Art festival helps community heal

Thousands of people are attending the Driftless Area Art Festival in Gays Mills.

Because of recent flooding, the festival almost didn’t happen.

For over a decade, the Driftless Area Art Festival took place in Soldiers Grove.

When its normal spot was destroyed by flooding, festival organizers had less than two weeks to find a new location.

They decided on the Crawford County Fairgrounds and are now donating a portion of their proceeds to help those affected by the flooding.

One of the artists, Toril Fisher, said, “We didn’t know we were going to have the festival. Painting is my opportunity to show people how I see the world or how I would like to see the world.”

“I know there’s a lot of artists, they only do one or two shows a year, so this is a significant impact on them financially if that wasn’t going to happen,” Fisher said.

Fisher also happens to be a farmer from La Farge.

“We lost about 40 percent of our fall crop,” Fisher said.

She’s selling her paintings to help make up for the loss of her crops.

“With the crop loss of our fall seedlings, every sale here helps me, of course, too,” Fisher said.

She’s also donating ten percent of her sales to other flood victims: p eople like fellow La Farge resident Lisa Ashley.

“We have a business right on Main Street in La Farge, Ewetopia Fiber Mill,” Ashley said.

Ashley’s mill was severely damaged by flooding.

“The building’s beautiful. It’s been there for 80 years, has never flooded, and we had a lot of water,” Ashley said.

She’s at the festival to try and temporarily forget about her problems.

“So many paintings, so many landscapes, so many things that remind me of what I love when really, what I’m looking at every day on my drive is sometimes not very beautiful,” Ashley said.

With some good art, food and music, people going through tough times can hopefully find something to be happy about.

“I just think in terms of healingand coming together, this is, everybody needed it, not just the artists,” Fisher said.

Admission to the festival is free, but donations are being requested at the door.

If you would like to attend the Driftless Area Art Festival, you can do so tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.