Bloomington Heritage Days’ goal is to build a stronger community through the promotions of celebrations, educational programs, citizen volunteerism and the preservation of community. The event is the third weekend in September with activities, contests, shows and entertainment.
The idea for Bloomington Heritage Days came from Tom Kendall and he solicited help from Larry Granger of the Bloomington Historical Society. Together they defined what Bloomington Heritage Days would do. After a year and half of building a committee of volunteers, gathering sponsors, coordinating with businesses and working with the City of Bloomington, Bloomington Heritage Days held its first annual festival on September 18, 2010.
Dozens of civic organizations, businesses and community groups were involved in the planning. In 2011, Bloomington Heritage Days had nearly 300 volunteers help with festival.
There is no entry fee to enter the festival. All of the festival necessities and most of the professional entertainment, activities and shows are funded through sponsorships. In the past Bloomington Heritage Days had only two fee based programs, the inflatables and the final music act.
The inspiration for Bloomington Heritage Days started at a parade in St. James, MN. Here is its story.
The Story Behind Bloomington Heritage Days
Every summer Tom Kendall would take his family to visit his wife’s hometown of St. James, MN. The trek was a special one. In addition to seeing relatives who still lived there, they would experience a very special treat. The Minnesota farm town would put on a grand parade and everyone would come to watch, even the people who had moved away, like Tom’s wife. Tom saw how much fun his kids had and he’d watch his wife connect with old friends, like they had seen each other yesterday.
After every visit, Tom would come back to Bloomington and share their great time with neighbors and friends, and talk about the great sense of community the parade brought to St. James. Tom also thought Bloomington should have a parade. He grew up in Bloomington and knew the great history of his community. He also knew it had caring individuals, strong leadership and innovative organizations.
In 2006, Tom shared his idea with individuals and organizations who had a history of investing time and energy in the community. He asked for their help. Over forty individuals agreed to join the Bloomington Heritage Days committee and board, and meet once a month to organize a parade. Early in the planning stages, the parade was put aside because of construction on Lyndale Ave. So, it was decided a festival would take its place.
In 2010, on the third Saturday in September, Bloomington Heritage Days held its first festival. Nearly 6,000 people attended. In 2011, the second annual festival attracted nearly 14,000 people.
On September 15, 2012, after six years of planning, Bloomington Heritage Days added a parade, which, along with the festival, has become an annual community favorite.