The 38th annual MayDay Parade and Festival embraces transition

A mother and son paint their dragon mask
A mother and son paint their dragon mask
Photo by Kathy Easthagen

What would it be like if we moved away from fossil-fuel dependency toward a sustainable future? That's the crux of the "transition-town" movement, which has been gaining steam since the mid-2000s, though its roots are much older than that. It's also the theme of this year's MayDay Parade and Festival, presented by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), which has incorporated sustainability into its parade and ceremony by featuring an all new transition town called "Bloomingtown." 

"Transition town is a movement initiative whose key principal is moving away from fossil fuels, and envisioning what communities will look like," says Brie Jonna, marketing director for HOBT. The movement got its official name in England in 2005, but "this kind of work has been going on all around the world way before that," she says.

In Minneapolis, and at In the Heart of the Beast, transition-related work has been going on for many years. Recently some local initiatives have identified with the movement specifically, such as Transition Longfellow, while others hold up transition principals without directly associating with or calling themselves by the name, including urban gardening ventures and other community-based work. 

Brent Harring sculpts the shape for a dragon head
Brent Harring sculpts the shape for a dragon head
Photo by Kathy Easthagen

Last summer, many community members said that MayDay could be a grand addition to the transition movement. So HOBT has been working with community organizers to form three different teams, focused on energy, food justice, and transportation. The hope it that the event won't just be one day of raising awareness, but rather something that can build and grow. 

Bloomingtown will give opportunities for people to learn more about transition, such as finding ways to save energy in the home or skill sharing for canned food, as well as a chance to do some fun activities, like taking a walk or ride on the mini-Greenway that will be set up in the town, or playing with chickens, rain barrels, and seedlings.

MayDay Workshop
MayDay Workshop
Photo by Kathy Easthagen

The neighborhood groups are each building pieces of Bloomingtown. While the core MayDay artists aren't building the town, many who are creating it are artists themselves, Jonna says. 

The goal is not just to participate for just one day, however. Part of the goal for this year's festival is for neighbors to get connected with community groups who do energy, food justice, and transportation work. 

In addition, the band stage, where Savage Aural Hotbed plays at 4 p.m. and Positive Vibrations plays at 6 p.m., will feature solar-powered amplification. There's also a stage in Bloomingtown which will be pedal-powered, so if you want to listen to music, you're going to have to pedal.  

At this year's festival, some of the food vendors will be offering treats made with alternative sources of energy as well. In Area B, vendors such as Simply Nuts, Westrum's, LaLoma Tamales, Gastrotruck/Nates, Big Bell, Stanleys on Wheels, and Powderhorn Empty Bowls are using alternative power sources. 
Participants papier mache antlers to be used on top of a "Deer Spirit" mask
Participants papier mache antlers to be used on top of a "Deer Spirit" mask
Photo by Kathy Easthagen

For the parade, the theme is based on a series of questions that HOBT asked community members, including "what do you envision the future to look like?" 

The first section of the parade will be inspired by our dependency on oil, and how it entraps us, while the second is about having a change of heart and opening our hearts to change. The third section of the parade is about celebrating the work people are already doing in the community, and the fourth section is about the vibrant energy of the movement. 

The title of this year's parade is "The End of the World as We Know It, the Beginning as We Live it Now."


NOTE: Due to rain, the festival has been moved to Sunday, May 13

Parade begins at 1 p.m. at 26th Street, and travels South down Bloomington Avenue to Powderhorn Park.
The Tree of Life Ceremony occurs approximately at 3:30 p.m.
The festival continues until sunset

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Powderhorn Park

3400 15th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407


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