Saturdays in the Park art event starts July 31 in Alexandria
Saturdays in the Park at Big Ole Central Park will be co-sponsored by several members of the Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association.
Big Ole Park will become a little more artistic on Saturdays beginning July 31.
That's because it will be the site of Saturdays in the Park, an arts event that will run each Saturday through the end of September pending approval from the city.
"We're just trying to bring something new to the city, and hopefully we can develop some sustainability," said Sandy Susag, local art enthusiast and one of the organizers of the event.
Saturdays in the Park will be co-sponsored by several members of the Alexandria Downtown Merchants Association.
"Art is a huge part of our community and we want to help (local artists) live and thrive," said Heidi Bergerson of the Scandanavian Gift Shop, one of the co-sponsors. "We're really excited about it."
Katie Girard of Carlson Music, which is providing liability insurance for the event in addition to being a co-sponsor, said it will be "a great thing for people to do in town. It attracts people. … It's a great thing to get the community to all come together."
The first edition of Saturdays in the Park will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 31 with what Susag said will primarily be an art show, although there are tentative plans for some kind of live entertainment to take place then, as well.
Admission to all Saturdays in the Park events will be free.
The events will be held in Big Ole Park between the bathroom area and the trail.
"It's kind of an enclosed space," Susag said. "We can have displays in the semicircle there. It would bring people into the farmers market , also."
"There will be a variety of different artists that will be there," said Mimi Seykora, who is in charge of the artists for the event. "Some artists can make all of (the events), some artists are only going to be able to make one or two. There (will be) anywhere from three or four to as many as 20."
Seykora said there currently are eight artists signed up for July 31, but she is still looking for more. Sign-up for the event is free.
"It's not like a juried show where we're only accepting a certain quality of artist or type of artist. We're really open to any sort of handmade artwork," she said. "Being that it's free, it makes it very affordable for the artist to get in a little show … and it's a great way to show the community that they're here."
Susag said Saturdays in the Park will operate similar to pop-up events.
"You'll never really know who's going to show up," she said. "It'll be kind of a surprise to come and see."
In addition to the art and entertainment, Susag said another component of the event will come in the form of wristbands that will be available for $5 at the Runestone Museum. These wristbands will then be redeemable at local merchants.
"The wristband will entitle the bearer to either discounted merchandise, money off or a percent off depending on the individual merchant," Susag said.
Participating businesses will advertise with signs or sandwich boards, she said.
The wristbands also will hopefully provide some funding to keep the project going, Susag said.
In addition, funds have been applied for through the city, she said.
"Hopefully there will be money for advertising, some signage that we need, and in the event that there will be money at the end of the summer, we can hopefully reimburse some of the musicians that play. At this point we're relying on a tip jar and generosity," Susag said.
Susag and Seykora said events like Saturdays in the Park are important for the community.
"Surveys that have been done recently, and one even in Douglas County … found out that the arts, be it theater, be it music, be it visual arts, probably bring in $1-2 million to this area in revenue," Susag said.
Seykora said Saturdays in the Park also will provide an opportunity to expand fine arts in general in the community.
"We have theater, we have music, we have the symphony, we have all of those things going, which are fabulous and wonderful for our community, but we're lacking in showing the community how many incredibly talented fine artists there are," she said.
In addition to increasing that visibility, these events also make Alexandria a destination for visitors, Susag said.
"It's another fun thing to do," Susag said. "It doesn't cost anything. It costs a little of your time if you're interested in it and enjoy it. Maybe it'll make you want to come back."
Seykora agreed, saying, "Any community that … is not encouraging the growth of their arts is a community that is going to struggle and is going to fall behind."
Area artists who are interested in participating can call Seykora at 320-760-1727.