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85 reasons to head to Art in the Park

LANESBORO — Glenn Young, of LeRoy, has been hauling his custom-made western cedar lawn furniture to local craft shows since retiring from his job as a Mower County Sheriff's Deputy 13 years ago.

All winter long, Young, 74, works in his wood shop making chair kits. He stores them in an attic, so in summer, he can quickly put them together and load his trailer for each of the 20 shows he typically attends each year.

He started out making standard chairs, but now he offers 17 sizes. He also makes rockers, birdhouses, rocking horses, end tables and picnic tables.

"I make a variety of things, but the chairs are my bread and butter," Young said

This week, he and his wife, Karen, are preparing for Art in the Park, which will be held Sunday in Lanesboro.


It's one of their favorite festivals, because it's close to home and it showcases a variety of artists.

"It's more down my line, because it's more arts and crafts than flea market," Young said.

The festival in Sylvan Park has been held every Father's Day for the past 30 years, which makes it the longest running art festival in southeast Minnesota.

Art in the Park chairwoman Celeste Birkeland said Lanesboro wasn't much of an art town when the festival first started, but community members had the foresight to build on it.

Historic preservation had just begun and many people supported the idea of a bike trail in town.

One of the original organizers, Verna Taylor, told Birkeland that the event was an outgrowth of the town's community theater.

During those first years, there was wool roving, sheep shearing and lefse making.

This year, the festival will host 85 artists from a five-state region, Birkeland said.


A common theme amongst artists this year is recycled material, whether it be in jewelry, toys or garden art, Birkeland said.

She's also expecting more knitting, crocheting and photography at this year's festival.

Several Lanesboro organizations will be selling brats, pulled pork sandwiches, curry and rice, egg rolls, pie  and ice cream during the festival.

Festival-goers will hear Parisian swing music by the Twin Cities Hot Club and can stop and watch Morris Dancers. A group of local children, called the Coffee Street Dancers, will also perform.

Children can stop at the petting zoo and will be able to create ties for dads.

Birkeland said she's excited to see the new artists and catch up with ones like Young who've been coming for years.

Crowd estimates in past years have ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 people throughout the day.

"It's a big crowd every year," Birkeland said. "If it doesn't rain, it will be a wonderful festival."

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