(credit: stonearchbridgefestival.com)

Stone Arch Bridge Festival
Historic Main St and Father Hennepin Park
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Dates: June 15 to 17, 2012

After a 17-year run under the name Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, the passing of founder Ira Heilicher led many to worry that one of the largest festivals in the Twin Cities (with an estimated attendance of around 70,000 last year) would simply disappear. Thankfully, Matt Mithun (who also owns the Somerset Amphitheater) stepped up and took over the newly-renamed Stone Arch Bridge Festival, which runs from June 15-17. Add in local photographer and talent booker Stacy Schwartz, who was brought in as the person tasked with overseeing the three music stages at Stone Arch, and the local music and arts scene can breath a collective sigh of relief that one of the premier showcases of local talent will continue to provide quality entertainment on Father’s Day weekend. Although in its first year under new ownership, this year’s festival promises the same high level of talent and entertainment, along with 250 artist booths to admire and inspire, in a setting free for all ages. Read on for a preview of everything that this event has to offer, and be sure to clear your schedule for this year’s Stone Arch Bridge Festival, which runs June 15 through 17, 2012.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Three stages worth of live music

While the festival organizers have chosen to announce the Friday and Saturday evening live music acts closer to the date, the daytime music schedules have been released. At the west end of the Festival, the City Pages Stage (under the Central Avenue Bridge) offers a different act hourly from 11:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, starting with Frank Boyle & His Eminent Acoustic Entourage and ending with Walker Fields. On the east end, the Star Tribune Stage (in Father Hennepin Park) offers live music during the same time frame, book-ended with Karl Remus and Joey Ryan & The Inks. Located right in the middle of everything, the Cities 97 Stage on Water Power Park kicks off the music at noon on Saturday with Silent Agency, and has music playing right up to the headliner Saturday evening, before picking up again at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday morning with Hunting Club.

(credit: Thinkstock)

So many food choices, so little time

What would a great festival be without a multitude of amazing food choices? No matter whether you are heading to the State Fair to end the summer, a small town carnival in late May or a music festival in the middle of the summer, the food stands quietly steal the show. With five different hubs full of delicious food choices, the Stone Arch Bridge Festival is no different. From summer standbys like Bridgeman’s ice cream in the Father Hennepin Park Food Court to caramel corn on Main Street, all of your favorite snack choices will be well represented. If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, grab a BBQ beef brisket sandwich in Water Power Park or a Cuban platter in the Central Avenue Bridge Food Court. For a full list of choices, please see the entire festival food list.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Something for everyone

In addition to the 40-plus musical acts and the great food choices, this year’s iteration also features 250 artists spread throughout the riverfront (click here to see a map of the festival). Add in a Father’s Day car show featuring the antique, unique and restored, a beer and wine tent (adult beverage consumption is limited to this area, helping keep the rest of the festival family-friendly) and scenic setting of the Mississippi River flowing by, and the 18th occurrence of what has become a staple of Minneapolis summers for art and music lovers is sure to make the late founder Ira Heilicher proud.

(credit: Stone Arch Bridge Festival/Facebook)

If you go

Just a few housekeeping items to keep in mind for attendees. Biking to the festival is encouraged, but all bikes/skateboards must be walked through the festival grounds. Dogs on leashes are also welcome to attend – but if your dog doesn’t do well with crowds (or other dogs for that matter), please leave them at home. If you choose to drive in, on-street parking is available (bring change to feed the meter) or make the short walk from the St. Anthony Falls ramp (click here for more detailed parking information).

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Rich Rein, previously featured in magazines like Midwest Outdoors and Outdoors Weekly as well as a contributor to MyBuckStory.com and covering the Minneapolis fishing scene for Examiner.com, is a Minnesota transplant doing his best to enjoy the state’s multitude of fishing opportunities while holding down a career as a software developer by day and a firefighter/EMT by night. His work can be found at Examiner.com.