humphrey Job Corps Center is donating the ice cream, which will be served by their culinary arts students. Paul Seeba, folk singer, guitarist, and neighborhood resident, will perform. “Based on the number of ice cream bowls we counted last year,” Kuchta said, “which is the only way we can track attendance, more than 500 people attended.” Dairy and non-dairy treats will be served.

Kuchta underscored, “In addition to several tables we’ll have set up for neighborhood organizations, we’ll be promoting our organic composting site just north of the Animal Humane Society. Come hang out with your neighbors, and learn more about all the great things going on in the Como neighborhood.”

The ComoFest Art Fair will take place at the Como Lakeside Pavilion from 10-2pm on Sat., July 15, featuring the work of two dozen community artists. A free yoga class taught by Melissa Malen of Studio M will be offered at noon, also at the Pavilion.

That night from 6-8pm, tattoo artist Brandon Heffron and the staff of Beloved Studios Tattoo Parlor will host a summer party in the parking lot behind their business at 1563 Como Ave. Live music will be provided by Union Junction, with food and fun provided by Beloved Studios.
On Fri., July 21 from 2-8pm, the Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival (1415 Almond Ave.) will showcase the work of dozens of artists living there. Darcy Rivers, community recreation director for the City of St. Paul, said, “This had been a stand-alone summer event for years, and it just made sense to include it under the umbrella of ComoFest.”

Photo left: ComoFest succeeds, according to Community Council Director Michael Kuchta, “because residents love living, working, and recreating in this neighborhood.” Pictured above are a group of four women, only two of whom knew each other, out for a walk around Como Lake. Their common thread of interest was the dog, Moppy, who was recently adopted from the nearby Animal Humane Society. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Lyngblomsten is a senior care facility that has been serving older adults since 1906. There will be make-and-take art activities led by organizations that Lyngblomsten partners with throughout the year including Northern Clay Center, the Polymer Clay Guild of Minnesota, Art with Heart, COMPAS, artist Jan Gunderson, and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. Live music and entertainment will be provided by Lyngblomsten art partners including the Minnesota Opera, Lakeshore Players Theatre, COMPAS, MacPhail Center for Music, Kairos Alive!, Health RHYTHMS Drumming, and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project of Minnesota.

That evening at dusk, the film “Sing” will be shown outside at the North Dale Recreation Center (1414 St. Albans St.).

Photo right: A blast from the past… a scene of ComoFest in 2013. (File photo)

On Sat., July 22, the ComoFest 5K Walk/Run for Everyone will take off from the Como Pavilion at 8:30am. Benefits go to the Living at Home Block Nurse Program. Registration for the run is $20 in advance for teens and adults; $25 on race day. Registration for youngsters 11 or younger is $10 in advance; $15 on race day. A second complimentary yoga class will be offered that day by Melissa Malen of Studio M at noon at the Pavilion.

For camping enthusiasts, the Northwest Como Recreation Center is hosting a movie night and campout on Fri., July 28 from 6pm until the next morning at 1550 Hamline Ave. A community baseball game will start things off at 5:30pm, with a jump castle and climbing tower for the young and the young at heart. The Northwest Como Booster Club will be selling concessions, and the movie ”Finding Dory” will begin at dusk. Tents will be set up before the movie begins; each family will need to provide their own tent, and the cost for camping out is $5/family. Staff people will be on-site all night, and the rec center rest rooms will remain open. There must be one parent or guardian staying overnight in each tent. Wake up is at 8am, and breakfast will be served as part of the registration cost. All activities will be moved indoors in the case of rain.

Photo left: A blast from the past… the crowds have grown substantially from this start of ComoFest back in 2010. (File photo)

ComoFest’s final event is a Community Appreciation Picnic sponsored by TopLine Credit Union (976 Lexington Pkwy.). Branch manager Diane Monson said, “We’re so happy to sponsor this event, which we see as a way of saying thank you to the neighborhood. There’s no cost to attend the picnic; we’ll be serving up food, games, and prizes from 11am-1pm. After the picnic ends, join us for the world’s shortest marathon: 26.2 YARDS (across the street) to Gabe’s by the Park Restaurant to continue the fun. We’ll be collecting free will donations, and any proceeds will be donated to the ongoing work of the Animal Humane Society.”

Darcy Rivers shared a closing thought, saying, “Como is a neighborhood that regularly hosts huge events, some of which have a national spotlight. At ComoFest, the intent is to focus on our own neighborhood organizations and services, and to get to know each other better. There’s a lot of pride in this community, and when people love their homes and their community—that’s worth celebrating.

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