Annual art draw: 51st Art in the Park continues Sunday in Bemidji’s Library Park


BEMIDJI—Each year, Bemidji's Art in the Park show brings together an eclectic group of craftspeople. Painters rub elbows with jewelers and photographers post up next to woodworkers as tourists and locals alike browse the offerings.

Now in its 51st year, the weekend art show has become an annual draw for out-of-town visitors. Some even travel to Bemidji specifically to see the 100-plus artists, dozen food vendors and live entertainment, said Watermark Art Center Executive Director Lori Forshee-Donnay.

Watermark and Paul Bunyan Communications host the fair.

"We have people who actually book their vacations around it. They'll call us to find a date so then they can stay at a resort, do the theater, playhouse and then come to Art in the Park," Forshee-Donnay said. "It makes Bemidji kind of a destination weekend during Art in the Park."

Many artists, like Kathy and Frank Melton, from Wisconsin, have been participating in the show for decades. The Meltons make and sell glass beads and jewelry; Kathy creates the beads and Frank forms them into bracelets, necklaces and more.

The couple has been selling jewelry at the show for 20 years, Kathy said. She even makes the beads at the booth for the benefit of curious onlookers.

"We just did art shows, it just happened to be one we chose to come and try and it's been a nice show, so we just keep showing up," Kathy said. "People like to watch the demonstrations, they like to see how beads are made, and hopefully we make a little money at the same time."

Part of the draw for the 4,000-plus attendees is the show's variety, Forshee-Donnay said. Visitors can find and buy nearly every kind of art during the show.

"It's everything from pottery and jewelry...we have fiber artists, there's unusual work," she said. "It's really exciting to see that kind of thing, and you get to meet the artists when you're buying the work, so that's always a nice plus."

Art in the Park continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Library Park in downtown Bemidji.