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The Stone Arch Bridge Festival is the first big local festival since the pandemic. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Stone Arch Bridge Festival returns next weekend, and hundreds of artists and vendors didn't want to miss out on one of the first major gatherings in the Twin Cities since the pandemic hit.

The state of play: Event manager Sara Collins told Axios they received over 500 applications for the annual festival's 190 artist spots.

  • Stone Arch gave returning vendors priority and a blind jury scored the rest to decide who gets an invitation.

Why it matters: The Father's Day weekend festival, which was canceled in 2020, is already offering a glimpse into what event organizers are facing after a 15-month hiatus for fairs, festivals and trade shows.

  • Plus: It comes as our metro's summer festival lineup is still slow to return to what it once was. St. Paul's Grand Ole Day and the Edina Art Fair are among several that were called off due to uncertainty around restrictions and vaccination rates.

Details: The festival will have 27 food vendors, two live music stages with over 25 performances and a Father's Day Ugly Tie 5K.

  • New this year: The festival has also moved from the east side of the river to the downtown side because Father Hennepin Park is under construction and organizers needed more space, per city requirements.

What they're saying: Heather Meyers, owner of returning vendor Doodletown Toys, told Axios that Stone Arch is the first event her company has been able to attend since before the pandemic.

  • "We did things remotely, but the physical presence of being at a festival is hard to replicate on a website," she said.
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Go deeper

Biden details new vaccination initiatives as COVID cases surge

Joe Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden detailed several new initiatives on Thursday to get more Americans vaccinated and slow the spread of the Delta variant.

Why it matters: The plan outlines aggressive next steps from the federal government as COVID-19 cases surge across the country due to the contagious Delta variant and as demand for vaccines has tapered off.

Senate passes $2.1 billion Capitol security funding bill

U.S. Capitol police officers testify during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on July 27, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via Xinhua

The Senate passed a $2.1 billion Capitol security funding bill Thursday by a 98-0 vote.

Why it matters: The legislation provides funding for the Capitol Police, the National Guard and other agencies to cover the costs incurred during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Ex-Cardinal McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teen in 1970s

Theodore McCarrick in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019, has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in the 1970s, AP reports.

Why it matters: McCarrick is the first cardinal in the U.S. to "ever be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor," AP notes, citing Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for the man allegedly abused by McCarrick.