The 26th anniversary Arts in the Park will be bigger and better than ever, according to organizers, but the event will retain its essential role as a "quieter, lazier part" in the annual five-day July 4th Celebration in Brainerd.
Nancy Cross, Community Action director and chief organizer of the event, said this week that 140 artists will exhibit their works at this year's Arts in the Park installment, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Gregory Park.
That's about 20 more participating artists than last year, even though 30-40 applicants were turned down for this year's juried arts festival, Cross said.
"Arts in the Park is just a huge attraction for artists," she said. "We could have 300-400 artists for the event if we wanted to, but that wasn't the original intent.
The Frog Trot Ramblers includes Art Brown (left), Doug Bowman and Donna Bowman. The group will perform at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at Arts in the Park under the tent in Gregory Park.
"We want to hold the flavor of being a small and community based arts festival as much as we can," she added.
Just about every art medium under the sun will be represented in the festival, which is expected to attract 18,000-20,000 visitors, if previous years are any indication, Cross said.
Judges Lori Gymerik of Browersville, a working artist, and Rhonda Smith of Downtown Art and Frame will select one of the participating artists for Best of Show, as well as award first, second and third places in three categories.
Cash prizes and medals will be presented to each of the winners, Cross said.
Eleven food and beverage vendors -- many of them representing area nonprofit organizations -- will be on hand with a variety of selections, including grilled chicken, sweet corn and hot dogs.
There's also a full menu of stage entertainment lined up for the day, headlined by Art Brown and the Frog Trot Ramblers, an old-time string band from the lakes area, which will play at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. under the tent.
The Ramblers -- Brown, and Doug and Donna Bowman -- are known for old-time music with Appalachian, Cajun, Scandinavian and French Canadian styles.
The trio plays banjo, fiddle, button accordion, dulcimer and autoharp, all traditional folk instruments.
Karl Achilles and his magic act will take the stage at 11 a.m., followed by bagpiper John Michael Hughes at 2 p.m.
Musician Paul Imholte, a fixture at the annual Arts in the Park, will perform on the dulcimer throughout Gregory Park during the day. The Ecuador Mantra, a quartet of Ecuadoran musicians from Minneapolis, and Ruben Correa, a folk artist, will play at their individual booths throughout the day.
In the gazebo, musicians and other entertainers sponsored by the Crossings Art Alliance also will perform throughout the day.
The Little Miss and Mister Fourth of July Pageant is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on the stage under the tent, with nearly two dozen 4- to 8-year-olds competing for the right to ride with their families in the July 4th parade.
Nila Patrick, Sue Kuhn and an unnamed representative from Herberger's department store will judge the "personality" contest, as the young contestants dress up in red, white and blue outfits and respond to questions from the judges.
The Century of Cars Show will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the north end of Gregory Park. Sponsored by Jason Meehan and The Brainerd Dispatch, the show has attracted 33 participants with antique and classic American cars.
Visitors will be able to cast a ballot for the People's Choice Award, and car owners will vote for their own winner as well.
"People really look forward to the Arts in the Park each year because it's a lazier, quieter festival that they can enjoy with family and friends," Cross said. "They can stroll through a park atmosphere and can see or hear many of the talented people who live in our community.
"It's important to have a venue for them (artists) to come together," she said.
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