Every summer our kids look forward to Wind Down Wednesday in downtown Albert Lea. The first two years they had a bounce house slide. It was awesome, you could see the slide from two blocks away. Our kids could not wait to go down the slide. Each year the event has been creatively incorporating kid friendly activities into the event. Side walk chalk, hula hoops, face painting, arts and crafts, and even a pop up splash pad provided by the Albert Lea Fire Department. It has been an event our whole family has enjoyed.
I know from experience events like this take a team of people in order to make an event like this a success. I wanted a behind the scenes look, Susie Petersen and Tami Staker, graciously sat down with me at the Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro to share the story of Wind Down Wednesday.
The first thing I wanted to know was where the idea came from. Susie said she had gone to Thursdays on 1st in Rochester, MN. She and her husband have friends who live in the Rochester area and wanted a fun place to meet up. They all decided on Thursday on 1st and had a wonderful time. Susie said after their experience in Rochester, she knew she had to try to bring something similar to Albert Lea.
She ended up getting to know the Rochester Downtown Alliance. A team of 6-8 Wind Down Wednesday committee members drove over to Rochester and they graciously shared the ins and outs of their event with the committee. Susie and Tami both shared their thankfulness to Jon Eckhoff and the Rochester Alliance Committee for being willing to help them get the Albert Lea event off the ground.
After talking with the, Rochester Thursdays on 1st team, the Wind Down Wednesday team came back and began putting the event into motion here in Albert Lea. Their first order of business was to give the event a name. Kathy Sabinish from Frames R Us in Albert Lea, is credited with giving our event the name it has.
Each year an event application has to be turned into the City of Albert Lea, which is then sent out to the various department heads. Each department reads through the event and comments their concerns or questions, which are then directed back to the event coordinators. Once all of the kinks are ironed out, the event is given a green light to continue. In addition to turning in a event application, every event in Albert Lea has to have their own event insurance. Susie and Tami both wanted to make sure I gave a shout out to the City of Albert Lea for being continuing to be supportive and helpful with this event.
Knowing event insurance and other aspects of the event cost money, I wondered where their funding for the event came from. Their funding comes from generous sponsors, vendor fees, and the generosity of the community.
Tami Staker is the owner of Celebrations Party, Gifts, Toys and has been the sponsor of the kid zone for many years. She said, “it’s a perfect fit with my store and it makes sense to me to help out the event in this way.” She said; “she couldn’t reveal yet what the art project for the June 15th WDW would be, but that it was going to be fun.”
They will also have face painting, a bounce house, side walk chalk, hula hooping, and this year there will be a piano in the Bank Building, both adults and children can paint. They are both excited to see how event goers will paint the piano. In addition there will be a pop-up splash pad put on by the Albert Lea Fire Department from 3:30-4:30.
One of their future goals for WDW is to have it big enough to help financially support the Downtown. They are also looking at bringing in a Wine Walk in the future. Giving locals and visitors a chance to taste our locally crafted wines from right here in our community.
One of the things Mark and I have always enjoyed about the vendor booths is the original, unique pieces we find at each booth. The reason we are able to find such pieces is because the vendors are required to have their wares be 89% handcrafted.
If you are a vendor who has unique, original pieces, Wind Down Wednesday, would love to have you at their event! You can email Tami Staker at [email protected] or call her at 507-383-4660. You can also find a vendor agreement on their website.
Wind Down Wednesday is an event our whole family looks forward to attending. It is a perfect place to meet up with family and friends. Live entertainment goes from 11am to 8pm, with awesome local artists.
Call up your family and friends to meet them in downtown Albert Lea for Wind Down Wednesday, June 15th, July 20th, and August 17th. Stop by the Cellfie Tour booth or the Blogger Registration table and tell Mark and I hello. We look forward to seeing you downtown!