Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair to celebrate its 40th anniversary

It’s also the Antique and Collectible Fair’s 10th year and the Lone Eagle Auto Show’s 38th year

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

The Little Falls Chamber of Commerce is putting the finishing touches on the 40th annual Arts and Crafts Fair. Chamber President/CEO Deb Boelz said this year will be great.

“We have 650 vendors, from 25 states, coming to town Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8 – 9, which is an increase of about four dozen from last year,” she said. “There are 108 new vendors who have never been part of the Arts and Crafts Fair before.”

The Arts and Crafts Fair will officially open at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, and close at 6 p.m. that day. On Sunday, Sept. 9, the fair opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m.

The Fair covers the historic area of Little Falls from the Chamber of Commerce on the west side to the Morrison County Government Center on Fourth Street Southeast. Booths will be set up in the parks, the streets and the sidewalks.

“Four of the vendors have been with the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair for its entire history,” said Boelz. “They include Judy Swanson from Little Falls whose booth will contain home decor and Christmas ornaments; Lance Hanfler, Baxter, who creates pottery; Bernie Harrison from Willmar who paints on antique items such as saws and coffee pots; and Char Neron from St. Joseph who owns Neron Gallery and sells home decor.”

New this year is the Market Place Fair on West Broadway. An area has been set aside for commercial buy-sell, cash and carry merchandise from well known companies. They include the familiar Tupperware, Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Watkins and Tastefully Simple. There will also be the not-so-familiar 31 Gifts, Pet Hopper, Miche, Vault Denim, My Pillow and more. A total of 34 companies will be featured in the Market Place Fair.

Shopping during the Arts and Crafts Fair expends a lot of calories, so 45 food booths have been strategically situated. Visitors may find snacks or full meals in the Little Pig Market Lot, the Government Center Lawn, on West Broadway, Kidder Street North and the James Ferguson Lot.

“One of the new food items this year is Amaze Enterprise’s Berry Kabobs which contain fresh fruit with chocolate sauce on a stick,” said Boelz. “They also offer a berry pizza and a meat eaters delight which consists of a cheese infused brat, wrapped in more cheese, a hamburger patty and two pieces of bacon. It’s then deep-fried and served on a bun.”

Boelz said another new food vendor is Woody’s Wings which serves chicken wings with a large variety of sauces, deep-fried green beans and pickles and Philly cheese steak poppers.

The directory to the fair, its vendors and food stops has been finalized and is expected to be available Tuesday at the Chamber. They will also be found throughout Little Falls during the fair.

Set up near the Chamber of Commerce on the west side  during the weekend will be the two Farmers Markets which are fixtures in Little Falls. Twenty-five vendors are now preparing to fill their booths with homegrown produce, baked goods, jams and jellies, herbs and plants.

If that wasn’t enough to keep one busy during the weekend after Labor Day, the 10th annual Antiques and Collectible’s Fair will also be held in Le Bourget Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River on the west side of Little Falls. Fifty vendors will be selling their antiques and collectible items during the same hours as the Arts and Crafts Fair. Food vendors, which includes Randall’s Four Cheeks Barbecue Sauce, will also be located in the park.

The Antiques and Collectibles Fair began when the West Side Improvement Association (WSIA) wanted to bring more awareness of the west side of Little Falls to the annual Arts and Craft Fair.

“Many of our vendors, from at least five different states, have been coming for nine years,” said WSIA member Deb Retka. “They tell us it’s the best-run event they attend all year. They all have become good friends.”

Organizers Retka and Helen Rausch said there is sure to be something for everyone at the Antiques and Collectibles Fair. If buyers are looking for that one-of-a-kind accent to their home, or to fill out a personal collection, it’s sure to be at Le Bourget Park Sept. 8 – 9.

The money generated from the event helps with community projects such as the fishing wharf on the Mississippi River or improvements to the west side of Little Falls.

Parking is available on site  or nearby on Paul Larson Memorial Drive.

On Sunday, the 38th annual Lone Eagle Auto Show and Swap Meet will be held at the Morrison County Fairgrounds, east of Little Falls on Hawthorne Road.

Last year, more than 440 cars and trucks were on display, down from previous years’ numbers which reached up to 550 vehicles. There are 34 classes that are voted on and a guaranteed three trophies will be given out in each class.

Two President’s Choice trophies are also awarded, one for a car and another for a motorcycle.

“We also have a People’s Choice Award where spectators vote on their favorite vehicle,” said Wayne Hansmann, the president of the Lone Eagle Auto Club and a charter member.

The club bringing the most cars to the show will receive a trophy and for a past member, a special Jim Gilbertson Award is given in his honor.

“A new rat rod class was added in 2011,” said Karen Hansmann. “Those vehicles could be a Model T, A or something similar. Each rusted body, adorned with trinkets, has a late-model engine installed. They are unique and definitely a conversation piece.”

Another attraction at the Lone Eagle Auto Show is the swap meet and flea market. There, 140 vendors sell parts for old, new and in between vehicles.

Everyone can get in on the act at the Lone Eagle Car Show and Swap Meet. Bring your old, unwanted vehicles and sell them to the highest bidder in the used car corral.

“We have gotten cars from as far away as California,” said Wayne. “Most come from Minnesota, but each year we see vehicles from Canada, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.”

The Lone Eagle Auto Club was formed in 1973, when a group of old car buffs who cruised the Little Falls streets decided it would be a great idea. Wayne has been its president for 12 years.

Shuttle buses will be driven from the Morrison County Fairgrounds, where there is free parking, to downtown Little Falls. They will stop at the Little Falls Fire Hall on First Street Northeast, Fourth Street Southeast and Broadway Avenue and the Chamber of Commerce on the west side of Little Falls. They will run in a loop from 7 a.m. until the last person has returned to their vehicle at the fairgrounds.

As a fundraiser for the Let’s Go Fishing program, pontoon rides will be given across the Mississippi River from Kiwanis Park to Le Bourget Park during the weekend, weather permitting.