It all begins with the setting. Situated near the banks of the Kickapoo River, the Driftless Area Art Festival flows from the very landscape that inspires its artists. Having begun on the Mississippi River in Ferryville in 2004 before moving to Soldiers Grove, the Art Festival and rivers have become constant companions.
On the grounds you will find local foods and inspired music. One of my favorite stops is Mary’s Berries, an Art Festival mainstay serving up strawberry desserts that take me back to my childhood days of stalking my mother’s kitchen. Then take your treats to the Main State and listen to those soothing strings and soaring lyrics that will lift your spirits.
You will find people circulating in yellow shirts and big smiles; Art Festival volunteers who will greet you, answer your questions, and show you the hospitality that has become the lifeblood of the Driftless Area Art Festival.
And, oh yes, you will find artists. Stop and visit Kay Campbell, a potter and one of the original artists from Ferryville who is able to fashion a bowl or vase out of her affection for the land. Chat with painter Anne Tedeschi, who captures the natural world in her spacious landscapes.
We have a Deb Conlon oil painting in our cabin entitled “Mississippi Meditation” that brings the tranquility of the Mississippi backwaters into our living room. And as I write this, a small wooden vase from woodworker Lawrence Gehl holds my pens.
Each year, the Driftless Area Art Festival gathers 80 artists along the Kickapoo River, mainstays and new artists representing the very best the Driftless area has to offer. Amid the setting, the ambiance, and the artistry, you will find a piece of the Driftless area begging to go home with you.