On June 15 more than 600 children and adults gathered at Tartan Park in Lake Elmo to share food, fun and political goodwill at the second annual Senate District 56 DFL family picnic.

Attendees were entertained by the humor and political commentary of author, comedian, and AirAmerica radio host Al Franken, bluegrass music by "Hello Stranger," face-painting and balloon-twisting for the children and speeches from DFL candidates.

Last year Senate District 56 introduced the DFL family picnic locally as a broader effort to unite area Democrats after a series of neighborhood coffees indicated there was a strong desire among them to get together to demonstrate their strength and presence in the East Metro area. That gathering, featuring Garrison Keillor, also attracted well over 600 people.

As part of the event the picnic-goers have donated hundreds of pounds of food to the St. Croix Valley Food Shelf each year.

State DFL Chair Brian Melendez emceed the festivities. Featured among the DFL speakers this year were local candidates Julie Bunn (State House-56A), Marsha Swails (State House-56B) and Kathy Saltzman (State Senate).

They were followed on the podium by U.S. Congressional candidates Patty Wetterling (CD6), and Colleen Rowley (CD2); state candidates Mark Ritchie (Secretary of State) and Rebecca Otto (State Auditor); Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson. Also, John Bessler, husband of U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar, spoke on her behalf.

This year's event was preceded by a private fundraiser attended by over 40 guests, where Franken was joined by Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, Minnesota House Minority Leader Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and former Minnesota Congressman Bill Luther.

Senate District 56 is the local DFL party unit serving the communities of Bayport, Baytown Township, Lake Elmo, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland, Lakeland Shores, Landfall, Oak Park Heights, parts of Stillwater, West Lakeland Township and Woodbury.

For more information about Senate District 56 DFL, visit www.sd56.org.