Mayor Kevin Voracek said he doesn’t have a special power to ensure the sun shines on the Blue Collar Barbecue and Arts Festival each year, but he is surprised that it almost all seems to be a beautiful day.
The sun shined on the thousands of festival patrons Saturday as they sampled some barbecue, walked among the vendors, played in the bouncy castle and listened to hours of live music.
Downtown Faribault, from Fourth Street to Second was closed to traffic for 12 hours starting at 11 a.m. After the event opened, pedestrians flooded the area, taking the rare chance to walk through the historic district without traffic.
Voracek was pleased with the “fabulous weather,” but grew more excited by another climate.
“Festivals like those are great community builders,” he said. “It’s really an all-encompassing festival. You look around and see multiple generations here and multiple cultures.
Voracek estimates that nearly 7,000 people will attend the 2017 Blue Collar Barbecue as the event has grown by about 300 attendees each year since it began nine years ago.
As visitors streamed in, they were cheerily greeted by volunteers in blue Paradise Center for the Arts shirts. These people, located throughout the festival, were volunteers working to help the Paradise fund raise throughout the free event.
“It’s a fundraiser, so hopefully we can save a little extra cash so we can continue our programs and bring a stable arts organization to the community,” said Kim Schaufenbuel, a volunteer and a Paradise Center Board member. “It’s an event for the community and to support the arts.”
Schaufenbuel admitted that the logistics of putting the event together are always difficult, but she said volunteering is a “privilege” and said she is proud to bring a free event like this to Faribault.
Voracek also hoped that the event could help raise a…