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Festivals of the 2000s: Pivotal Moments in Harriet Island’s Music History

Harriet Island, nestled in the heart of St. Paul, Minnesota, has a rich musical history that has been marked by pivotal moments, and the early 2000s were no exception. These years saw the island transform into a vibrant hub for music festivals that left an enduring mark on both the local community and music enthusiasts from far and wide. Join us on a journey through time as we revisit three of the most iconic festivals that graced Harriet Island during this era: the Vans Warped Tour 2002, River Rocks Music Festival 2008, and River’s Edge in 2012.

Vans Warped Tour 2002 on Harriet Island: A Wet and Wild Musical Journey

On August 9th, 2002, history was made as the Vans Warped Tour descended upon the scenic Harriet Island in St. Paul, MN. Known for its breathtaking view of the St. Paul skyline and the serene Mississippi River flowing nearby, this beautiful regional park proved to be an unlikely yet perfect setting for a punk rock extravaganza.

Vans Warped Tour 2002

The day started swelteringly hot, with temperatures soaring into the 90s by noon. The musical journey kicked off at 1:30 p.m. with the Alkaline Trio gracing one of the main stages. Their tight performance showcased their unique take on pop-punk, although the intense midday heat presented a challenge for both band and audience.

Flogging Molly 2002

Yet, the most unforgettable moment of the day arrived when Flogging Molly began their set at 6:00 p.m. The light sprinkle turned into a torrential downpour, creating an extraordinary sight as thousands of punks danced in the rain to Irish punk tunes. The pit was a frenzy of mud and mayhem, and Flogging Molly’s tight performance elevated the experience to legendary proportions.

As the rain persisted, fans migrated to the other main stage to catch NOFX, only to discover that the rain had caused a power outage. What followed was a serendipitous and eclectic jam session, with members of various bands playing impromptu acoustic sets, including tunes from NOFX, Bad Religion, Weezer, and Bob Marley.

Despite the weather challenges, the 2002 Vans Warped Tour on Harriet Island remains a cherished memory for attendees. It was a day that exemplified the spirit of punk rock and the resilience of music lovers who braved the elements for an unforgettable musical journey.

River Rocks Music Festival 2008: A Weekend to Remember

The McNally Smith River Rocks Music Festival 2008 was a standout weekend in Harriot Island’s musical history. Held on the picturesque Harriet Island in September, it brought together an impressive lineup of artists across two unforgettable days. Friday featured a range of acts, from the energetic White Iron Band to the multi-genre magic of Ozomatli. Jakob Dylan’s folk-rock and O.A.R.’s melodic tunes further enriched the night. Saturday’s eclectic mix included indie rockers The Alarmists, local hip-hop sensations Heiruspecs, and the genre-blending prowess of The Roots. Mike Doughty’s soulful performance and Live’s anthemic rock hits rounded off the evening. A surprise addition to Saturday’s lineup added to the excitement, and the festival showcased the talents of McNally Smith College of Music’s students, alumni, and faculty. As festival-goers left, they carried with them the joy of live music and a deeper appreciation for St. Paul’s thriving music scene.

Jakob Dylan and Semisonic play at River Rocks 2008 on Harriet Island. Source 

Remembering River’s Edge 2012

The River’s Edge Music Festival in 2012 left an enduring mark on both music enthusiasts and the music landscape of Harriet Island history in St. Paul, Minnesota. Over two unforgettable days, this festival not only showcased its diverse lineup but also left a lasting imprint on the local music community.

Raspberry Island at River’s Edge Music Festival. Source
Coheed and Cambria play the main stage. Source

Featuring renowned bands like Tool, The Flaming Lips, Coheed and Cambria, Brand New, Sublime with Rome, and beloved local favorites such as Motion City Soundtrack, the festival drew a broad spectrum of music aficionados. The festival’s eclectic mix ranged from Tool’s intricate musicianship to The Flaming Lips’ visually stunning performances, complete with Wayne Coyne’s iconic hamster ball antics, and Brand New’s heartfelt, introspective lyrics.

Motion City Soundtrack lead singer Justin Pierreat. Source

Enduring Impact

These festivals’ impact extended well beyond its captivating performances. They elevated Harriet Island’s status as a prime venue for large-scale music events, garnering the attention of event organizers and artists for future shows. With its picturesque location along the Mississippi River, Harriet Island became a favored destination for music enthusiasts and the community, fostering social connections and camaraderie.

Additionally, the festivals’ economic ripple effect benefited the local area significantly, boosting patronage for nearby businesses, restaurants, and hotels and invigorating the local economy.

Today, the early 2000s serve as an enduring source of inspiration, continuing to influence Harriet Island’s role as a host for music and cultural events. Its history lives on as Harriet Island remains an integral part of St. Paul’s music scene, contributing to the island’s cultural richness and serving as a testament to the timeless appeal of live music and community engagement.

Preserving the Past, Crafting the Future: The Story of Warehouse 2 and Farwell on Water

Historic photo of the original Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Company building exterior from 1902

Farwell on Water is more than just a modern real estate development in St. Paul—it’s a tribute to the ingenuity and ambition that have shaped the city for generations. This new development takes inspiration directly from Warehouse 2, a historical landmark, and its parent company, Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co., key players in St. Paul’s early commercial and architectural landscape.

The Gilded Age of Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States experienced the Gilded Age, an era of unprecedented economic growth, technological innovation, and social change. Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. rose to prominence during this transformative period in St. Paul history.

The term ‘Gilded Age’ was coined by writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their 1873 book, “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today,” which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. Yet, this was also a time when businesses boomed and the seeds of modern industrial capitalism were sown.


Specializing in hardware and machinery, Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. served as the backbone for local industries in St. Paul—ranging from lumber mills and railroads to manufacturing plants and construction companies. Their quality products and reliable service made them essential to the St. Paul economy and the surrounding regions.


Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. leveraged St. Paul’s strategic location along the Mississippi River and its burgeoning railroad connections to facilitate trade across the broader Midwest. They were instrumental in establishing St. Paul as a focal point of commerce.

Historic photo for old Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Co. Warehouse 2 building

Warehouse 2: A Marvel of Industrial Architecture

By 1911, the need for larger storage spaces had grown substantially. Warehouse 2 was commissioned to meet this demand. With its multi-level design and advanced features like reinforced concrete and large freight elevators, it was a state-of-the-art facility for its time.

Construction in 1911 wasn’t without its challenges. Materials like steel and concrete were costly, and the engineering standards of the time were not as advanced as today. Yet, despite these hurdles, Warehouse 2 was completed on schedule and became an immediate asset for Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.

The building was a showcase of industrial architecture, featuring robust load-bearing walls, large arching windows, and detailed cornices that added a touch of elegance to its otherwise utilitarian function. This mix of aesthetics and practicality made Warehouse 2 a landmark, reflective of the ambition and ingenuity that defined St. Paul during that era.

The Legacy Lives On: F-O-K Studios and W2 Works

Over the years, Warehouse 2 has seen multiple uses, ranging from its original role as a storage facility to now serving as a hub of art and entrepreneurship in the form of F-O-K Studios and W2 Works within the Farwell on Water district.

These spaces are designed to breathe new life into Warehouse 2, converting it into a dynamic hub of creativity and commerce. F-O-K Studios caters to artists in search of inspirational workspace, combining the building’s historic elements with modern amenities to foster a unique creative environment. Artists can find solace in the building’s sturdy structure, which has stood the test of time much like the enduring qualities of art itself.

Rendering of F-O-K Studios gallery

W2 Works takes a similar approach but gears its space on the 6th floor towards businesses and entrepreneurs. Recognizing that the entrepreneurs of today are the Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.’s of tomorrow, W2 Works aims to provide a space that melds history with innovation. Here, amidst the architectural elements that tell a century-old tale, a new generation of business leaders can write their own stories.

Building on St. Paul History: The Future of Farwell on Water

As Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. helped to shape the St. Paul of yesterday, Farwell on Water aims to influence the St. Paul of tomorrow. This development is breathing new life into the area by offering residential, commercial, and cultural spaces enriched with history.

With the scenic Harriet Island as its front yard, Farwell on Water seeks to integrate the natural beauty of the region with contemporary architecture and amenities. All of this aims to create a cohesive community space in St. Paul, fostering social interaction and economic growth, much like Warehouse 2 did in its heyday.

So, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a modern-day artist, or an aspiring entrepreneur, Farwell on Water, with Warehouse 2 as its cornerstone, offers a space where the past and future converge in a beautiful symphony. Come be a part of this exciting chapter in St. Paul’s history.

Echoes of the 80s: The Musical Legacy of Harriet Island

Before skyscrapers and urban rhythms dominated the horizon, Harriet Island pulsated with iconic melodies, electric riffs, and the unmistakable enthusiasm of countless fans. This historic space, on the cusp of transforming into the Farwell on Water district, was the backdrop for legendary musical memories.

Legends of Harriet Island

The 80’s and 90’s on Harriet Island were marked with electrifying performances by some of the biggest names in music. Van Morrison’s poignant melodies during Riverfest still linger in the air, a testament to an era where his soulful tunes resonated deeply with the audience. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts rocked the island, with their indomitable energy echoing in tracks like “I Love Rock ‘n Roll.”

The tranquil setting by the Mississippi River only heightened the ambiance, making every note and lyric feel profoundly connected to the island’s spirit. And then, in 1992, Lollapalooza transformed Harriet Island into the epicenter of the alternative rock universe, offering an unforgettable fusion of the past, present, and future of music.

Yet, it wasn’t just these standalone events that captivated souls. From 1983 to 1998, Riverfest, the go-to summer music festival, was the heartbeat of Harriet Island. This festival was more than just music – it was a tapestry of shared experiences, community bonds, and timeless memories.

Echoing Harriet Island’s Rhythmic Past at Farwell on Water

With such a profound musical lineage, Farwell on Water seeks to weave the vibrant tapestry of Harriet Island’s past with a future filled with connectivity and unity. The notes of Van Morrison might not float through the air, and Joan Jett’s vibrant energy might be a fond memory, but the spirit of unity and shared experiences endures. Within the design and ambience of the Esox House project, subtle nods to this rich musical history are seamlessly incorporated, ensuring the legacy continues to resonate with residents and visitors alike.

A Nod to A Harmonious Legacy

For those who reminisce about the days swaying to legendary tunes on Harriet Island, Farwell on Water is more than just a tribute – it’s a continuation of that legacy. And for the new generation, it’s an invitation to create profound memories, reminiscent of the golden days of Riverfest and other iconic concerts.

Together, we’re ensuring Harriet Island’s legacy – its music, its community, its indomitable spirit – thrives vibrantly within every nook and corner of Farwell on Water.