The Lemonade Concert and Art Fair is one of St. Cloud State University’s best-known campus traditions and annually marks the opening of St. Cloud’s Granite City Days community-wide event.
In 2023, the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as being one of SCSU and St. Cloud’s greatest traditions. The 50th annual Lemonade Concert and Art Fair is set for June 22 on the SCSU campus, with the art fair to take place from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. followed by the Granite City Days Opening Ceremony from 7-7:30 p.m. in Ritsche Auditorium before a performance featuring the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Ritsche Auditorium.
“The Lemonade Concert and Art Fair has been a long-standing tradition for SCSU and St. Cloud residents. Many individuals look forward to attending this event every year,” said Christa Hayes, Director of Civic Engagement & Assessment at SCSU. “We are hoping in years to come to offer the same traditional experience for fair attendees, while also providing new signature attractions as well.”
Similar offerings that will be featured in this year’s fair include the art fair, over 150 art vendors, musical artists, food trucks, the Little Lemons Art Park offering children’s art projects, and other events that have become staples annually.
New this year is Husky Express, SCSU’s state-of-the-art lab experience, which will providing activities geared toward “The Science of Art,” including pH painting, pendulum creations, constellation needle work, tornado art and painting with hailstones. Also new in 2023 is a performance from the Chalk Twins, Lexi and Devon, who will be creating a custom mural from images of Lemonade Art Fairs throughout the years. Minnesota Outdoor Painters will also be showcasing live performances of paintings throughout the fair.
The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra is also planning a special performance commemorating the 50th annual fair. Margaret Vos, retired Atwood Memorial Center Director, has energetically volunteered to spearhead the coordination of this effort.
“We are very excited to announce that a commissioned piece titled “On Oak Crowned Banks,” composed by Michael Halstenson, commissioned by the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and funded by a generous donor, will be premiered that evening,” Hayes said. “The commissioned piece uses the St. Cloud State University hymn as the inspirational centerpiece of the composition, which recognizes the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra’s 28-year relationship with the festival and SCSU.”
A year ago, the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair included over 150 vendors spread throughout campus, featuring art vendors, food stands, children’s activities, musical performances and an SCSU booth. The 2022 fair, managed by the Department of Campus Involvement along with sponsorships with local businesses, welcomed back many long-time vendors as well as new vendors who have never been displayed at the event.
The Lemonade Concert and Art Fair first began in 1974, at the time occurring in early July or August on the Atwood Mall and inside Atwood with the Minnesota Orchestra performing in Halenbeck Hall. The first fair featured more than 40 artists, with that number expanding annually. Since that first year, the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair has evolved into a great campus and community tradition every summer and one that will continue for years to come.
“We hope that the fair this summer proves to be our best yet,” Hayes added. “SCSU is excited to once again open our beautiful campus to the community, and provide a fun summer celebration for all ages.”
Through the Years: Lemonade Concert and Art Fair
Lemonade Concert and Art Fair Fun Facts
- Beginning in 1999, Lemonade has been held in late June. From 1974 through 1998, Lemonade was held in early July or early August.
- The Minnesota Orchestra first performed for Lemonade in 1974 (when it was called the “Campus Mall-American Festival Day” – for more info, see below about the campus mall). They performed 13 times at Lemonade, the last being in July 1992.
- The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra first played at Lemonade in 1995 – and have every single year since then.
- There have been many sponsors of the event. The 1974 event received help from the Minnesota State Arts Council, Minnesota Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- The 1976 event, held on July 19, were moved indoors due to rain. Other early events were affected by rain, including 1978 and 1981.
- For the July 12, 1981 Lemonade event, it closed out St. Cloud’s “Wheels, Wings, and Water” festival for the first time. It would later open “Wheels, Wings, and Water”.
- At the July 11, 1985 Lemonade event, a record number of 150 vendors participated. By 1994, 300 vendors were part of Lemonade.
- At the July 5, 1990 Lemonade event, Charles Huntington’s outdoor sculpture “Perspectives” was dedicated, which stands west of Stewart Hall.
- First children’s area at Lemonade was used for the 1998 event and then called “Little Lemons Art and Entertainment Area” the following year.
- In 2000, outside food vendors first appeared.
- The final year of “Wheels, Wings, and Water,” St. Cloud summer festival, was held in June 2006. It changed to “Granite City Days” in 2007.
- Ginny Tennant, long-time volunteer and an early proponent of Lemonade, was honored when the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra performed “Ginny’s Serenade” at the June 2008 Lemonade event. It would also be played at the 2019 event, the first Lemonade event held after Ginny’s death.
- Lemonade 2011 featured for the first time the Farmer’s Market selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Entertainers appearing at Lemonade since 1974 include Paul Imholte, Tonic Sol Fa, 101st Army Air Mobile Division Brass Combo, Minnesota Renaissance Festival Street Players, St. Cloud Area Barbershop Chorus, St. John’s Boys Choir, St. Cloud All City Marching Band, St. Cloud Singing Saints, Minnesota Sinfonia, St. Cloud State alum Leo Kottke, SSSizzlin’ Jazz, Fabulous Armadillos and James Calacsan.