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This year's Sonshine draws an abundance of personalities

WILLMAR -- Mohawks lined mosh pits and a variety of characters dotted Thursday's Sonshine festivities in an impressive array of summery self-expression. Teens with Technicolor tresses danced in an impromptu midday conga line past a 20-foot teepee built onsite.

T-shirts touting such lines as "Free Hugs, "Stand Up For Peace" and "Build your walls, tear them down, and open your heart" seemed to say it all. Self-expression is the name of the game at Sonshine 2008.

And when storm clouds briefly rolled through the festival in the morning, the rain did little to dampen attendees' sunny spirits.

Security volunteer Augie Knapp of Farmington said she met a lot of people seeking shelter within the walls of Wal-Mart while they stocked up on Sonshine supplies during the gusty downpour, but that everyone fell back into the swing of things by early afternoon -- a wee bit wet but no worse for the wear.

This was the first year that 15-year-old Abby Seitz and her 18-year-old friend Jennifer Lien, both of Mahtomedi, were able to attend the festival, but apparently they knew enough to pack their personalities.

Each donning handmade, crafty crowns, the gals glowed beneath Sonshine chapeaus while citing their favorite aspect of the festival as the "anything goes" mentality.

"People seem really crazy here, in a good way," Lien said with a giggle. "I think people are more comfortable here because we all believe in the same things, and are able to easily express ourselves because of it."

Nevin Nylan of Plymouth agrees. In his third year attending Sonshine, he said he loves seeing all the crazy stuff people do with their campsites every year. "My favorite camp I've seen this year is a tiki hut. It's always fun to see what's out there."

With the festival in full swing, Sonshine director Bob Poe said he is pleased with how well things are going thus far.

"Everything is happening exactly the way we had hoped that it would," he said. "We managed to miss the storm Wednesday night, and although there were a few tents flying around (Thursday morning), we haven't had any major problems."