Art in the Park, Get ready to roll out the welcome mat

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Jewelry by local artist Leslie Gibbons is modeled above.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

The Art in the Park committee has done their part to ensure that the town’s first arts festival is a fun, memorable event, and now they’re looking to residents to do what they do so well: provide outstanding hospitality.

“We’re looking forward to the community of Elkader rolling out the welcome mat in the wonderful way they do to make visitors want to return to Elkader again and again,” said co-organizer Kris Grover, adding that the festival could draw as many as 1,500 people.

Elkader’s first-ever Art in the Park is Saturday, August 22, and Sunday, August 23, in Founders Park. The event will showcase the work of 35 artists specializing in sculpture, painting, jewelry, encaustic (hot wax part), pottery, fiber art, reclaimed wood furniture, metal works, wearable art and much more. In addition, musical co-chairs Jim and Laurie Klosterboer have scheduled a diverse line-up of performers and food chair Julie Kane has made arrangements for several unique food and beverage vendors along with some old favorites (see complete list at the end of this article). There will be special events for youngsters, too.

Five local artists have spearheaded the Art in the Park effort—Grover, Kate Chandler, Shannon Durbin, Leslie Gibbons and Jillian Herrmann. From the outset, their dual goals have been to create opportunities for artists and to contribute to the local economy.

“We hope to make Art in Park Elkader a regionally-recognized, must-see annual art event which supports the arts and brings a major economic tourism impact to Elkader and the surrounding area,” said Grover.

The committee has advertised the event in major cities within a 200-miles radius of Elkader, which they hope will bring visitors from beyond the borders of Northeast Iowa.  Their marketing efforts have been assisted by sponsorships and grants, including a $10,000 award from the Iowa Arts Council.

“Art in the Park is exactly the kind of venue we’ve been discussing about hosting for years,” said Roger Thomas, Director of Main Street Elkader, the non-profit group that received the award on the festival’s behalf. “We’ve known all along the tremendous creative talent of the artists living in and around Elkader. We’re so delighted to now offer visitors a place to meet these creative folks in a fun, family-friendly venue with music, food and great activities for kids of all ages.”

The culminating event of the festival will be an awards ceremony Sunday at 3 p.m. The People’s Choice and Committee Choice Awards, sponsored by FreedomBank and Central State Bank, respectively, will be given. Ballots submitted by visitors will be used to make the People’s Choice selection. The ballots ask for zip codes, which the committee will use to create a profile of visitors. 

Despite the long hours invested in the event, the festival’s organizers remain its biggest cheerleaders.

“We’re so excited to celebrate and bring together local and regional artists,” said committee member and participating artist Jillian Herrmann of JWebb Art. “The free live music and entertainment are going to be phenomenal. I can’t wait to see the area youth art exhibition and the kids’ Creation Station. And most importantly, I think Art in the Park is going to encourage many newcomers to return to our beautiful riverside town. Art in the Park is going to offer lively, exciting ways to experience Elkader. It’s going to be a great weekend!”


Beau Timmerman, Big Blue Sky, The River’s Voice, Sara Klosterboer, the Guttenberg German Band, the National Brass Quintent, Dust of the Saint and River City Ruckus. Special performances by Dance FusionWorks and the Elkader Opera House Players (a skit from the upcoming show, “Shrek.”

Food and beverage vendors

Fennelly’s Irish Pub, Schera’s Restaurant and Bar, the Prairie and Elkader Cinema, Pedretti’s Bakery, Wild Fryers, Dumplin’ Darling and R&R Dairy with samples from Empty Nest Winery and Pulpit Rock Brewery.

For more information on the event, check their Facebook page and also look for an ad with a complete schedule in next week’s issue of the Clayton County Register.

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