Over the past 20 years, the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour has earned a national reputation for its singular focus, top quality, gorgeous setting and camaraderie. Always held on Mother's Day weekend (maybe as the aesthete's antidote to the fishing opener?), the tour encompasses seven studios on rustic farmsteads and woodsy settings about 60 minutes northeast of the Twin Cities near the St. Croix River. Resident potters have invited 41 friends from 16 states -- Maine to Oregon -- who will be selling earthy stoneware pitchers and platters, delicate porcelain bowls, Asian-inspired jugs, handsome teapots and other tableware. It's pottery only, in forms that range from crusty Japanese-style tea-bowls to gilded ornamentation. This is the event that has inspired copycat tours throughout the region, and it's still the best.