The Art on the Prairie Festival returns for its 12th year, set to take place in eight historic downtown Perry buildings on Saturday and Sunday, November 12th and 13th, 10am-5pm and 10am-4pm, respectively. The annual art festival – which first took place back in 2010 – has become an annual tradition for the community, drawing thousands of visitors to experience the many activities of the festival, as well as the growing number of opportunities to shop and dine in downtown Perry.
“More than an arts festival” has become a mantra of the organization, as Art on the Prairie has witnessed a rebirth of culture through the arts in this small town set on the prairie. Celebrating art, music, literature, and the joys of small-town living, the festival has grown over the years to now fill eight buildings within three blocks of downtown Perry – Hotel Pattee, Security Bank Building, Perry Public Library, Carnegie Library, Town/Craft Center, Betsy Peterson Designs, La Poste, and new this year for Poetry on the Prairie, Studio on Second – to create a weekend full of visual art displays, live music performances, poetry readings, and youth activities.
“We are so excited to have the Art on the Prairie Festival right around the corner,” Art on the Prairie Board Member Mary Rose Nichols explains. “So much goes on behind the scenes to create this unique event with so many different layers. The visual art is obviously a main feature in each of the historic buildings, but the addition of acoustic music adds to the ambiance. A number of activities are scheduled during the weekend at the Perry Public Library, but we are particularly excited to re-introduce a renewed layer of the festival, and that’s Poetry on the Prairie which will be a mini-festival – in and of itself – at Studio on Second.”
The written and spoken word have been a part of Art on the Prairie for years, but this year Poetry on the Prairie will be featured in its own venue with a full schedule of activities throughout the weekend, including a poetry slam, poetry readings, open mic opportunities for poetry lovers, and workshops for aspiring poets. Poetry on the Prairie will feature 30 Iowa Poets, including Deb Marquart, Iowa State Poet Laureate. The festival weekend will kick-off with a Poetry Slam on Friday night, 5:30-7:30pm, at Gamble Block Brewery, 1203 2nd Street, emceed by Iowa Poetry Association (IPA) Co-Chairs Kelsey Bigelow and Laura Johnson. A complete list of Saturday and Sunday activities can be found at www.iowapoetry.com along with artist bios and registration links.
The juried arts festival will feature 55 visual artists from across Iowa, displaying a variety of works including ceramics, painting, jewelry, photography, fiber and textiles, printmaking, glass, wood, and mixed media. This year’s featured visual artists are Chad Elliott of Lamoni and the 2021 People’s Choice Betty Chamness Trost of Des Moines. Voted as the show favorite in 2021, Betty will be located at the Hotel Pattee, 1112 Willis Avenue, and Chad will be featured in The Cellar of La Poste, 1219 Warford Street. The musical talents of 30 Iowa musicians will fill the historic venues with live acoustic, unplugged music for the two-day festival. Additionally, local artist displays and youth activities will again take place at the Perry Public Library, along with storytimes and performances in the Community Room.
A festival-feature this year will be Girls Rock! Des Moines (GRDSM) performances and a songwriting workshop at the Perry Public Library Community Room on Saturday, 1-3pm. GR!LIVE is a new series from GRDSM that recovers marginalized narratives & the heritage of women in music, reclaims herstories, and recapitulates music genres for a new generation's liberation of expression. This workshop will feature the music genre of Latin Pop, the herstory of Gloria Estefan, and the music of the local artist, Lani, a Colombian-American singer/songwriter and self-taught keyboardist based in Des Moines, Iowa. Participants will engage in hands-on learning with auxiliary percussion, educational handouts, and an opportunity to participate in a songwriting jam session. All ages and experience levels are welcome to join in the fun.
Art on the Prairie is free to the public and facilitated by a dedicated volunteer team, coordinated with a number of community partners. The Art on the Prairie organization wishes to thank all those that have supported the event in any way over the years – from countless volunteer hours to financial support of all sizes. Special thanks to those that have committed significant financial support to make this year’s festival a success, especially Raccoon Valley Bank, Windsor & Patricia Wenz, Barb Wolling, Iowa Poetry Association, Poetry &, Beaverdale Books, Cindi & Shannon Bryan, Carol & Dirk Cavanaugh, Mark & Karen Einck, Elizabeth Garst, Hastings Funeral, Brenda & Brent Halling, Perry Greenhouse & Supply, Alan & Monica Peitz, Progressive Foundry, and Ann Sackett.
A full schedule of activities during the 12th Annual Art on the Prairie Festival as well as detailed information regarding artists, musicians, poets and activities are available at www.ArtonthePrairie.org and the Art on the Prairie Facebook page www.Facebook.com/ArtonthePrairie.