Take Me to the River: A Different Beat at Every Bend

Annual tour of art festivals features sales, fairs, and open studios throughout the lower St. Croix Valley.




4 minute read

Take Me to the River banner

There is something about the St. Croix River that inspires.

Maybe it’s the way the mood of the river changes as it flows from bend to bend. Perhaps it is the barely contained wildness of its rapids and currents. Or it could be the serene, unspoiled beauty of its banks and the sky reflected in its clear waters. Whatever the reason, the St. Croix attracts people to its banks.

Artists are no exception. For generations, painters, potters and other artists have filled the surrounding river towns with beautiful creations. These river towns have grown into a diverse collection of communities, each with its own unique flavor, where nature and art combine to create a sense of place.

Art fairs, open artist studios and harvest celebrations abound as September draws to a close. There seems to be one last push to get out and experience the beauty of the St. Croix before the cold Minnesota and Wisconsin winter takes hold. The trees along the banks of the river reflect bold reds and gold into the water below.

Take Me to the River is a “festival of festivals” organized by ArtReach St. Croix. More specifically, it is two weekends of art events hosted throughout the river towns of the St. Croix Valley.  FromSeptember 21-29, twelve featured events in addition to theatre, music and open studios and galleries combine to form a not-to-be-missed experience.

Barn Hopping

Many artists in the St. Croix Valley are not only inspired by the river but also by the heritage that is rooted in the soil. Renovated and converted barns not only preserve the history of the immigrant farms, they also provide inspiring studios for the artists who tend to them. Three such barns host events during the first weekend of Take Me to the River.

The Rustic Road 13 Pottery Event and Sale continues its tradition of evoking simpler times and celebrating the beauty of hand crafted pottery on the historic St. Croix County, Wisconsin homestead of founder Beth Ryan. Guests are encouraged to wander the gardens and peruse the art-filled barn, while live music, raku-firing demonstrations and a potter’s wheel create an educational and inspiring experience. Each of the thirteen area ceramic artists who come together each year to create this unique event are regionally or nationally recognized for their work.

Rustic Road 13 Pottery Show

Rustic Road 13 Pottery Event and Sale is open Saturday, September 21, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, September 22, 11am-5pm. The farmstead is located at 1148 Troutbrook Road (Rustic Road 13), Hudson, WI. For the next stop on the barn tour, cross the St. Croix River at the historic Stillwater lift bridge and travel north enjoying glimpses of the river through autumn tinged leaves.

The Abnet Farm Art Show & Sale is a showcase for the early 20thcentury barn lovingly restored by the late Richard Abnet, a premiere independent potter in the St. Croix Valley. Abnet established the farm and gardens in the 1960s as an inspiration to artists and students. This beautiful landscape provides the backdrop for paintings by his widow Edie Abnet, photography by his daughter Julie Abnet, and the works of many guest artists.

Abnet Barn

Abnet Farm Art Show & Sale is open Friday, September 20, 4-8pm;Saturday, September 21, 10am-5pm; and Sunday, September 22, 10am-5pm. Abnet Farm is located at 16885 Square Lake Trail, North, Stillwater, MN, off of Highway 95. To complete the barn tour, continue north along Highway 95 and cross back into Wisconsin at the Osceola Bridge (Highway 243).

The St. Croix ArtBarn in Osceola, Wisconsin, is a 109-year-old dairy barn lovingly transformed into a community art center. The space includes a 108-seat performance space and an art gallery. During Take Me to the River, don’t miss the ArtBarn’s production of Never Too Late, the classic comedy by Sumner Arthur Long.

Performances are scheduled for September 20, 21, 27 and 28. Tickets and information are available by contacting the St. Croix ArtBarn at(715) 294-2787. The St. Croix ArtBarn is located at 1040 Oak Ridge Drive, Osceola, WI.

Explore Even More

The historic barns are just a small sample of the range of events and activities available throughout the St. Croix Valley during Take Me to the River.

Art fairs include the Marine Art Fair in Marine on St. Croix, MN; Art in the Park in Afton, MN; Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival in Hudson, WI; and the Mississippi-St. Croix Art Fair in Hastings, MN. Art and wine mingle at the Chateau St. Croix Fall Festival in St. Croix Falls, WI, and art is bigger than life at the Franconia Sculpture Park’s Annual Art & Artists Celebration in Franconia, MN.

Add in two unparalleled open studios with the Guillermo Cuellar & Friends Fall Pottery Sale in Shafer, MN; the Art + Music Mash-Up Event at FUN ART Studio/Gallery in Stillwater, MN; as well as a sidewalk dance in Downtown Stillwater and a gallery exhibit telling the stories of place within the St. Croix River Watershed, and you have a dramatic cross-section of the art and artists that make the St. Croix Valley an arts destination.

In addition to the anchor events on September 21-22 and 28-29, there are countless galleries, theaters, unique shopping, and local restaurants that allow visitors to customize their trip to the valley to meet their needs and desires. Thinking about making it a weekend trip (or even longer)? Don’t miss the exceptional bed and breakfast innsthat can be found in towns along the river.

For more information, click here: Take Me to the River.

Syndie Sorenson is program and marketing manager for ArtReach St. Croix, a nonprofit regional arts organization committed to the mission of connecting communities to the arts throughout the St. Croix Valley.      


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Take Me to the River: A Different Beat at Every Bend