ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. Once a month Archivist Tom Stemen comes on the News @ Noon Show to talk about the school's long history.

Tuesday the topic was the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair. The very first event was held on July 9th, 1974 and it was held to dedicate the new campus pedestrian mall surrounded by Stewart Hall, Atwood, Centennial and Brown Hall.

A man conducts an orchestra, Lemonade Concert and Art Fair, St. Cloud State University, July 1975

It was called "Campus Mall-American Festival Day". It wasn't until the next year that the word "lemonade" was used in the title. Retired Atwood Director Margaret Vos says they wanted a name that would stick.

It was in August those first few years - very hot.  So what do you do in August when it's hot, you drink a lot of lemonade.

Vos says music has always been a part of the event.

Minnesota Orchestra performed 13 of those first concerts.  It was free. It was meant for families to come together, spread out your blankets, have a picnic, and enjoy classical music.

The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra is performing this year for its 24th time.

A vendor display her pottery, Lemonade Concert and Art Fair, St. Cloud State University, July 1984

It is the largest one-day art fair in the upper Midwest.  In the first year in 1974, there were 40 artists, by the 1990s it had grown to about 300 artists.  Today there are about 200 artists with booths.

Since 1999 the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair has been held on the last Thursday before the last full weekend in June. Before that, it was mostly held in early July and there were a few years in the 1970s it was held in August.

Since 1981 the Lemonade Concert and Art Fair has been associated with the St. Cloud City Festival first with Wheels, Wings, and Water and now Granite City Days.

This year's event - the 46th annual - is on Thursday, June 27th.

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