WASHBURN COUNTY -- Nine years ago, several artistic women from the Chetek and Cameron area, put their ideas together and decided one of the best ways to spend a beautiful fall day was to go for a drive. They combined the drive with a few places that created art along the way, and the Fall Splendor Art Meaner was born.  

Since then, Spooner has taken center stage with ten of the twenty-one stops listed on the brochure. The other eleven stops range through Shell Lake, Cumberland, Sarona, Turtle Lake, Clayton, Dallas, Rice Lake, and Chetek.


Audrey Helfman of the Wandering Dog Emporium in Spooner (133 Walnut Street) will not only have her own collectibles on display but will also be featuring the art of Don Gahr, an artist known for his oil paintings on wood and carved relief paintings on wood. According to Audrey, "Don's work has the simplicity of great folk art, and yet it's sophisticated."

Audrey and her husband came to town from Delaware where she was a university professor, a position that took her overseas where she bought lovely pieces of art to bring home and display.

Sadly, this world-traveler will have her last day in business on the last day of the meander because she and her husband will be moving to their farm seven miles from town to reproduce what they have now and run it as an occasional shop.

Few people outside of Spooner realize that it was she who created two popular brochures for the town. One is a map of all the shops that still sport their original tin ceilings, many dating back as early as 1904. Her second brochure features all eighteen shops in Spooner that have unique home décor, "from rustic to refined."

Audrey has also created the Fairy Shoppe's little displays in thirty-five of Spooner's store windows. Visitors can find the fairy merchant's name on Facebook to locate them all at Shop Spooner. One store even has a fairy elevator. Check it out.


As they were during the last Ladies Night in Spooner last November, both the apartments above the Wandering Dog Emporium and the Purple Pelican Gallery will be open for viewing during the three-day meander.

The Arts in Hand Gallery, (210 Walnut) which has seen many transformations, made it to the main street in 2013. There are over fifty artists that display their ware in this not-for-profit shop that was an offshoot of Wisconsin's Northwest Heritage Passage that began nineteen years ago.

The passage's goal was to list “an adventure in handmade, home-grown, historical offerings of Wisconsin's from the Great River to the Great Lake.”


Beverly Stencel, one of the Heritage founders, now volunteers her time at Arts in Hand, with the Passage books at the ready for sale among the art. A new feature this year, and something that didn't make the brochure, is the fact that there will be artists in the park right next to the Art in Hand Gallery, but only on Saturday.


The Chickadee Hills Farm outside of the downtown area is one stop you don't want to miss. Not only can you see well-established Marsha VanBuskirk's mixed media acrylics and collage art, but you can experience what this new Farm to Table movement is all about. The farm is organic, sustainable, and biodiverse, selling pork and eggs as well as hosting cooking classes by famous chefs.

You have three days this weekend, Friday, Sept 28 from 10a-6p, Saturday, Sept. 29, 10a-5p and Sunday, Sept. 30 from 11a-3p to take in this ever-growing in popularity meander.

Fine crafts, stained glass, copper and sterling jewelry, artisan skincare, oils, acrylics, pottery, woodworking, weaving, quilts, wearable art, photography and sculpture; there will be so much to see and enjoy.

Watch for the yellow Art Meander signs and install your GPS for those out-of-the-way studio finds. Brochures are available at all of the art meander locations, including the Potter's Shed in Shell Lake. There you'll find a complete list of locations, addresses and phone numbers.

For more information go to fallsplendorartmeander.com.  


About the Author

Diane Dryden


Diane is a features writer for DrydenWire.com. She started her fifteen-year career as a features writer for the Washburn County Register and has written for assorted newspapers and national magazines. She has also just released the third novel in her Chicago series of books – Scott Free in Chinatown. You can visit Diane's website at www.dianedryden.com or her facebook page at


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