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Arts and Entertainment

Bemidji is culturally rich and active in improving the quality of life for our community. Bemidji provides a vast array of cultural experiences with an impressive list of arts opportunities for every interest and age, including concerts, theatre, art events, galleries, literary events and workshops. Bemidji is also home to the Sculpture Walk, which has grown to over 40 sculptures and murals throughout downtown Bemidji.

Established in 1982, the Bemidji Community Art Center’s mission is to nurture, exhibit and promote the visual arts. The BCAC is proud to serve as a resource for the artist, art enthusiast, art buyer and the community as a whole.

The BCAC is a non-profit member-supported organization dedicated to encouraging the growth and development of art in our community. The BCAC provides two gallery spaces for displaying national, regional and local artists; solo shows and installations featuring eight new exhibits throughout the year (February through December); and our Spoken Word Series twice a year.

Located in the Historic Carnegie Library Building in downtown Bemidji and on the shores of Lake Bemidji, the BCAC features a Gallery Gift Shop—SHOP 426. They are sponsors of the monthly First Friday Art Walk, the yearly Friends of the Arts Celebration, an annual summer art fair, Art in the Park, their national juried ceramics competition and exhibit, It’s Only Clay.

The Bemidji School District has a long standing reputation of award-winning programs in the performing arts including band, choir and dance show programs, as well as impressive visual arts and theatre talent.

Other art education and performance opportunities are provided through Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, as well as our theater group, Mask & Rose; Paul Bunyan Playhouse, which is Minnesota’s longest running summer stock theater; Bemidji Community Theatre; and Bemidji State University.

Music resounds throughout Bemidji in various forms with the Bemidji Community Band, Bemidji Chorale and Bemidji Symphony Orchestra. Writers groups and coffeehouse poetry readings regularly appear in town and on the campus of BSU. Bemidji is home to many published authors and the Loonfeather Press.

Sculpture Art Walk

The Bemidji Art Walk is made up of sculptures, murals, galleries and kiosk galleries. They are displayed in the beautiful historical downtown Bemidji. We encourage you to walk the streets and discover art on every corner. The sculptures are made by various artists and are on loan to the community for one year. If you find something you like, you can purchase it for yourself or contribute to the purchase of art to become part of the permanent collection. The murals can be seen both indoors and outdoors and show “A Sense of Place and Its People.”

The 2011 Sculpture Walk will be installed in May. After viewing the sculptures, vote on your favorite new sculpture to help determine the “People’s Choice” $1000 winner. Pick up sculpture walk guides at the Tourist Information Center.

Dragon Boat Festival

The annual Dragon Boat Festival draws thousands to the waterfront each year to enjoy one of the fastest growing water sports.

The festival attracts teams from Canada and nearby states, with each Dragon Boat team consisting of 20 paddlers, a steersperson and drummer. The race runs 450–500 meters in length with teams racing every 12 minutes. Over the last five years, the festival has grown from 36 to 70 teams.

In addition to racing, the festival prides itself on the cultural aspects of a Dragon Boat Festival. The heritage of the Festival is evidenced through music, food, kid’s activities and dancing. Friday kicks off the festival with a Parade of Teams and opening ceremony to “Wake the Dragon” with a full day of racing, awards and closing ceremonies on Saturday. Each night the Dragon’s Den features live music and dancing. This festival is a co-sponsored event with the Bemidji Rotary and Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the festival, visit www.bemidjidragonboat.com.

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