St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin and Taylors Falls, Minnesota straddle one of the most dramatic features of the beautiful, Wild and Scenic St. Croix River. Home to the National Park Service visitor center and Interstate State Parks in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, this area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. But arts and culture also abound in these sister cities and nearby communities.
The third weekend of Take Me to the River is an ideal time for a day trip or even a weekend getaway if you are coming from Chicago, Des Moines or St. Louis. It is easy to make one of the local bed and breakfasts or hotels your base for exploring.
A great place to start your weekend is at Guillermo Cuellar & Friends: Fall Pottery Sale on the St. Croix Trail. Guillermo’s home and studio sit on a bluff overlooking the St. Croix Valley just north of the Osceola Bridge along Hwy. 95. Each year, Guillermo is joined by fellow potters and artists. This year potters Jim Lorio, Mike Norman, Alana Cuéllar and Oliva Jenson will join Guillermo as will ceramic sculptor Ruth Martin, furniture maker Paul Howe, fiber artist Melanie Ebertz and nature photographer Craig Blacklock. The welcome atmosphere, comfort foods and beautiful views of the St. Croix Valley are a stunning backdrop to the beautiful fine crafts on display.
Heading north, you will find Franconia Sculpture Park. On Saturday, their Art and Artists Celebration, will celebrate the newly installed sculptures and the artists who spent the summer creating them. In addition to larger than life sculptures dotting a picturesque prairie, you will find fun activities, like local glass artist Alan Honn of Alan Honn Glass sho will be providing on site glass blowing demonstrations. Food, drink and music to make this annual event an extraordinary end of the summer party.
Just beyond the Hwy. 8 traffic circle north of Taylors Falls, is Peter Jadoonath Backyard Pottery Sale. Peter moved his studio from St. Paul to Shafer a couple of years ago and now invites his friends to join him at his annual backyard sale. This year you will be able find amazing pottery by Peter, Joe Singewald, Mike Helke, Jason Trebs and Sarah Dudgeon. Don’t be surprised if you see a few chickens checking out the pottery too.
Across the river in Wisconsin, St. Croix Falls has much to offer for art and nature lovers. Stroll along the Gaylord Nelson Riverwalk and enjoy the fall beauty of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. Be sure to see St. Croix Falls Art Bench along the Riverwalk. It is part of the Art Bench Trail, a series of artist and community built benches in towns along the lower St. Croix River.
Take in one of the final performances of “Cinderella” at St. Croix Festival Theatre. This production features talented young actors who perform with the local professional theatre company. In true Festival fashion, it is sure to be a humorous take the classic fairy tale.
You saw the river from the overlook, but you should really take the opportunity to get out on one of the nation’s few Wild and Scenic Rivers with the Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours. Their experienced pilot/guides will take you up close to the famous Dalles of the St. Croix and point out how this area was formed by glaciers.
- Alan Honn Glass (alanhonnglass.com)
- Cinderella at Festival Theatre, Franklin Square Black Box, 125 N. Washington St., St. Croix Falls (On stage Sept. 8-17, Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m., tickets are $13.50 for adults and $8.50 for youth)
- Franconia Art & Artists Celebration, 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer (Sept. 22, 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., $5 for parking)
- Guillermo Cuellar and Friends: Fall Pottery Sale, 1885 263rd St., Shafer (Sept. 21-23, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; free admission)
- Peter Jadoonath Backyard Pottery Sale, 30208 Tern Ave., Shafer (Sept. 21-23, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; free admission)
- St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Visitor Center, 401 N. Hamilton Street, St. Croix Falls (open daily through late October, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
- Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours, 155 South Street, Taylors Falls (Weekend and weekday cruises, excursions vary by day, 80 minute cruises: $18.99 for adults, $12.99 for children; 45 minute cruises: $17.49 for adults, $11.49 for children)