The Meander Upper Minnesota River Arts Crawl will begin its tenth year on Friday, Oct. 4. That’s 10 years of bringing in tourists from around the area, state and region.
Communities all along the Minnesota River Valley, along with 45 artists from those communities, team up with businesses to create a united experience, allowing hundreds of people to take a self-guided tour through art studios in homes, businesses and workshops, from city to city, to appreciate a variety of cultural, modern and unique art.
Looking back over the years, those involved are looking not only at the economic benefits the event brings, but also the social and community benefit such an event has.
The economic benefit
“For many tourists, it is like coming into a new country,” stated Meander Coordinator Kristi Fernholz of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC), in a press release. “So we decided to create a special “passport” for the event that has become extremely popular with the Meander-touring public,” said Fernholz.
The passports, eventually turned in for a chance at a drawing, help give the UMVRDC a snapshot of the event.
“Every year we collect hundreds of completed passports which we then use to measure the impact of the Meander on the local economy,” Fernholz stated. The information collected by the passports over the past 10 years indicates that the Meander draws tourists from more than12 states. Over the three day course of the weekend it is estimated that each tourist spends and average of $49 at local gas stations, restaurants and hotels. Additionally, it is estimated that more than $90,000 of art is sold over the course of the three day weekend and the exposure from the event helps to generate sales for local artists the whole year round, according to Fernholz.
“This event is a significant quality of life economic engine for our region,” Fernholz added, pointing to the busy main streets over the Meander weekend.