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Theater and art at this year’s first Becker Market

The Becker Market opens today from 2 to 5:30 p.m. with new additions including local art displays, live theater and a new location.

The new location in the parking lot at 414 Becker Ave. is more spacious than the street in previous years and will allow for more people from the community to come and share in the market experience.

The Becker Market has seen live music in the past but live theater will be an entirely new experience. Willmar native Nikki Bettcher Erickson and part of the cast for her theater production “The Laramie Project”t will be at the market today mingling with stall owners and shoppers.

A performance of a few PG scenes from the play will start at 5 p.m. followed by an open invitation to see the entire show for free at either 5:30 or 8 p.m. The play is social commentary about a murder-hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming and is R-rated.

Erickson has put a lot of work into community theater. She has directed more than 20 shows at the Barn Theatre in Willmar and the Little Theater in New London. Erickson also does workshops teaching local children the skills needed to become involved in theater.

Alongside live theater, an installation of Rural American Contemporary Art is being set up in the Becker Market today. According to their website: “RACA is for and about artists living in rural areas across the United States.”

Rural art is usually seen as less progressive and more regional than artists working in urban areas but traveling museum founders Lisa Bergh and Andrew Nordin are always trying to put rural art and artists in the spotlight and to make rural art more mainstream.

“We have always been interested in bringing the ideas of public art to our community and offering new ways to consider the institution of art presentation.” said Bergh. “The Traveling Museum is a mobile lab for art and ideas. It functions as both public art and a public space for audience and artists to connect.”

Local arts and performance could be permanent additions to future Becker Markets. “We are trying to find what draws people to this market,” said Willmar Downtown Development Project Director Beverly Dougherty. “Willmar needs something like this Market and we would love to see more people from the community come and share their arts, their food and their music.”