Local communities are full of blooming artists willing to share their talents and creations with the world. In mid-August, the community of Elkader in Clayton County hosts a fine art festival, the Art in the Park, in the Founder’s Park to showcase juried artisans from all over the United States. The park is filled with a diverse variety of art media from fiber arts to metal work, so there’s something for everybody to enjoy. As an avid art enthusiast, I knew I couldn’t miss out on the Art in the Park Fine Art Festival.
As I approached the Founder’s Park, I could hear the live entertainment fill the park with the sound of acoustic guitar and eclectic melodies from local artists. I reached the sidewalk and was met with two rows of white tents that extended two blocks, and I couldn’t wait to explore their contents. I walked into one of the tents and admired the beautiful oil paintings that hung around. They featured beautiful landscaping of the river bluffs of the county from different seasons and towns. It was very clear that many of the artists were inspired by the features of the Driftless area-- towering bluffs, tall river ways, and rolling hills throughout the region. It was fascinating to see what artists found inspiration from, and what they created based on that inspiration.
Within two blocks of sidewalk, there was so much art to be explored and discovered. I had passed by a large group of children that watched an artist perform a painting demonstration for them, and I could see inspiration sparkle in the eyes of the children. I could envision them going home and pulling out their crayons to express themselves and their imaginations. Demonstrations such as that are great for inspiring children to harness their inner artist. This particular demonstration also seemed to make them more interested in the art that surrounded them that day, and it warmed my heart to see children take such interest.
I could also hear a grumble in my stomach and knew I would have to grab a bite to eat. I squeezed through the crowd toward the food vendors and found myself at the Dumpling Darling booth. I glanced at the menu and saw that they had lamb filled dumplings. I had never tried lamb meat before, so I got adventurous and sat down in the dining tent to enjoy my experimental goodies. I took a bite of the soft, steamed dumpling, and savored the slightly sweet flavor of the lamb filling. It wasn’t at all what I had expected lamb to taste like. It was much better. I gobbled down the savory dumplings, and the sweetly spiced aroma of the lamb filling filled my senses.
As I left the park after one last glance at the art on display, the shimmer of a tambourine and strum of a guitar filled the park, and a breeze rustled the leaves in the trees. The Art in the Park Fine Art Festival was a wonderful event, and I know I’ll have to go this year’s festival as well, which lands on the 19th and 20th of August.
For an artistic stroll through the park or along the Turkey River, there’s much to discover in Elkader.
Written by Jayna Felder | Photo Credit to Art in the Park Fine Art Festival