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10/11/2012 9:15:00 PM
Another successful Sogn Valley Art Fair

by Connie Bickman

It's been around 40 years since former Cannon Falls art teacher, Peter Leech, opened up his pottery shed on his Sogn Valley farm for a public art sale of his pottery and other arts and crafts. Thus began the Sogn Valley Art Fair. At the time, Leech probably didn't realize the impact his art sale would have on the community of the area.

Leech eventually moved the growing event to the Edgewood on Hwy. 52, which was under the ownership of Don and Mary Hernke. When the Hernkes retired, restaurant ownership changed from year to year and the art fair moved around some, including two years at Welch Village. Five years ago local artists, potter Dawn Makarios and pastel artist Becky Jokela, who had participated in the art fair for years, decided to offer the Makarios farm on Co. Rd. 24 as a new Sogn Valley Art Fair destination.

Makarios noted, "We thought we would try it out here, and if it was successful, great. If not, at least we tried. We were at a turning point of continuing the fair or stopping altogether. Becky and I just didn't want to let it go, and apparently neither did the rest of the artists who had sold their art at the Sogn Valley Art Fair in the past. We had a great turnout even that first year."

The success is apparent with 1,500 to 2,000 folks attending this year - young, older. . .and dogs!

Dawn explained, "We have added a nice informal "Dog Parade" that seems to go well. Many folks bring their dogs, and our two Chocolate Labs seem to handle all the activity pretty well. Some artists even have dog cookies on hand to accommodate everyone's pets."

The fair is a selective juried event, by invitation only for the artists and vendors. The grounds can accommodate up to 35 vendors at this point. An "organizing committee" of six people recruit and select artists, organize the event, and do all the other logistics - Gary Crawford, Bonita Janda, Becky Jokela, Colleen Riley, Kyle Makarios, and Dawn Makarios.

"Most of us are working other jobs, or doing art full time, so it is a really busy time for everyone to pull an event like this off. It is amazing that it all comes together so well," Makarios stated.

As usual, the selection of art and talent this year was diverse. Local Minnesota and Wisconsin artists offered weaving, fiber art, pottery, glass, fabric accessories, woodcrafts, pastels, handwoven beadwork, jewelry, soda fired porcelain, handmade clay tiles, photography, Raku clay and glass, woodcarving, basketry, paintings with mixed media, steel/glass creations.

Handmade soap, lotions, herbal products and cosmetics, local honey, beeswax candles and other bee products, sustainably grown local produce, handmade strudel, handmade confections, caramels, biscotti, jams, jellies and pickles, pumpkins, Indian corn and seasonal garden items, and local orchard apples rounded out the vendor list.

The cold wind was a challenge on Saturday, but the sun was out on Sunday and shoppers strolled through the tents of wares, sat at tables and benches scattered around the grounds, and soaked in the sunshine while enjoying the ambience, along with good conversation, food and music.

This year music was provided by Tony Newes and his group of the Muchos Machos, and by Mary Dushane and friend of Moonlight Duo.

"My husband, Ebbie, and I are grateful to be able to open our home and farm for the weekend for others to enjoy. We have a wonderful artist community that participates, and everyone seems to respect and enjoy the surroundings. The artists enjoy getting together as much as the public enjoys coming.

"We have had positive comments all around. That makes us thankful and happy to do it. We appreciate the quality of artwork and fine crafts at the fair. We also enjoy offering the opportunity for people to purchase quality, beautiful artwork for gifts or to enjoy themselves."

For those who missed the Sogn Valley Art Fair, or just didn't get enough of an art fix, they can attend the eighth annual Studio Artour, Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Along the art trail from Cannon Falls to Northfield and Faribault areas, art lovers can visit 24 studios featuring 52 artists, including local artists Becky Jokela, Lisa Dolezal and Dawn Makarios. Their studios will be open for folks to watch them work and to shop for great pots, painting and weavings. Brochures are available at Cannon River Winery and Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. More information and a map can be found at http://www.studioartour.com/.

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