The Stone Arch Festival of the Arts will live on, despite the death of its founder and ringleader Ira Heilicher last year. Another music-loving businessman from a prominent Minneapolis family, Matt Mithun, has stepped up to produce the 18th annual free event, once again scheduled June 15-17 (Father’s Day weekend) on the downtown Minneapolis riverfront.
"Father’s Day weekend in Minneapolis wouldn’t be the same without" it, Mithun said in a press-release for this year's bash. At 37, Mithun is also the guy who took over the Somerset Amphitheater last summer and started the Soundtown music fest there in August (moved up to July 26-28 this summer).
This year’s Stone Arch Fest will feature three performance stages, one less than recent years, but it sounds as if it will continue with the same arty, eclectic mix. Music booker/photographer Stacy Schwartz is back as the entertainment coordinator, and artists and local businesses are being invited back alongside the bands. “I'm sure Ira Heilicher would be proud that this tradition is continuing,” Schwartz said. Applications to participate are up on the fest's site.
Heilicher’s other big riverfront celebration, the Minneapolis Oktoberfest, was canceled last fall following his death in August at age 65. It certainly seems to be a smart move keeping the Stone Arch Fest alive: Attendance estimates in years past have been around 70,000 people, more than any other festival of this sort in the city.