Dean Kjerland Honored at City Council Meeting

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Dean Kjerland was honored at the city council meeting on Tuesday evening for the work he has done to energize the Northfield downtown area.  In their comments recognizing Kjerland’s contributions, Councilors Suzie Nakasian and Betsey Buckheit emphasized the importance of the arts as an economic development engine in the community and congratulated him for his role in fueling that effort,

Kjerland, owner of the gallery Archeopaleo & Art on Water (http://archeopaleo.com/gallery/albums.php ) was instrumental in securing a planning grant in 2009 from the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Fund which facilitated establishment of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter (http://www.riverwalkartsquarter.com/ ) The nonprofit’s mission is to create the Cannon River downtown neighborhood as a destination for events, festivals and an arts market, serving the arts community. The Riverwalk Arts Quarter brought an estimated $120,000 into the local artists’ economy in the first year alone. Planners identified 200 visual artists in the Northfield area and over 100 small, sustainable within 25 miles of Northfield. These assets, along with the downtown river walk and lots of volunteers created Riverwalk Market Fair (http://www.riverwalkmarketfair.org/ ).

The Riverwalk Market Fair attracted about 25,000 visitors to downtown Northfield in its first two seasons, according to Nakasian, Direct sales between artist/farmer/grower/bakers to local and regional patrons have generated nearly a quarter million dollars.  Sixty visual artists have exhibited at least once and the participation continues to increase. In winter the Fair includes monthly indoor farmers market in the Northfield Armory.

Councilor Buckheit noted that the River Arts Quarter has succeeded in demonstrating the viability of the arts as a significant factor in the city’s economy and potential future economic development. On behalf the community she and Nakasian commended Kjerland for his vision, imagination and hard work in collaboration with many citizens toward making Northfield’s downtown alive with creativity.