Soldiers Grove festival features visual, culinary and musical art

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Over 5,000 art lovers attended the 2016 Driftless Area Art Festival, and this year’s event, Sept. 16–17, expects to attract as many visitors from across the Driftless region, including portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. (Submitted photo)

Eighty of the finest visual artists from three states within the Driftless Region will converge in Soldiers Grove, Sept. 16 and 17, for the 13th annual Driftless Area Art Festival. They’ll be joined by 10 local culinary artists and four musical groups, some familiar names from previous years and some new to the festival.

The festival features art in traditional as well as contemporary styles and includes ceramics, fiber arts, glasswork, jewelry, painting, photography, prints and collages, sculpture, metalworks and wood art. Creative pieces by elementary, middle and high school students will also be on exhibit in the youth art tent, where young people can also try their hand at painting and other creative activities. The entire listing of artists, and information of their media, can be found on the festival’s website and on Facebook.

As in past years, all visitors will vote for their favorite artists in the People’s Choice contest. In addition, Best of Show and Merit awards will honor outstanding work by individual artists. The awards carry cash prizes and ribbons that will be presented on Saturday evening and displayed for the rest of the weekend. A popular feature, new last year, is the silent auction of works donated by participating artists, with proceeds going to help stage the festival. The silent auction will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

While festivalgoers browse the tents and visit with the artists, they’ll also be able to enjoy the culinary creations of area chefs, bakers, brewers and vintners, all with local or organic offerings. Vendors include Kickapoo Coffee of Viroqua, Apple’licious Pie Depot of Gays Mills, Mary’s Berries of Ferryville, The Dawghouse of Lynxville, and the Soldiers Grove Lions Club, which will offer wine, along with beers from Driftless Brewery. Other vendors include Crepes Jeanluc, TR Catering, Five Star Eggroll, JT’s Catering and Food for Thought, a taco truck staffed by youth from Viroqua’s Youth Initiative High School.

Performing artists from the area will entertain on the main stage both days. Saturday morning features The Lost and Founds, a bluegrass band; and Patchouli, a perennial favorite that offers Nuevo-flamenco music in the afternoon and during the artists’ reception that evening. Sunday’s artists are The Roddys, offering country and blues; and String Ties, with two hours of popular songs and melodies in the afternoon.

Volunteers, young and old, will help make the weekend enjoyable for artists and patrons.

Theresa Yaeger, of Ferryville, and Diane Craig, of Soldiers Grove, have been recruiting volunteers and they say openings are still available for anyone interested.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, in Soldiers Grove’s Beauford T. Anderson Park. Admission is free, and there’s plenty of free and accessible parking.

For more information, visit

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