A summer of the arts

I love going to art fairs, and this past month, I got to hit two of them. Earlier this month, we paid a short visit to the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, and this past weekend we went to Alexandria for Art in the Park. Both are fun to visit and draw a lot of people to Brookings and Alexandria and give you a chance to check out some of the cool art and other items people are making.

Because Ross had a barbershop chorus gig in Litchfield later in the day when we went to the Brookings Art Fair, we made it a quick trip. Pioneer Park was hopping. We took in as much as we could, at least the things we like to see when we’re there. Ross tends to survey the scene at the flea market/vendor area at the Brookings Art Fair, as well as some parts of the Living History area. I gravitate toward jewelry and homemade soaps.

According to its website, the Brookings Summer Arts Festival features more than 200 artists from across the U.S. representing 15 art mediums. There’s a children’s area with activities and music. There’s more than 30 food booths, where you can get a wide variety of things to satisfy your appetite, from jambalaya to chislic to smoked turkey legs, corn dogs, Indian tacos, pork loin sandwiches to Greek nachos and baklava (and that’s just a sampling). I stuck with my favorite fair food this year, a corn dog. Ross selected a turkey leg (he also gets this every year at the Renaissance Festival). We were sitting by another couple at one of the picnic tables, and I think Ross inspired the husband to go and get a turkey leg, even though he had already eaten something else (I honestly couldn’t remember what he had, but I believe the wife had the Greek nachos).

Since we were on a time crunch, we didn’t linger very long at too many of the artist booths. I did get a couple of bars of soap from different vendors to add to my ever-growing collection.

Alexandria’s art event takes place in its city park, which is surrounded by Lake Henry and Lake Agnes. It was a gorgeous day this past Saturday. We could hear the music playing as soon as we walked in the park. There’s only a couple of spots for entertainment, one is dubbed “Haybales” entertainment. The sky and the lakes were a vibrant blue. It was a nice summer day, no doubt about it.

Alexandria’s art festival is a little bit smaller than Brookings, but it still has a wide array of artists/vendors to choose from. And it’s next to two lakes! There’s several food choices, like tacos and taco salad, fish traces, different kinds of wraps, gyros, homemade pizza and ice cream, kettle corn, roasted almonds, etc. along with mac and cheese on a stick, cheese curds and more.

We leisurely strolled along, checking out the booths offering all sorts of things, like artwork made from junk mail and newsprint, jewelry using natural stones, homemade dog treats, Minnesota-theme magnets, and more. I found myself buying a few soy/wax melts, as well as a couple more bars of soap (yes, it’s an addiction).

One of the exhibitors is John Cartwright, who does railroad drawings. According to his website, “my images are created from photographs of the earlier era; either taken by myself 20-30 years ago or photos obtained from a variety of sources (books, museums, and individuals). I then create a composition that involves some minor rearrangement of the elements and leaving out of items such as autos and other extraneous items.” He has drawings of various places around the state. Ross has struck up conversations with Cartwright every time we’ve come to Art in the Park, and they can last a while. Cartwright’s booth was near one of the sandy spots next to the lake, so I sat in the bench and just admired the view for a while. Then I went and checked out other artists, and he’s still talking. But I was able to spirit him away eventually. We treated ourselves to a couple of ice cream cones and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon until the journey back home.

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