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Sun-bursting onto the scene

The Sunburst Festival will be July 29 from 1:30 to 9 p.m. at Ojibway Park FEATURING: - Ravepulse (Tim Dao,) DJ - Josh Tollefson, singer-songwriter - Audio Thought, DJ - Exit Pursued by a Bear, band - Dear, Dear Daisy, singer-songwriter1 / 2
2009 Woodbury High School graduate Tim Dao, and local deejay, has worked with the city to create an all-youth performance festival later this month.2 / 2

About a year ago, Woodbury resident and local deejay Tim Dao was hoping to showcase his skills at the annual Woodbury Days event.

But the 2009 Woodbury High School graduated was disappointed.

"They didn't really know what I did, so they didn't want to risk it," he said.

However, Dao wasn't going to be disheartened. So he decided to take it upon himself to bring deejaying to Woodbury.

"Sometimes when you want to do something, you just have to do it yourself," he said.

After brainstorming, Dao and a few friends came up with the idea of the Sunburst Festival, an outdoor event showcasing young local talent.

"Our event is like Woodbury Days but without the business side of it," Dao said. "I'm really hyped up for it."

With the help of the city, Dao's vision will become reality July 29 at Ojibway Park when the city puts on the Sunburst Festival.

The free festival will feature Dao, two singer-songwriters, a local band and one more deejay.

"The performers of this festival are people I've come across through my endeavors in music and deejaying," Dao said. "Their talents are outstanding and by having them be a part of this event, I'm giving them the exposure they deserve."

The Sunburst Festival will also feature volleyball tournaments.

Dao said folks are encouraged to picnic or tailgate at the event.

Even though the event will be mainly geared toward younger generations, Dao said the Sunburst Festival will be a great family event for everyone.

"I think it's going to be a really big event," he said.

Youth organized, youth performers

Dao, a University of St. Thomas student, said the reason he was so passionate about making the Sunburst Festival a reality was because he wanted to get exposure for the many acts he's come across over the years.

"I think people might underestimate local performers," he said. "There's a tremendous amount of talent out there, but they just need to be given a chance."

Additionally, Dao said he wants to introduce Woodbury to the type of unique talent that is available.

"Our main objective is to bring the community together through art and music," he said. "We want to bring culture and influence talent in Woodbury."

When Dao had ironed out the details of his vision for the festival, he and a committee of friends he had formed went to the city to see if they could make this idea a reality.

"I couldn't believe we actually got it approved," he said. "I was pretty happy about that."

Ann Ringgold, of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said the city decided to team up with Dao and his committee for this event because it was a chance to offer something for the teenage group, which the city doesn't do a whole lot of right now.

"We thought it would be a good mix of entertainment," she said. "It's kind of a cool opportunity for local performers."

Now that his idea is a reality, Dao has taken the lead in organizing the event along with the help of his committee.

"It's been one of my most exciting projects," he said. "But I know it's extremely ambitious."

Dao said he is hopeful that the Sunburst Festival can become an annual event. He said he would like to expand the festival to include food vendors, additional performers and maybe even a second stage.

Ringgold said she has been very impressed with all of the work Dao and his committee have put into the Sunburst Festival. She said she could see the Sunburst Festival continue as long as Dao and his committee stay involved.

"I'm really impressed with all of the hard work they've put into it," she said. "I can see this being an annual event as long as they're interested in helping with it because it really has to be youth driven."

Dao said he hopes the Sunburst Festival will open up the eyes of Woodbury's youth to what possibilities their lives hold.

"I believe kids these days have potential, they just need to put down their phones, get off Facebook, and find what defines them -- anything is possible," he said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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