(This story was originally posted June 20, 2021.)By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Large crowds and festivals are back.

Thousands of people filled West River Parkway over the weekend for the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, which is the first large community event since the mask mandate was lifted in Minneapolis.

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Kiden Gaffney, Kylie Gaffney and Adeline Botts said they were excited for the tradition of art fairs to return after the pandemic.

“It’s feeling normal again,” Kiden said.

Their favorite part is the fried fair food.

“Missing the state fair last year … there was so much good food that we missed out on,” Adeline said. “This year it’s like coming back and we got to try it again.”

On Sunday, there was a brief, but heavy downpour during the festival that had people running for cover. However, it didn’t seem to scare many away from shopping. Anna and Nathanael Bailey, wood mosaic artists from Duluth, had a booth at the festival.

(credit: CBS)

“People were in here helping us lift things off the ground as the rain was running down underneath us,” Nathanael said.

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“And we were making sales and people were coming and going,” Anna said.

The couple says 30% of their revenue comes from art fairs like this one, and they were worried about the turnout for their big return.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, but we were nervous yesterday,” Anna said. “We were like, ‘Are people gonna still do this art fair thing?’”

“It felt like we’ve never done a show before,” Nathanael said.

However, their fears were flattened immediately when they saw the crowd on Saturday and Sunday.

“We can sell things online, we can do things on social media, but you get new faces at all these art fairs and get to meet some new people,” Nathanael said.

“Everybody’s happy to be back at it,” Anna said.

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The next festival is the Minnehaha Art Fair, set for the weekend of July 16.

Marielle Mohs