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Riverfront Art Fair returns

KEYC News Now at 10 Recording
Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 10:08 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -It took a culmination of months of planning from numerous different organizations, but the Riverfront Art Festival is back on the streets of Mankato after a two-year hiatus.

The Festival was formerly called the Old Town Art Festival, but it got a new name after a cease-and-desist letter from the Chicago Old Town Art Festival caused the decade-long event to put on a new label.

The different branding, however, didn’t stop the festival from making a triumphant return.

“It feels great. We have missed this so much. And to have all these people show up. We’re having a blast, musicians are having a blast. The artists are selling products and if you go down Riverfront from here on Washington, there’s other things going on at The Hub food park, The Dork Den is doing some stuff, so you’re going to see a lot of Old Town being represented.” said event founder Jenn Melby-Kelley.

The festival joined forces with the Old Town Association, who put on the Day of the Dead festival in October, along with The Hub and the River Valley Makers to grow the event to a city-wide celebration complete with a full schedule of local musicians and the painting of new art around town.

“This is what i dreamt about a decade ago, you know when we started it. And I wanted this to be an area where people wanted to come. And there’s so many great stores just down the street, so this is a really great opportunity to make it grow and make it bigger. I wanted to bring that feeling of Minneapolis down here, you know, and have a big fair,” Melby-Kelley reflected.

The fair also acted as the first big test for the Riverfront Drive project, which condensed the four lane down to two earlier this month.

It tested its handling of a high traffic event that organizers hope to bring to Mankato more often.

“It feels great to make these events and bring people together and really showcase the businesses that are doing this work and flex our muscles too, it’s great to use our art as like a catalyst to make these things happen,” said Justin Ek of the Old Town Association.

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