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Park Art Fair, blues event set in New Richmond

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New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce members are fully focused on the 45th annual Park Art Fair and Blues and Brews Fest, which is scheduled for June 1-2 at Mary Park.

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"This is the earliest the Park Art Fair can be," said Russ Korpela, Chamber executive director. "Usually we have a weekend between Memorial Day and the Park Art Fair but this year it's sneaking up on everybody."

The celebration, which will play host to roughly 150 artists, several craft beers and six musical groups, is free and open to the public.

"There's not much to report in terms of doing anything different than previous years," said Korpela. "In one way that's good news because we've found what we're doing is working really well."

Korpela said he's most excited about this year's blues band lineup.

"It's a combination of personal favorites and bands that have been really well received by past crowds," he said.

Most of the arts and craft tents open at 5 p.m. on Friday for a sneak preview of the treasures.

The Jimmy's, a horn band from Madison, will take the music stage at 6 p.m. Friday.

"We haven't had a horn band at this blues festival before. It's a different kind of blues that I think people will really enjoy," Korpela said.

The Jimmy's will be followed by Sena Ehrhardt, Blind Pig records artist and 2012 Best New Blues Debut from Blues Music Awards, from 8:30-11 p.m.

"Sena is one of those young up-and-comers," Korpela said. "She should be a great, young blues singer."

On Saturday, the park will open again at 10 a.m. Vendors will offer goods until 4 p.m.; however, music will continue until 11 p.m.

Saturday's music kicks off at 1 p.m. with New Richmondite Steve Meyer and The Blues Dogs. At 4 p.m., Phil Nitzke and The Resonators will perform an acoustic set for the brews tasting portion of the event.

The Legendary Lamont Cranston Band is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. and Mojo Lemon, Volume One Magazine's Best Blues Band in the Chippewa Valley, will finish the night from 8:30-11 p.m.

Along with music and crafts, several craft beers -- most of which have been hand-selected by Korpela -- will be offered during the Blues and Brews portion of the event.

"Probably half of our beers will be summer wheat beers," Korpela said. "We want beers that people will be able to find at their favorite pub or local liquor stores. What's the point of finding a beer you like if you can't buy it anywhere?"

The entire weekend is free to attend. The Brews Fest portion requires tickets for sampling of the beer. Those tickets are $15 if purchased in advance; $20 at the gate. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the New Richmond Chamber Office, 245 S. Knowles Ave.; Lumberjack Liquors, 220 N. Knowles Ave.; or Family Fresh Market Liquor Store, 110 W. Fourth St.

Free taxi rides (in New Richmond) will be offered again this year for those who choose not to drive home from event. Vouchers for the taxi can be collected at the beer concession area.

For more information about the Park Art Fair and Willow River Blues and Brews Fest, visit www.wi llowriverbluesfest.com.

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