Fun by the Falls
St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin and Taylors Falls, Minnesota straddle one of the most dramatic sections 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 last weekend in September is an ideal time for a day trip or a weekend getaway. 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 River just north of the Osceola Bridge along Hwy. 95 in Minnesota.
Each year, Guillermo is joined by fellow potters and artists. This year potters Jim Lorio, Mike Norman, Alana Cuéllar, Andrea Leila Denecke, Doug Hanson and Oliva Jenson will join Guillermo as will furniture maker Paul Howe and fiber arts by ArtAndes and Diane Gamm. The welcome atmosphere, comfort foods and beautiful views of the St. Croix Valley are a stunning backdrop to the fine art on display.
Heading north, you will find Franconia Sculpture Park. On Saturday, their 23rd Annual 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 for kids and adults alike, food, drink and music that make this annual event an extraordinary end of the summer party.
Just beyond the Hwy. 8 traffic circle north of Franconia 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, Ani Kasten, Ross Nordquist and Sarah Dudgeon. Don’t be surprised if you see a few chickens checking out the pottery too.
You can definitely see the river from the overlook by the National Park Service Visitor Center or even cross over it via the walkways on the Hwy. 8 bridge, but you should really take the opportunity to get out on one of the nation’s first National Scenic Riverways. The best way to do that is 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.
Over is St. Croix Falls, stop by Marchese Design Studios Fall Gallery Adventure Tour. Husband and wife artists, the Marchese’s studio is “down by the river” just north of St. Croix Falls’ main drag. You will find a wide range of sculpture, photography, graphite drawings, paintings and more.
- 23rd Annual Art & Artists Celebration, Franconia Sculpture Park, 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer (Saturday, September 28, 12-6pm; $5 for parking)
- Guillermo Cuellar and Friends: Fall Sale on the St. Croix Trail, 1885 263rd St., Shafer (September 27-29, 10am-5pm; free admission)
- Marchese Design Studios, 813 Hamilton Street North, St. Croix Falls, WI (Friday, September 27 – 1-8pm, Saturday, September 28 – 10am-5pm, and Sunday, September 29 – 10am-4pm; free admission)
- Peter Jadoonath Backyard Pottery Sale, 30208 Tern Ave., Shafer (September 27-29, 10am-5pm; free admission)
- 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)