When the Eighth Annual Driftless Area Art Festival opens this Saturday, Sept. 15. The festival will offer art lovers some of the area’s finest examples of visual, culinary and performing art.
The two-day weekend event, held in Soldiers Grove’s Beauford T. Anderson Park will feature the work of 80 artists selected from across the Driftless Area—the land untouched by the glaciers, which includes much of southwestern Wisconsin, as well as parts of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois.
About 20 percent of the artists are participating for the first time this year, so attendees will enjoy a mix of new faces and some fresh art created by festival favorites.
Festival goers can meet the artists and browse through booths filled with drawings and prints, ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal works, mixed media, oil and watercolor paintings, pastels, photography, wood carvings, turnings, and furniture, and sculpture.
Visitors can also cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award, a cash prize made available by VIVA Gallery in Viroqua. The winner will be announced soon after the close of the Festival. A second cash prize, the Committee’s Choice Award, will be given on Saturday at the Festival. This prize recognizes an artist for the quality of their body of work and the appeal of their display.
Over 400 other art works will be exhibited in the KidsArt Gallery, one of the festival’s very popular attractions. Driftless Area young artists, working in their schools or individually, will show a wide variety of media, and a selection committee will choose three prize-winning pieces from among the three elementary school age groupings. The art will be purchased and auctioned later to raise money for the young artists’ schools’ art programs. The KidsArt Gallery tent will also offer a variety of creative art activities throughout the festival’s two days.
The Gallery also features a special section for high school artists’ pieces, established last year. Winners will be selected for cash and art materials prizes.
Besides visual arts, festival-goers will enjoy the culinary creations of area chefs, bakers, brewers and vintners. Food vendors will include Apple’licious Pie Depot of Gays Mills, Mary’s Berries of Ferryville, The Dawghouse of Lynxville, Kickapoo Coffee, the Soldiers Grove Lions Club with Crawford County Restorative Justice, and new to the festival this year, Jean Luc Rondeaux’s French crepes.
Performing artists will entertain on the main stage, including the River Ramblers on Saturday morning, and Patchouli on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning’s artists are the Paul Fairchild Ensemble, with String Ties entertaining in the afternoon.
More than 60 volunteers help welcome and assist festival goers, provide support for the artists, and assure smooth operations throughout the weekend. “I enjoy working at the Art Festival,” said one long time volunteer, “because it brings me closer to art and artists I’d probably never meet otherwise.”
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free and there’s ample convenient free parking.
Major funding partners for the festival include Community Development Alternatives, Inc., Peoples State Bank, the Village of Soldiers Grove and its Community Development Corporation, and Wisconsin Public Radio. A complete list of patrons and supporters, information on the Friends of the Driftless Area Art Festival, a photo gallery, and full details about the festival, its artists, and volunteer opportunities, is available at www.driftlessareaartfestival.com.