The story behind the Austin ArtWorks Festival

Published 6:41 am Saturday, August 3, 2019

Aug. 24 and 25 will mark the 8th annual Austin ArtWorks Festival.

After eight years, many people in Austin know all about the event. Let’s see if we can find a few things you don’t know about the Austin ArtWorks Festival.

Admission to the Austin ArtWorks Festival is free. But did you know that the budget for the two-day celebration of the visual, literary and performing arts is over $100,000? Forty-one percent of the budget comes from individual donations from households and small businesses. Major sponsors are Mayo Clinic Health System Austin and Purchase Award donors Paul and Joanne Worlein with additional support from Bonnie and Tim Rietz, KMSU Radio, Jeff and LeeAnn Ettinger, Austin Utilities, the City of Austin, Hormel Historic Home and Forrest and Karen Dryden. (Find a complete list of donors online at The Austin ArtWorks Festival earns about 30 percent of the budget from fees artists pay to exhibit and ticket sales at the Schindler Celebration concert.

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The Austin ArtWorks Festival takes place over a weekend packed with live music, art for sale, author presentations, art-making demonstrations, family art activities and more. Did you know that the week leading into the festival features thirteen events? In 2019, ArtWorks Week has a special focus on the dramatic arts with Matchbox Childrens Theatre presenting “Yankee Doodle, a Musican Review;” Commonweal Theatre presenting “Stones in His Pockets;” and Summerset Theater presenting a dramatic reading of “Good Morning Miss America” by Phyllis Yes. All these take place at the Paramount Theatre. Find details on this and other ArtWorks Week events online.

The Austin ArtWorks Festival has a reputation for attracting high quality artists. Did you know that artists must apply to exhibit? Each applicant goes through a jury process where professional artists score the applicants on quality, originality and artistic merit. Only those applicants meeting a minimum score are invited to exhibit. In 2019, 78 percent of the exhibitors are winners of art awards.

Most people realize that the Austin ArtWorks Festival involves a lot of artists. Did you know that in 2019, a total of 145 artists will participate? That breaks down to 57 exhibiting artists from 7 states, 3 special exhibitors—including Featured Artist Rory Wakemup, six demonstrating artists, 67 musicans and 12 authors — two are New York Times Bestsellers!

The Austin ArtWorks Festival attracts visitors to Austin. Did you know that the event is advertised to communities within a 100-mile radius of Austin? The promotions budget is $10,000 and that helped attract over 9,000 people to the 2018 ArtWorks Festival and ArtWorks Week activities. 54 percent of attendees say the artwork and artists is their favorite part of the event. Sixty-two percent of downtown businesses surveyed reported “much higher sales than usual” during festival.

The Austin ArtWorks Festival is on your calendar. Did you know that now is the time to purchase your tickets for the Max Weinberg’s Jukebox show on Aug. 24? There is a good chance that the concert will sell out.

Now is also the time to sign up for a volunteer shift. Each volunteer receives a free t shirt for a two-hour shift. Contact Kelsey Ritchie at 1-507-434-0934 for more information. Finally, if you are inviting out-of-town friends and family, now is the time to make lodging reservations. See options at

Thank you to all the volunteers and donors who make the Austin ArtWorks Festival happen. See you at the festival!

ArtWorks Week Events

• Aug. 16-18: “Yankee Doodle, a Musical Review” by Matchbox Childrens Theatre at the Paramount Theatre

• Aug. 17: Nature Art Show and Community Talent Show at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

• Aug 19: Karl Potach’s Tournament and Dinner at the Austin Country Club

• Aug 20: Minnesota Community Sing at Veteran’s Pavilion

• Aug. 20: Open Air Poet’s Open Mic at the Spam Musuem plaza

• Aug. 21: “Stones in His Pocket” presented by Commonweal Theatre at the Paramount Theatre

• Aug. 21: A Tribute to Blair Lawhead at Hormel Historic Home

• Aug. 22: “Good Morning Miss America,” a dramatic reading by Summerset Theatre at the Paramount Theatre

• Aug. 23: Author Chat and Writing Workshop with Curt Brown at Riverland Community College

• Aug. 23: Alley Party behind Dusty’s, live music to be announced

More information is available at