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ArtsMinded column: RF should be considered one of "Our Towns"

By Sue Bridwell Beckham

Art's House news: Greeting Card Boutique finished Saturday. However, I'm sure that if you didn't spend all your change at Art on the Kinni — and if you still need greeting cards, some will be in stock when Art's House opens next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As always, Art on the Kinni 2018 was a great success: The weather was absolutely, stunningly perfect—warm but not hot, sunny, but not blinding, dry but not sultry. Andthe crowd: while the numbers are not yet in, my six trips up and down the pathway delivering refreshments to the artists convinced me there were tons of human visitors, our usual share of interesting and friendly pets, no unwelcome dogs and plenty of friendly, cute, smart, children.

The music on both stages was fine, whether you stopped to listen or heard as you strode along the Helen White Pathway. So were the booths of wonderful art, crafts and handmade gifts. While figures are still to come in, the numbers were certainly among the largest and the chances for greeting people we don't see every day better.

A newly released book at Chapter2Booksbrings me to a new question: "Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America" (James and Deborah Fallows, Pantheon Books, 2018) is fine in its way, but it does not include even one Wisconsin town! Now, Milwaukee could be lost in the barrage of fine cities in every state — but two from lightly populated South Dakota and not one Wisconsin town made it! One could mention many charming, successful, beautiful towns in Wisconsin that should have been included, but I would certainly have chosen River Falls for

Many reasons, a few of which are below:

• Location: River Falls is a mere 45 minutes from one of the finest metropolitan areas in the nation with world renowned music (its orchestras—one of them touring Africa last month, and the jazz we can hear in Minneapolis!) The Cities are replete with world class museums, parks and lakes. All that close, but River Falls itself is rich in its own arts: music, galleries, art crawls, and of course, the River Falls Community Arts Base (CAB). All in beautiful farm country—near fine dairy and cheese resources, horseback riding, wild game hunting! A Class A trout stream! Our town is part of the nation's "bread basket."

• Parks: Check out the parks right in the city limits: Glen Park (design influenced by Central Park) with picnic, playground and sports facilities and a swimming pool built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression; hiking trails beside a beautiful river and into the woods; Hoffman Park with its sports facilities and Tri-Angels Park with its emphasis on equipment to meet every child's needs; First National Bank of River Falls Field.

• Falls Theatre features first run films: Last week "Crazy Rich Asians;" two theatres (one very small and very fine), totally up-to-date sound system, intimate adjustable seats, screen is plenty large, costs the same as the more spacious but less technically up-to-date twin in the same "multiplex." "A Nice Family Gathering" opens Friday!

• River Falls' newest gallery and learning institution: Kinnickinni Clayworks' new location: "Adult Pottery with Doug and Jennifer" at 103 N. Main St., River Falls. See the "clay couple's" large new digs; learn more about "doing" pottery at whatever level you are. Classes meet Thursdays and Saturdays. For current class schedule and more info, visit www.kinniclay.com

• Books and magic at Fox Den Used Books: River Falls has its own magical book store. Not only does it sell books and help us find homes for used books of all types, but it's a destination for all things magical. It offers frequent classes in magic and wizardry, handles a full line of Harry Potter Stuff, and offers other good programs such as "Adult Coloring."

• Education: A prime state university, a technical college, experimental K-12 schools as well as a collection of public schools that won't stop.

• Music: In the summer, we have two prime music venues for outdoor music; during the rest of the year, our bars, two local breweries, and some of our eateries provide live professional music and wonderful chances to greet neighbors. During the rest of the year, the University provides us with free professional concerts in its first rate production facilities.

• Art galleries: In addition to Art's House and Global Made here in River Falls, we are close to Orange Dragon in Prescott, Seasons on the St. Croix in Hudson, Hammond Arts Alliance, and The University Gallery.

Indeed, River Falls should be considered one of America's "Our Towns." Since I immigrated from the South decades ago, I've never been bored or out of touch here for a moment!