Place: Powderhorn Festival of the Arts

If you've spent any significant portion of your life living in Uptown, you've probably come to dread and avoid the Uptown Art Fair. For one weekend in August, crafts galore and lots o' folk from places you can't find on the Minnesota map descend upon your home. Oh, and they're not too thrilled about seeing you walk around holding hands with your girlfriend either.

Nearly 10 years ago, a handful of local artists, upset that fair organizers had decided to court national artists rather than local and regional ones, broke off and formed the Powderhorn Festival of the Arts, which has run in Powderhorn Park (15th Avenue S. and E. 35th Street, for you out-of-town types) the same weekend as the Uptown Behemoth for the last seven years. On Saturday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 170 local and regional artists will play David to Uptown's Goliath.

Did we mention the theme this year is pink flamingos? The island will be surrounded with 100 of the critters, and artists have been encouraged to work a "flamingo theme" into their booths. Can't beat that for camp, and our little plastic friends have always been a bit of a queer staple.

Pat Parnow is one of the six committee members that put in oodles of volunteer hours to make this happen. "It's just so pleasant in the park. It's totally different...much more relaxed," says Parnow. "The set-up (of booths) is easier, the hours are much nicer." Queer friendly too, with Parnow, a photographer, and her partner, a dried floral arranger, making up a third of the planning committee. Though Uptown has its share (some might say more than its share) of queers, Powderhorn Park is definitely known as a gay-friendly place to live, and the locals turn out in droves for this festival.

Committed to diversity, the festival is also committed to homegrown talent. Artists are drawn "really, just from the five-state area," says Parnow, giving the fair a regional flavor.

Why slog through nightmare parking, crowded streets, and the straight people showing up at Wyrd? Hustle yourself down to Powderhorn, where you can stroll through a park and see some art you might actually be able to afford. Bring your girlfriend.

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