Downtown gets ready for 1st Wind Down Wednesday

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Downtown Albert Lea on Wednesday will debut its summer market and music festival, with the goal of bringing people to the heart of the city.

Designed after a weekly festival in Rochester called Thursdays on First, Wind Down Wednesday on Broadway will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Broadway Avenue. The street will be closed from Main Street to Fountain Street and will be set up like an outdoor market, offering food, drinks, live entertainment and arts and crafts vendors.

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“We’re hoping that Albert Lea and the surrounding communities come out just to have a big neighborhood block party — to socialize,” said Linda Knudsen, one of the event’s organizers.

There will be an information booth in the middle of Broadway Avenue for people to pick up event maps that show where different activities take place.

Organizer Susie Petersen, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Tuesday there are more than 30 artisans who have signed up to participate. The artwork or craft they will be selling is 85 to 90 percent handmade.

The arts and craft vendors at the festival will have items including jewelry, wood carvings, glass, custom paintings, photography, handmade essential oil products, pottery, body art and sun catchers, among others.

Almost a dozen food vendors will be on hand selling everything from beverages and snow cones to burgers, tacos and chicken wings.

The Albert Lea City Council in May authorized alcohol to be served outdoors within the blocked off portion of the street. People drinking alcoholic beverages will be given a cup with the Wind Down Wednesday logo on it to use.

Entertainment will be on two stages, the main one between the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Alliant Energy building, and an acoustic stage between the Freeborn National Bank building and the Shoff Chiropractic building.

Performing Wednesday are Andrea Jietz, Paul Christian, Indiscrepancy, Megan Kirsch, Oceanna Snyder, Bob Tewes, Lillie Nielsen, Riptide, Adam Wollenburg and Steve Sullivan & The Factory.

Downtown businesses will likely have additional specials planned.

Though the event will take place rain or shine, Petersen said organizers are hoping for good weather.

“It’s something different for Albert Lea, something new,” Knudsen said. “We’re hoping just for a fun place to gather and that it grows. We’re hoping it becomes something big for our area.”

The Albert Lea Farmers Market will be in its regular location in the North Broadway parking lot.

The second Wind Down Wednesday is scheduled for Aug. 15.