by TaLeiza Calloway
Even though the Millstream Arts Festival aims to help local artists share their many works, Shelly Leitheiser of St. Cloud likes customers to talk to the creator of the artwork they are buying more. To her, it helps them experience the work better.
“This is great for artists,” Leitheiser said,” because it allows us to sell our work and you get to interact with people (versus) if the art was hanging in a museum.”
Leitheiser has displayed her acrylic and mixed media art at the local festival for more than 10 years. She took a break last year but was glad to make a comeback.
Thousands visited St. Joseph for the 13th annual Millstream Arts festival Sept. 30. The event that usually lines the sides of Minnesota Street has grown so much some artists were also lined up along College Avenue this time. There were more than 50 artists – a lot of them new to the festival. There were also more than 10 food vendors.
One of the new food offerings was homemade lefse, a Norwegian potato-flavored flat bread. St. Joseph resident Tracey Birr was all smiles as festival-goers approached her booth. She has always been a customer during the festival but liked her new role.
“It’s going great,” Birr said. “My expectations were met. I went from selling it individually to this. This is the pinnacle.”
Birr introduced her lefse to her fellow church members last year at Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Joseph. Demand has grown and she is now a new vendor at the St. Joseph Farmers’ Market.
St. Joseph resident Sandi Andreasen came to the festival with her sister, Sue Lemke. The two used to come to the event with their late mother.
“It’s kind of a family tradition,” Andreasen said. “It’s like our mini-Renaissance festival.”
Lemke liked the variety of art at the festival. She was also surprised to see how much the event has grown.
“I like that it supports local artists,” Lemke said. “There’s so much talent here.”
Richard and Angela Nightingale didn’t have too far to walk to get to the festival. They live less than a street away. This was the first time they brought their sons (Jaymes, 8; Aidan, 6; and Sean, 4) to the event. They were all excited about the snow cones.
“I’m liking it,” Angela Nightingale said of her first time there. “There’s a lot of interesting things. Anything that keeps the kids busy is good.”
Busy is a good word to describe the festival atmosphere. In addition to a variety of artwork on display and the last chance for festival food, there was live entertainment, music, children’s games, free trolley rides, street performers and an antique car show.
Beverly and Everett Nathe of St. Stephen liked seeing the vintage cars lined up along Minnesota Street. They own an orange 1968 Mercury Montego (Convertible). This was their first time at the festival.
“It was so nice,” Beverly Nathe said. “I saw a beautiful piece of artwork I would love to have but don’t have room for.”
The couple said they couldn’t believe they’ve lived so close but hadn’t made it to the festival before. They were glad they came.