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A gathering of artists, in a historic setting: The Phelps Mill Festival

The historic Phelps Mill

The Phelps Mill Festival is a unique annual event that brings artists together to display high quality work across a wide variety of mediums.

Guest performers add to the intrigue of the festival, which takes place in the peaceful setting of historic Phelps Mill County Park.

Traditional and ethnic foods, served by area nonprofit groups, do a fine job of complementing the festive atmosphere.

Happening this weekend, July 13-14, the festival grounds will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

This year’s festival has a new manager, Ken Martin.

Martin has been involved behind the scenes of the festival for 10 years, and doesn’t plan on changing much about it, as he said things have already been running quite smoothly.

He described the event as, “a family-oriented program with plenty of activities for young to old, and many vendors to satisfy the taste of anyone.”

Scheduled activities will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday with a pancake breakfast by the Ottertail Lions Club. At 11:50 a.m., Martin will host the festival introductions, with a welcoming by an Otter Tail County Commissioner.

Comic ventriloquist James Wedgewood will be performing at noon, followed by the Boundary Water Boys, who will take the stage at 1:15 p.m. This group of award-winning artists plays a wide variety of songs with genres ranging from Celtic to bluegrass, and Americana to swing. After the Boundary Water Boys play, James Wedgewood will perform his act again at 2:45 p.m. The Boundary Water Boys will resume playing at 4 p.m.

While the music plays and the laughter roars, there will be more than 165 exhibits of arts and crafts, lots of food, and a children’s activity area on the grounds from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for a nominal fee.

Sunday’s events will begin with another pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Then, at 11 a.m., Pastor Tom Junkert of the First Presbyterian Church of Ashby will start things off with music provided by the Heaven Bound Trio.

Turtle races will be held starting at 11:30 a.m., provided by Jane’s Traveling Turtles, and ending at 1 p.m. Registration is set to begin 30 minutes before the races start.

The 57 Chevy Band will be performing from 12:45-3:45 p.m. The group’s music is a blend of oldies to ‘80s classics.

The Underwood and Dalton Lions will operate a visitor parking lot, comprising 80 acres. Shuttle service will be provided to the festival grounds. Handicapped parking will be available on the grounds of the festival. Both parking and shuttle services will be free.

Visit the Phelps Mill Festival information booth to get a T-shirt. Also, check out the historic Phelps Mill itself.

For more information, contact Ken Martin at or visit

Kiowa Wieser-Matthews, For the Perham Focus

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