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Artspire’s free, two-day festival kicks off Friday in downtown La Crosse

The event connects our diverse community through meaningful arts experiences, including visual, interactive, performing, literary arts and dance.

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It takes a village to put on a free arts festival and that village is ready this weekend for its 9th festival.

Artspire happens Friday and Saturday in the downtown Arts District, outside the Pump House, on the corner of King and Front streets in La Crosse.

Allison Krzych, assistant director for The Pump House, said a community of sponsors, including the La Crosse Arts Board, make sure that Artspire’s music, arts, activities and more, are free to everyone.

Friday night will kick off with GRAMMY Award winner Bill Miller, followed by the Ho-Chunk Singers and Dancers, and national touring Cloud Cult returns to headline. Cloud Cult is originally from Minnesota and features live painters during their musical sets.

There will be lots to do Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with performances throughout the day and The Fine Art Fair and Sale, featuring 45 artist vendors.

Krzych said festival goers can expect “all different types of artists, fiber artists, wood, painters, whether it’s oil or watercolor, lots of jewelry, leather works.”

Some of the artists will even be creating in their booths during the fair.

Saturday also features numerous interactive art projects with Coulee Kidscape, Habitat for Humanity, La Crosse Humane Society, La Crosse Story Telling Festival, UFAH and more.

Krzych said the La Crosse Polytechinic School will be doing a student-run project.

“It is a basically a community paint by numbers,” Krzych said. “So they have this huge canvas and you can come and paint just a little portion of it and then that art is going to be hanging in their school.”

Daytime performances are scheduled to include:

  • Enduring Families Project
  • Hmong Dancers of La Crosse
  • Alex Toast
  • Charlieboy
  • Derek Ramnarace
  • Duniya Drum and Dance
  • I & E Dance Company
  • La Crosse Community Theatre
  • La Crosse Dance Centre
  • YMCA Dance Program

At 2 p.m. Saturday there is also a free workshop with Bill Miller inside the Pump House.

Artspire takes a short intermission after 5 p.m. to set up for Saturday night’s headliner: B2Wins at 7 p.m. The duo features violinist twin brothers, Walter and Wagner Caldas, from the slums of Brazil on a mission to make the world smile through music.

Food Trucks will be on site both days and the beer garden is back with Turtle Stack Brewery, Pearl Street Brewery and Turisimo Winery & Fermentations.

Black Student Leaders will also be selling its Birria Tacos. While I try not to interject personal opinions here, I am obsessed with their tacos, you must try them! Hope ReStores will be there, too, Saturday doing handprint art and manifestation jars.

Krzych noted Artspire isn’t just for locals.

“It brings an amazing amount of people into our community as well. I’ve been contacted from Minneapolis and Madison in Chicago asking us more about this what is there to do?” Krzych said. “So (it) brings people in, introduces them to our community.”

The village can always use more help. For those interested in volunteering for Artspire head to the volunteer page on the website.

Find the full schedule HERE.

Hear more about Artspire, and Allison, on the Around River City Podcast with Ken Cooper:

Tracy has worked at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 2004. She is half of the Z93 Morning Buzz with Brittany and Ballzer and coordinates Z93's charity, Zcare. She writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse and announces for the Mississippi Valley Mayhem Roller Derby team.

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