This past weekend The Coffee Hag, a local coffee shop on North Riverfront Drive, hosted an event outside the establishment inviting musicians and artists to share their work in a community setting.
Jenn Melby-Kelley, owner of the Coffee Hag since 2007, shared her inspiration for the event.
“Years ago, The Coffee Hag did something called ‘Standing Artist Street Fair’ and I just kept thinking about it after I bought the Hag. And we came up with this idea for an Old Town Art Fair about 10 to 12 years ago. We weren’t doing stuff like this then, and so decided we wanted to do it and the first year was a smashing success and we’ve been doing it every year since.”
However, this year the event was unique. Considering the threat of COVID-19, the event was downsized. The Coffee Hag employee and music organizer for the event, Kaleb Braunschulz, pointed out the differences in comparison to previous years.
“This year we’re going a little bit smaller on the event because there was uncertainty about whether or not we were going to be having the event this year. So we decided to do something a little smaller, a little more intimate,” Braunschulz stated.
All of the artisans at the event were local, including some Minnesota State University, Mankato alumnus. Angela Korte, who graduated with an art degree and eventually started her own business Love Fuzz Handmade, was one of the many involved with the event.
This year was Korte’s second time selling at the fair. Her involvement started via networking with a previous MNSU classmate.
She expressed her excitement, “I just like being able to meet all sorts of people. It’s always a really good vibe with music and so many different talented artists. A lot of these people are my friends,” said Korte.
Similarly, Braunschulz appreciated the sense of the community. Not only did he and a friend perform some of their music under the band name “Super Bastards,” but he played bass for Ben Scrugg’s in the morning.
Braunschulz has been performing at the Old Town Art Fair since 2014 and shared, “Songwriting has always been a powerful source of self-therapy for me. That might be a little bit of a cliche, but it’s a way for me to get feelings out that I don’t know what to do with or might not even be able to recognize.”
The Old Town Art Fair is an annual event usually scheduled mid-September, and Braunschulz, as well as various other performers and vendors, are looking forward to a full-scale version of the event again soon.