The Meander 2016


Fall looms, and with it the prospect of packing your hotrod up and stuffing it away again for the winter. Ugly scenario, but an unfortunate fact for those of us in the northern tier. So you’ve been thinking about a season wrap-up road trip? Follow along – you might like this.

Every year since 2004, a group of artists and artisans have put together an art studio tour they call “The Meander”. It happens this year for the 13th time, September 30 through October 2. The venue roughly follows the Minnesota River headwaters, all along the byways and back roads of rural western Minnesota. From Ortonville to Granite Falls and points in between, studio and workshop doors are open wide and the artists invite you in to look around, mingle, and learn. On past Meander tours I’ve seen everything from handcrafted furniture to pottery to photography and painting, jewelry making and woodcarving, even old-fashioned iron working in a gas-fired forge. Every time I’ve made the trip I’ve found something new to like. Allow yourself plenty of time to look, and bring your Christmas shopping list. There are things here that you won’t find, literally, anywhere else in the world. While you’re in the neighborhood you could always drop by the Oktoberfest Car Show (as pictured at the top of the page) on Saturday October 1 in Madison MN. Or visit the apple orchards along Big Stone Lake. If our weather pattern is tuned to perfection like so many of those golden fall weekends, you can have yourself one fine road trip.

For more, go to You can fill in details and download maps and info. There’s one caveat, though: be advised that a few of the studio locations, like the very cool “Red Barn” north of Ortonville, are on gravel roads. Cars like mine, makes no difference. But if your ride sports a highly-detailed chrome-plated undercarriage or factory-duplicate grease-pencil marks in all the proper places, plan on some gentle driving and a good cleanup when you get home. That’s one of the perks of driving ‘em. I figure the places you’ll visit are worth collecting some dust. It washes off.

So that’s a wrap on this western Minnesota travelogue. If indeed it sparked some interest, why not get out on the road? Give me a shout if you’re in the neighborhood. And “dig the drive!”

Arts Meander 2011
Outside the “Arv Hus” history museum in Milan, MN.  It’s just up the street from the Milan Arts School, a popular Meander stop.


Woodcarver Darold Bailey works his magic.
Artist displays at “The Red Barn” north of Ortonville.

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