GRAA to celebrate ‘Cinco de Mayo’ at annual Party for the Arts

Great River Arts Association board member, and chili pepper pinata artist, Mary McKiernan from Rice, is pictured in a sea of pinatas in the window gallery at the Great River Arts Center in Little Falls.

The Great River Arts Association (GRAA) is celebrating Cinco de Mayo at the annual Party for the Arts, the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year. The party will take place Saturday, May 5, from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. at the Great River Arts Center in downtown Little Falls. The community is invited to attend and enjoy food, drinks, dance, art and more.

The fiesta will begin at 7 p.m. with Mexican-inspired cuisine from local restaurants including Little Fiesta, The Black and White, Pete and Joy’s, The Waller House Inn and The Old Creamery Restaurant. Beer and wine will be available, sponsored by Coborn’s Liquor and D and D Beer Company.

This year’s art auction will feature original pieces of art work by area artists including Earl Pilloud, Kathy Braud, Denny Meyers and the Little Falls High School Art Club.

“We’re really looking forward to this year’s art auction,” said Executive Director Cynthia French. “We gave 15 local artists an assignment — take a vintage metal and wood folding chair and turn it into a piece of art. We have no idea what we’re going to get back and are looking forward to the different ways the artists will tackle the challenge. We have painters, a wood turner, two metal workers, a basket maker and a multi-media artist. We also gave one of the chairs to the high school art club, and can’t wait to see what they do with it.”

Michelle Miller, assistant director, said, “These art chairs will be on display in the Great River Arts Center window as they are returned by the artists. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of weeks.”

This month’s window display is sponsored by The Waller House Inn and features piñatas made by Arts Center volunteers, staff and members of the community during the March Family Art Day event.

“Making piñatas gave me the opportunity to meet people from the community and learn something new,” said Mary McKiernan. “I especially liked watching the young kids see how their ideas could materialize as they taped and glued pieces to their piñata shells.”

McKiernan, a board member for Great River Arts, was the creator of the dodo bird, octopus and Angry Bird pig piñatas currently on display.

“We had artists ranging in age from 2 to retired participate,” said French. “They learned the basics to making a sculpture, and were able to use skills such as drawing, cutting, gluing and painting in the process.”

Family Art Days are monthly project-centered arts activities for kids and families. The next Family Art Day is being held Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. – 1p.m. There is a suggested donation to help cover costs, but no one is ever turned away. Family Art Days are funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund.

At the Party for the Arts, several of the piñatas will be put to the test, as party-goers will have the chance to bust them open to win prizes such as tickets to see the St. Paul Saints or Great Theatre’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The party will also involve the chance to take advantage of the photo booth area, where attendees can don fake moustaches and sombreros to commemorate their evening and enjoy live dancers, cash raffle and music from local classic rock band “Brother’s Tone.”

“Brother’s Tone” will be playing from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. The band features a lot of talented local artists including Great River Arts Association’s board treasurer and owner of Reality Roasters Coffee, Mark Norgren. Those who want to come to the party for the music, but can’t make it for the food and auction, may come in after 9 p.m. at a reduced ticket rate.

All proceeds from the Party for the Arts benefit the Great River Arts Association and help the organization continue to provide arts opportunities and experiences for the community of Morrison County.

Tickets can be purchased at The Great River Arts Center, Reality Roasters or from any of the members of the Board of Directors. Tickets are available in advance or at the door.

For more information, visit or call the Great River Arts Association at (320) 632-0960.