Editor's Note: With Parktacular fast approaching (it starts on Thursday, with most of the main events coming on Saturday), St. Louis Park Patch wants to help you get ready. Today, we have a Q&A with Joan Fenton, who is the volunteer Parktacular president. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at some of the new things worth checking out this year. And on Wednesday, we'll have your last-minute guide to all things Parktacular. Also, check out our Parktacular .
St. Louis Park Patch: If someone is new to St. Louis Park, tell them what they can expect from Parktacular.
Joan Fenton: Parktacular is our community celebration. Every summer we do this, and it involves everyone in the community. There is something for all ages. It’s a lot of fun. There’s some learning, some dancing, some music (and) some eating. It’s a lot of fun experiences.
St. Louis Park Patch: I understand it’s all volunteer. Tell me about the volunteers and the commitments they’ve made.
Fenton: We have a fabulous, hard-working, dedicated core team of about a dozen volunteers who work all year round, at this time of year almost full-time. We do all the marketing, the hiring of all the events, we put all the packages together, we come up with creative ideas and we manage all the mail. We try to find things that are fun and that are different, and that people might not have seen somewhere else.
St. Louis Park Patch: What are a handful of new things this year that you really want to highlight?
Fenton: I guess the first thing that I really want to mention is that we’ve changed our block party from Saturday night to Friday night, and also from the Town Green to the . We’re keeping the same band, Boogie Wonderland, but it’s a new location. Time is 6:30 to 11 … The second thing I’d like to highlight is Kidtacular. It’s our newest, revamped event. It used to be called Kids’ Fest. We’ve added many, many more new things to it. We’ve probably doubled or even tripled the number of activities. Some of the new ones are: Kenwood Gymnastics with interactive demos, Minnesota Wild (hockey) demos … and is coming and will be doing some things that are fun for kids and adults alike … The third thing I’d like to highlight is our button. We are selling them again this year four for the price of three, so $15, until June 14. With a button you get free entrance to the block party. You also get one free pony ride for the kiddies, and free ride on the water slide or inflatables. And you also get in our Teen Tent, if you’re 13-18, and you get a free ice cream treat. Now I’ll have to cheat and say I want to highlight one more thing, and that would be our Teen Tent. It’s brand new this year—we’ve never tried it before. We’ve invited all the teens in the and to come … We’ll have DJ Bob there with lots of cool music, and a disco dancing ball, and prizes and games and contests.
St. Louis Park Patch: What do you think is the top food item that people should eat?
Fenton: My favorite is cheese curds. There’s no doubt about it. They’re straight from the State Fair. But there are some healthy things, too. There are fruit kabobs and some other things with fruit. And the ice cream there can’t be beat.
St. Louis Park Patch: What are you expecting for attendance?
Fenton: We estimate between the four days of events about 5,000 people.
St. Louis Park Patch: There are a lot of different community celebrations in the summer. What sets Parktacular apart?
Fenton: One thing is that we’re (run) by an all-volunteer committee, and we fund our events strictly from donations, except for the fundraising we do by selling buttons … Another thing that’s different is that we have so many groups involved in this. Our parade has nearly 90 units coming this year from all around the area. But a lot of them are from St. Louis Park—businesses, community groups. It does feel like a community event.
St. Louis Park Patch: On the subject of the parade, is there a best spot to sit and watch it?
Fenton: I could say the staging area, which is on Excelsior and Grand. That’s where everybody goes. The second place that everybody goes is right in front of the . If it were me, I’d go somewhere south of Excelsior Boulevard, where there is lots of space to watch. There’s more room for people to get in the front row.
St. Louis Park Patch: Do you have a favorite Parktacular event?
Fenton: The parade. I’ve loved parades since I was a little kid. My parents used to take me all the time to different parades. I had a dream, way back in my head, that someday, wouldn’t it be cool to actually work on a parade and do the lineup? Little did I know, that that opportunity would basically drop into my lap unexpectedly. And now I have a ball doing it. I can’t wait to see the bands coming by. There’s just something about sitting in your chair and having the big drum groups come by. Your whole body moves. I’ve always loved it.
St. Louis Park Patch: When people go home from Parktacular, you’d like them to say what?
Fenton: I want to come back again next year!
St. Louis Park Patch: And speaking of next year, when do you start planning for Parktacular 2013?
Fenton: The minute 2012 is over. Our first event is the dinner/dance on Thursday at the Marriot, and as I’m walking out the door, I book the room for the next year. I do. And we look at bands … some of these groups need to be booked a year in advance. Then we have to do a little debrief, look at what worked (and) what didn’t work.