The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 25, 2009

It's a Mamapalooza

Festival begins Friday in Mankato

Lynn Kuechle was pleasantly surprised when several young men showed up at the opening event of last year’s Mamapalooza Mankato festival.

Kuechle had hoped that the first-time event, a celebration of mothers through arts and culture, would appeal to women and men alike. But it was still a surprise when men were among both the audience and the performers at an open mic event.

“It was just a great mix of people,” said Kuechle, the director of Mamapalooza Mankato. “That was one of the most exciting things that happened.”

Kuechle is hoping that the mix will be even more varied at the second Mamapalooza event, which takes place Friday and Saturday in the Arts and Historic District of Mankato’s City Center.

“It may seem like this would be exclusive to mothers, but that’s not the case,” Kuechle said. “If you are a mom, then this is a chance to celebrate your experience. And if you know a mother, then this is a time to honor what mothers do.”

Connie Miller intends to do both. Miller, a poet who teaches English at Minnesota State University, read a poem about being a mother at the open mic last year. This year, she’ll be reading a nonfiction essay about the challenges of motherhood in hopes of offering support to other mothers as well.

“This is my spin on mothering and the challenges we face,” she said. “I wanted to share my thoughts about openness in mothering, because we all need to be honest about the difficulties and frailties associated with motherhood.”

Miller’s reading will be part of the Saturday night music and poetry event at RedSky Lounge — one of several venues incorporated into this year’s Mamapalooza. The two-day schedule also includes activities at the Twin River Center for the Arts, the Betsy and Tacy Houses, the Hubbard House and the Heritage Center at the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

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