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Don't worry, bee happy

Honey Bee Festival starts today

The fifth annual Honey Bee Festival is all about its namesake, but also music and mermaids, food and fun and whatever else comes to mind.

"We're just doing what we do: being crazy and loving the bees," said Glenn Swanson, who produces the annual event with his partner and wife, Emily.

It is a unique festival. Held on the grounds of the Oldenburg House at 604 Chestnut Ave. in Carlton - their bed and breakfast and entertainment venue - the event combines music and the arts with sophistication and whimsy all wrapped up in a pro-pollinator theme that pervades everything from food and vendor sales to arts, entertainment and education.

Gates open at 2 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. Saturday. A two-day pass is $30, a day pass is $20.

Festivalgoers will find a wealth of information about how to support and advocate for bees and other pollinators such as butterflies and birds.

On Friday, Alyssa Bloss, conservation specialist from Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District, will speak about pollination and invite festivalgoers to return Saturday to help plant a new pollinator garden on the Oldenburg House grounds.

Campers from the Bee Friendly Arts Camp will start things off at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by an evening of music. Jazz is very much on the menu, with the Randy Lee Ensemble and Andy Peterson Quartet playing poolside (weather permitting) plus a special musical group 6:30-10 p.m.

"It will be an outdoor version of Cookin' at the O," said Swanson, referring to the intimate evenings of food and music they hosted pre-pandemic inside their historic home, featuring a string of talented musicians from across the Midwest.

Friday's final band is basically an all-star lineup of those musicians. They are calling their group "The Return," and Swanson, the drummer, is pumped. He can't wait to play with his friends and musical family members.

"They're all coming back here to make music again," he said, launching into a highlight reel of facts about his fellow musicians. "Ricky (Peterson) just got off the road with Stevie Nicks, and Jason (Peterson DeLaire) was in Brazil with Michael Bolton. Andrew (Walesch) owns the Crooners jazz club and is a great piano player and a wonderful singer. Grammy-award winner Billy (Peterson) is just all over the planet - in addition to being one of the great jazz bass players, he's also an orchestrator - just wait until you hear what he and Jason will do with a Sting song. It's gonna be fun."

Although VIP ticket-holders get to sit at tables at the front on Friday, regular-ticket holders will also be able to join in the fun at the tent stage - just from a little farther back.

Saturday brings another day and a different musical lineup to the festival.

Saturday starts with the Swarm Bike Ride, followed by "Jump into the Hive Jive" with Terrance Smith from 11:30 a.m. to noon, then more musical performances, including Boss Mama, Steve's "Overpopulated" One-Man Band, fiddlers Anam Cara, Briand Morrison, Lanue, Rich Mattson and the Northstars and more.There's also another pollinator presentation from the conservation district at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Find a complete schedule at oacc.us/programs/honey-bee-festival-2022.

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