The Bitter Cold of January and Upcoming Events in Spring!

The December Gallery and Creators Market wrapped up. I couldn’t have been happier to see how many artists showed up, most of them local and some from as far as Wichita and Dodge City. I hope that all the items purchased for gifts were thoroughly enjoyed by their recipients. I cannot thank the Artists and Creators who shared their works and allowed us the opportunity to work together. Without them, the market wouldn’t have been possible!

We were really hoping to use the month of January to get caught up on some of the renovations that are still in progress. Unfortunately, it was bitterly cold, and the upgrade we were working towards was upgrading our heating system. It was far too cold to get the work done indoors, and those projects will come together in time.

February brings in some very awesome news! We are so excited to announce that we are now working with Jim’s Formal Wear to be able to rent and sell tuxedos and suits! We are working on ways to provide discounted rates to those in Ottawa County to help make prom season and weddings a little easier and stress-free! Being local and living so close to Astoria will allow us to be able to get fittings and orders at times convenient for you. Not having to drive to Salina, not having to take time out of work/school days, and getting a special local rate are huge benefits.

In additional community news! We can finally move forward with our goals for a community pantry! This week, we are purchasing two used newspaper machines that we will convert into a community pantry for anyone with a need. These are also going to join with another project that we are beginning. We will be working with the Ottawa County Conservation District to turn the small plot of dirt behind Astoria into an urban community green space! We are planning on having a few raised garden beds to be used for pollinator gardening and a few other options. We will work together to use this as an opportunity for classes and workshops to teach kids and adults about conservation and ways to make it work in small spaces. There will be updates and events to come as the weather warms up. If you are interested in participating in this project or would like to contribute, please let us know so we can ensure you are updated!

And November is upon us!

October always comes like a ton of bricks. It is always the busiest month for us. This year, I officiated my first wedding. It was an incredible experience. I loved being there to send two people in love to the beginning of a new chapter of their lives. Every month, on the second Monday of the month, the Ottawa County Arts and Humanities Council has its monthly public meeting here at 7:00 p.m. After that, I was allowed to attend a symposium for all the Arts Councils in the state on October 11th & 12th. It was an incredible experience that will bring more opportunities to Ottawa County. It was enlightening to know how much tourism money the arts bring in. I would love to do more to bring people into the county.

Immediately following the symposium, we began getting the 8th annual Art in the Park event ready on the 14th. If anyone has ever been the head of an event run by a small group of volunteers, you will know that it is an insane amount of running around. On the day of the event, though, everything always comes together. It was a chilly event this year, but it turned out lovely! The Card Collector Corner met as well. This group is so passionate and dedicated to their hobby. They are a super fun bunch! If you are a sports fan, stop in and check it out. 

This month, we have some inspiring events happening. Our first Holiday vendor market will occur on November 11th from 10 am to 3 pm. This was created and organized by Merry’s Boutique. There will be a whole afternoon of snacks and holiday shopping! I am so excited about this event. I hope it’s a fantastic success for all the vendors. There is no better way to support small local businesses than to attend these events. You can get holiday shopping in and not have to leave town. I’m always happy not to add an extra trip to Salina or Concordia. 

The other event we have is a partnership with several nonprofits to provide a Friendsgiving potluck! Smokyhill Equality Coalition, LgbtqKS, and Salt City Pride are coming together to host a potluck dinner for anyone in the community who may not have a family to spend the day with. We plan on an enjoyable day with food, games, music, a hot cocoa bar, and a chance to enjoy the day and not be alone. Everyone deserves a loving space on the holidays, and we are happy to be able to provide one! 

Starting this month, we will seek artists and crafters to create an open gallery and art market for December. If you would like more information, please email or message us! We will kick off the month on December 2nd for a full day of shopping and events in downtown Minneapolis. Astoria will have both the Artist Market and The Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council will have ornament decorating. 

Exciting News!

We have some pretty exciting news. We want to add to our wedding options and ways to help the community. We made the decision to become a retailer for Jim’s Formal Wear. We have the ability to help you rent a tuxedo for any special event. Through us, you will be able to rent or buy your event tuxes and not have to leave town for fittings or pick up and return. Having this as an in-town option, we can help by eliminating shipping fees and ensuring we can keep prices low! We will have more information coming soon in the wedding section of our menu.

Follow-up Artist Reception

This summer has been brutal between the heat and being just being busy. We hosted the first Artist Reception and Fundraiser Preview for the Ottawa County Arts and Humanities Council. The event went amazingly well! I can’t wait to see these remarkable and unique art pieces hung downtown. The Arts Council had the space looking grand, with Art on the walls and a beautiful charcuterie table. The live music really brought it all together. I wish I could really express how joyful it was to see Astoria lit up and filled with people having a good time. Here are some photos from the event.

Artist Reception & Fundraiser Preview

We are so excited to be able to give the Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council a place to host their first Artist Reception & Fundraiser Preview. The Downtown Banner fundraiser is tied into their Annual Art in the Park Event. The Banners are a way to highlight local artists’ work, raise money for the council, and create a visual space for people to enjoy during the month of September. To find out more about the Banner Project, Art in the Park, and The Ottawa County Arts & Humanities Council, visit their Facebook page at the link below.

www.facebook.com/Ottawacountyartsandhumanities

It Takes a Village.

I recently saw a post on Facebook about how we can’t rely on having a village because they don’t exist. It made me sad that this was posted by a young mom and reflected a lot of struggles that new parents, the elderly, the disabled, and many others feel daily. Loneliness is such an epidemic so large other countries have entire divisions to work to combat it. In so many ways, we are more informationally connected than ever before, and it feels like we are more emotionally disconnected than many past generations. What does it take to build the village that we are missing? What does that village even look like? 

Last week I shared the very special things about this community I live in. Things that make it a really nice place to live. Those special things don’t happen by accident they are often by design. One thing I will say is we can still do better. A village is built not just by the people in it taking but by them giving back. We have amazing people that run committees, councils, meetings, planning boards, and volunteers to make it work. There are a fair number of us that are in different organizations and give a lot of time and dedication to these things. Volunteer burnout happens sometimes. To create the village we want, we must show up and give back on top of asking for what we need. This summer, the Minneapolis Rec Commission really worked hard to bring an abundance of activities for kids, and our Markley Grove Park Friends work on bringing community events at the park. Those that volunteer do great things and our communities need people to give back and show up. These activities help to build a village because it takes us out of behind our screens and out of our houses. It puts us directly in contact with the people we live with. We reconnect. It becomes much harder to be divisive when you know that easy words online are to your neighbor. We get to know the people around us, how they are different, and how we are similar. Community is built in bigger events like the many we have here and in so many small ways. The ability to know you can ask for an emergency cup of sugar or the people that will be there for you if you need them. 

Community is not a spectator sport! Show up often! Give as much as you can in ways you can, big and small! Ask questions and be curious about those around you.