Our speaker on Tuesday, September 5th was Sarah Heyd Johnson presenting on the 3rd Annual Arts + Eats free community event held on August 16th in the parking lot of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior.  Sarah is the head of Youth Ministries and Community Outreach at Excelsior United Methodist Church.  She held a similar position for 3 years at Mount Calvary and is well connected with all the Excelsior Area churches. Sarah explained that "Arts + Eats is a community festival of food, art, and music! The entertainment this year was provided by Joe Davis and the Poetic Diaspora and Kidsdance DJ, with food from The Nashville Coop, Del Sur Empanadas and Roulette's Pizza. Together it was a wonderful place to be under the big tents and free to all participants."  Sarah thanked the club for being one of the event sponsors and encouraged our cooperation and extended an invitation to attend again next year and to please join the planning committee for Arts & Eats 2024.
The event stems from inspiration by Marnita's Table who is a Minneapolis company that focuses on inclusion, bridging gaps across differences, and intentional social interaction bringing community members from all backgrounds together.  Arts & Eats has grown each year with the 1st year being about 100 participants and then 250 the 2nd and this year drawing 350 children and adults!  Free food, great music, a community art project for all ages painting upcycled CD's with creative designs, and the Excelsior Library giving away 240 books to participants!  Sarah smiled and said, "It was a wonderful place to be all together and connecting with friends and other community members!"
As always, our Excelsior Rotarians had lots of great questions for Sarah.  She explained that they promoted it (in both English and Spanish) thru the Sun Sailor, online, at various churches' community meals, ICA, and flyers posted around Excelsior.  The demographics were all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities and cultures, and each person received a name tag and it had a question on it to help break the ice in meeting others they did not know.  In fact, at the greeting table many people didn't even know that it was free!  Sponsorship besides the ones mentioned above were direct donations of $500, $750 and $1,000 and listed on tables and the event's banner.  Much appreciation for these sponsorships that made Arts & Eats possible.