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Take time to Meander through the Upper Minnesota River Valley this weekend

Organizers promoted the first Meander, Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl in 2004 by pointing to the surprising number and variety of talented artists who choose to live and create their art in the region.

Five years later, the bragging rights have only grown -- and so too have the crowds.

"The Meander has proven that we can attract visitors from the Twin Cities, Sioux Falls and the Fargo-Moorhead area to this region,'' said Dawn Hegland, Prairie Waters Tourism, in a news release announcing the fifth annual Meander.

The fifth annual, self-guided tour of artist studios, galleries and shops will be held from

2 to 6 p.m. Friday;

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Meander has become one of the region's most touted opportunities to see the breadth of talent that exists, as well as enjoy the rural charm of the region itself.

Hegland said a University of Minnesota Tourism Center study found that the Meander attracts many people from outside the region. In fact, the visitors have represented seven different states and three foreign countries.

The average visitor will spend $70 on art purchases, according to the research. It has also shown that those visitors are "very likely'' to return again.

There is very good reason to do so this year.

This year's Meander will feature the works of 45 different artists. They represent a wide variety of creative passions, from the works of Franz Albert Richter -- heavily influenced by his intense study of the region's historic and cultural history -- to those of Carye VanDerPol Mahoney, whose upbringing on a family farm is central to her works.

VanderDerPol Mahoney will be showing her works on the family farm at 4075 110th Avenue N.E., Kerkhoven.

Richter designed this year's Meander poster by featuring a Native American pictograph of a prairie buffalo. Richter will display his works in the Courtyard of Java River in downtown Montevideo.

Along with the opportunity to visit the artists and see their works, the Meander will feature a local foods and music event from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at the former Milan School building. Musicians Jerry Ostensoe, Brad Fernholz, Malena Handeen and The Strollers will entertain, while local cooks will put together a banquet of locally-raised foods. It is sponsored by the Milan Village Arts School.

The Dawson-Boyd Arts Association is sponsoring a concert by Peter Ostrouschko in the Dawson-Boyd Memorial Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Saturday in conjunction with the Meander.

For a look at all of the Meander artists and directions to their locations, visit or pick up a copy of the Meander brochure at businesses located throughout Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties. Signs will be posted throughout the region to direct you to Meander locations.