Music in Kelley Park Returns to Apple Valley

by | Jun 2024

The Alex Rossi Band performs at Music in Kelley Park in 2023.

The Alex Rossi Band performs at Music in Kelley Park in 2023. Photo: Ellickson Photo

The Apple Valley Arts Foundation supports live music and education.

On Friday nights in the summer, Apple Valley’s Kelley Park is abuzz thanks to the Apple Valley Arts Foundation (AVAF). For 25 years, AVAF has brought its Friday night concert series to the park. “It’s about building community,” says Nicole Junker, co-president and co-board chair of the AVAF. “It creates a safe space for people to gather.”

For many families, AVAF concerts are on the weekly schedule. The environment is family-friendly—parents can hang out on lawn chairs while kids play with their friends. “I’ve been going to Arts Foundation stuff since my kids were little,” Junker says. “Now, I have an 18- and a 21-year-old, and it’s very much a part of our family’s routine.”

Apple Valley High School student Yonton Samuel has happy childhood memories of the Friday night concerts. “It’s had a huge impact in my life,” says Samuel, who now serves on the AVAF board. “I’ve been going to the concerts since I was really little. I used to always go with my friends and cousins, and I remember one time winning the raffle, and it was like I was a celebrity for a few minutes.”

AVAF has experienced growth both in sponsorship and in support from the city over the years. “We’re actually getting a big amphitheater in Kelley Park,” Junker says. “We’re hoping to see our program grow tremendously with that.”

Beyond the concerts, AVAF’s simultaneous focus is to fund arts education efforts. Any money left after putting on the concert series is divided out among Apple Valley Schools for the purpose of improving and fortifying arts education equipment and programs. Since its start, the AVAF has donated more than $400,000 to local schools.“[AVAF] has been one of the strongest and most consistent sources of community support for arts programming at Apple Valley High School in the last 25 years,” says Bill Blatzheim, assistant principal and Arts and Activities director for Apple Valley High School.

Samuel remembers participating in AVAF-funded programming when he was a child. “It was really beneficial for me,” he says. “I was introverted, and it helped me in a lot of facets in my life.”

Samuel’s story exemplifies what AVAF founder and Dakota County Commissioner Mary Hamann-Roland was hoping for when she started the foundation. “To me music is alive in Apple Valley, and that is so important for people,” she says. “It’s important for me right now.”

2024 Music in Kelley Park

Summer concerts are 6:30–8:30 p.m. Fridays throughout the summer at Kelley Park, 6855 Fortino St., Apple Valley.

  • June 21: Salsa Del Soul
  • June 28: Patty Peterson and Friends
  • July 5: Alex Rossi Band
  • July 12: Tickets to Brazil
  • July 19: J.D. Steele MacPhail Community Youth Choir, Mill City Choir
  • July 26: Dakota Valley Symphony
  • August 2: Power of Ten
  • August 9: Riverside Hitmen
  • August 16: 5 Speed Custom
  • August 23: Michael Monroe
  • September 8: Two Sundays
  • September 15: Two Sundays

Apple Valley Arts Foundation
Facebook: Apple Valley Arts Foundation
Instagram: @avartsfoundation


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