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Park Art Fair, Blues & Brews Fest set for Friday-Saturday

After a successful first year last year, the Willow River Blues and Brews Fest will join the Park Art Fair again this year during its 42nd annual celebration at Mary Park.

The Park Art Fair will have around 125 vendors this year and will open Friday, June 5 at 5 p.m. for a "sneak preview," which was an idea that started three years ago.

"Three-quarters of our vendors will be open and ready by then," said Russ Korpela, executive director for the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce. "We've been pretty successful opening on Friday."

Korpela said since the first weekend in June is typically popular for graduation parties and weddings, it is beneficial for those people who can't make it on Saturday to have the fair open for a few hours on Friday.

The Blues Fest will also kick off Friday evening at 5 p.m. with Howard "Guitar" Luedtke opening from 5-7 p.m. and Ross William Perry playing next from 7-9 p.m.

Korpela said he and the Chamber were very happy with the turnout for the Blues Fest last year.

"It made us more confident to expand the Blues Fest aspect of the fair this year," he said.

With the new confidence, the Chamber added more hours to each of the two night's musical performances.

So, finishing the night on Friday, Reverend Raven and The Chainsmokin' Altar Boys will play from 9 p.m.-midnight.

The Park Art Fair opens again Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. and will run all day until 4 p.m. The Blues Fest portion of the event will pick up again at 11 a.m. when Pete Neuman and The Real Deal will perform until 1 p.m. Howard "Guitar" Luedtke returns to play from 1-4 p.m.

Last year's Blues Fest ended at 4 p.m. on its second day, but because of the impressive turnout from last year, the musical happenings will continue deeper into Saturday night.

Brandon Scott Sellner will perform from 4-7 p.m. and Lamont Cranston will finish the evening, playing from 7-10 p.m.

"The arts and crafts part will always be the anchor of Park Art Fair," Korpela said, "but the Blues Fest allows us not to rely solely on the art portion. It brings a new dimension to our customer diversity."

Happening again this year as well is the Brews Fest. Fifteen different breweries are scheduled to be at the event, offering three or four different brews a piece.

Korpela said there were about 150 people who purchased tickets for the Brews Fest during last year's fair, and this year he said they plan to see a growth of up to 250 participants.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. They can be purchased at the New Richmond Chamber Office at 245 S. Knowles Ave. or by phone at 246-2900. Tickets are also available at Lumberjack Liquors at 220 N. Knowles Ave. or Family Fresh Market Liquor Store at 110 W. Fourth St.

Two new things happening at Park Art Fair this year include free taxi rides home on both Friday and Saturday nights and a food drive.

"It's important to us to make sure we can provide a responsible ride home for people who have had too much to drink," Korpela said about the event's new addition. "The taxi will take anyone home who lives in New Richmond or a mile and half outside the New Richmond city limits."

Frontier Communications Solutions is sponsoring a food drive at Park Art Fair this year as well. Guests are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item when they enter the park. Frontier will have a booth set up at the main gate, and all items will be given to the Five Loaves Food Shelter of New Richmond.

Korpela said Park Art Fair used to be one of the only arts and crafts fairs in the area, but now it is one of hundreds of art fairs.

"The competition for artists is stringent," Korpela said. "We're now working on expanding our advertising. Possibly to places like the Twin Cities area."

There is no cover charge for any of the concerts at Blues Fest or any charge for admission to the Park Art Fair.