Rock the Streets lights up downtown

The Famous Armadillos perform Friday night in downtown Grand Forks as part of Potato Bowl week.

Kyle Zimmerman

The Famous Armadillos perform Friday night in downtown Grand Forks as part of Potato Bowl week.

Stephanie Hollman, Staff Writer

On Friday night, the community was brought together by JLG Architects at their second annual “Rock the Streets” dance party in the town square of downtown Grand Forks. Families, students and community members came out to enjoy the night of live music and entertainment, food and vendors offering handmade art and other goods. Sections of Third and Fourth Street were closed for the vendors throughout the day, but most of the food and beverage vendors remained open for the evening to cater to the street dance go-ers.

At 6:30 p.m., the crowd began entering the town square while lugging portable lawn chairs and mats to the bring-your- own-seating event. Once they staked their territory by setting up camp around the main stage, they enjoyed beer provided by the Rhombus Guys Brewing Company, which also provided drinks at last year’s inaugural event. This year, the street dance was created in partnership with the 52nd Potato Bowl, which attracted fans to celebrate and enjoy themselves before the football game played on Saturday and the Downtown Street Fair.

Although this was only the second year that the Downtown Development Association has put on the weekend-long Downtown Street Fair, it impressed with the larger number and greater variety of food vendors, including food trucks from Steers Somali Restaurant and Little Blue Elephant, a Thai restaurant based in Minot. More of the popular vendors this year served everything from deep-fried macaroni and cheese curds to Hawaiian shaved ice, complete with an array of the predictable and exotic flavors.

The five-member band Wicked Bees from Fargo/Moorhead kicked off the dance party at 7:00 p.m. They describe themselves on their website as “a reggae/ska infused horn rock band” and complete with a trumpet and trombone, energized the crowd and instantly had a small crowd letting it loose on the dance floor.

In no time, once the music began, the square got much more crowded as the Bees’ fun dance moves and contagious beats became a hit with people of all ages. A commonality among the diverse crowd was the UND spirit.

“It’s great seeing so many different people from Grand Forks here on one place,” UND nursing student Linh Nguyen said while eating street steak tacos from a Mexican food vendor

new to the festival. “The music ties the festival together because everyone is out together on the dance floor dancing with each other and having fun. You’ve got kids running around, parents dancing with each other and even older people swinging along to the music.”

The Wicked Bees entertained with their rock music and vocals reminiscent of Matchbox Twenty and The Clash and played songs mainly from People Change, the album they released earlier on in the year. The Bees were followed by the Fabulous Armadillos, a rock cover group from St. Cloud, Minn. that whose renditions of popular Eagles songs got everyone off of their lawn chairs and dancing on their feet.

Sundown and the eight-member group’s repertoire brought out the older people in the crowd, more familiar with “Hotel California,” and onto the dance floor. With the Armadillos’ truly fabulous music and the fun crowd that sang along and danced the night away, you may as well have been at a real Eagles Concert.

However, unlike such a concert by a mainstream band at a massive venue, the summer festivities of Rock the Streets and the Downtown Street Fair provided a way for citizens to celebrate the tail-end of summer while exemplifying the strong sense of community and togetherness in Grand Forks.

Stephanie Hollman is a staff writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]