by Dennis Dalman
Back in all its glory after two phantom years, the Jury Millstream Arts Festival on August 28 was a resounding success in downtown St. Joseph.
After around 40 years, the Millstream Arts Festival has had to be canceled or drastically reduced for the past two years due to COVID-19 concerns. The festival began in the early 1980s on the campus of Collège Saint-Benoît. Later it was moved each fall to Riverside Park, then to Minnesota Street and this time to North College Avenue.
Its date was changed to this time to coincide with the return of students for the school year. This was evident at the festival, as the “Johnnies” of St. John’s University and the “Bennies” of Collège Saint-Benoît were visible all along the avenue, mingling with the crowd.
On an overcast day, people of all ages (and many dogs) strolled along College Avenue North, enjoying and/or buying artwork displayed in 46 tents and stalls lined up in the middle of the street.
And there was a lot to appreciate: textiles, ceramics, pen and ink drawing, jewelry, multimedia creations, acrylic paintings, watercolours, oil paintings, typographic prints, woodwork, photographs, metal sculptures, glassworks , books and their authors – a veritable kaleidoscope of colors, textures, shapes.
Many festival-goers made their way to shops along or near College Avenue for treats like ice cream, pastries, pizza, sandwiches or full meals. The Krewe restaurant staff made sambusas, which sold like hot cakes from an outdoor stand in the music area. Sambousas, very popular among Somalis, are triangular-shaped fried pastries filled with vegetables, spices and often minced meat.
Avon Folk School offered arts activities for children: painting, drawing and a sidewalk for chalk art.
Entertainment was provided by a band named Miss Darling Jane (its female members are students at the College of St. Benedict), Josh Cleveland and Band, Buddy King and Son (a father-son drumming duo), and a dance troupe from the Somali Museum of Minnesota (Minneapolis).
The festival lasted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sponsored this time by Sentry Bank, the festival was made possible by a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, funds provided by the state legislature; support from the Central Community Foundation and the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict; and the leadership and vision of Alicia Peters, festival president and art professor at the College of St. Benedict. Peters received the Minnesota Higher Education Art Teacher of the Year Award for 2001-02.
The many volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the festival also contributed to the success of the festival.