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June 7 Youth Rally draws kids for music, outdoor activities

Fans jam with the musical group DNA Thursday afternoon at the annual June 7 Youth Rally. Daylong activities were planned for the youth at Bemidji City Park. Members of DNA are, from left, Dan Will, Jacob Arndt and Aaron Schnackenberg. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - This year's change in location from the Bemidji Lakefront to the City Park was a concern for Youth Rally organizers, but the word seemed to have spread by Thursday's event as youth from around the area enjoyed a day full of music and activities.

"The main challenge this year was definitely getting the word out," Bemidji Youth Advisory Commission President Kiaja Roy said. "It has been at the waterfront for a while and it's just so accessible because people drive by and realize, 'Oh hey, it's June 7.'"

What the City Park lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in room for the activities the Rally features. The skate park was a popular feature of this year's event with kids of all ages skateboarding and rollerblading through the afternoon.

BYC Advisor Joe Czapiewski said the 12 youth members that make up the committee are responsible for organizing the event,

"All I do is facilitate the ideas that the kids have (and) help them figure out how to make things happen," Czapiewski said. "They are pretty new at doing this sort of thing and they really do a good job."

This year's event had a variety of events including skate demonstrations by No Comply, Henna Tattoos and Tarot Cards, an art mural, and many other outdoor activities. Music was also provided all day, with bands from the Twin Cities, Fargo and local talent as well.

Czapiewski said the location may lessen the participation some but he estimated more than 150 kids were there by early afternoon. Last year's event brought in 900 youth, with more than 400 at the peak hours.

For Roy, it was her fourth year being involved with the BYC and she is happy with how it all turned out.

"I really enjoy organizing big events like this," Roy said. "Just having the means to do put on a big event like this and the leadership experience that comes with it is great."