As many in Hudson know, the Spirit of St. Croix is a two-day art festival with approximately 85 to 95 artists attending each year. Since 2008, it has drawn from the majority of the St. Croix Valley, bringing in 8,000 people in 2016. Along with the art, the festival hosts live entertainment, local food vendors, hands-on demonstrations, artist demos and more. (Organizers even offer doggy day care!)
But after 10 years, what makes this program sing? It’s the plethora of artists, street vendors, shop owners and arts advocates downtown Hudson is known for. We chatted with a few of the amazing people behind the event.
visual arts director, Phipps Center for the Arts
Since its inception, Anastasia Shartin has co-planned Spirit of the St. Croix with the help of the Chamber’s Andrea Jorgenson. Working through the Phipps Center for the Arts, Shartin has been involved with the Spirit of St. Croix since it began 10 years ago. Her main responsibility: the artists. “We notify artists, we communicate with them throughout the year, and then we’re there as the primary host for them that weekend,” Shartin says. “We determine where the different artists will set up in the village and facilitate all the logistics.”
Favorite part about the event: “This event is a really great opportunity for the community to interact with and support regional artists. Another thing I really love about it is that it showcases the way artists make a living, so to be able to really create a positive environment for the artist to show themselves in the best light is also one of the things I love about it.”
owner, Seasons on St. Croix
Ruth Misenko has been working with Spirit of St. Croix for several years. “I’m a chamber member, and as part of that, one of the committees that I serve on is the Spirit of St. Croix days, because I want to promote the arts and the community,” Misenko says, noting her primary role is helping plan the event with the planning committee. “Details, sponsorships, logistics, additions,” Misenko says. “I help with the jury process, along with staff and volunteers from the Phipps Center for the Arts.”
Favorite part about the event: “We do attract some lovely artists.
It’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store. There’s a wonderful selection of artwork, and it’s combined with a wonderful community feel.”
Mira Kehoe has been working the Spirit of St. Croix for several years—she’s taken on the role of living statue and has been a wide variety of characters. “I usually create three to four different characters,” Kehoe says. “Some of them come back from year to year, and sometimes I’ll bring in a slightly different one. You just have to keep things fresh,” she says, noting her favorites include playing an earth mother, a Renaissance personality and
Favorite part about the event: “I think my favorite part about doing it, coming back year after year, is that sometimes people say, ‘Oh, we saw you last year,’ or people walking by will say, ‘I think it’s real,’ and someone else will say, ‘No!’ Sometimes you can really fool people.”
Kerri Norman has been making jewelry since 2008 and started her business in 2009. “I took a few classes from somebody in town, and I decided I liked it and just continued on my own,” Norman says. She sells a wide variety of jewelry at the festival, “mostly silver, some gold and bronze,” she says. Popular items include earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets. Norman joined Spirit of St. Croix after hearing the buzz around it, and has participated as an artist for more than six years.
Favorite part about the event: “It’s the atmosphere. It’s nice and relaxing, and the park is very
pleasant. It’s easy to set up.”
Don Mendenhall has been doing photography since he was about 12 years old. “I had a godmother. She owned one of those pocket Kodaks that pulls out, and she would ask me, ‘Don, how do I set the distance and how far is 10 feet, all kinds of things like that,” Mendenhall says. “She was just encouraging the creative side of me. I’ve always had a camera since then.” Mendenhall has participated as an artist in the Spirit of St. Croix for more than eight years, and selling his photographs at the event has been something he’s really enjoyed. “For me, I have people come back, and they say, ‘We just came back here to calm down,’ and that feels right to me,” Mendenhall says. “It feels like I’m communicating what I want to communicate.”
Favorite part about the event: “I think the best thing is really talking about art. Sometimes you’ll have art teachers or people that work with art in some fashion, and it really gets to be a wonderful discussion. It’s good to have that feedback.”