Posts Tagged: Lake Pepin

Glamping: Eclectic Escapes in the Driftless

Bending River Cove photo by Kassidy Renee Paige / kassidyreneepaige.com

 

Ever wanted to spend the night in a silo? Get closer to nature, but not so close that you’re actually sleeping on the ground? Or maybe you’d like to see what tiny homes are all about?

These days, there are more options than ever for overnight stays in the Driftless – from amazing hotels to B&Bs to glamping-esque experiences (like the aforementioned silo). We caught up with three Driftless locals who have worked hard to reclaim materials, buildings, and properties, bringing new life to forgotten pieces of history, and, ultimately, creating fun and innovative spaces for guests to lay their heads for the night (or longer!).

The Driftless Region is a unique mix of landscapes and ecosystems, artists and farmers, cheese shops and pizza farms all living and existing in harmony – so get out there and explore all there is to offer! The adventure lies in the journey, AND the destination.


Not your average roadhouse

At The Chocolate Escape overlooking the Mississippi River in Wabasha, a group of third graders sit outside, licking their dripping chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones. They hoot and holler when an eagle flies overhead. At another table, a couple enjoys a cup of coffee. And, across the street at the local pub, a group of bikers clad in leather jackets, black boots, and sunglasses drink a cold brew. Time seems to stand still as three unlikely troops congregate contently on Main Street. Such is the vibe in towns along the Mississippi River.

As you head north out of town onto Highway 61, the sweeping green valleys and rolling bluffs overlook the wild yet graceful river. And there, perched on the side of the highway, sits a handful of tiny homes, campers, and cabins. Welcome to Bending River Cove, a resort with a cottage and five tiny homes, founded in 2017 by co-owners Mike Burke and Denay Kelly.

Bending River Cove

Bending River Cove photo by Kassidy Renee Paige / kassidyreneepaige.com

Mike is a treasure hunter in overalls. He – along with four friends – manage Barndoogle Productions. They travel through small towns across Southern Minnesota “barndoogling” – their word for finding treasures and history in old barns and buildings.

“All barns have a story,” he says. “And each one is unique. We believe it’s important to save and preserve not only the boards, but the stories too.”

Bending River Cove, barndoogling

Barndoogling / Photo courtesy Bending River Cove

When Mike was approached about crafting structures for a tiny home resort between Lake City and Wabasha using his reclaimed treasures, he jumped at the chance. It took Mike and business partner Denay Kelly two years to gather materials and build the tiny homes. But now, Bending River Cove is open for business, sitting just above Lake Pepin on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi.

The handcrafted tiny homes – between 200-400 square feet each – contain a kitchenette, a bathroom, a bedroom outfitted with luxury linens, and a fire pit outside.

“I use as many reclaimed boards and wood as I can,” Mike says. “With those materials, I find I can create intimate and cozy spaces.” Mike uses the term inglenook – a 17th century Scottish word that means chimney corner – to describe the feeling they’re going for at Bending River Cove. Before central heating, the fireplace was used for cooking, and the inglenook – or enclosing alcove – became a natural place for people to gather and stay warm. Looking at the river below while nestled on a comfy couch, with a mug of coffee in one hand and a book in the other, you catch a glimmer of that contentment.

“This area is near and dear to my heart,” Denay adds. “As a child, one of my favorite things to do was camp. Through these tiny homes, we’re trying to recreate that same experience.”

Sign at Bending River Cove

The sign at Bending River Cove / Photo courtesy Bending River Cove

Bending River Cover “tiny house nation”

Each tiny home is nestled between the bluffs of Southeast Minnesota and the breathtaking Lake Pepin. Nightly stays range between $75-175.

The Birch Studio. Sleeps 2. Includes twin daybed and trundle

Fat Bottom Girls. Sleeps 2. 1950s camper-turned-glamper

Homegrown Honey. Sleeps 6

Includes loft and lake-facing outdoor patio

Bohemian Rhapsody. Sleeps 4

Includes private bedroom and fire pit

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem. Sleeps 4

Includes outdoor hot tub with lake views

River Queen. Sleeps 6

Includes two separate bedrooms and outdoor deck space

For more information, visit brctinyhomes.com or search Bending River Cove on airbnbn.com.


From pizza farm to glamping

Maren and Tom Beard have been busy. In 2013, they bought their 133-acre farm just outside of Decorah, now known as the beloved Luna Valley Farm. They hosted their wedding ceremony there in the valley, two years later. In 2017, they harnessed Tom’s skills as a farmer and chef and Maren’s passion for sustainable food systems and procurement (she’s an excellent chef, as well) and kicked off their pizza farm. Then, last year, the couple decided to introduce glamping. What’s that, you say? Glamping, AKA glamorous camping, is a way to experience nature with the added bonus of real beds and other plush offerings.

Glamping tent at Luna Valley Farm

A glamping tent at Luna Valley Farm / Photo courtesy Luna Valley Farm

At Luna Valley, the glamping happens in two 12 x 14’ canvas wall tents, which were once used at a Camp Tahigwa, a former Girl Scout camp located north of Decorah. For years Camp Tahigwa hosted groups of girls for week-long camps in the summer, some of which were in wall tents in the woods, overlooking the local trout stream. When the camp got sold a few years ago, Maren and Tom purchased a few of the tents with the dream of someday pitching them on their farm to welcome guests for a farm stay. “We have a passion for breathing new life into remnants of the past and doing what we can to repurpose things of deep history and profound beauty,” Maren writes on their Airbnb listing. “A local Amish tarp repair shop helped us fix up the tents and they have found a new life on our farm, where we hope they will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

The tents are situated in a beautiful oak savanna and feature king-sized beds, whimsical lanterns, rough-sawn hardwood floors, and spaces to read, write, and relax. Set up on a platform that extends into a deck, each tent offers a stunning view of the farm.

“This is a chance for people to unplug, connect with the land, and spend time on a working farm,” Maren says. In addition to pizza and glamping, Luna Valley grows organic crops, and graze sheep and cattle on pasture. “There’s something magical about waking up in the woods in a comfortable bed. It’s so quiet and peaceful.”

In the morning, down at the barn – a three to four-minute walk from the tents – glampers will find local coffee waiting for them, plus lovely bathrooms and a luxurious shower (with room for two). You can even add on glamping extras – mason jar mimosas, anyone? The barn also houses Maren and Tom’s commercial kitchen and pizza oven. Bonus for glampers: On Friday nights, you can take your Luna Valley wood-fired pizza up to your own private patio.

Glamping tents and renovated showers at Luna Valley Farm

Glamping tents in the Oak Savannah at Luna Valley Farm & the renovated showers in the Luna Valley barn / Photos courtesy Luna Valley Farm

Tents are available on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer. $150/night, 2 night minimum

Pizza nights: Fridays, 4-8 pm • April – October

For more information, visit lunavalleyfarm.com


Reconstructing history

Five miles north of Decorah, you’ll find a barn silo and a 1973 train caboose, both lovingly restored by Jim Dotzenrod, a Decorah native who proudly welcomes visitors to his land – and the region.

“We are super laid back and friendly up here on The Ridge!” Jim writes in his Airbnb profile. “I grew up in this area and know lots of folks, so no matter your interests, I’d be happy to help you find what you’re looking for during your stay with us.”

CR Train Caboose

The CR Train Caboose / Photos courtesy Silo on the Ridge & CR Train Caboose

Jim says lots of his renters come from the Twin Cities looking for something different.

“They don’t want to stay in town. They’d rather enjoy an experience,” he says. “And out here, they can pet the horses in the pasture, pick raspberries and apples, and watch the sunset.”

The silo came first. Jim – with the help of his brother – restored the structure, adding a roof and building bunk beds and a bathroom on the second level. They even incorporated a grapevine that was originally wrapped around the outside of the silo – the horses had chewed it off, so it was fair game. It now acts as the handrail leading upstairs to the sleeping area. A sofa and kitchen space fill the main level, and a large deck wraps around the entire structure.

Silo on the Ridge, petting horses, picking raspberries, and grapevine handrail

Two above – the Silo on the Ridge & that grapevine handrail / Photos courtesy Silo on the Ridge & CR Train Caboose

After seeing the silo book up frequently, Jim decided it was time for another reno project. That’s when he found the CR Station train caboose — one of the last of its kind, according to Jim — sitting on a set of railroad tracks at a local recycling center. Although a carpenter by trade, Jim wasn’t set up for the ironwork inside. But, with the right tools and help from his daughter, the two of them went for it, gutting the train car – repurposing the original conductor chairs and handrails in the front room, and fitting a queen bed and bunkbeds in the loft. The main level holds the kitchen and bathroom. With help from a crane and semi, the 52,000-pound train car now sits 200 feet away from the silo.

Prices range from $75-$121/night. For more information, visit airbnb.com and search Silo on the Ridge and CR Station Train Caboose.


When Maggie Sonnek isn’t spending the night at unique and cozy destination properties like these, she can be found sipping an iced coffee with her husband, watching their three kids play with Max the puppy.


Looking for more out-of-the-norm spots to spend the night? Add these to your list:

Little House on the Farm & The Guest Barn – Postville, Iowa

The Little House on the Farm – a 750 square-foot cabin located outside of Decorah – was built in 2009 on the foundation of an old barn that was once located on owners Donna and Dave Dull’s farm. The cabin has the look and feel of an authentic pioneer cabin, but with modern touches. The Guest Barn was built in 2012 with materials salvaged from a nearby barn and corncrib. The pieces were used to build a smaller 700 square-foot “new” barn. The space is cozy, but open, with exposed original barn beams and high ceilings for an authentic, yet modern farm stay. www.littlehouseonthefarm.com


Elkader Jail House Inn – Elkader, Iowa

Hosts Julie Carlisle-Kane and Dr. Tim Kane have transformed the old Clayton County Jail – located in Elkader Iowa, and originally built in 1870 – into three spacious suites. Nothing like a jail cell, these suites are beautifully renovated and outfitted with luxurious beds and baths, while still retaining the historic character of the stately old limestone building.

Guest can hang out in the “cell block” – a public space that was once actually the cell block of the jail. These days you can play a game of shuffle board, watch TV, or just relax there! www.elkaderjailhouseinn.com


Trout River Log Cabin – Decorah, Iowa

The Trout River Log Cabin was built in the mid 19th century as a Norwegian-Lutheran parochial school, then taken apart in 1898, moved across a field, and rebuilt as Norwegian immigrant Peter Losen’s home. Then, Decorah residents Paul Cutting and partner, Nathan Thompson, come into possession of the cabin. They stripped it to the logs, numbered everything, and once again moved it – to its new location on the Cutting family farm seven miles from downtown Decorah, perched on a bluff overlooking Trout River valley. It took three years to piece the house back together, and the results are stunning. The cabin is small, simple, and beautiful, with everything you need to make your stay comfortable and relaxing. www.troutriverlogcabin.com


Historic Tobacco Warehouse – Viroqua, Wisconsin

The Northern Wisconsin Co-op Tobacco Pool warehouse – listed on the local, state, and national registries of historic places– is one of the most unique and recognizable buildings in Viroqua. The owners, Valorie Schaefer and Richard Bock, bought it in 2008, and have been slowly renovating it to include their family home, several offices, a photo studio, and now a private guest suite that folks can rent through Airbnb. And that only fills about half of the 24,000 square-foot building! To book, search “Guest Suite in Historic Warehouse” on Airbnb.


Trempealeau Hotel – Trempealeau, Wisconsin

Directly above the Trempealeau Hotel bar and restaurant are eight historic sleeping rooms. Take a step back in time – there’s no TV or air conditioning, but each quaint room has a comfy bed, dresser, chair, and window. Two restrooms with showers are shared with the other lodgers. There is live music most Thursdays and Saturdays and many days in between, so if you need a quieter experience, you may want to book one of the other Trempealeau Hotel lodging options (suites available!) or choose a night without music. Book ahead of time for Reggae Fest, Cajun Fest, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Catfish Days, Labor Day and all weekends in October. www.trempealeauhotel.com


 

Driftless Day Trips: Great River Road of Wisconsin

WIGRR Photo Jay Olson
(Above photo by Jay Olson-Goude. Below photos by Inspire(d) Media.)

Isn’t fall in the Driftless Region the best? The colors are lovely, and there are tons of perfect days ahead for a fun little road trip adventure. We suggest checking out The Great River Road of Wisconsin! The entire WIGRR (wigrr.com) covers 250 miles and 33 river towns. We just hit the Driftless Region section, including the towns of: Alma, Nelson,  Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, and Bay City.

Getting to Alma, WI:
88 miles from Decorah
60 miles from La Crosse
54 miles from Rochester
119 miles from McGregor

For over 250 miles of Wisconsin’s “West Coast” a ribbon or road flows next to the train tracks right along the Mighty Mississippi. The Great River Road is one of the Midwest’s most scenic road trips – it was even voted prettiest drive in the nation by the Huffington Post last year! Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Great River Road in its entirety spans from Minnesota to Louisiana. Wisconsin’s section winds through 33 towns and countless sights, and this edition of Boxed (IN) takes on just the popular 30-mile stretch from Alma to Maiden Rock – just north of Trempealeau and the La Crosse area. Home to Lake Pepin – a popular 26-mile-long sailing area of the Mississippi River – this little slice of river is known for kitschy little stops, artist studios, galleries, and shops, and down-home charm.

AlmaStairsAlma itself is an adorable little river town tucked in and on 12 Mile Bluff – there are even 10 staircases (with over 750 steps total!) that connect the two main streets throughout the town! Lock and Dam #4 – including a great viewing platform – is also located here, and the lodging and dining options are fun and often unique since over 200 structures in the tiny town are on the National Register of Historic Places.

As you wind up the river through Nelson, Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, and Bay City take time to seek out the many treasures and destinations tucked along the way. The terrain is beautiful – and the locals friendly. Follow our notes carefully, and call ahead if you are making the drive (or boat!) as many of the best spots we found are seasonal and only open certain days of the week. (Like A to Z’s Pizza on the farm!). That said, there’s more than enough to keep you busy for a day or two – and plenty of relaxing to be had just watching all that is the mighty Mississippi go by.

EVENTS THIS FALL

Flyway Film Festival
October 21-25, 2015
Pepin and Stockholm
www.flywayfilmfestival.org

Great River Road Wine Trail Holiday Harvest Wine & Food Festival
November 14-15, 2015. 10am-5pm
www.greatriverroadwinetrail.org/events

LANDMARKS

Lock & Dam #4, Alma, WI – Built in 1935, this structure is an attraction in its own right and the southern border of  “Lake” Pepin. Watch barges and river traffic lock through from the viewing platform or from local establishments, while trains ramble by right underneath the pedestrian bridge.viewfromlookout

Lake Pepin is a 26-mile-long section of the widest, naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River that stretches from Bay City on the north end to Alma and Lock & Dam #4 in the south. It is extremely popular for sailing, boating, and fishing, as well as bird and wildlife watching.

Great Alma Fishing Float
35 Great River Road, Alma
www.almafishingfloat.com
Park and walk to the dock where a shuttle boat will pick you up and deliver you to the float! For over 25 years this has been a local favorite – Float Café open 7am-3pm, and bunk lodging is even available on the float. Minnesota or Wisconsin Fishing license is required.

Buena Vista Park, Overlook, and Trail – Alma
Just above Lock & Dam #4 in Alma (500 ft. above to be more exact), is one of the best views of the Mississippi River valley anywhere. Better Homes & Gardens called it “…one of the river valley’s finest natural balconies.” The view just down the road at Danzinger Winery isn’t too bad either!

Mossy Hollow Trails – Alma
In 1997 Dairyland Power Cooperative transferred 102 acres just south of Alma to the City. This property extends 12 miles up the bluff and provides hiking/walking trails along with some great views.

EAT & DRINK

ALMA:

The Good View Bakery
105 South Main Street, Alma
https://www.facebook.com/goodviewbakery
Step through the screen door and be transported to the bakery you remember from childhood. Donuts, scones, rolls, breads, cookies, and all very reasonably priced! Grab a cup of coffee and a delicious caramel roll and plan your day one of the vintage counter stools.KiehlsOutside

Pier 4 Café and Smokehouse
600 Main Street, Alma
www.pier4cafe.com
Best BBQ by a Dam Site!
(Closed Tuesdays) open Wednesday through Monday 6 am to 1 pm
Great breakfasts and lunch including lots of house made BBQ goodness. The German potato pancakes are a local favorite, as is the house made “Tangys” sauce! Views from the café are of Lock & Dam #4, and the back patio is a great place to take in all the river traffic.

NELSON:

The Original Nelson Cheese Factory
S237 State Road 35 South, Nelson
www.nelsoncheese.com
Although cheese is no longer actually made at this facility, the selection of fine cheese, wine, prepared foods, and sweets is stunning. So is the interior of the facility – stop by to pick up supplies for a picnic or grab sandwiches and sit on the patio.NelsonCreameryOut

PEPIN:

Villa Bellezza
1420 3rd St., Pepin
www.villabellezza.com
Inspired by the beauty of the Pepin area and several classic Italian influences, Villa Bellezza was opened to the public by the Dahlen family in 2012. The first grape vines at Villa Bellezza were planted a decade previous, and their wines are pushing the typical boundaries and quality of Midwestern viticulture. The Cotes du Pepin is a highlight, as are the event facilities.Winery

Harbor View Café
314 First Street, Pepin
www.harborviewpepin.com
Closed Monday – Wednesday
This much-celebrated local café has a focus on local and sustainable ingredients. As comfy a spot as you’ll find, with fantastic people, great daily specials, and amazing deserts. No reservations, but the Adirondack chairs out front have a spectacular view and there’s New Glarus on tap if you have to wait!

STOCKHOLM:

Stockholm Pie Company
www.thestockholmpiecompany.com
The Stockholm Pie Company sits unassumingly in a tiny corner space (next door to the beautiful Abode Gallery and below Wide Spot Performing Arts Center.) The pie is the real deal and you won’t be sorry with the selection, which rotates daily. In fact, plan ahead to grab breakfast or lunch and take an extra slice along for your trip to A to Z later in the day (see below)! YES – Pie isn’t just for breakfast anymore!

PizzaFarmScene

A to Z Produce and Bakery
N2945 Anker Lane, Stockholm
www.atozproduceandbakery.com
Pizza nights are TUESDAYS ONLY 4:30 – 8 pm (March-October)
So here’s the idea: Vegetable and CSA farmers A to Z build a brick oven (actually two) and make pizza one night a week on their farm. People come from all around, bring blankets and supplies, and make a night of it! What happens? Wild success – and long lines of pizza lovers! We can’t stress a few things enough though – really. Go early, write down directions (phones/GPS sketchy), bring games or good friends (or make friends with your neighbors), extra snacks, pie from the Stockholm Pie Company, and beverages (but the state of WI “does not allow carry in alcoholic beverages”…  beer and wine for sale on site). Some people even set up tables and chairs, but you decide just how far you want to take it.

They appreciate checks and cash (bring extra – there’s often bread for sale as well –  it’s worth it!) but also now accept credit cards. The results of all this? Stunning pizza in a lovely rural setting that makes for an incredible evening. Plan to go here if you’re in town on a Tuesday evening – you will not be disappointed (unless you don’t take our tips from above!). Serving through October – bundle up and enjoy!

PizzaFarmSlicePizza

Maiden Rock Apples / Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery
W12266 King Lane, Stockholm
www.maidenrockapples.com
Since 2000 Herdie Baisden and Carol Wiersma have been growing apples on their 80-acre farm. From Honeycrisp to Pomme Gris, the varieties are wide and interesting – and you can pick right from the fields in the fall. But the real draw may be the cider – both still and sparkling – Maiden Rock is doing some amazing work with their apples. Give yourself some time for a tasting, and savor the local bounty!

MAIDEN ROCK:

Maiden Rock Creamery/McNays Wine and Coffee Bar
W3487 State Road 35,
maidenrockcreamery.com
This remodeled, once-upon-a-time creamery now features two incredible lofts (available by the night) and a Coffee/Wine Bar.

Smiling Pelican Bake Shop
W3556 Hwy. 35, Maiden Rock
www.facebook.com/Smiling-Pelican-Bakeshop
Weekends ONLY.
This little bakery is one of the best you’ll find. Yep, that was a period. House made Panna Cotta, amazing pies, cakes, cookies, breads – and only on the weekends, April through December.

BAY CITY:

Ice Cream: Flat Pennies in Bay City
www.flatpennies.com
10:30 am – 9 pm
Drive in and grab a quick coffee – or perhaps a dog and an ice cream cone! This Bay City favorite is a roadside oasis from yesteryear. Chat with the friendly owner – he might talk you into trying a Ramblin’ Rudy or the Flat Cow!

IceCreamSandwich

Chef Shack
www.chefshack.org
Weekends only
Award-winning Minneapolis Food-Truckers opened this amazing little spot in 2012. It’s only open Friday-Saturday nights and Sundays for Brunch, but worth every second it takes to make your way there. Creative, delicious, ever-changing cuisine and wine/beer, plus a brick oven in the back yard. It’s pretty much the restaurant you’ve always wanted to stumble upon…

SNOOZE
It is worth noting that the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River is heavily traveled by freight trains – both day and night. Any lodging anywhere near the river will give you both grand vistas of river life, as well as of the working trains. Some folks love the steady, majestic, rumble and horns of a freight train – while others may find it hard to block out. That said, pack an extra pair of earplugs and your sense of adventure – this is river life.

Blue Door Inn, Alma
331 South Main Street, Alma
www.bluedoorinnalma.com
This 150-year-old renovated stone building features tastefully modern suites in historic spaces. The Inn can accommodate single rooms for a night, or combined suites for larger groups. The upper deck has fun views of Main Street and the Mississippi, while the garden level is a lovely escape full of well-tended flowers. The kind innkeeper, Kathy, even leaves Bakery treats for breakfast outside your door, along with juice and fruit to accompany your in-room Keurig!

Hotel de Ville, Alma
305 North Main Street, Alma
612-423-3653
sites.google.com/site/hoteldevillealma/
Do check out this unique European-influenced getaway with Italianate secret garden and Mississippi River views. With three buildings and a gypsy wagon making up the property, it’s shy of words to say the de Ville is wonderfully unique. The on-site café and ice cream shop is just the beginning of wonderment that leads to the secret gardens out back.

Maiden Rock Inn
N531 County Road S, Maiden Rock
www.maidenrockinn.com
Gary and Jennifer Peterson started renovating this century old schoolhouse in 1995 and have never stopped. The attention to detail in woodwork, renovation, and hospitality is hard to match. With over 16,000 square feet of skillfully and artistically renovated spaces, including four guest suites with impeccable 12-foot vintage tin ceilings, an outdoor grotto, rooftop deck (Accessed by spiral staircase! And there’s a hot tub up there!), and the original gymnasium, this is a show stopper of an Inn.

Driftless Art Tours + More!

StudioTourSign

Driftless Art Tours and Festivals are coming up!

By Sara Friedl-Putnam • Originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Inspire(d)

Ahh…fall!

For some it means once again watching football Friday nights and sending kids off to school in the mornings…seeing leaves change color on the trees and pumpkins ripen on the vine.

But the season also signals the start of a whole OTHER season – art tour season! Area residents and visitors alike get the opportunity to experience behind-the-scenes magic of many talented artists in the Driftless Region.

“It’s fun to see how artists work,” says Darla Ellickson, an accomplished Decorah-based jewelry-maker and the cofounder of the Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour (NIAST), the largest and longest-running artist studio tour in the state. “NIAST and other area studio tours present great opportunities to see not only what’s involved in the creative process but also how accessible making art really is.”

Curious how Ellickson crafts her stylish, metal, no-piercings-required “ear loops”? Wondering what constitutes a “fiber farm”? Seeking to purchase a one-of-a-kind gift for a family member or friend – or treat yourself to something funky and fun? Looking for that perfect excuse to head “over the river”? Or perhaps just itching to take in the natural beauty that defines fall in the Driftless Region while traversing roads less traveled?

Then you’re in luck.

The fun starts with the Driftless Area Art Festival (Sept 19-20) in Soldiers Grove, WI. And the first weekend of October – which just happens to be national arts and humanities month – kicks off three straight weekends of Driftless Region art tours. Artists open their studio doors to visitors just for these events. (Cameras strongly recommended – all tours showcase some of the most stunningly scenic areas the region has to offer!)

“One of the great things about NIAST and other studio tours is that they feature artists in their working environments,” says Ellickson, herself one of the 50+ artists who will take part in NIAST 2015. “There’s really no substitute for that.”

Curiosity piqued? Then plan for a peek into area artists’ creative worlds on these tours this fall.

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Driftless Area Art Festival
Where: Beauford T. Anderson Park, Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin
When: Saturday, September 19 10:00-5:00
Sunday, September 20 10:00-4:00
www.driftlessareaartfestival.com

DriftlessAreaArt Festival Logo_Web“Celebrating the visual, performing, and culinary arts of the Driftless Area”. From painters and potters to musicians and brewmasters – Soldiers Grove comes alive each fall with big tents and beautiful art. The offerings are as exquisite as they are varied, and all in a setting replete with the hills and valleys that define the Driftless Region. Soldiers Grove, in Crawford County, WI, hosts the eleventh annual Driftless Area Art Festival. No matter what direction you are coming from, you’ll enjoy a scenic, meandering journey through wooded hills and deep valleys of the region to arrive at the inspirational setting of Beauford T. Anderson Park and the Soldiers Grove community. Kick off “Art Season” with this great FREE festival!

Admission and parking are free. Handicap parking is available, and entrances have curb ramps. Socialized dogs on leashes are permitted.

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Bonus! If you’re looking for more fun – also check out the Taste of NE Iowa Farm Crawl Sept. 26-27!
Taste of NE Iowa Farm Crawl
Where: 6 communities in NE Iowa
When: September 26-27, 2015
www.iowafreshfood.com/site/farmcrawl.html

BuyFreshBuyLocalHow do local farmers successfully grow fruits and vegetables, produce flowers and herbs, make ice cream and butter, and even bottle wine? Find out during this great event, which offers a glimpse of the day-to-day workings of several Northeast Iowa farms.

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Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour
Where: Decorah, Iowa, and 35-mile surrounding region
When: October 2-4, 2015
www.iowaarttour.com

2015 niast poster.inddThey may be conveniently clustered within a 35-mile radius of small-town Decorah, but many of the dozens of artists taking part in the 2015 Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour (NIAST) have long traveled throughout (and well beyond) the United States to exhibit their works.

“There were so many artists doing high-caliber shows throughout the country, but people in and around Decorah didn’t know that they were here,” says Ellickson of the main reason she and Margaret Davis of the Decorah Regional Arts Council (now Driftless Art Collective) decided to launch the first Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour in 1998. “We honestly didn’t know how that first tour was going to turn out, but it was well enough attended that we decided to keep on going.”

And going. And going.

This year will mark NIAST’s 17th tour. Sculptors? Yep. Oil painters? They’re on the tour too. So are jewelry-makers, ceramicists, potters, fiber artists, wood-workers, basket-makers, silk painters, photographers, quilters, and, yes, even kaleidoscope-makers. Where will you find them all come the second weekend of October? Nestled in and around the lush hills and vales of Decorah and its environs, of course!

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Fresh Art Tour
Where: Lake Pepin and the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin
When: October 2-4, 2015
www.freshart.org

FreshArt15Never heard of “fresh art”? Broaden your artistic boundaries as you learn why Wisconsin has much more to offer than dairy farms, cheese curds, and Badgers and Packers games. Witness art-in-the-making during discussions and demonstrations by the varied artists (more than two dozen in all) taking part in this year’s Fresh Art Tour, a unique opportunity to experience the eclectic galleries and studios sprawled throughout the Mississippi River town of Lake Pepin and its surrounds. Marvel at the rich colors of autumn in Wisconsin (not to mention the Chippewa Valley’s rolling hills) while witnessing the diverse talents of painters, potters, scultors, and other skilled artists at work.

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Sheep and Fiber Farm Tour
Where: Southeast Minnesota
When: October 10–11, 2015
www.naturalfiberalliance.com/sheep_fiber_farm_tour
or (Facebook has the 2015 latest info!)

FarmFiber15What’s a “fiber farm”? Find out as you spend a weekend exploring four scenic farms in Southeast Minnesota. All are dedicated to promoting the fiber arts and raising animals that produce yarn (think yaks, alpacas, and Shetland sheep) and other materials used in fiber-art products. Discover what’s involved in raising “fiber” animals. View the fiber-milling process in action. Be inspired by the softness and intricate textures of homespun yarn and other items crafted by local artists.

“Visitors will gain a better understanding of how ‘fiber’ animals – including wool-breed sheep, yaks, and alpacas – are raised and why natural fiber is good for ourselves, our children, and the world we want to leave behind,” promises Jean Mueller, tour director. “They will also see firsthand how fiber is transformed into a medium artists have used for centuries to make blankets, throws, and various other items.” Cool! Er…warm!

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Fall_Art_Tour

Fall Art Tour
Where:
Southwest Wisconsin (Baraboo, Dodgeville, Mineral Point, and Spring Green)
When: October 16–18, 2015
www.fallarttour.com

More than 50 artist studios in unique locations ranging from restored breweries to one-room brick schoolhouses. Rolling hills spruced with trees in vibrant fall foliage. And the distinct friendly flavor of small-town Wisconsin. Once again this fall, painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, jewelers, woodworkers, and mixed-media artists in four small Wisconsin towns will open their studios to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how (and why) they create their art.

And the artists aren’t the only draw of this popular tour. Visitors also have the opportunity to soak in the sites of Mineral Point, the first Wisconsin city placed on the National Register of Historic Places; visit Taliesin, the Spring Green-area home and studio of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright; and experience the dramatic natural beauty (500-foot cliffs, anyone?) of the Baraboo-area Devil’s Lake State Park.

Now get out there and enjoy these amazing beautiful fall weekends!

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Author Sara Friedl-Putnam has thoroughly enjoyed learning about the artistic endeavors of some of the region’s most talented individuals during past NIAST events and looks forward to experiencing even more tour stops this fall!

Looking for some tips to get the most out of your tour? Check out our handy self-guided art tour infographic for ideas!