Another year of Afton art
Afton Art in the Park is back again for another year. Organizers hope this year's event will be bigger than all the rest.
The 32nd annual Afton Art in the Park, put together by the Afton Area Business Association, will be held Sept. 25-26 in Afton Town Square Park.
This year's annual art festival will be a little different than previous years in that the event has joined forces with a variety of different art fairs in the area.
Stillwater-based non-profit organization, ArtReach St. Croix, which is an association of local artists, has organized an event called "Take Me to the River" which is a weekend of art festivals along the St. Croix River.
"Take Me to the River" developed after several artists noticed that there were a variety of art festivals happening the same weekend from Hastings all the way up to St. Croix Falls, Art in the Park organizer Deb Larson said.
"The mission of ArtReach is to promote the St. Croix Valley as a hot bath of the arts and this is a great way to do that," Larson said. "It's great to have these small art fairs, but when we all come together as a group it's a lot more impressive."
Larson said she is hopeful that being associated with "Take Me to the River" will draw more people to Art in the Park.
"There's just a lot going on and if you look at the towns on a map, these places are really not that far apart," she said. "If people have a further drive, they have more of a reason to come out here now since there's so much going on."
Last year, Art in the Park attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 visitors.
In conjunction with the art fairs, "Take Me to the River" will also include historical tours and story time with "Stories of Our Town," which will be historical stories from the towns.
The Afton Historical Society Museum will have a story time on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
"Take Me to the River" isn't the only art fair tour happening during the weekend, the St. Croix Valley Riders, a motorcycle organization, will also be hosting a ride along the St. Croix to the various art festivals.
"They like art fairs too," Larson said. "This year should be a pretty big year for us."
A fun family festival
This year's Art in the Park will host around 60 art vendors, and roughly 25 percent of the vendors will be new this year.
Some of the vendors at this year's Art in the Park include ceramics, glasswork, woodwork, clothing, photography, lawn art, jewelry, soaps, jams and jellies, dishes, among others.
"Some of our old favorites are there, but it's nice to have some new vendors," Larson said. "Art encompasses so much more than paintings."
In addition to the art vendors, Art in the Park will also include live music, the MG Classic Car Show and food vendors.
New to Art in the Park this year will be gluten free food options including mini bratwursts with corn meal batter, spicy cheese curds and dark chocolate mini donuts.
Also new this year will be the Fat Tire Beer Garden in front of the Afton House Inn. The beer garden will also include food and live entertainment.
"Fat Tire is a good fit for an art festival because it's one of those small craft beers," Larson said. "Maybe the beer garden will attract more of the husbands and boyfriends to Art in the Park."
Larson and Kathy Jarvis, of the Afton House Inn, said they are very optimistic about this year's Art in the Park.
"Everyone loves the fall weather, the fall colors and having something fun to do," Jarvis said. "Plus people just love art."
"We're just really excited about this year," Larson said.
Afton Art in the Park will be Sept 25 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sept. 26 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Kenzie Joe will perform from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sept. 25, Joel Summers will perform from 1 -4 p.m. on Sept. 25 and Patchouli will perform from noon-3 p.m. on Sept. 26. The MG Classic Car Show will take place on Sept. 25. For more information on Afton Art in the Park, visit http://aftonartfair.com/
For more information ArtReach St. Croix's "Take Me to the River," visit http://www.artreachstcroix.org/takemetotheriver/