20th Annual Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!

By Bailey Hovland

When thinking of classic duos, there are quite a few combinations that come to mind: lakes and fishing, campfires and s’mores, pumpkin spice and lattes. But in Willmar, Minnesota, there is another classic duo that is added to the list—art and coffee. This last Saturday was Willmar’s 20th annual Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee! festival. At 10:00 a.m. the doors of Kennedy Elementary School opened to kick off the event. In honor of its two-decade-long run, the first 1,500 people received a free canvas tote!


Photo by Dennis Benson

The hallways were lined with colorful displays, highlighting the Willmar Lakes Area’s vast array of music organizations and artists. These displays continued into the gyms, featuring all kinds of local art. Mike Egan of Roseville and Heather Meyer of Hollandale showcased their handmade pottery, made for both style and function. Janet Olney of Willmar featured her one-of-a-kind decorated gourds, perfect for fall decor in any home. Shalese Sands of Willmar brought some graphite drawings as well as some acrylic and oil paintings, each made with fantastic attention to detail. And these are just a few of the many artists showing off their beautiful art. There were wood carvings, watercolor paintings, jewelry, photographs, books, prints, and even dolls! Visitors walked from one exhibit to the next, admiring the local art with a cup of coffee in hand, courtesy of Deidra’s Espresso Café and Bakery in the morning hours of the festival and The Goodness Coffee House in the afternoon.


Photo by Dennis Benson

Although the festival might sound like a sophisticated event, with coffee and art being the two focal points of the day, Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee! had plenty of activities for kids. Local volunteers made balloon animals and painted faces back out in the hallway. In the lunchroom, kids could make their own art projects, whether they attempted out the abstract strategic of Matisse or went a little wild at the painting stations. Behind the Kennedy stage there were drum sets, guitars, xylophones, and electric pianos where kids could make some noise and try playing different instruments.



Photo by Dennis Benson

Out on the front of the stage, musical groups performed all day, rotating every hour. Maggie Harp and Dempsey Schroeder kicked off the day with their guitar and fiddle, playing music from the Celtic, Americana, gospel, and folk genres. Next up was Willmar High School’s 2701, bringing their excellent vocals to the venue. The Mill Pond Jazz Quartet, Cedar Creek Bluegrass/Gospel Band, and Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra all made an appearance as well, demonstrating the depth that the Willmar Lakes Area has in music alone. Tontantzin Tialli Guadalupe, a group of volunteers who educate others about the ancestral traditions and history of the Aztec and Mayan people, brought interpretive dance and music to the gymnasium. Wearing traditional costumes and using drums native to their country of Mexico, they shared their beautiful culture with festival goers in two different performances.


Photo by Dennis Benson

Outside local vendors sold kettle corn, pulled pork, mini-donuts, walking tacos, burgers, ice cream, and much more. The festivities continued throughout the town: Bethel Church served pie and coffee, the Willmar Noon Lions sponsored Belgian Waffle Day at the Willmar Commu-nity Center, the Willmar Public Library had a book sale, and the First Presbyterian Church hosted a rummage and bake sale. From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., there were no shortage of things to do in the Willmar Lakes Area thanks to the wonderful Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee! festival.

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