In April, people in the St. Croix River Valley will be reading "The Tragedy of Arthur" by Minneapolis native Arthur Phillips. The Valley Reads 2013 books selection will challenge readers to figure out what is real, what is true and who assigns value.

Phillips has been acclaimed as "one of the best writers in America" by the Washington Post. As part of Valley Reads, a one book/one community event that brings together the entire St. Croix River Valley, Phillips will be in the region at several events from April 18-20 to share his work, his process and his Shakespearean-style play.

Several events are planned throughout the Valley to encourage discussion, bring together neighbors and, during select events, to experience a scene from a Shakespearean-style play performed by actors from St. Croix Festival Theatre.

The play, taken from "The Tragedy of Arthur," is in development for a full stage production. Phillips lives in New York with his wife and two sons.

"The Tragedy of Arthur" is available at local libraries. Also, Valley Bookseller in Stillwater and Chapter 2 Books in Hudson are offering a 15 percent discount on the Valley Reads title.

For more information, visit or

Here is the schedule of public events:

• 3 p.m. April 18: Author event and scene from "The Tragedy of Arthur" with Phillips and the St. Croix Festival Theatre Actors of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The event will occur in Kleinpell Fine Arts Building, 420 E. Cascade Av., River Falls, Wis. It is free and open to the public, but donations are requested.

• 7 p.m. April 18: Club Book Headline event at Stillwater Public Library, 224 Third St. N., Stillwater, where Phillips will discuss his work and the writing life. It will be immediately followed by a reception hosted by ArtReach St. Croix's Literary Arts Committee, ArtReach St. Croix, 224 Fourth St. N., Stillwater.

• 7:30 p.m. April 19: Author event and scene from "The Tragedy of Arthur" with Phillips and the St. Croix Festival Theatre Actors at the St. Croix Festival Theatre, 210 N. Washington St., St. Croix Falls, Wis. This event is free and open to the public, but donations are requested.

• 10 a.m. April 20: Writer's on Writing: A brunch with the author; $20 for members, $22.50 for non-members, Lake Elmo Inn, 3442 Lake Elmo Av. N., Lake Elmo.

• 7 p.m. April 20: The English Majors Ball, Light appetizers, cash bar, honorary degrees at the door; $10 for members, $12 for non-members, Brine's Third Floor, 219 Main St. S., Stillwater.

marine on St. Croix

Folk legend Schmidt to christen studio

A concert by Claudia Schmidt at 7 p.m. April 13 will mark the grand opening of artist Tom Maakestad's new art studio at 51 Judd St., Marine on St. Croix.

Schmidt will play from her new album, "Bend in the River," a collection of 16 essential tracks from the singer's prolific Red House Records catalog.

This collection of her past catalog is by no means a bookend to her career, but a celebration of her musical journey, where she has been and looks forward to taking both her loyal fans and new listeners.

Tickets are $20 and can be bought by e-mail at or call 651-260-8021 to reserve.


Raise a glass, and raise some funds

The Washington County Historical Society, in partnership with Northern Vineyards Winery, will play host to a wine-tasting fundraiser from 3 to 6 p.m. April 7 at the winery, 223 N. Main St. in Stillwater.

Guests will be invited to sample a wide variety of wines, from red to white and sweet to dry, from Northern Vineyards Winery's collection. Experts will also pair each wine with gourmet cheeses and chocolates and will explain why the matches work.

A silent auction showcasing area businesses also will be held.

Tickets are $20 and will be sold in advance on the historical society's website at and via telephone order at 651-439-5956. The funds raised from this event will be put toward a number of essential Historical Society functions, including artifact care and the planned new Washington County Heritage Center.

Quartets to preview their best works

The annual Friends and Family Event of the Vallee de Croix Chorus will be held at 2 p.m. April 7 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 616 Olive St. W. in Stillwater.

Highlights will be a preview performance of 2013 Region 6 Vallee de Croix competing quartets — 4-Star Collection, Pink Ladies, Sound Tradition and Medallion — as well as the Vallee de Croix Chorus. An added feature this year will be a performance of the Vallee de Croix Alumni Chorus.

Refreshments will be served. A free-will offering will be accepted.


Book sale donations now being accepted

The R.H. Stafford branch of the Washington County Library, 8595 Central Park Place in Woodbury, will hold a sale of used library materials and donated items from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 12-13 and 1-4:30 p.m. April 14. Hardcover books are $2 and paperback books are $1.

Donations to the sale, including books, DVDs and CDs (no textbooks or magazines, please), are now being accepted at the library information desk. Gently used children's materials are especially appreciated.

Funds raised from the sale benefit libraries in Washington County. Call the R.H. Stafford Library with questions at 651-731-1320.

Jim Anderson, Kevin Giles