Uptown hopes return of art fair is return to normalcy as well

Near the corner of Lake and Hennepin, one of the biggest art fairs in the state is back for the first time since 2019.

"I think it's great. I hope everything goes ok for the entire weekend, and they have decent weather, and a lot of people come down to watch and see," said fairgoer Mary Ross of Champlin.

The Uptown Art Fair was canceled for the last two years because of the pandemic and the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Winston Smith in an Uptown parking ramp.

This year, organizers have added 24-hour security and extra patrols from Minneapolis Police along the roughly 1-mile walk filled with about 300 artists to give fairgoers some peace of mind.

"We're ecstatic we are back and able to be in this environment and have people here," said Uptown Association Board Member Natasha Greiling.

But the art fair returns to a much different Uptown than before the pandemic. Many businesses closed or moved because of safety concerns or the economic downturn. Now, the rooftop patio at Arts and Rec is one of a half dozen new businesses that have opened in Uptown over the last six months or so.

Business owners believe the new Seven Points development at the old Calhoun Square and the Uptown Theater being turned into a 2500 seat music venue expected to open early next year, will bring people back to the neighborhood.

"When I moved here, Uptown was a lively area where everyone wanted to go, and everyone wanted to be in. We hope this is part of the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Uptown and bringing some life back to here," said Arts and Rec Uptown General Manager Andrew Avila.

Vendors believe the return of the art fair is a great way to start.

"I think it will bounce back for sure. It will just take some time," said Garrett Faust of Uptown Woodworks.

More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the Uptown Art Fair, which runs through Sunday.