Art in Autumn – River cities host fall festivals worth the colorful drive

0009When the landscape glows gold, orange, russet and red, Mississippi River Valley communities celebrate—and invite guests—to festivities accenting art, autumn, music and indie films.

Meet you at Goatback Road

Fresh Art Fall Tour 2011, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., October 7–9, will feature 17 studios and galleries scattered round Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley and Lake Pepin region. The artists represent a range of media: pastels, oils, pottery, stained glass, jewelry and more.

    It’s an educational art tour, with a demo at every stop. Accola Gallery will demonstrate watercolors and mosaics; tour takers can make clay tiles at Day/Dunlap Studio and, at T & C Latané, watch Tom working in his blacksmith shop and Catherine creating tinwork. On October 8, Rochester’s Virginia Woodruff will help visitors fashion books.

    “We schedule the tour for fall’s most colorful weekend,” says Jean Accola, tour co-coordinator, “for the leafers as we call them. Fresh Art tourists will meander rustic roads, fancifully named: Boogie Hill, Beaver Slide, Elk Creek, Goatback.

    You’ll find details and itinerary at

Pumpkins in profusion

Wabasha-Kellogg’s SeptOberfest, September 16 through October 31, presents pumpkins aplenty. Pumpkins converted into race cars will vie in a Pumpkin Derby. In other competitions, pumpkins that look biggest, prettiest and most like their growers will win awards.

    Pumpkin Topiary Contest entries will go on display around Wabasha. And one way to see them is to rent a Pumpkin Topiary Tour Segway.

    SeptOberfest 2011 will be the fourth annual. “It’s grown every year, in participants, activities, entertainment and attendance,” says organizer Carolynn Klees.

    New this year is Grandpa’s Barn Boutique, an in-town offshoot of the rural Papa’s Barn Boutique and The Woodshed. All sell antiques, crafts, baskets, furniture, quilted items, and more of the like.

    Scarecrows intend to attend SeptOberfest. Some will vex birds at Lark Toys in Kellogg; others will stand anti-avian duty at the National Eagle Center, Wabasha. (Not to worry, Carolynn says. Scarecrows don’t faze eagles.)

    More SeptOberfest fun: carriage rides, a German Parade, music, picnics. To see the jam-packed schedule, Segway your way to

Fall festival of the arts

Both art and setting in historic downtown Red Wing will dazzle you. The 45th Annual Red Wing Arts Association Fall Festival, October 8–9, will spotlight more than 90 artists in a medley of media including 2D, 3D, clay, fiber, glass, jewelry, wood, mixed media and photography.

    The gala will include food and music, and, as one of many activities for children, a lesson in wand-making. (No word yet on whether Harry Potter will teach the class.)

    The festival draws crowds. Chairwoman Deb Wasmund estimates attendance of 12,000 to 15,000 at each of the last few fairs. “The festival is a nice family event,” she says, “like a big city art fair on a small scale. A lot of people bring their dogs.”

    Your dog, who hopes you’ll bring him, can sniff out further info at

Flyway Film Festival

Late in July, entries to the fourth annual Flyway Film Festival (FFF) were still arriving. The
then yet-to-be-determined roster is likely set now (or will be soon), with updates available at Flyway’s website.

    FFF will screen between 22 and 26 each feature-length and short films in three main categories: Wisconsin/Minnesota showcase, documentary and narrative.

    The youthful FFF has already won acclaim. Brooks Institute rated it among the “Top Ten
Film Festivals in the U.S.” MovieMaker magazine declared it one of “25 Festivals Worth the Fee.”

    Flyway founder/director Rick Vaicius invites all film makers—“you don’t have to be entered in the festival”—to enroll in an October 20–21 workshop on film distribution and marketing. Director/writer Jon Reiss, author of “Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era,” will lead the seminar.

    FFF will take place in Pepin and Stockholm, Wis., October 20–23. For info, wing your
way to

Rochester freelancer Karen Snyder lives with her cocker spaniel Chester who’d rather play fetch or chase the laser than let her write.