Fanciful and whimsical creations have long been the main attraction at the Franconia Sculpture Park. On Sept. 22, concerts and family activities will augment the contemporary three-dimensional art during the 16th annual Art and Artists Celebration.
The festive occasion has become one of the biggest events at the 20-acre park, which is just across the line in neighboring Chisago County at Hwy. 8 and St. Croix Trail.
In past years, more than 4,000 people have turned out to take in concerts and demonstrations and to ogle scores of new creations made by artists from throughout the country and mingle with those who made them.
"It's our official yearly reception and celebration of all the artists' work that is taking place this year," said artistic director John Hock. "And there's lots of family stuff to do."
From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m, guests can roam the grounds and scope out treasures such as Clive Murphy's huge billboard framed with neon lights and Minnesota native Aaron Dysart's 20-foot fiber glass tree that will be illuminated at night. Other works among the 40 new additions depict social and political themes, Hock said.
Franconia is known widely for its residency programs, summer classes and symposiums that allow emerging and established artists to sculpt in a rural workspace. Saturday's celebration will allow guests to get in on the action.
From noon to 5 p.m., visitors can watch a Community Collaboration Hot Metal Pour and make a cast sculpture from a sand mold in which they can carve their own design.
Twice during the day, at 1:15 and 4:30 p.m., artists will lead guided tours of the park, where more than 660 artists have made and displayed their works over the years. The rotating collection features about 90 sculptures at any one time, so there is always something new to see, Hock said. Other sculptures have moved on to parks in other parts of the United States, he said.
Roving stilt walkers and magicians will add levity to the day, which also features poetry readings by Edwin Royale and Dale Cox, a program with live frogs and salamanders by naturalist Randy the Frog Guy and performances by the St. Croix Falls Festival Theater.
In between face painting and spin art, some of the area's up-and-coming bands will play. The Eclectic Ensemble leads things off at noon, followed by a giant hula and limbo party with Big Surf at 2 p.m. For teens, the youth band Platypus will jam at 4:45 p.m., while the all-woman rockabilly and garage rock band L'Assassins will take the stage at 6 p.m. The music will wrap up with a performance by 4ontheFloor, the Minneapolis Delta blues band that has put its stomp on songs from the likes of Wilco and Tom Jones.
Everything is free, except parking, which is $5 before 6 p.m. and $10 after. "When you think of paying $18 for a ticket to see a show and maybe $8 for parking, this is such a bargain," Hock said.
Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib