Phelps Mill Festival

Filed in Destinations by on June 1, 2015

Phelps Mill 3

Story & Photos by Heidi Kratzke


Each July the otherwise tranquil Phelps Mill County Park is transformed into a colorful hub of artists, vendors, and visitors of all ages.


The annual Phelps Mill Festival, known for the high quality artists it attracts each year, is the lakes area’s largest art and craft event of the summer. This year’s festival is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 11-12.


Exhibitors are selected for their unique work and their commitment to high- quality craftsmanship. Many travel across the country selling their wares and sharing their passion for the arts. In addition to a full slate of returning artists, there are several new artists scheduled for the 2015 festival.


Phelps Mill 6“There are such nice people here. It is just a very well-organized event,” commented vendor Jed Swegarden at the 2014 festival. Swegarden has been coming to the Phelps Mill Festival as a vendor for eight years with his G.O.C. Rocks business.


G.O.C. Rocks specializes in engraving rocks for both interior and exterior display. The Lake Park business owner says the engraving enterprise has become a family affair, with products ranging from pocket rocks to pet memorials, and necklaces to garden Swegarden, who attends approximately eight festivals a year, says the Phelps Mill event always stands out in his mind because of the excellent volunteers. The numerous food vendors serving up a variety of sweet and salty treats are another perk. “You’ve got to try the pork chop sandwich,” he insists.


Flamingo Glass, the joint venture of Donald “Dennis” Martz, David “Dave” Messenger, and Sally Ott, is another popular vendor at the festival. The Fergus Falls based business offers custom stained glass and restoration.


“We like that it’s an organized and juried festival,” says Messenger. “We get a lot of custom work through the festival. People sign up for our classes as well.”


Phelps Mill 5This year festival attendees will be encouraged to help select the recipient of the People’s Choice Award. After visiting the artists at their booths, people will have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite artist of 2015. Voting starts Saturday morning and ends at 1 p.m. on Sunday.


In addition to enjoying the art and food vendors, children have the option to participate in some activities designed especially for kids. Turtle races, minnow races, a duck pond, and expanded arts and crafts activities are planned for the 2015 event.


Entertainment at the main stage and around the grounds is another big draw at the festival each year. “We received a grant from Lake Region Arts Council to bring in a vocal group called Six Appeal,” reports Phelps Mill Festival Assistant Val Martin. “They provide a wide array of musical entertainment all sung a cappella.”


This activity is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota State Legislative appropriation. Six Appeal will perform on Sunday at noon and 2:45 p.m. Laura Ernst, an aerialist, is also scheduled to perform on Saturday at 1:15 and 4 p.m.


On Sunday, a pastor from Bethlehem Church in Fergus Falls will hold a community service. Afternoon entertainment with 57 Chevy Band will start at 12:45 p.m. There are plenty of scenic spots throughout the festival grounds perfect for taking a break and enjoying some delicious food and refreshments.


A new feature planned for this year’s festival is painting in the park with Art Bar 39. For a $20 fee, people can paint their own original painting of Phelps Mill. No experience is needed. Those who are interested in creating their own painting can come anytime on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Festival hours are Saturday, July 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, July 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children age 12 and under. There is free parking and a shuttle service to the festival grounds. The Phelps Mill Festival is held every year on the second weekend in July.


Phelps Mill County Park is located at 29035 County Highway 45, near Underwood, Minnesota. The county park is home to the Phelps Mill, a flour mill built in the late 1800s by local entrepreneur William E. Thomas. A general store was also established near the mill and is still in operation.



Tags: ,