For many living in the Montevideo community, the area may not seem like a tourism hot­spot.

For many living in the Montevideo community, the area may not seem like a tourism hot­spot. However, the Meander Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl, now in its ninth year, seeks to change that, at least for one weekend.

The Meander Art Crawl is a self-guided tour of area art studios and centers, featuring 45 local artists from the Upper Minnesota River Valley. Not only does local talent bring a crowd, but the opportunity to enjoy local history, culture and landscape — right as fall brightens the trees — has given the event recognition around the state and Midwest.

Economic impact
“We were among the first rural communities to establish this kind of event,” said Audrey Arner, whose watercolors will be on display at Moonstone Farm.

A breakdown sent by the Upper Minnesota Valley Region­al Development Commission (UMVRDC) shows that, in the years since it began, Meander has continued to build momentum.

Some studios reported up to 1,700 visitors in 2011, and surveys showed that the guests visited an average of 10 locations. There was just over a 50 percent increase in Meander attendance in 2011 from 2010. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said they intended to return. Over half of those people came from outside the five-county area, a quarter of whom were from the metro area, and 9 percent of whom were from out of state.

“The Meander Arts Crawl combines art with economic and cultural development in a region seeking residents who are attracted to a place based on quality of life,” said Kristi Fernholz, regional planner with the UMVRDC.

“It’s our biggest weekend,” said Teresa Patton, who has worked many Meanders at Java River, watching as customers stop in to meet or visit Tamara Isfeld, who has had her work on display in Java River every year so far.

Angie Steinbach, Montevideo city representative with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke about the impact Meander has on the community.

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