Advice from Stone Arch Bridge Festival

June 2022

An artist talks to attendees during last year’s Stone Arch Bridge Festival, in Minneapolis.  Photo courtesy of Jenna Klein

Sara Collins is the director of the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, which is one of the largest festivals in the Twin Cities. She is sharing some of the lessons she has learned through the years producing this show. 

She said the three most important things that have improved Stone Arch Bridge Festival were to: 

  1. Put artists first. 
  2. Pursue and invite new audiences to attend the festival. 
  3. Keep the festival crew happy so they return to help every year. 
People react to artwork at the 2021 Stone Arch Bridge Festival, held on Father’s Day weekend, in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Jenna Klein 

When asked about the most common mistake a promoter might make, she said it is “forgetting to keep their festival fresh.” Her advice for overcoming this is to avoid falling into the idea of “that’s the way we do it.” 

Something learned at the 2021 festival that helped improve this year’s event was to “ask artists more questions,” Collins said. 

In fact, the collaboration between the artists and festival staff was her biggest takeaway from last year’s event. The Stone Arch Bridge Festival had a new location in 2021, so there was a lot of communication with the artists about the layout change. 

The event moved to the west side of the Mississippi River last year to meet COVID-19 mandates, as well as due to construction. She described the footprint as almost a mile long and as being lovely and charming. It was a hit last year with both artists and attendees, Collins said. 

Many artists told Collins it was their best festival ever.  

Implementing that change in location ended up being the thing that made the biggest difference to the festival. For the second consecutive year, the festival was on the west side of the river when it took place.

The Stone Arch Bridge Festival was held June 18 and 19 — on Father’s Day weekend as it always is. Collins is also the promoter for Art in Bayfront Park. This year’s festival in Duluth, Minnesota, is set for Aug. 20-21.