The second annual Greenway Takeover Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever, event organizers said.

The free event, intended for all ages, will feature music, arts, food, games and activities for the whole family, said Tricia Lunski, who organized the event with her husband, Jamie.

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The festival, presented by HB Sound and Light in partnership with Altru Health System, takes place on the Grand Forks Greenway just north of the Sorlie Bridge downtown.

"It's going to be similar to last year's event, but different in some ways," Tricia Lunski said. "Every year, we're going to try to add something, to make it a little different."

The Lunskis own The two own HB Sound and Light.

Special features of this year's four-day event, which begins Thursday, includes hot air balloon rides that will be offered from 5 to 10 p.m. the first three days, weather permitting, she said.

Also a story-and-a-half-tall puppet, crafted by area residents, will tower over the World Peace Pageant play at 4:15 p.m. Sunday. The puppet's face is the size of a queen mattress, said Kathy Coudle-King, executive director of the Fire Hall Theatre and person who spearheaded the project.

A "vendor row" will feature 12 food vendors and three point-of-sale stands for alcoholic drinks and beer.

Numerous games, including octoball, giant Jenga, giant Connect Four, bean bag toss, table tennis and face-painting, also are are planned.

Hot air balloon

The hot air balloon will rise 100 feet, Tricia Lunski said.

"Since we live in the flattest place of earth, you'll be able to see quite a distance," she said.

The balloon will be tethered, which "allows us to take off and land in the same place," Jamie Lunski said.

The handicap accessible balloon, supplied by an Indiana company, accommodates about six people and features plexiglas sides children can see through, Tricia Lunski said. A weight limit determines the number of passengers.

A ride costs $20 per person, or free for children age 6 and younger.

Bringing this attraction to Grand Forks "took a big chunk of our marketing budget," she said.

Center stage at the Greenway Festival will be live music.

Attendees can expect "an incredible, electric and eclectic lineup of entertainment," said Brian Loftus, events coordinator, HB Sound and Light, "and new this year, performer mixups you've never seen before."

More than 20 regional musicians will provide an array of musical entertainment, along with national musical acts, he said.

Headliners, who will cap off each evening's entertainment, are GB Leighton, Thursday; the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Friday; and Spin Doctors, Saturday. A returning act, the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, perform Sunday.

Singer-guitarist Tom Brosseau, a Grand Forks native, will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday with string players from the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.

"I think that'll be pretty magical too," Tricia said.

The Bjarne Norwegian Chorus will be in concert at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Northern Valley Youth Orchestras will team up with Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome for a 5 p.m. Saturday performance.

"Paint the Town, a Grand Forks multi-genre cover band and vocal group, will get you out dancing," Tricia Lunski said.

They perform at 7 p.m. Friday. December's Children, from Grafton, N.D., perform at 8:15 p.m. Friday.

'A place of creativity'

The point of the festival goes beyond music, Jamie Lunski said.

"It's about seeing how spaces can be transformed," he said. "It's about creating an experience for people."

"People think of the Greenway as a bike path," Tricia Lunski said. "We want them to see it as so much more."

"Jamie and I both come from a place of creativity," she said. "The arts are somewhat overlooked here. We have a lot of talent here, and we wanted a stage for (artists) to perform on, and for kids to see what's possible.

"The festival itself is part of our creative extension of our arts and what we do."

In planning the festival, the couple will place many area arts groups in the limelight.

Empire Theatre Co. actors will present a revue of scenes from popular past performances at 6 p.m. Saturday.

"We are so fortunate to have ETC here," Tricia Lunski said. "We wanted people to see the arts groups and what's possible, and to see things they might not have been exposed to-for example, to see the symphony in a different light, so maybe when the next concert comes up, they'll think, 'Maybe I'll go to it.'"

Last year's event drew more than 10,000 visitors, Tricia Lunski said.

"We hope to double it this year. I think 20,000 is a realistic number, over four days," she said.

As they did last year, the Lunskis are emphasizing the importance of community-the opportunity for people to come together and enjoy music and outdoor activity on a patch of riverside land that is sometimes overlooked, they said.

"It's a space where you can come and bring your baby and not damage your ears," Jamie Lunski said.

And they hope people will attend more than one day during the festival.

"Our goal is, if you come back everyday, you'll see something different," Tricia said.

Greenway Takeover Festival Headliners

GB Leighton-8:30 p.m. Thursday

Dirty Dozen Brass Band-9:30 p.m. Friday

Spin Doctors-9:30 p.m. Saturday

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers-3:30 p.m. Sunday

The festival is a celebration of music, fun, food, games, activities and more. Free admission. Special attraction: hot air balloon rides (weather permitting) and a story-and-a-half-tall puppet.

Gates open: 4:30-10 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

For complete schedule, visit