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49th annual Art-a-Fest in Charles City this Saturday

49th annual Art-a-Fest in Charles City this Saturday
Kids enjoy arts and crafts at the 2021 Art-a-Fest in Central Park in Charles City. (Press file photo)
By Bob Steenson,

Art-a-Fest will be held again in Charles City this Saturday, Aug. 20, with a wide variety of artists, musicians, games and food options for people of all ages and interests.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Central Park in downtown Charles City with no admittance charge. Art items and food and beverages will be available for sale.

“This festival fulfills an important role in the community and surrounding areas by supporting and celebrating local artists,” said Ashley Koebrick Schmidt, the committee chair. “Our goal is to make the arts accessible to all members of our community during this one-day, free event!”

The event is a juried art show with cash prizes awarded to artists whose work is judged superior, and attendees can register for drawings for Art-a-Fest bucks to use to purchase artwork.

It includes interactive art activities for children, live performing artists, and food from a variety of local and regional vendors.

Art-a-Fest is a rain or shine event, and will be relocated indoors in the event of severe weather, only, according to information from the event organizers.

The regular Saturday morning farmers market will also be set up in its usual spot along Blunt Street adjacent to the park until noon.


  • 9 a.m – Early sponsor shopping begins; artist judging begins; James Aissen performs 9-11 a.m.
  • 10 a.m. – Art-a-Fest opens.
  • 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Der Polka Prost performs.
  • 12:15 p.m. – Drawing for Art-a-Fest Bucks, announcements.
  • 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Sam Crosser and Melissa Dorenkamp perform.
  • 2:30-4:30 p.m. – Emily Ann Bauer performs.
  • 4 p.m. – Art-A-Fest begins wrapping up.


  • Anna Gilbert – Native Russian artist who expresses her love through painting and one-of-a-kind jewelry.
  • Anne Boerschel – Retired teacher living in Shell Rock, concentrating this year on beading Christmas ornaments in a variety of sizes, and making beaded bead earrings.
  • Annette Olesen – Picked up her paintbrushes after two rounds of cancer in 2019.
  • Ashley Koebrick Schmidt – A fine art oil painter and commissioned artist based in Iowa, her technique employs clean lines and layered texture for intense, vivid color and depth.
  • Barbara Garden – 70-year-old artist who started painting for the first time during the pandemic.
  • Brooke Pfeffer – Focuses on metalsmithing and beadwork to create trendy and wearable designs and creating displays incorporating primitive and vintage items.
  • Bruce W. Litterer – Self-taught award-winning artist from Shell Rock, known for detailed creations depicting rural Iowa farm life and wildlife.
  • Cheryl DeBower – Received oil paints and canvas for Christmas during the pandemic and took up where she had left off painting 50 years ago.
  • Cynthia Zelenak – Currently doing paint pouring and teaching classes at the Floyd Community Center.
  • Darlene Shultz –Creates fused glass jewelry and loves putting colors together.
  • Deb Stockberger – Started with traditional stained glass techniques, now incorporates other applications such as kiln-fired objects, sandblasting, silkscreening and painting, inspired by light and nature.
  • Dennis Helmers – Retired silver shop worker makes jewelry from silver and silver-plated cutlery, creating keepsakes from family silverware.
  • Dennis Petersen – Uses wood to contrast the patterns and rhythms found in nature with the finished surface of the manufactured world.
  • Don Semelhack – Charles City native became interested in barn quilt designs a couple of years ago then evolved into reclaimed wood pieces and occasionally painting.
  • James Kerns – Works primarily in stonewares and porcelains, with much of the work functional, but some being decorative and sculptural.
  • Janiece Bergland – A signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society, painting all subjects including landscapes, figures and portraits.
  • Judy Sebern Beachy – Charles City native who has evolved from realistic subjects to abstract acrylics to watercolors.
  • Kathi Fehr – Fiber artist from Clutier who specializes in handmade woven rugs, made with up-cycled materials.
  • Kevin Gade – Veteran woodworker whose craft includes boxes, bowls, cutting boards, humidors and jewelry boxes.
  • Kurt Wedeking – Makes one-of-a-kind functional woodworking art from scratch.
  • Lynda J. Vik – Self-taught artist who works in acrylic paints, and some watercolor, exploring the world with a fantasy flair.
  • Madalyn Vorrie – Ceramic sculptures consist of abstracted forms and alien flowers featuring her imaginative take on nature and the unknown.
  • Malayne Meyer – Charles City native who loves putting things together in a neat way to create something fun, creating handmade cards.
  • Matthew Guay – Specializes in taking landscape photos around Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest, focusing on the wide open plains, hills and mountains.
  • Meredith Hamm – Art educator and artist who grew up on the shoreline of Connecticut, she currently teaches elementary and middle school in Charles City, and does a variety of art club and art classes at the Charles City Arts Center.
  • Michelle Juhl – Repurposes various materials into bags, aprons, stuffed animals, dishtowels, pillows, mittens or anything that catches her interest.
  • Mickey Johnson – Produces “bead fountains” incorporating glass, copper and steel to enhance sunlight and movement in the breeze; also creates gemstone and art glass jewelry.
  • Mike Hassig – Works in paper collage using cut or torn pieces of paper from discarded color plate books, then deconstructs original images into an abstract designs.
  • Ruben Ruiz – Works in porcelain or stoneware clay to wheel-throw pieces then alter them, add texture and/or create sculptural details.
  • Stephen Schiller – Self-taught fine arts photographer who loves it when a photo captures someone’s attention and draw them into the moment.
  • Tracy Ingham – Master oil painter recognized for photo-realistic portraits and military subjects in oil, now transitioned to creating with acrylics in a contemporary western style.
  • Yoshiko Johnson – Potter who creates functional items such as cups, tea pots, vases and bowls and enjoys using items created.
  • Outreach organization – With a mission to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to children and those in need at home and abroad, the program is supported in part by sales of African arts and handcrafts.


  • Emily Ann Bauer – Board-certified music therapist and performer from Omaha whose husband is from Charles City.
  • James Aissen – Sixteen-year-old multi-instrument musician from Clarksville who composes his own songs and has released three albums, with interests in classical, jazz, contemporary, pop, classic rock, progressive music and hymns.
  • Der Polka Prost – Plays traditional upbeat polkas, waltzes, schottisches, two-steps and more for special events and at nursing homes, assisted living areas and senior centers in and around Charles City.
  • Sam Crosser – A resident of Osage from a family of musicians dating back four generations, currently playing with local bands Nova Jazz, Island Fever and 5 Friends.
  • Melissa Dorenkamp – Charles City native who grew up singing in choirs, doing musical theater and singing with her dad on the porch, she currently helps lead worship at Zion Lutheran Church in Clear Lake.


  • Today’s Your Day – Offering balloon creations and spin art.


  • Island Grill – Flavors of the Philippines including rice noodles, chicken and pork barbecue, egg rolls and spring rolls.
  • Pat’s BBQ and Randy’s Candy – Texas-style barbecue with a Chicago flavor, serving chicken, ribs, pulled-pork sandwiches, coleslaw and potato salad.
  • Barbara & Maria’s Tacos – Serving tacos, burritos, tortas, walking tacos, quesadillas, corn in the cup, salads and loaded fries.
  • The Cookie Dough’tique – Edible cookie dough on the go!
  • Tin Cup Bus Stop – Serving coffee, cold brew, lattes, fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea and Arnold Palmers.
  • Cedar Valley Express – Traditional American food, including burgers, tenders, cheese curds and fries.


  • Jumbo yard games – Giant tumbling blocks (Jenga), giant checkers and giant chess; free for everyone, but people are asked to take turns and share.
  • Sidewalk Chalk – Available in a variety of colors to decorate the sidewalk or steps around the Arts Center and/or park.
  • Spin Art – Create your own masterpiece on the spin art machine while supplies last.
  • Marble Painting – Drop and roll paint-soaked marbles across a card to create abstract patterns, then take your design home with you.
  • Rock Painting – Pick out a few of your favorite shaped rocks and get creative.


David Schmitz has led the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 2020. A Charles City native, he has been executive director of the Dubuque Museum of Art, co-curated a number of solo and group exhibitions and jurored a number of local and regional exhibits and arts festivals, held positions with the Des Moines Art Center and the Chicago Artists’ Coalition and served as a reviewer for the National YoungArts Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.  He currently serves on the board of the Friends of the Gallery of Art at the University of Northern Iowa, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with a concentration in drawing and painting.


Vote for your favorite design for the 2023 Art-a-Fest, with the winning design announced immediately after Art-a-Fest and the winner receiving $150 in prize money, plus a T-shirt featuring the new design!


Sponsors for Art-A-Fest are First Citizens Bank, Hanson Family Foundation, First Security Bank, Walk-Prichard-Barasel and Murphy PC, Feller and Associates, The Optometric Center, Hammond Riverfront Homes, The Insurance Office Inc., Subway, Prologue Books and Wine, Colwell Tap and Grill, Schueth Ace Hardware, 218 Fuel Express, Ann Schneckloth, Ron and Toni Noah, Bill and Barbara Wohlers, Diane Kayle, Jeannine Garman, George and Vonda Cummins, Paul and Anna Burnham, Mark and Julie Sindlinger, Cheryl Erb, Myrna Schlader, Wanda Sprout, David and Dawn Schweizer, Dean and Marcie Andrews, Phyllis Meyer, Richard and Cynthia Stone and anonymous sponsors.

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