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An Echo Press Editorial: Douglas County fortunate to have vibrant arts scene

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

Art in the Park
Art in the Park is expected to draw more than 10,000 people in its two-day run on July 30-31.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

Douglas County is fortunate to have such a vibrant arts and entertainment scene – and it will once again kick into high gear this spring and summer.

Residents can look forward to plenty of music, art, entertainment, crafts and more, all without having to leave the county or take a hectic trip to the Twin Cities.

Here are just a few of the local activities that are taking place:

The Vikingland Band Festival Parade will march down Broadway on June 26, featuring 18 bands this year.

Viking Speedway has 17 racing dates on this year’s schedule, starting on May 7 and running through a Labor Day doubleheader. It will also host a country music concert in conjunction with KIKV-FM on June 25.

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Copper Trail Brewing Company will hold a “Cool Summer Concert Series,” partnering with COOL-FM, on May 26, June 30 and July 28.

The Saturday Art Market, featuring musical entertainment and artists, a food truck and more, will take place at Big Ole Central Park, starting on May 28 and running through the summer, wrapping up on Sept. 3.

Andria Theatre, West Central Minnesota's foremost live theater and performing arts center, has another great line-up of productions. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened April 21 and has four performances left – April 28-30 and May 1. There’s also the traveling show, The Lion in Winter; Tarzan the Stage Musical on June 22-25 and June 29-July 2; and Disney’s Little Mermaid, Aug. 3-6 and Aug. 10-13.

The Central Lakes Concert Association has an exciting season ahead – Portrait of a Quen (a tribute to Aretha Franklin), Copper Street Brass, Brancy and Dugan, Travis Anderson Trio, Troupe Vertigo and The Everly Set.

The Red Willow Arts Coalition is bringing back its free Summer Concert Series on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn, starting with the May 26 concert featuring the Canyon Cowboys on May 26 (sponsored by the Echo Press, by the way). Thursday concerts will continue through Aug. 25.

Theatre L’Homme Dieu will open its season with the hit musical, Glensheen, a traveling show, playing from June 22-July 2. Other productions: Something Rotten, Tuesday-Sunday, July 12-17; Class of ‘85 on July 26-30; and the cult classic, "Clue: On Stage!" will wrap up the theatrical performances from Aug. 9-19. It will also host a variety of concerts (to be announced soon).

After a two-year absence because of COVID-19, Art in the Park, the major fundraiser for the Andria Theatre, will be back. It will take place at City Park on July 30-31.

There’s a lot going on in other areas of the county as well. The Evansville Arts Coalition, for instance, has already this spring held Open Mic Nights, a ventriloquist act, a one-woman play, a First Friday Night concert, photo club exhibits and more. A Poetry Night is set for April 28. Check out the website, www.evansvilleartcenter.org for more activities.

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We take all these events for granted. The pandemic showed how much our community missed them when they were canceled. The events not only create memorable experiences and continue proud traditions, they define our community

They also pack an economic punch.

In Alexandria, the economic impact of the arts adds up to more than $3.1 million annually, according to a pre-pandemic study by Creative Minnesota and eight other state and local art organizations. This included $1.7 million spent by nonprofit arts organizations, and $1.5 million spent by their 89,624 attendees – which is impressive for an area of Alexandria’s size, the study noted. The direct spending of artists in their communities in Douglas County on things such as art supplies and studio rental, is $2.2 million annually.

Our local arts scene can always use more support. Go see a play. Make a donation. Be a volunteer. With the price of gas being what it is, explore the arts right here, in all the communities that make up Douglas County. You’ll be impressed and inspired.

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