Every summer, dozens of long-established art fairs pop up and pull visitors from near and far. We all know the Edina Art Fair, which recently celebrated its 53rd year; the Uptown Art Fair, annually bringing in more than 400,000 people, and the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, commemorating artists and local makers along the Minneapolis Riverfront every June. These types of events, unique in their many shapes and forms, have flourished in all four corners of the state—but never in the city of St. Louis Park.
Alysha Boie, a local artist and St. Louis Park resident, knew her city needed an event of its own to celebrate the local art community. Instead of sitting back, Boie took action, applied for grants, and launched the inaugural St. Louis Park Art Fair herself in 2018. “The main goal was to have something in the community that uplifts artists from St. Louis Park and from Minnesota in general,” Boie says.
This weekend, the fair is back. With its highly anticipated return came a flood of vendor applications—too many, in fact. Boie says she received 120 applications but could only approve 69 to participate in the second annual event—not because their work didn’t meet the standard, but because of space constraints. Limitations aside, she says she actually enjoys keeping the event smaller.
“The big events can be fun, but it can be harder for the artist,” explains Boie, who hopes vendors will go home with some extra cash due to less competition.
Despite its small scale, visitors can still shop a wide variety of art mediums—from ceramics and culinary art to painting, jewelry, and more. There’s Shelli Burns‘ gorgeous green ceramic art, August Sparrow‘s Minnesota-emblazoned blankets, Julie Meyer‘s handbags, and more—including Beautiful Impact—Boie’s own upcycled, handmade, and affordable jewelry business.
What sets the St. Louis Park Art Fair apart is just that: its affordability. As an artist herself, Boie says she understands good art takes time and is often pricey. Some items at the fair are expensive (yet worthwhile), she says, but many are $20-30 or less. “Sometimes you see art, it’s beautiful, but it’s $900,” Boie explains. “You want it, it’s worth it, but you can’t [buy it]. We provide a nice spectrum of affordability.”
On top of its affordability and intimate atmosphere, there’s a lot that makes this event memorable. With local art, food and drink from Wat Thai, Butcher Salt, Rusty Taco, and Peace Coffee, live music, and even a large-scale community weaving project, it’s hard to forget. But all of those things aside, Boie says last year’s attendees might cite the event’s “small-town feel” that made it most noteworthy. “That’s the hope—that it feels good and welcoming,” she explains. “[The fair is] special, unique, and something that fits in our community.”
Where: The ROC at the St. Louis Park Rec Center, 3700 Monterey Blvd., St. Louis Park
When: Sept. 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.