Thousands of people will fill downtown Northfield Sept. 7 and 8 to commemorate the 1876 defeat of Jesse James and his gang of bank robbers.

Also taking place those two days is the Riverfront Fine Arts Festival, featuring more than 65 local and regional artists from all corners of the art world, including painting, photography, jewelry, mixed media, artisan foods, carving, weaving, glass work and even custom fishing rods.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days along the Cannon River walkway. Fourteen new artists are expected this year.

During the event, artists and craftspersons will sell ceramics, jewelry, paintings, fiber wood and steel. Throughout the weekend, participants will speak about the work they have created over the past year and sell at the festival.

Proceeds benefit the artists and Creating Community Club program, which is designed for young adult artists on the autism spectrum. Those artists will have original artwork for purchase at booths.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, the Guild’s Inspiration Station will be along the river for public use. The station consists of a cart filled with art supplies, materials and ideas.

Northfield Arts Guild Visual Arts Manager Heather Lawrenz said the event “is one of my favorite events of the year” and noted her appreciation for the volunteers. To her, the festival showcases a “great aspect” of the local arts scene.

She said as an artist, the Riverfront Fine Arts Festival is a great economic model for artists and provides an idyllic setting. She is aware of artists who have taken part for more than 20 years.

To Lawrenz, the shop local movement has made people conscious of where they shop and increased their interest in buying items from a place where they can feel a connection with artists. The Riverfront Fine Arts Festival provides them with that chance.

Lawrenz expects the festival to draw people from northern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Returning artists are required to submit to a jury process every year to qualify.

“This ensures a high quality of art and a good balance of media throughout the festival,” Lawrenz said. She noted attendees can interact with professional artists and support emerging artists by attending.

Lawrenz sees the event as a way for artists to sell their work to a wider audience in a way different from an art gallery.

An estimated 33% of exhibiting artists are from Northfield or the surrounding area.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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