Just try not to buy art this weekend in Minneapolis

Uptown Art Fair
Uptown Art Fair
Marianne Combs | MPR News 2010

Minneapolis will be overrun with artists and art lovers as it hosts not one, not two, but three major art fairs.

Uptown Art Fair, Powderhorn Art Fair and the Loring Park Art Festival all take place this weekend. Altogether, the three fairs will present the work of 674 artists, offering everything from photographs to paintings to clothing, sculpture, jewelry, glassware, pottery, leather goods and furniture.

Why stage all three festivals at the same time? The reason has to do with synergy.

Just as some artists band together to create art crawls in their neighborhoods, having these festivals all on the same weekend makes them more of an event. Buses can shuttle patrons among the fairs. Art lovers get that much more art to choose from, and artists get to enjoy the crossover of shoppers from one fair to the next.

Even though they occur at the same time, the three fairs have different identities and personalities.

Uptown Art Fair is the big gorilla. It boasts that it attracts up to 375,000 people and that it's the second largest event in Minnesota, No. 1 being the State Fair. Artists come from all over the country to sell their work, and the prices tend to be a bit higher than at the other festivals. This is the only one of the three festivals that actually starts Friday, rather than Saturday.

The Powderhorn Art Fair is as much about community engagement as it is about art. There are puppet shows and pottery and weaving demonstrations. There's a community showcase focusing on artists from the neighborhood. Proceeds from the Art Fair help fund park programs such as theater arts, a teen center, a music recording studio and team sports.

The Loring Park Art Festival, close to Walker Art Center, is more laid back, with strolling musicians walking among the more than 140 booths offering the work of visual artists, most of them from Minnesota.