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Alexandra Lyren, center, plays a song to her friends, Kiah Hartung, left, and Anna Margemali Tuesday at the 11th annual June 7 Youth Rally at the Lake Bemidji waterfront. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

June 7th Youth Rally helps bring community together

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A warm, sunny day greeted Bemidji's youth Tuesday as they gathered at the Lake Bemidji waterfront for the 11th annual June 7th Youth Rally. The rally was held between noon and 11 p.m.

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The June 7th rally is a popular event for many high school youth in Bemidji, characterizing the growing culture that the youth provides.

"I have been coming here five years," said Ariadne Donovan, "I mostly come for the music." Donovan, 17, said she likes having the rally both next to the waterfront and downtown Bemidji.

The interest in the music at the event was shared among nearly all participants. Lainy Sewell, who was experiencing the June 7th event for the first year, said she was most excited to hear the different musicians. Friends Chelsea Knutson and Andrew Pilimai also were also eager to hear the diverse bands.

"I know people who are playing," said Knutson.

"It's nice, because you get a wide range of alternative music," added Pilimai. "That doesn't happen often at other music events."

Carl Graefe, who played at the rally both as a soloist and in the local band Aardvark, likes coming to the rally to see his friends play.

"I've been at June 7th for five years, and played almost every year," he said.

Bemidji's youth aren't the only ones enjoying the music. Lisa Graefe, mother of Carl, enjoys the talent of the young musicians.

"You get a mix of different ages, and genres here," she said. "The music brings people together."

To some bands, the music at the rally represents a custom.

Cody Grimsley, guitarist for local band To Say the Least, said that the band has played there for five years.

"It's really nice to play at June 7th," he said. "There are usually a lot of people here. It's kind of a tradition for us."

Erik Jensen, Grimsley's band mate, agreed. "There's a more diverse crowd here," Jensen said. "People get to hear our music that usually wouldn't."

Although a frequent theme at the event, music isn't the only thing that draws together the young people of Bemidji. Fisher Jambor, Katelyn Westlund and Sara Ludlow, ninth-grade students at Bemidji High School, see the event as a time to unwind.

"The rally is a good place to relax," said Jambor. "It's nice to chill here," added Ludlow. "I like the art mural."

The mural, usually displaying a colorful depiction of the June 7th name and year, features a wide space for participants of the rally to sign their names.

"It's cool to make something artistic here," Westlund said. "I am going to sign my name in yellow."

Kia Henson, 15, also is fond of the mural.

"I love the art and the music here," said Henson, "This is a place where teens can get together to express themselves."

Ivan Smith, who has frequented the rally for four years in a row, likes the sense of community there.

"There are a lot of people getting together, relaxing, and just having fun here," said Smith.

Alec Hess said that the rally gives him a chance to see people he wouldn't usually get to see.

"I get to see my friends and maybe meet new people." said Hess. "It's great to see everyone get together."

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