Austin Living Magazine • September-October 2019

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Tour of trees Anyone who is fairly acquainted with me will know that I’m not a fan of summer. I know, I know, it completely flies in the face of what most normal and sane people prefer. Long days under the sun, late nights around the fire, slow walks on dew-dipped mornings. But none of that is for me. Never has been. Usually my ranking goes as such: winter, fall, spring, summer. The heat and humidity are things I don’t cope with easily, which accounts for a large amount of my disdain for the season with the rest being filled in by mosquitos and ticks. It’s why I’m excited for this time of year. You’ll pick up this edition of the magazine toward the end of August when summer still holds sway, but just around the corner is fall and just down the street is winter. But while I will have to wait a bit for winter, I can look forward to fall. We live in a charmed area. Just to the east is Bluff Country. It’s one of Minnesota’s brightest palettes as leaves begin to turn, painting the landscape in auau tumn’s hues. It’s something we feature in this issue’s Travel section. The turning of the leaves is the perfect excuse for a seasonal road trip, whether it’s just next Eric Johnson, door in Lanesboro or out into the state as a whole. Austin Living We genuinely hope that our story will be a guide to a Editor weekend of leafing fun. Our features in this issue, however, take a musical note as we focus on three different stories all centering around music. Austin’s own Lilla Parada has released her first album, while another Austin graduate, Dylan Kaercher, takes his passion for the stage to the fierce world of drag queens. Meanwhile, Healing Rhythms in Rochester, which has opened a branch in Austin, will demonstrate how music is used in therapy.

Along the way Be sure to plan a night out of fine and historic dining by heading up Highway 218 to Lansing Corners. Get a taste in our Area Eats section and be sure to check out our NEW sections: Nature Notes and Austin ArtWorks Center Featured Artist. These short stories act as small interludes when you need to simply pass the time.

Enjoy the convenience of home delivery! Sign up for a one-year subscription at the special rate of only $17.99 to receive 6 issues of Austin Living magazine mailed directly to your door!

Call 507-434-2220 to get your subscription started today! Austin Daily Herald ~ 310 2nd Street NE, Austin, MN 55912 2 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

PUBLISHER Jana Norman EDITORIAL Editor Eric Johnson Contributing Writers Rocky Hulne Eric Johnson Deb Nicklay Michael Stoll Hannah Yang Photographer Eric Johnson ART Art Director Colby Hansen Graphic Designers Susan Downey Colby Hansen Eric Johnson SALES & PROMOTION Sales & Marketing Manager Heather Ryks Sales Representatives Heather Biwer Mike Delhanty Brenda Landherr Heather Ryks SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2019 Volume 7, Number 5 EDITORIAL CORRESPONDENCE: Editor, Austin Living 310 2nd Street NE Austin, MN 55912 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced without written permission. For comments, suggestions or story ideas call 507-434-2237. To purchase advertising, call 507-434-2220 © A Minnesota Publishers Inc. publication


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CELEBRATING FREEDOM A look back as Austin celebrated the Fourth of July like no other.


SUMMER OF FUN Readers share their summer vacation photos.

10 NEW LOCATION, SAME HOPE Mower County Relay for Life moves to Main Street.

The Hormel Institute is doing its part to open up future careers for students.

28 A NEW CHAPTER FOR THE OLD MILL One of the area’s destination eateries is going stronger than ever.

33 NATURE NOTES FROM THE DNR Governor brings opening pheasant hunt to Austin.

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS 12 STAR BRIGHT The stars shine over Bad Axe Lake in north central Minnesota early in July.

AREA EATS 14 DINNER AT THE SUPPER CLUB Lansing Corners owner Tammy Jeno brings new life to a Lansing landmark.

THE LIST 18 HOMETOWN PRIDE Games People Play creates keepsakes for walks down memory lane.

HOME & HEARTH 20 AROUND THE TABLE As a new school year comes, consider meal planning.

22 NATURE’S BOUNTY Organic vegetable gardens spread health, community spirit.

25 AUSTIN ARTWORKS CENTER Featured Artist: Shelly Aquino Brandon. 4 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

TRAVEL 52 TOUR OF COLOR Few places in the country can claim the beauty of fall – Minnesota is one of them.

LOOKING BACK 56 A HISTORY OF ART Austin’s Opera House was an early place for performance.


BOOK REVIEW 60 A YEAR OF TRAGEDY Curt Brown relates one year of heartbreak to readers in his book on 1918.


FEATURED 34 BLESSINGS OF MUSIC Healing Rhythms mends patients souls.

40 SHOW TIME Dylan Kaercher has always had a flare for performance. Becoming Roxi is just the next step.

46 SOUNDTRACK Lilla Parada has released her first album, hoping it will be the music people need. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 5

Celebrating freedom




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Take a look back as Austin celebrated the Fourth of July like no other. For another year Freedom Fest gave people a reason to party with fun games and activities topped off with plenty of fireworks.



A go-kart driver waves to the crowds during the Freedom Fest Parade on July 4 in downtown Austin. Austin High School Marching Band students march down Main Street. Runners of the Mini Piggy Mile were determined to cross the finish line before the parade. Austin community members proudly display their cultural heritage during the parade. A member of the River Rats Car Club hands out American flags to children during the parade on July 4.

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Ayla Gullickson, 12, slides down a bouncy slide with her sister, Laykn Kiefer, 2, during Freedom Fest on July 3. Carter Olson of Crystal, Minnesota, takes a pony ride during Freedom Fest at Bandshell Park on July 3. Dancers from the Jane Taylor Academy of Dance perform a dance routine during Freedom Fest at Bandshell Park. The Austin Fire Department drove down Main Street as part of the Freedom Fest Parade on July 4. Pacelli Catholic Schools students march with puppies during the parade. A child peers at the Freedom Fest Parade behind him in downtown Austin. September–October 2019 | Austin Living

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Summer of fun Summer vacations always provide some of the best photos for the year. So many smiling faces, amazing sites to see and wonderful experiences captured through a lens always show off the best of this time of the year. For this issue of Austin Living, we asked our readers to share their summer vacation photos. From Scotland to Walker, Minnesota, we hope you enjoy these photos taken of some great summertime memories.

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1. David and Cheryl Pyburn, Brandon, Bridget, Nicholas and Natalie Fodness, Jacob Foote, Matt, Heather, Shayla and Tristen Aarsvold. Photo taken at Anderson’s Northland Lodge on Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. Submitted by Bridget Pyburn. 2. Photo of a sunny day taken from Agency Bay on Leech Lake, Walker, Minnesota. Submitted by Jamey Helgeson. 3. Selfie of Tom and Shellie Wuertz in the Windy City of Chicago. Submitted by Tom Wuertz. 4. Photo of Chicago from above during a trip by Tom and Shellie Wuertz. Submitted by Tom Wuertz. 5. Photo of our nation’s first president at Mount Rushmore. Submitted by Merry Petersen. 6. Sunset on Lake Superior, Canal Park, Duluth, Minnesota. Submitted by Sara Corwin. 7. A picture of Eilean Donan Castle, on Loch Duich, Scotland. Submitted by Brian Schultz. 8 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

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8. Briella Wempner, Maria Morey, Bailey Dufault, Emma Rosheim, Ava Jovaag, Katie Shin rafting in Costa Rica. Submitted by Lynn Wempner. 9. Briella Wempner took this photo while kayaking at Lake Athapapaskow in Manitoba, Canada. Submitted by Lynn Wempner. 10. Lincoln Shuster (2) visiting the beach at Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. Submitted by Alyssa Shuster. 11. Brian and Amanda Schulz overlooking the Oldman of Storr on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Submitted by Brian Schultz. 12. Nevaeh Corwin at Jay Cooke State Park. Submitted by Sara Corwin. 13. Ryan Schmidt and his daughter Olivia Schmidt enjoying the sandbar on Gull Lake. Submitted by Suzanna Schmidt. 14. Captain Jordyn Grotbo driving the boat on the Gull Lake. Submitted by Suzanne Schmidt. 15. Olivia Schmidt catching fish on Gull Lake. Submitted by Suzanna Schmidt. September–October 2019 | Austin Living |


New location, same hope This year, the annual Mower County Relay for Life saw a change of venue when it moved from the Mower County Fairgrounds to Main Street in the hope of generating new enthusiasm. The relay brought a party atmosphere downtown, but it also was a time of reflection on those who fought and lost the battle against cancer as well as those who fought and won or who are still fighting. It was a night of fun and a night of hope. 1


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People light luminaries during this year’s Mower County Relay for Life on Main Street in Austin. People stop for treats alongside Main Street. Relay for Life Community Development Manager Garrett Stadsvold welcomes people to this year’s event. Nathan Ruhter goes through luminaries before the start of Relay for Life. Supporters joined survivors for a lap. People gather each year to celebrate life and the celebrate hope. Survivors take their lap. People wait for the opening ceremonies to begin. A youngster takes off through the luminaries.

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September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 11


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Star Bright Photo by Eric Johnson The stars shine over Bad Axe Lake in north central Minnesota early in July. If you have a photo you think would be worth sharing, send it to Eric Johnson at Resolution must be 300 DPI and at least 14 inches wide.

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Dinner at the Supper Club

Lansing Corners owner and chef Tammy Jeno plates up some shrimp in Lansing Corners’ kitchen.

Lansing Corners owner Tammy Jeno brings new life to a Lansing landmark BY MICHAEL STOLL • PHOTOS If you have not dined at the Lansing Corners Supper Club, chances are you still know the location. Sitting at the corner of U.S. 218 and 270th Street, the red building is one of the most recognizable and memorable landmarks between Austin and Blooming Prairie. And owner Tammy Jeno hopes to make her dishes some of the most memorable tastes for diners. “I’m the mother of four, so I’ve been cooking for over 20 years,” she said, noting that the recipes are her own. “My mom taught me how to cook. I grew up in California and they have the best food.” Jeno and her husband, Ward, purchased Lansing Corners Supper Club in 2016. Neither had ever owned a restaurant, making it a learning experience. “I’ve dealt with some people who thought they were chefs



and almost ruined me,” Jeno said. “I do most of the work. It sounds selfish of me, but because of some of my past cooks, I’ve taken over the kitchen.” And that message is loud and clear, broadcasted from a mounted sign in the kitchen that reads, “My kitchen, My rules.” But Jeno also has another reason: Many of her recipes for sauces and rubs, all made in house, are secrets that she does not want to disclose. It was these recipes that Jeno had to rely on when coming up with a menu as neither she nor Ward were familiar with the restaurant’s menu under previous owners. “People say the ribs and pulled pork are pretty much the same,” Jeno said. “We kept the haddock because people wanted the haddock, but other than that, I have no clue what it tasted like back then.” September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 15

Lansing Corners owner and chef Tammy Jeno works the grill and stove top.

All have proven to be popular dishes, but one of the biggest draws to Lansing Corners is Jeno’s best seller: prime rib. “I have my own secret rub I put on it,” she said. “I do it fresh everyday that we serve it. I rub it down, put it in the oven at 500 degrees for 45 minutes, then shut it off and let it slowly cook until it’s rare in the middle.” On busy days, Jeno can go through roughly 45 pounds of prime rib, “(Customers) can buy eight ounces or 16 ounces, but they never get that because I always over-portion,” she said. “If they order eight ounces, I usually give them 12. If they get 16, sometimes it goes up to 22. I have a neighbor down the road who always orders a 26 (ouncer).” But while prime rib may be the most popular dish, Lansing Corners also offers rib eye steak, pork chops and burgers. It also has pulled pork and ribs, both of which are prepared in the smoker on the premises. “It’s a big smoker with applewood and charcoal,” Jeno said. “I don’t use gas or anything like that.” While diners have their fair choice of options, Lansing Corners is more than a restaurant. Part of the 13,000 square-foot building serves as an event hall, where events such as weddings, baby showers, reunions and benefits can be held. Jeno also said they host Wednesday night Bingo. Those interested in booking Lansing Corners for an event are encouraged to do so at least two weeks in advance. “Hopefully we have a spot for them, but if not, it’s a good thing for us and bad for them,” Jeno said. “That has happened.” 16 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Jeno has also branched out into catering, which features a different menu, though she is flexible about it. “I have a catering menu, but even if it’s not on the menu and they have a recipe they want me to do, I can cook if for them,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be on the menu.” While Jeno prefers orders be placed two weeks ahead of time for the purposes of ordering food, there is a degree of flexibility as well. “They can actually do it a week ahead of time because I do my food ordering Wednesday,” she said. “If they call me Monday and say they need it by Friday, not a problem.” Like many restaurants in rural locations, Jeno faces challenges with Lansing Corners. “One challenge is figuring out how much food to make,” she said. “I throw away so much food because you think it’s going to be busy one night because it was busy a few weeks prior, and then there’s nobody. Then you have to figure out how many people to have working.” Still, Jeno encourages any and all to come and dine at Lansing Corners. “It’s all homemade, it’s all fresh,” she said. “You get an overabundance of food for excellent prices.”

Lansing Corners Supper Club is located at 27017 US 218 in rural Austin. Hours are 3-9 p.m. (kitchen hours, bar open until slow) Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 3-9 p.m.) Saturday and Sunday. Catering is not limited to business hours. They can be reached at 507-433-7841. For more information visit

First time? If you’ve never been to Lansing Corners Supper Club, Jeno has a few suggestions for first time diners. H SHRIMP The word “shrimp” may be a misnomer as these are not your run-of-the-mill tiny crustaceans, but rather their giant big brothers. Breaded in house in a flavorful batter, it is sure to please shellfish lovers. Don’t forget to get it with a side of Jeno’s house-made cocktail sauce. H PULLED PORK SANDWICH Prepared low and slow for roughly seven hours and served with Jeno’s house-made barbecue sauce, this behemoth of a sandwich does not disappoint. Add some cool coleslaw on top for a classic barbecue combination. H RIBS These smoked pork delicacies are what you hope for in good ribs; fall off the bone tender and satisfyingly flavorful. Coated in Jeno’s secret rub and house-made barbecue sauce, you can’t go wrong. H PRIME RIB Jeno’s bestseller, and for good reason. Large cuts of quality beef covered in Jeno’s secret rub and cooked to a juicy rare, the depth of flavor leaves you wanting more. A little extra au jus doesn’t hurt … I drank a shot of it. I have no regrets. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 17







Odds are that if you’re wearing an Austin Packers t-shirt or a Lyle-Pacelli Athletics long-sleeve, it came from Games People Play. The 36-year-old business has been a go-to place in Austin for all things hometown pride related. Custom designs, embroidery and screen printing, Games People Play can take a customer’s imagination and turn it into a keepsake that would last a lifetime. That’s what drew Corey Anderson, store manager, to work at the shop. After 26 years of working at Games People Play, it’s a safe bet that he enjoys what he does. Creating custom pieces for those who need uniforms, spirit wear or even just a fun event shirt that helps people look back on special memories is something that Anderson and staff take into account. The process of getting started isn’t challenging or tedious at all. Rather, it’s a simple stepby-step process that helps make a finished product. “It’s very simple,” Anderson explained. “They come in and just tell us what they want and what the design needs to say. The artist then creates a couple items to choose from. They see a virtual proof, approve the logo, and then we go into production. I would say it takes up to three days to get a logo created. It’s quick.” Games People Play has created numerous items for that special event or spirit wear to represent school pride such as hoodies, t-shirts, sweatpants and even jerseys. The business doesn’t just have school wear either, as it also sells merchandise like the Eat. Drink. Shop Austin t-shirts that encourage supporting local businesses. Games People 18 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Play has also helped with creating the annual Paint the Town Pink apparel that promotes breast cancer research and fundraising at The Hormel Institute. For the hockey fans, there’s wear for those who want to support the Austin Bruins and rep them at the rink during game time. “I think it’s a fun reward when you make a group t-shirts or whatever to sell in the store, and then go to a game and see it on people,” Anderson said. “When we come to the homecoming game, every shirt the people are wearing is from our store. It’s fun to see different designs that we were a part of designing, and it’s fun to see how things change.” This past school year was a special one for Austin, when teams from Austin and Lyle-Pacelli made deep playoff runs. To remember the profoundness of this achievement, Anderson had commemorative shirts created that he would give to coaches and players for free. “We make this logo and give it to every coach for free,” he said. “It’s always such fun to be a part of it.” These things are more than just a piece of clothing, Anderson explained, because there are memories woven into the very fabric. Many of these items can be handed down or kept as a reminder of a certain event or game. “I think it’s a pride thing,” he said. “They’re proud to wear something in Austin, whether it’s representing a sport or an event. It’s a keepsake they’ll have forever.” For those looking to update their wardrobe for the upcoming school year, don’t miss these items at Games People Play:

AUSTIN PACKER LADIES PENNANT SCUBA HOODIE – $35 This stylish women’s fit sweatshirt comes with linear space dye performance fleece. For added flair, there’s a scuba style hood with black edge cuffs and bottom. Looking for a place to put keys or even your iPod during workouts? Don’t worry, the pouch pocket is the perfect place to hold personal items. For cooler mornings, the raglan sleeve comes with thumbholes. Anderson said that this piece is 100 percent polyester.

AUSTIN PACKER MEN’S PENNANT SHORT-SLEEVE WARM-UP HOODIE – $30 This type of item is essential for athletes wanting to still represent Austin High School. Anderson describes this to be a midweight performance interlock shirt with a brushed interior. The short sleeves and silver mesh-lined hood gives it an extra sporty look with active shape side opening and a matching drawcord.

AUSTIN PACKER LADIES ADIES HOLLOWAY ADVOCATE DVOCATE HOODIE – $40 This is for those who love a good vintage look that’s a ladies’ fit. The 4.1 ounce Shantung heather hoodie is 88 percent polyester and 12 percent cotton blend and has a crossover hood with contrast binding. Anderson said that this hoodie has self-fabric cuffs with thumbholes and contrast color raglan sleeves with striped sleeves and a dropped tail.

LYLE-PACELLI ATHLETICS THLETICS LADIES DISTRICT ISTRICT HOODIE – $35 This snazzy hoodie represents the best of both worlds for LylePacelli Athletics. Anderson describes this sweatshirt to have a 55/45 combed ring spun cotton/poly fleece blend and is thicker. The hoodie comes with a tearaway label and coverstitch details and raw edge details. A split v-neck, 2x2 rib-knit cuffs and hem, along with back neck tape and dyed-to-match drawcords, the proudest Athletics fans can represent their school that’s sure to make other districts green with envy.

LYLEYLE-P LYLE-PACELLI ATHLETICS LADIES BADGER PERFORMANCE HOODIE – $45 For maximum movement, the performance hoodie comes with the Badger sport paneled shoulder and a front pouch pocket with hook and loop closures for a headset opening, perfect for those in need to listen to music during their exercise routine. The hoodie comes with selffabric cuffs and waistband with contrasting shoulder and sleeve panels. Need to know if this is authentic Badger Performance wear? Check out the embroidered Badger logo on the left sleeve. The hoodie is 100 percent heathered polyester and has moisture management fleece fabric on the lower body.

AUSTIN PACKER MEN’S SPORT-TEK HARG POSICHARGE EATHER T-SHIRT HEATHER – $20 A lightweight, 100 percent polyester jersey with PosiCharge technology that is snag-resistant, soft and durable. The shirt also has moisture wicking that is bleed resistant, thanks to the technology. It comes with a removable tag for comfort and set-in sleeves. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 19


Beef Stroganoff and Green Bean Casserole

Around the Table BY JEN HAUGEN, RDN, LD

As new school year arrives, consider meal planning As fall begins to roll in and routines are becoming familiar, many of us wish that meal planning could be easier too. Especially with busy schedules and evening commitments, it can be hard to fit in a family meal. But it’s totally worth it. September is Family Meals Month and if you raise your oven mitt to commit to having one more meal together as a family, you are doing something significant. Here are some tips to making meals happen at home more often: • Check schedules: I use a wall calendar to write down all events for everyone in the family. It’s right by the door so you can quickly scan what’s ahead. It also works great for meal planning because once the events are on the calendar, I can simply add the meals I plan to make for different nights. • Build your weekly theme: Monday’s can be for pasta night, Tuesday for tacos, Wednesday can be for kid’s choice, Thursday can be a chicken dish, and Friday can be homemade pizza night. I use themes quite often as a quick and easy way to drop in meal ideas. 20 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

• Once you have your meals laid out, it’s time to make a master ingredient list for the week. • Before you head to the store, check your panty, fridge and freezer to see what you already have on hand. No need to buy something you already have. • Have a few fall-back recipes in the freezer — that’s why I love putting together freezer meals at the beginning of the school year. It makes it so easy to make a healthy meal even if I ran out of time one night. • Last but not least, after you get home from the grocery store, do a little prep work. If you need to chop lettuce or broccoli, or precook chicken to save you time for the week, do that. It typically takes 30 minutes or less. I can still remember as a child my mom planning her meals in a notebook from week to week. She was so organized and detailed, and she could refer back to the weekly menu as time went on without doubling up her work. That might work for you too. If you are interested in a meal planning workshop to learn how to make 30 minute meals with a cost of less than $12 per recipe, please contact me, I would be happy to help you!

About Jen Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, is a mom on a mission to making everyday cooking easier so you can live your dreams. She’s a local small business owner, author and registered dietitian nutritionist. She owns her own business as a Pampered Chef consultant where she loves teaching how to make cooking fast and easy and healthy. If you would love to gather your friends for a fun evening of cooking together with tools that get the job done quicker, and learn simple cooking tips to make everyday cooking easier, then call Jen to set up your date: 507-438-7109. Want daily tips? Find Jen on Instagram: www.instagram. com/JenHaugenRD and on Facebook: JenHaugenRD And grab her Real Meals, Real Moms Recipe Package by subscribing to her blog:

Beef Stroganoff and Green Bean Casserole Six servings Ingredients

• 8 oz (250 g) white mushrooms • 2 garlic cloves • 2 tbsp (30 mL) flour • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt • 8 oz (250 g) 90% lean ground beef • 6 oz (175 g) fresh green beans • 1½ tsp (7 mL) All-Purpose Dill Mix, divided • 4 oz (125 g) egg noodles (about 2 cups/500 mL) • 1¾ cups (425 mL) low-sodium beef broth • ½ cup (125 mL) French fried onions • ¼ cup (50 mL) panko bread crumbs • ½ cup (125 mL) sour cream


1. Slice the mushrooms with the Quick Slice. Add the mushrooms, garlic pressed with the Garlic Press, flour, and salt to the Rockcrok Everyday Pan or Deep Covered Baker and stir to combine. 2. Add the beef and mix well. Microwave, covered, on HIGH for 7-9 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles halfway through with the Mix ‘N Chop. 3. Meanwhile, trim the green beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces. When the beef is done, add 1 tablespoon (5 mL) of the seasoning, green beans, noodles, and broth. Microwave, covered, on HIGH for 8-10 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked. 4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining seasoning, fried onions, and panko in the Manual Food Processor and process until combined. 5. Add the sour cream to the pan and stir to combine. Let it stand for 3–5 minutes, then top with the onion mixture. Cook’s Tip: You can make this recipe with ground turkey instead of ground beef. You can make this recipe with canned green beans instead of fresh. Recipe source and tools mentioned found on www.

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Nature’s bounty STORY





Organic vegetable gardens spread health, community spirit Scott Roser and his wife, Lyubov Slashcheva, are sitting on the patio of his parents’ acreage in rural Mower County on a classic Minnesota summer day. The day is warm, but not too warm; a few clouds gather, suggesting rain. And that’s just fine. It is a pastoral scene. Trees surround the family acreage and the summer’s rain has colored the landscape a vivid green. Stretching across one corner of the property are four large vegetable gardens — some rows are bursting with produce; others are covered partially with tarps, waiting their turn for planting. It is the home of Scott’s Ole and Lena’s Veggies, a small-scale vegetable operation just north of Rose Creek. Supporting Scott in the operation is Lyubov, a Rochesterbased dentist who works in the gardens during off-hours and on weekends; his parents, Chris and Cathy; as well as friends of the couple. One of them, Tyler Reha-Klenske, has come for a few days to visit with his friends and provide some extra elbow grease in the gardens. The gardens’ yield is sold at three different farmers’ markets — Austin, LeRoy and Rose Creek — or through an increasingly popular Community Supported Agriculture program, offering up boxes of produce to those who purchase a share (which covers 20 weeks of fresh produce) or halfshares (that covers 10 weeks). The boxes are filled, depending on harvest, with a selection of the 24 different types of vegetables grown in his gardens, from tomatoes, onions and radishes, to spring mixes, sweet corn, beets and turnips. Ole and Lena’s Veggies is in the midst of its first growing season and results to date are good, Scott said.

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Scott Roser and Lyubov Slashcheva have taken the jump into organic farming with their operation near Rose Creek.

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Scott and Lyubov have watched 18 neighbors and friends sign up to receive the CSA boxes that often include recipes provided by the couple. “We like to push people to try new things,” such as the lesser-appreciated vegetables, like turnips and kale. “And most people, we have found, are willing to try everything,” he said. “We have felt really supported by our community, our friends and neighbors. It feels good to be sharing healthy foods with them.” Scott, 32, is a pastor by trade and serves in interim capacities when called upon. While he enjoys working with people and preaching, he found he was not as fond of the administrative duties that came with a permanent position. Still, gardening wasn’t what he had first envisioned as an endeavor several years ago. As he speaks of the underpinnings of this venture, he said his love of the soil probably began as a young boy visiting his grandparents’ farm near Lyle. “I loved the idea of growing things, working alongside my grandfather,” he recalled. The name of his vegetable operation is not, as many assume, a play on the infamous “Ole and Lena” jokes. His great-grandparents were Norwegian pioneers of the Lyle area whose first names were, indeed, Ole and Lena Helle. He is proud of that heritage, he said, and honors it with the name. Many years later he found himself drawn to the soil again. While serving a church in Strawberry Point, Iowa, he watched an elderly neighbor work the soil — and learned much from him. Then, he began his own garden. “And I found I really enjoyed it,” he said. His idea of establishing his own organic produce business came after lots of study. He knew he had some advantage in location: his parents’ acreage was the perfect spot for the gardens. Not only did they have the needed space, “this is some of the very best soil in the world,” he said. Scott took a garden marketing class before jumping in and found it was a good move. “Eventually I realized, ‘I can do this,’” he said. The marketing class proved invaluable. “There has to be a balance,” he said, adding that while many vegetables are customer favorites, consideration is also given to those vegetables that are profitable. Salad mixes, for instance, provide the best of both worlds — he’ll have seven harvests of the baby greens over the course of a growing season — and his customers are lining up to enjoy them. Tomatoes, he added, are another profitable and popular item. Compare that with, say, potatoes, whose growing season is long and only yields one harvest. The biggest challenge, he has found, “is time.” He estimated that he spends about 55 hours a week in the operation. “There is always more to do,” he said wryly. He and Lyubov are learning as they go along and are already planning for the 2020 season. The purchase of hoop houses will provide earlier starts for some vegetables and a later growing season for others. He and Lyubov are also interested in studying urban gardening and techniques that 24 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Ole and Lena’s Veggies Ole and Lena’s Veggies can be found at farmers markets in Austin on Mondays, Rose Creek on Tuesdays and LeRoy on Thursdays; call Scott at 507-438-5445 for more information on the Community Supported Agriculture shares, or via email at:

Scott Roser and his wife Lyubov Slashcheva spend as much time as they can in their organic vegetable operation near Rose Creek.

would provide healthy produce in and around urban areas. This adventure is more than just a business, however; Scott has found that working this soil, and sharing its bounty with friends and neighbors, brings great satisfaction. “I also feel as if I am healing the soil,” he said, adding that he adheres to the natural practices of organic farming. “(We’ve found that it’s) a haven for creatures — but that is fine with us. There is enough for everyone. Yesterday, I enjoyed watching a monarch butterfly in the gardens. I like that what we do doesn’t treat the Earth as an object,” but as a partner in nourishing the circle of community.

Austin ArtWorks Center Featured Artist

Shelley Aquino Brandon is mainly a pastel studio painter, inspired by what she observes in the world around her. She draws inspiration from many genres of painting periods, the strongest being the current pastel masters. She is mainly self-taught and her love of pastels goes back to watching street artists Shelley Aquino doing marvelous Brandon celebrity Pastel painter Work at the center: portraits. $1.25-$140 Shelley works to draw all the senses into a piece of work not just a visual image She has won numerous ribbons and awards from various fairs and shows around the country amd was accepted in numerous Richeson Online Exhibits, as well as being published in their hardbound picture show books. She was also a meritorious winner for Crab Feast in the 2012 Pastel 100 and published in the Pastel Journal. Shelley accepts the challenge of commission work on occasion. Two very notable commissions currently hang in the Mayo Health System’s Austin Health Center in Austin (Elements of Austin 1 and 2). She has donated pieces for different causes over the years, most notably are the works done for Saving Our Avian Resources. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 25


Sharing science with students

The Riverland Community College “Be Your Best Summer Academy” toured The Hormel Institute in July 2019. 26 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

The Hormel Institute doing its part to open up future careers for students STORY



Middle School and spend the day in school labs teaching Inspiring young students to see science in a new lab skills and talking about careers in science. and exciting way, and opening doors to future careers in •High School: Scientists spend time with Honors research, medicine, health related fields, is an important Biology students both in the high school labs and at The initiative at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota. Hormel Institute talking about current topics related to Each year, The Hormel Institute’s extensive scientific research. educational outreach reaches children from elementary •SURE Internship: Each year, undergraduate students age to young adults in graduate, doctoral and post-doc are selected to work in the programs. Many faculty Summer Undergraduate members at The Hormel Research Experience (SURE) Institute have created strong program with scientists at The partnerships with local Hormel Institute. Students schools and educators, IMPORTANCE OF work on research projects partnering with them annually to expand their knowledge to enhance their science STEM EDUCATION of basic research as well as curriculum with visits and According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, learn about equipment and presentations. STEM occupations are growing at 17 percent, techniques that generally are The Hormel Institute was while other occupations are growing at 9.8 not available in undergraduate founded with the mission that percent. academic programs. it would not be an isolated •Graduate/PhD: Scientists center of research, sharing STEM degree holders have a higher income at The Hormel Institute information and knowledge even in non-STEM careers. Science, technology, work with current graduate with the world. Faculty, engineering and mathematics workers play a key and PhD students studying researchers and staff actively role in the sustained growth and stability of the in areas of interest to the look for ways to support U.S. economy, and are a critical component to scientist. For example, Dr. education in our community, helping the U.S. win the future. Rebecca Morris is a mentor state and beyond. for graduate and PhD students The Hormel Institute STEM education creates critical thinkers, in University of Minnesota is part of the University of increases science literacy, and enables the next Rochester’s BICB program Minnesota, with all employees generation of innovators. focused on bioinformatics and either faculty or staff of UMN. Innovation leads to new products and processes computational biology. The education initiative that sustain our economy. This innovation and •Post Doc: The Hormel includes: science literacy depends on a solid knowledge Institute regularly provide •Elementary: Each year base in the STEM areas. jobs for post-doctoral 2-3 scientists from The researchers looking Hormel Institute visit local It is clear that most jobs of the future will require for additional training science fairs to speak with a basic understanding of math and science. opportunities. students and award “The Despite these compelling facts, mathematics and The Hormel Institute also Hormel Institute Outstanding science scores on average among U.S. students welcomes many educational Science Research Award” to are lagging behind other developing countries. groups each year to come tour a student at each event. The The Hormel Institute. Past winning students in each groups include area grade category and their families are and high school classes, summer educational programs invited to HI for a tour to see research up close. like Riverland Community College’s Be Your Best Summer •Grade 6: All sixth grade students from Austin Public Academy, and participants in Austin’s Science Fair Schools and Pacelli Catholic Schools visit The Hormel Mentoring Project. Students on these tours learn about The Institute to tour the facility and take part in science Hormel Institute’s research as well as additional learning experiments led by Institute scientists. opportunities and career paths in the sciences. •Grade 7-8: Scientists present to students at Ellis September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 27

A new chapter

Diners look around at the new renovations of the Old Mill during lunch.

28 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

for the Old Mill One of the area’s destination eateries is going stronger than ever

Dave Forland, owner of the Old Mill Restaurant.

BY DEB NICKLAY • PHOTOS In the case of the Old Mill Restaurant, everything new is old again. Well, after a fashion. Owner Dave Forland recently remodeled his Austin eating establishment — and while that renovation included a lot of upgrades, there were also changes that revealed his building’s history for the first time. This mix of a new look in an old building has enhanced not only the eating experience, but intrigues as well. Forland uncovered the building’s original structure in many places that has resulted in an upscale look surrounded by old mill charm. “There was a lot covering up the old beams,” he said, his eyes scanning the expanse of heavy cross beams, traveling this way and that, with a patina that comes only with age. He found that some were shimmed with old receipts from the Ramsey Mill, the first business to occupy this building, built almost 150



years ago. “I’ve always wanted to show the structure.” “We did some light renovations (in the past),” he said. “You just did things as you could do them. But nothing like this.” This renovation took three months, much of it done while still serving customers. The project was motivated by the wants of a younger clientele who no longer care about what a generation ago would call a “supper club” atmosphere. Today’s customers are more likely to show up in jeans, looking for more casual dining. Gone are confining walls that not only covered the old beams, but also segmented the intimate restaurant into too-small spaces; the addition of more high-top tables helps give diners a view of the dam just outside the windows. About 80 can be seated in the main room. “The big deal here was that everyone wanted a window seat, so they could see the dam, the river,” he said. “Now, just about everyone can see the river.” September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 29

The Old Mill has been a premiere eating establishment in Austin for several years.

conquer, he and his wife Ann soon found. What was once only a serving bar has been expanded “I was 25 and no one was going to lend me $300,000” and now allows seating for eight. Bathrooms have been for renovations when he first purchased the building. “And it reworked and spruced up. New flooring has been installed, was in pretty tough shape.” as has a rustic ceiling. Forland recalled having to use a flashlight to find a Customer response “has been very good; they’re like bottle of beer in the cooler when he first purchased the ‘Wow,’” Forland said. place, back in 1988. The walls carry more antique “There was no overhead photographs. These herald back lighting, at all,” he recalled with to the mill’s early years, when the a chuckle. “There was a Kenmore Ramsey Mill was a working flour side-by-side refrigerator; the mill. Mill workers can be seen in The Old Mill, located at 3504 11th Pl NE, exhaust fan was this small fan in the sepia-toned photos in some; the is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday wall.” Meyer family, who purchased the through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Over the years, however, “we’d mill around the turn of the century, Friday and Saturday. say, well, now this year, we’ve got is also pictured in several. One of an extra (amount of money) and family members is featured in a let’s get that walk-in cooler; the photograph near the bathroom. It next year it would be, ‘OK, let’s never fails to provide double-takes get that stove fixed,’” he recalled. for customers: one of the Meyer Later, the couple renovated the daughters is shown covered in basement into a wine room, which greenery, for reasons lost to time. also provides intimate dining space Forland, an Austin native, for about 15. Forland also pitched was only 25 when he became the the roof of the upper level, atop an restaurant’s owner, but he brought apartment in which the family lived a wealth of kitchen experience with for several years before building him. He began working at local their own home across the street. restaurants when he was 15. Its menu reflects the traditional “I started washing dishes (at and the ever-changing. While still Country Kitchen), but it wasn’t long featuring a full entrée menu, there are healthy selections before I was making Country Boys,” one of the signature featured both in appetizers and in entrees. But that has double-decker burgers featured by the restaurant at that been the case throughout the Forland ownership — there time. is something for everyone; and steaks are known for their When he got to be of age, he went to work at Hormel exceptional quality. Foods. Forland has always held a love of history, especially of “I’d work at the plant during the day and cook at night,” that connected to the Old Mill. One of the last surviving he said. “I always worked two jobs.” Meyer daughters continued to live in her family home across “I never stopped cooking” at various restaurants, he the road from the restaurant. When it came time to move added. “I didn’t mind working at the plant; but it wasn’t into a nursing home, she instructed two women to clean out challenging enough.” her home. The Old Mill had more than enough challenges to

The Old Mill

30 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

One of the biggest renovations included the new bar area offering sit-down dining.

The wide windows open up to a view of the Cedar River. The renovations just add more atmosphere to the dining experience.

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 31

“I watched, and I saw all this history being thrown out,” Forland said. Finally, he approached the women and asked if they wanted to pitch stuff into his garage instead. “I told them I would haul it to the dump for them,” he said. “And they did. I started sorting through it; that’s where I found most of the photos” seen hanging in the restaurant. “Otherwise, so much history would have been lost.” The flour mill was built by Matthew Gregson, an Englishman whose brothers had also built other mills. He began operation of the Ramsey Mill and Dam in 1873. The name Ramsey made sense: Both were located in the unincorporated town of Ramsey, an early berg named for Gov. Alexander Ramsey. The early community, at the intersection of the Iowa and Minnesota, and the southern Minnesota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul rail lines, was platted as a town, with five streets: Rossiter, Mill, Cameron, Park and Front. A stage line also traveled to Ramsey from Austin until 1887, and there were “several eating establishments” in the small village, also called Ramsey Junction, according to “The History of Mower County,” written in 1911. That same history said Ramsey was once considered for the county seat. One item in the Mower County Transcript said passengers stranded at Ramsey due to a bad snowstorm stayed at the Ramsey Hotel. Its school was important enough to have a brick structure built, replacing an earlier clapboard school. The J. H. Meyer family purchased the mill dam in 1906. The mill closed in 1933, the victim of the larger and more competitive flour mills in the Twin Cities. The top two floors of the three-story structure were later removed. The building survived its years as a mill and was later transformed into a restaurant owned by Ray and Mary Strommer, opening in 1950. They operated the restaurant for over two decades. Later, two other owners tried their hand at the restaurant business until Forland purchased it over 30 years ago. Although this renovation is complete, there are still things Forland would love to tackle — not the least of which is the turbine/waterwheel in the basement that he would like to restore so it can generate electricity, as a sort of mini-hydroelectric plant. So, there always seems to be a new chapter for the Old Mill, who has proven over and again how much staying power the old girl has. Forland recalled when a tornado warning sounded a few years back during meal time. “It looked like we were in an aquarium, it was raining so hard,” he said. Customers were herded into the basement. “Some of the older couples still talk about going to the wine room,” he added with a laugh. During the storm, winds were clocked around 100 mph, he said — and the Old Mill never winced. “Outside, there were trees and branches down all over … and this building did not even creak. Not once,” he said, a bit pride showing through. 32 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Things like these wine bottles add a rustic feel to the restaurant.

Pictures hung throughout the Old Mill capture the history of the Old Mill through the years.

Nature Notes News from the Minnesota Department of Natural Reources

Governor brings opening pheasant hunt to Austin Austin area is gearing up for some pheasant fun as the 2019 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener will be swinging through the area Oct. 11-12. Established in 2011, the event focuses on hunting heritage, cultural traditions and the economic impact of hunting. It also serves to highlight travel and tourism in the state of Minnesota. While much of the event is by invite or registration only, the hunt will still serve to highlight everything Austin, Mower County and southeastern Minnesota has to offer hunters. Included for all residents, however, is a raffle totaling $8,000 in prizes including the grand prize of his and hers shot guns, provided by Enbridge. Tickets can be purchased at Discover Austin, Minnesota (301 Main St. N No. 101). — Austin Living Magazine

A pair of shotguns are among those items up for raffle through the purchase of raffle tickets.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Friday, Oct. 11 •7:30 a.m.: Disabled Veterans Hunting send off, Austin American Legion •9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Registration, Austin Holiday Inn & Conference Center •11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Media Tours — Hormel Institute guided tour, rban/ Rural Water Connections bus tour, Austin’s Downtown Renaissance self-guided tour •10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Austin Area Schools Education Program, Austin Public Schools •11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Trap Shooting, Cedar Valley Conservation Club •1-3:30 p.m.: Women’s Mentored Hunt Training, Cedar Valley Conservation Club •4 p.m.: Land Dedication, Wildlife Management Area - Section 28 in Lansing Township. Media shuttles will leave from Holiday Inn at 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. General Public shuttles will leave from Runnings parking lot at 3:35 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. •5 p.m.: Social hour, Austin Holiday Inn. •6 p.m.: Community Banquet, Austin Holiday Inn & Conference Center •8:30 p.m.: “Flocking” featuring Chris Kroeze, Torge’s LIVE@ Austin Holiday Inn Saturday, Oct. 12 •6:30-8 a.m.: Hunters’ Breakfast and media Interviews, Torge’s LIVE @Austin Holiday Inn •7:45 a.m.: Send-off by governor/ DNR safety talk, Torge’s LIVE @Austin Holiday Inn •8:15 a.m.: Depart for hunting •11:30 a.m.: Lunch and pheasant cleaning, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center •Noon: Program and event Wrap-Up, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center •1:30 p.m.: Hunter Host Bird Dog Parade, Main Street, downtown Austin •2 p.m.: Dock dogs presentation, Mill Pond, downtown Austin •3 p.m.: Free Concert by Martin Zeller & the Hardways, Mower County Fairgrounds •3 p.m.: Daisy Outdoor Inflatable Range, Mower County Fairgrounds •3 p.m.: Bean Bag Shootout, Mower County Fairgrounds •5 p.m.: Octoberfest music and dancing, VFW Post 1216, downtown Austin.

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lessings usic

Healing Rhythms mends patient souls BY HANNAH YANG • PHOTOS


34 | Austin Living | September–October 2019



era Johnson, 5, gave her music therapist Siobhan Kelley, a sweet smile before excitedly running into the room for her 30 minute music therapy session at the Healing Rhythms Music Therapy clinic in Rochester. Her mother, Becca Johnson, followed closely behind. No time was wasted. Kelley brought out a guitar and gently strummed several chords together and sang directions for Vera to find a blue chair to sit on for the session. Once the little girl found her seat, Kelley began strumming a tune and started singing to Vera. “Hello, hello,” she sang. “I’m glad you’re here today. Hello.” To which Vera would practice waving her hands at Kelley and Becca with a big, sweet smile on her face. Her contagious expression lit up the room, as well as everyone’s faces who were there with her. The session was an engaging one. Vera would sing back lyrics that Kelley would sing to her from what she remembered. She worked on activities like “I Spy” with numbers and drawings on the wall and strengthened her developmental cognitive skills by having Kelley sing instructions to her. “Where is the number five?” Kelley sang, to which Vera pointed to the written five on the wall. “What’s next to the number five?” “Hearts!” Vera exclaimed. “Who’s five years old?” Kelley sang to Vera. “Me!” Vera said excitedly, to which she giggled and smiled even brighter.” Inside the small room, there were small children’s instruments like a xylophone and an ocean drum that simulated the sound of waves. Kelley would then strum her guitar strings again, singing a song that allowed Vera to fill in the blanks to remember lyrics that completed the song.

Five-year-old Vera Johnson bursts into a toothy grin as she follows Siobhan Kelley’s playing during a session at Healing Rhythms in Rochester.

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 35

Hitting the right note

That was the mission of Healing Rhythms Music Therapy. Christina Wood, founder and director of Healing Rhythms, combined her love for music and helping others by offering music therapy to patients as another potential therapeutic option. “What I love most about music therapy is the sacred space that our board-certified music therapists are entrusted and are able witness life’s most vulnerable and memorable moments,” Wood said. “Music has a way of connecting to patients in many ways.” Wanting to provide accessible and high-quality music therapy services with a greater reach in the state, Wood started her own business in 2006. Then, the business was rebranded as Healing Rhythms Music Therapy in 2013, and the Rochester clinic opened in 2017. It never crossed Wood’s mind that her local business would grow to the extent that it did. Healing Rhythms now serves 18 counties in Minnesota and has more than 30 community partners that contract with her business for music therapy. In January of this year, Wood was able to hire a music therapist to serve the communities of Austin and Albert Lea. Her partners there include Mayo Clinic Hospice and Heartland Hospice. Sometimes the music therapists go to the Cedars of Austin to lead group music therapy sessions or even to individual patient’s homes for personal sessions. “My business vision was to increase access,” Wood said. “There are many needs in the community, from those who are on the autism spectrum to aging seniors to those coping with anxiety.” Music therapy is not a new field of healthcare by any means. Believed to have origins that trace back to World War II, music was used as a way to soothe veterans who struggled with post-traumatic stress from the horrors they witnessed and experienced overseas.

36 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

“If we bring joy through music, then we’ve done our job.”

Music therapy allows children like Vera to be interactive in their own rehabilitiation.

Christina Wood, owner of Healing Rhythms

“Music therapy is more integrated now,” Wood said. “We are now looking at how to support our patients and empower them, regardless of age or ability. Music has a way of bringing people together.” There are two fundamental types of music therapy: active and receptive music therapy. Active, which Vera participates in, has patients engage in some form of music making, including playing with instruments. Receptive music therapy can include patients listening to a recording or live music by the music therapist to help elevate mood, decrease pain and anxiety. Depending on the age of the patients, each session is flexible enough to accommodate whatever fits the patient’s needs, whether that’d be through group sessions for teens to building cognitive skills for young children to coping with pain after a procedure. It also has the ability of being a healing moment for families who may be struggling with losing their loved one toward the end of life, or helping young parents with their baby who could be staying in neonatal intensive care. “If we can bring joy through music, then we’ve done our job,” Wood said. “Music therapy is fulfilling work. It’s extremely vulnerable, where we can celebrate with others on their first words that are spoken. Music bridges all cultures and ages.”

Alove for music

Music therapy is more than just about “performing;” rather, it’s a neuroscience that has the ability to assist patients with rehabilitation. Research focuses on how parts of the brain react to music and can immensely improve the chances of the success rate in sensorimotor, cognitive and communicative rehabilitation, according to Wood. “Music therapists use music as a tool to help people,” she said. “Whether it’s to promote comfort or help with pain in patients. Whether at birth or at the end of life.’ This type of therapy is thought to be highly receptive for patients, including Becca’s daughter Vera. Vera was born prematurely and needed to stay in the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic. She has speech delay and apraxia of speech, meaning she has difficulty forming sounds and words. Becca remembered those scary moments of having her child stay in the hospital. It was there that Becca met Wood. With a guitar in hand, she gently strummed a few notes and sang to Vera. Wood’s singing also unexpectedly relieved the anxiety and fear in a second person who never thought music therapy could help: Becca. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 37

Vera and her mother Becca take part in a song activity. As much as music has helped her daughter, the therapy and the music has also been good for Becca.

“She started singing ‘You Are My Sunshine,’” Becca said tearfully. “I felt so at peace. I was able to let my guard down. It wasn’t just sad tears, but happy ones. It was really healing for me. Vera was terribly ill, and she just lit up.” When Wood opened up an outpatient clinic service for music therapy in 2017, Becca decided to try something new for Vera that was outside of the traditional hospital setting. To her joy, Vera responded positively to music therapy and has been attending sessions every week. “It’s really fun for her to be involved and getting into the music,” she said. “Music has been a blessing for us. Vera knows music and it’s crazy. Sometimes it’s really difficult. But, Vera knows a lot and it’s hard for words to come out. It’s really exciting for us to see her sing along. We love it.” From when her daughter first started music therapy to present day, Becca has seen significant progress with Vera and her strengthening speech. Becca would take Vera home after every session and continue working with her daughter during the week before their next appointment. They would read books together and try to 38 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

remember the lyrics to the songs that Kelley sang to her so that Vera could be more participative during sing-alongs. “We’re very excited when Vera would get familiar with songs and start remembering the words,” she said. “It’s less overwhelming and music therapy can be used for all ages with all abilities to grow communication skills and overcome trauma.” Becca has seen a transformation in her daughter, and embraces music therapy for how it improved Vera’s quality of life and her interactions with others. “I see Vera dance and sing,” she said. “We had never had any experience with that before. We were surprised by the effects of music on her. Vera is a very busy child, and sitting for her is hard sometimes. The music is helping her be engaged and keeping her attention. It’s calming for her and not intense. It’s a fun experience for her.” As to whether Becca would recommend music therapy to anyone else, she full heartedly stated her affirmations. “For music to bring joy to a child’s life who has a disability, this has the ability to bring happiness into your life,” she added. “We are so grateful and blessed.”

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40 | Austin Living | September–October 2019


Dylan Kaercher has always had a flare for performance. Becoming Roxi is just the next step.



ylan Kaercher is at home on the stage. It’s a natural extension of the showman he is and the canvas on which he displays his talent.

Or maybe “showman” isn’t exactly the right word. Show-woman perhaps? Kaercher is a drag queen, performing shows featuring songs from the 1950s and 60s on stages around the state in a flamboyant and fierce stage performance that people rarely forget. Meet Roxi Manacoochi, with her big hair and dolled up face that harken back to the girl groups of the 60s; however, what he does now is simply an expression of what he’s always done. “I was in my first show when I was six,” Kaercher said. “I guess ever since I could walk and talk my mom knew I was a performer.” Take in a show and that much becomes obvious. Kaercher relishes the stage, the show and the pageantry of whatever he’s doing. Each minute on the stage is a gift to Kaercher and, in turn, those minutes are gifted back to the audience.


However, being a drag queen wasn’t necessarily in the cards. It was just something Kaercher did. To him, performing as a woman was just another aspect of being a performer. In fact, it took a little research. “I didn’t even know what a drag queen was,” he said. “I think it was about three years ago,” Kaercher remembered. “At that time, I was performing in drag in the casinos for six years. Someone said, ‘you should be in a drag show.’” Kaercher, however, had questions if that was really his thing. Did he fit into that specific world? Turns out he did, and rather naturally. “I did one (show) and I actually won, my first night of competition,” he said. “All right, I’ll do another one. It wasn’t until earlier this year, though, where I thought, ‘I guess I’m in.’”

Early on the stage These days, Kaercher is the choreographer of the Prior Lake High School theater program, which falls in line with Kaercher’s love of performance. Performing for others has always been a part of him, from plays to singing. He had two strong platforms early on, which included the Ellis Middle School drama department. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 41

It was never a goal, it just kind of happened.

Dylan Kaercher’s persona of Roxi is born from a desire to put on the best show he can with a larger than life personality.

Kaercher credits Erin Schoen and Julie Walski as early influences. They directed the plays he performed in and they gave him opportunity. “It was giving me a platform to be creative,” he recalled. But it was music that really set Kaercher in motion and to that end, enter Brian Johnson, stage left. It’s hard to even describe Johnson’s impact on music in Austin. The beloved choir director, who only recently retired, is often named as a major influence to those voices passing through his choir program. Kaercher was no less influenced by his time in choir. “Obviously, choir helped me the most,” Kaercher said. “Mr. Johnson was a huge driving force in my music career.” But none of that pushed him toward the world of drag. Rather, drag was simply an extension of Kaercher’s talent and his desire to perform. It was just something he’d always done. “It was never a goal, it just kind of happened,” he said.

From the changing room Kaercher admits there are challenges in what he does, just not what you might think. For some, the idea of being 42 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

a drag queen is strange, perhaps more than a little out of the ordinary. But performers like RuPaul and the show he hosts, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” have brought the medium more to the forefront of society. Still, Kaercher said he never encountered the push back that many have experienced when they take to the stage in drag. Everybody simply knew it was Dylan doing what he loved. But more than that, he was confident he could change minds. “I think because I knew the second they watched me perform, it would shut up any comments and thoughts they had,” he said. And he’s not wrong. Kaercher’s routines are polished and rehearsed so that in the end, all people see is the talent and the entertainment. However, it was during his freshman year of high school while out performing singing telegrams — in a bar, with mom in tow — that stands out as a watershed moment. “I walked into the bar and I visibly remember them giving me the side eye when I walked in,” Kaercher remembered. “At the end they were asking if I could be

hired out. I had the biggest fan group in that bar. It’s just been one of those things, I’ve never really had a problem.” Not that he hasn’t heard the stories from others. “It’s funny, I’ve heard horror stories from my friends,” Kaercher said. “Things people from small towns have said, but I’ve never dealt with anything like that.” Kaercher transitioned with determination into the world of drag, but not without cost. Being a drag queen is expensive and in some ways more than a little ironic. “I always say, it costs a lot to look as cheap as I do,” he explained. “When you’re a six-foot tall, plussized man, I can’t go out to Target and buy my outfits.” “Cost is the thing a lot of people don’t realize,” he added. “Every little tip helps.”

Kaercher taking the stage during this year’s Mower County Relay for Life on Main Street Austin. Eric Johnson/Austin Living

You can go to First avenue and it’s a full dance show. I’more of the theatrical side ...

Stage show Like anything, there are preconceptions of the world of drag queens. Larger-than-life shows, largerthan-life personalities, larger-than-life hair. But there are differences, and maybe at this point it’s worth considering that Kaercher is as much one thing as he is the other. “There’s always a big difference between a drag queen and female impersonator,” he said. “Watching a drag queen, you can tell they are a drag queen all the time.” Kaercher also pushes back to the lavish, sometimes over-the-top extravaganzas that always seem to be portrayed in the movies. In this sense there’s a little A and a little B. Certainly there are shows that get blown up, but then there are revues, much like the shows in which Kaercher performs. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 43

In the mood for a show? Then check out Roxi in these upcoming shows and venues. • Aug. 31: “Big Girls Don't Cry - A Jukebox Love Story,” 7 p.m. at Lush in Minneapolis. Tickets on sale at • At Can-Can Wonderland in St. Paul a few times a month • MN Fringe Festival: “A Very Roxi Christmas!” “An Intimate Evening With Roxi” - You pick the songs!, “Stand By Your Man - A Tribute to Legendary Woman Of Country Music.” • Scream Town Haunted Attraction For showtimes, tickets, and locations you can check out any of Roxi’s social media platforms Instagram: @roximanacoochi Facebook: @dragqueenpartytours

That’s the music I listen to. Whoever thought at the age of 25 I would have my own girl group?

44 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

“A regular drag show definitely has that pop culture feel to it,” Kaercher explained. “There are different venues and different kinds of shows. You can go to First Avenue and it’s a full dance show. I’m on more of the theatrical side with back-up singers and dancers.” At the end of the day, at the end of the performance, drag is just another expression in Kaercher’s world. You’re just as likely to see him perform at events like The Relay for Life of Mower County, which he did again this year with Cloe Guttormson. And this love of performing cycles back to when Kaercher was very young — a boy, his grandparents and a jukebox spinning those songs from the 60s that had so much emotion and energy. “I knew how to run a jukebox before a tape cassette. It’s just what I grew up with,” he said. “There’s something that pulls me to the girl groups of the 60s. I remember watching Disney and thinking, ‘someday, I want three back-up girls.’ That’s the music I listen to. Whoever thought that at the age of 25 I would have my own girl group?”

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 45

46 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

k c a r t d n u So

er h d e s ea l e r ill s w a t h i a g in ad r p a o ed P h , a Lill st album people ne J ic fir s E u m P be the S AND TORY







illa Parada doesn’t want you to be sad, but she does want to be the soundtrack for those days you are sad.

The concept of sadness is a common theme winding through the five-song EP “Poor You,” which the 19-year-old just released this year. Indeed, it was a goal from the very start when the Austin graduate was beginning the grueling process of self-release. “I just want something for people to be sad to,” she confessed on an ironically cloudy morning in July. “I never felt there was an album I could listen to and be like, ‘I’m having a bad day so I’ll put this album on and listen to it through, and be sad through the whole thing.’ I wanted to create that for my friends and family so they could have what I didn’t have when I needed it.” At the same time, she also confesses that some of her closest fans would like something a little more upbeat. “My mom keeps telling me to stop making sad songs,” Parada said, smiling. “She wants something happy.” The album is a transition point of a sort for Parada, a place between two worlds that mark the end of one journey and the start of another. She graduated from Austin High School in 2018 and this fall will move to the southeastern United States where she will attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. It’s as good a place as any to change from the artist she is now to the artist she hopes to be. “Hopefully, once I get there it will become less Lilla as an individual artist and more finding people to make a band, create more music, play actual shows. Play my album and get it in the chain of music. There’s a great music scene (in Tuscan). I’m very excited.”

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 47

“I’ve had people approach me, telling me it’s what they needed ... it was the soundtrack they needed and that was the biggest gift I can ask to receive from doing it.

A very young start Parada is part of the norm in her family. Of five children, four have taken to the world of music, with only one showing talent elsewhere — in soccer. An older brother, Matias Parada, was a stand-out for the Austin boys soccer team. Other than that, it’s all been about the music. “All of my brothers, except for Matias — he got the sports gene. Everybody else is very musical,” she said. “They’ve all 48 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

been big helps with getting me into guitar and writing my music and if I ever wanted the opportunity to play my own show, I was given that opportunity where I could go play my music.” Her serious dive into music began at the mature age of eight when she started writing songs, in large part pushed by her older brother Andy, who has been the guiding hand in her music throughout the process. Her subject matter was surprisingly mature for the age. “When I was like eight, my brother told me, ‘if you write

AHS, the popular choir director is routinely cited as a main influence in later music careers. For Parada, it was no less so. “Once I got here, Mr. Johnson was a huge inspiration to me,” Parada said. “That was a big turning point because for so long people have told me, ‘you should go into music’ and I felt that I had heard that suggestion from so many people, it should be different for me.” That growing passion reached through high school programs such as Austinaires as well as in theater which, in turn, continued through to plays on the Riverland Community College stage. It was during these later days that she began toying with the idea of making an album, which really took hold her senior year. Through a year of hemming and hawing, debating the merits of the work that lay ahead and with no small amount of urging from Andy, Parada finally made the decision to plunge into her debut album.

‘Did you record your album?’

your own songs you can play at a show,’” Parada remembered. “I don’t know why, when I was in fifth grade, I was writing songs about heartbreak already and then it became less so …” Songs in those days were done to the backdrop of a ukulele Parada played, but it quickly progressed from there, Andy pushing her the entire way. Once her family moved to Austin, Parada said her next big influence came from now-retired choral director Brian Johnson. For many who went through the music program at

In his own way, Andy was the driving force in getting her to record her album — by way of Christmas gifts. For years, Andy not-so-subtly kept poking Parada towards the album. “For every Christmas he would buy me one more piece of recording equipment so by the end I had no excuse,” Parada said. “I was totally set up.” However, before all the pieces were assembled, Parada was dealing with doubt in the process. At the beginning of her senior year, Parada released “Lost and Found,” to iTunes and then — just stopped. “After that I just came to a halt,” she confided. “People kept telling me to write an album, but I was just, ‘it’s so much work and it’s time consuming.’” “I think a big thing was people telling me to do it and my thought process was ‘well, I’m just another person to do it.’ There’s no difference if I’m the thousandth person to do something like this.” Again, enter brother Andy. “He would call me every week, ‘Did you record your album? You just need to call people and do this … and do it.’” By the end of senior year, the writing of Parada’s own hand was on the wall. She had accumulated enough songs for an album and she owned up to the very real fact that she had run out of excuses. Not that it was easy. It’s never easy. Parada’s own process included writing, recording and no small amount of discarding and starting over. “A lot of time recording parts of the song and not liking it and starting over,” Parada said. “Months of rerecording, working around different songs and stuff like that.” For mixing and mastering purposes, Parada called in the help of rap artist and friend Woodro. She also got help with backing music from another friend from Austin, Owen Culbert. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 49

Lilla Parada hopes that in the end people will feel emotion when listening to her music.

When it was all done, Parada was finally able to sit back and truly see what she had done, but it was two points in particular that brought the whole experience home and introduced a strong sense of reality. “I guess it was after, when I sent everything and it was out of my hands waiting for it to be released,” she said. “Now there’s no stopping it. People are going to hear it.” “Jaiden Schuster did my album cover and that was a big moment,” Parada continued. “… seeing that and knowing that was going to be the picture going across my media. That was a big moment. ‘Wow, it’s going to happen.’”

Now where?

Like any aspiring artist, Parada admits she had stars in her eyes. The idea of being a music star held strong appeal for her as it does for so many. But starting from this point, without big record deals and wide exposure, the process is daunting. As time progressed, however, it became more about the music than it did the big stage.

50 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Local artist Jaiden Schuster did the cover art for “Poor You” and for Parada it was a moment of clarity. “Wow, it’s going to happen.” The album can be found on: Spotify SoundCloud Apple Music

“I think it’s always been like that. Just performing for my older brother’s friends. ‘Oh, I’ll be a star and that led me to acting and being on stage,’” Parada said. “It kind of started as that, but slowly it dissolved into, ‘I’m making music and it’s personal to me and it means something to me and it’s good enough.’” Parada wants to connect the music she makes to emotion, a driving force in her process of making music. That equates into wanting her music to mean something to somebody. “I’ve had people approach me, telling me it’s what they needed,” she said. “They’ve been going through something so difficult and it was something they needed to hear and it was the soundtrack they needed and that was the biggest gift I can ask to receive from doing it. Emotions are so important. We don’t feel them enough that when you find the right soundtrack to whatever emotion you’re feeling, it can really help you take that in depth and learn more about yourself.”

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. Crime Victims Resource Center (CVRC) provides support services to individuals who have been victims of crime. Services provided may include: • 24-hour crisis line

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September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 51


Tour of

color A colorful and vibrant photo showcasing the beauty of fall in Minnesota. I captured this shot at the Jay Cooke State Park in northern Minnesota. The reflection is captured in the St. Louis River that eventually runs into Lake Superior. Photo by William Wensel, Explore Minnesota

52 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Few places in the country can claim the beauty of fall Minnesota is one of them BY ROCKY HULNE • PHOTOS



When the fall rolls around and the leaves begin to change, there’s nothing quite like hitting the road and taking in the colors. Lanesboro offers a variety of great opportunities for fall fun as the town nestled in Bluff Country offers bike paths, river access and a plethora of forest land to take in. “Lanesboro is all about the tourism,” said Bailey Otto, an administrative assistant at the Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce. “We have a nice agricultural impact as well, but everyone runs off of tourism.” Lanesboro has some special events in store for this fall, most notably the Fall Craft Beer Festival and Taste of the Trail on Sept. 7, which will offer samples of fall beers and a offer a look at the culture of Lanesboro. Alyssa Hayes of Explore Minnesota said that Lanesboro is just one of the many places in Minnesota to seek out some fun and scenery when the fall hits. “The Lanesboro area is beautiful,” Hayes said. “The Taste of the Root River Trail takes place for three Saturdays after Labor Day and it lets you experience all of the communities along the river. It kind of gives you a taste of their town and you get to learn about what’s special about each community. It’s the perfect time of year to go biking along the trail too.” On Sept. 21, Lanesboro closes down its Main Street for a fall girls day out, which gives the ladies a chance to get out and shop. But just don’t settle for staying home. Hayes said that the state of Minnesota offers many landmarks from Myhre Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, to Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, to the Pipestone National Monument in which to take in autumn’s splendor. Cutting across the state of Minnesota in the fall can be a scenic and educational experience for travelers of all sorts. “You not only get to see the colors, but you’re doing something different and you’re learning about the history of the community,” Hayes said. For anyone looking for the perfect times to visit any areas in the state, visit To see examples of fall photography or submit your own photos, users can use the hashtag #onlyinmn. The hashtag has more than a million uses and it puts the beauty of fall on full display. “It’s incredible to just see the stuff come through in real time and you can see where the colors are peaking,” Hayes said.

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 53

Top fall spots for leafing Hayes pointed out that there are several great views across the state of Minnesota in fall thanks to the diversity of the state’s geography. There is prairie land, woods, water, wilderness and large lakes, scattered across the state’s landscape. There are also plenty of town festivals and events that are geared around the fall season. “The best part of going on these fall routes is to go off the beaten path and find these gems that are only around for a short time, just like the colors,” Hayes said. “You can also find a state park just about anywhere in the state and they are very affordable.”

Canoeing on the Mississippi River in the fall near the Franklin Ave. bridge in Minneapolis.

North shore of Lake Superior The road from Duluth to Grand Portage peaks from September to early October and it is one of the premiere autumn drives in the nation. It is wildly popular and travelers are encouraged to make lodging arrangements well in advance, or aim for a mid-week journey.

Fall leaves along the MIssissippi River in Winona.

Mississippi River Valley Scenic Byway The route from Red Wing to La Crescent peeks from Sept. 6 to Oct. 26. It runs through a variety of state parks and small river towns. Wabasha has a seasonal boutique called Grandpa’s Barn Boutique that is open on weekends.

Minnesota River Drive The path runs from Belle Plaine to New Ulm, while cutting through LeSuer and Mankato. The path peaks in mid-October and it runs near Minneopa State Park, which features a heard of Bison and one of the largest waterfalls in southern Minnesota.

Fall scene of Mississippi River Valley in the morning fog from scenic overlook in Great River Bluffs State Park near Winona.

Twin Cities Overlook The byways around the Twin Cities are include Minnehaha Falls, the Mississippi River and Summit Avenue in St. Paul. The peek season runs from late September to mid-October and the drive offers plenty of falls coloring on the lakes around the cities.

Ottertail County Area The towns of Perham and Fergus Falls and the surrounding area provides a strong mix of wooded hills and farmland. Inspiration Peak offers a high view of the area. The peak season is late September to early October.

Minneapolis skyline fall scene along Mississippi River.

Apple Blossom Scenic Byway The path from La Crescent to Winona offers a solid view of apple orchard country. It peaks in in mid-September to midOctober.

Stillwater Area The St. Croix River is a popular spot to stop in early to late September. 54 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

Fall scene of Mississippi River Valley in the morning fog from scenic overlook in Great River Bluffs State Park near Winona.

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September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 55


A history of art

Austin’s Opera House was an early place for performance BY JAIMIE TIMM, MOWER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY • ALL Austin’s tradition of supporting the arts began back in its earliest years. One of the first spaces used for plays and performances in Austin, the old Jones Hall, was remodeled in 1885. G. Carter of St. Paul drew up the plans and H.F. Silloway of Minneapolis constructed the stage, boxes, raised the seats and completed the interior. Clausen and Christianson of Minneapolis finished the scenery and frescoing (painted murals on the walls). The new theater, now called the Austin Opera House, was managed by F. A. Schleuder. It opened on June 15, 1885, with a concert directed by Dr. Phillips and a chorus of 30-40 Austin singers. During its golden years, the opera house was home to countless plays, concerts, lectures, political rallies, and even motion pictures. The first play performed in the theater, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” opened on July 4, 1885. The first movie in Austin was shown in 1896 on an Edison kinetiscope at the opera house. It boasted incandescent and electric arc lights (installed in 1889). As is often the case, the old building eventually gave out. In January 1904, Austin invited a building inspector to look over its halls, lodge rooms and public meeting places. Inviting the building inspector may have been Austin’s response to the 56 | Austin Living | September–October 2019



tragedy that occurred at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago in December 1903 — it caught fire and 600 people died. Many cities across the country began inspecting and closing their theaters. The inspector found many issues with the old Austin Opera House Building, including structural problems with the roof and trusses, insufficient exits, narrow aisles, and no fire curtain or ventilation over the stage. The owners decided to close the building and convert it to office spaces rather than address all of the things needed to make it a safe performance space. This was the correct call by Mr. Schleuder since the back wall of the theater collapsed in 1906. Although many other theaters continued to operate in Austin, the Opera House had served as a kind of landmark on Main Street. It housed so many different kinds of events and was sorely missed. When the building closed in 1904, the Austin Weekly Herald printed the following: “Farewell old friend! Within your walls have many hours been whiled away. You brought us rest when we were weary. You have taken us into a new world which brought respite from the cares of this. We shall not forget you…We do not bid you stay but we take leave of you with the feelings of a friend.”

The Austin Opera House, on the 400 block of North Main Street, with the dome from the Mower County Courthouse in the back (photograph taken from North Main Street looking south).

The back of the Opera House when the wall collapsed in 1906. Briebach’s Butcher Shop was damaged but no one was injured. Pictured to the right and top, a program from August 1886 when world renowned violinist Camilla Urso performed at the Opera House.

A ticket stub from John G. Wooley’s speech in June 1897. He spoke about “Christian Citizenship” with “only a fair sized audience present.” Ticket prices for his speech were 25¢ compared to 75¢ and 50¢ for Camilla Urso.

A Masonic funeral procession on Main Street around 1900. Note the Opera House on the far left. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 57

Sept. 7-11

73rd Annual Barrow Show

Where: Mower County Fairgrounds Known as the “World Series of Swine Shows,” the National Barrow Show attracts exhibitors, participants, and visitors from across the country. For more information, call 507-433-1868.

Sept. 14

Minnesota Southbound Rollers vs. A-Town Roller Girls When: 7 p.m. Where: Packer Arena Last bout of the season - come out and support your local women’s roller derby team!

Sept. 20-22

North Central Highland Cattle Show

Where: Mower County Fairgrounds Check out this unique breed of cattle with their soft, abundant coats and long horns, and try a Highland Burger or some Cowboy Beans. For more information, call 507433-1868.

Sept. 21

Drum Making Workshop

School is back in session, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying these activities. All dates, times, and locations subject to change.

Sept. 21

Fourth Annual Harvest Fest

When: 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Where: Various locations around Austin Annual festival celebrating fall and healthy living while supporting local food shelves. Fun for all ages. The day’s events begin at 8:30 a.m. with a Harvest Fest Bike Ride along the scenic Shooting Star Trail - a few miles or the whole way to LeRoy. Next up at 9 a.m. is the annual Harvest 5K Fun Run/Walk, with a chance to win a prize or walk for fun; runners, walkers, families, kids, strollers all welcome. The Harvest Fest Expo goes from 9 a.m. to noon, with family-friendly activities that promote healthy living in Mower County - games, music, interactive exhibits, and fun for all ages. Bring a healthy food donation to support Mower County food shelves - for a list of suggested items, visit All events besides the bike ride and the race will be held at Horace Austin Park, between the Austin Public Library and the Municipal Pool. Register for the Bike Ride and Fun Run Walk/Run at

Sept. 28

Fall Harvest Celebration

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Where: Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Drum maker Wayne Manthey will take participants through the process of making their own frame drum from natural materials, one step at a time. Space is limited to 13 participants, age 14 and up. Cost is $110 (13” drum) and $135 (16” drum). Fee covers materials; scholarships not available.

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Mower County Historical Society Celebrate fall at the Historical Society during this free event featuring live music with JJ’s Pickup Band, bake sale, horse drawn wagon rides, children’s activities and more! Fun for the whole family in the Ag Building and surrounding grounds at the Historical Society.

Austin ArtWorks Center

Hormel Historic Home

• Sept. 7 . . . . . • Sept. 10 . . . . • Sept. 12 . . . . • Sept. 13 . . . .

• Sept. 8 . . . . . Event Center 10-year Anniversary, 2-6 p.m. • Sept. 9 . . . . . History Happy Hour, 5:30 p.m. • Sept. 12 . . . . Historic Treasures Lecture Series presented by Mower County Historical Society Curator Jaimie Timm, 11:30 a.m. • Sept. 22 . . . . Autism Friendly Austin Cosplay Social, 2-5 p.m. • Oct. 10 . . . . . Healthy Living Lecture Series presented by registered dietician and Pampered Chef consultant Jen Haugen, 11:30 a.m. • Oct. 13 . . . . . Duets & Desserts, 1 p.m. • Oct. 21 . . . . . History Happy Hour, 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call 507-434-0934.

• Sept. 14 . . . . • Sept. 20 . . . . • Sept. 21 . . . . • Sept. 26 . . . . • Sept. 26 . . . . • Sept. 28 . . . . • Oct. 5 . . . . . . • Oct. 10 . . . . • Oct. 12 . . . . . • Oct. 12 . . . . . • Oct. 19 . . . . . • Oct. 22 . . . . . • Oct. 24 . . . . . • Oct. 26 . . . . • Oct.. 26 . . . .

$5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Beginning Embroidery Class, 6-8 p.m. Basic Wheel Throwing Class, 5:30-8 p.m. Second Floor Gallery Opening: Mary Nordeng and Kamie Kouba, 5-7 p.m. $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon ArtRocks Open Jam Session, 7-9:30 p.m. $5 Kidds Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Basic Wheel Throwing Class, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fall Leaves with Katie Stromlund, 6-8 p.m. $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Basic Wheel Throwing Class, 5:30-8 p.m. $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Kitchen Lithography Class, 1-4 p.m. $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Halloween Comic Class for Teens, 4-6 p.m. Basic Wheel Throwing Class, 5:30-7:30 p.m. $5 Kids Studio, 10:30 a.m. to noon Felted Pumpkins, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

58 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

For more information, call 507-433-4243.

Lunchbox History Series

Noon in the Pioneer Building at the Mower County Historical Society. Free and open to the public; bring a lunch and a friend. For more information, call 507-437-6082. • Sept. 26 . . . . “The Grand Meadow Chert Quarry” with guest speaker Thomas Trow • Oct. 24 . . . . . “The History of Anderson Memorials” with guest speaker Jeff Anderson

Oct. 4-6

JCI Minnesota All State Convention 2019 Where: Holiday Inn Austin Conference Center For more information, call 507-433-1000.

Oct. 9

Izaak Walton League Steak Cookout

When: 5:30 p.m. Where: Izaak Walton Cabin, Todd Park Tickets available at the door - $15. Menu is ribeye steak, baked beans, baked potato, dinner roll, and chocolate chip cookie. Free hot dogs for kids. Proceeds used for environmental education for area youth, habitat preservation/restoration and clean water initiatives. For more information, call Jim at 507-434-5996.

Oct. 11-12

Oct. 11-13

MN Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener

Where: Austin Austin welcomes media, government officials, and other guests to open the annual pheasant hunting season. For more information, contact Discover Austin, MN at 507-4374563 or email

Oct. 11-13

National Llama Show

Where: Mower County Fairgrounds For more information, call 507-433-1868.

Antique & Vintage Sale

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (11) and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (12) Where: Mower County Historical Society All proceeds from this special fund raising event will go towards the MCHS Endowment Fund.

Oct. 11-12

36th Annual Halloween Warm-Up

When: 6:50-10 p.m. Where: Jay C. Hormel Nature Center For two magical nights, the Nature Center (with the help of Matchbox Children’s Theatre) is under special enchantment! Take a 45-minute hike and enjoy “spook”tacular Halloween and nature skits performed by creatures, critters and spirits of the night. Then relax inside Ruby Rupner Auditorium with cider and treats! Especially designed to appeal to children ages 4-11 (accompanied by an adult), but all ages are welcome.

Sola Fide Observatory Viewings

Events at the Paramount Theatre

• Sept. 7 . . . . . • Sept. 28 . . . . • Oct. 5 . . . . . . • Oct. 19 . . . . .

• Oct. 5 . . . . . . Caravan du Nord: Reina del Cid, 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call 507-437-7519 or email 9-11 p.m. 9-11 p.m. 9-11 p.m. 9-11 p.m.

Chateau Speedway

For more information, call 507-440-8238. • Sept. 1 . . . . . Labor Day Special Event, 6 p.m. • Sept. 27 . . . . Autumn Extravaganza 1, 7 p.m. • Sept. 28 . . . . Autumn Extravaganza 2, 7 p.m.

Austin Bruins Schedule

Go Bruins! Tickets can be purchased at Hy-Vee, Jim’s MarketPlace Foods, Games People Play, Holiday Inn or at the door at Riverside Arena. All games start at 7:05 p.m. at Riverside Arena unless noted otherwise. • Oct. 4 . . . . . . • Oct. 5 . . . . . . • Oct. 12 . . . . . • Oct. 23 . . . . .

vs. Aberdeen Wings (Home opener) vs. Aberdeen Wings (First Responders Night) vs. Minnesota Wilderness vs. Minnesota Wilderness (Healthy Habits presented by McDonald’s and Potach and Mitchell Dental Clinic), 11 a.m.

For more information, call 507-434-0934.

Movie Matinee and Movie Night at the Paramount Theatre

Held every Wednesday at 3 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., unless noted otherwise. Tickets are $5; no advance ticket sales. For more information call 507-434-0934. • Sept. 4 . . . . . • Sept. 11 . . . . • Sept. 18 . . . . • Sept. 25 . . . . • Oct. 2 . . . . . . • Oct. 9 . . . . . . • Oct. 16 . . . . . • Oct. 23 . . . . . • Oct. 30 . . . . .

“It Happened One Night” “Beetlejuice” “Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds” “Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho” “The Addams Family” “The Dark Crystal” “Ghostbusters” “Hocus Pocus” “Rocky Horror Picture Show”

September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 59


A YEAR OF TRAGEDY Curt Brown tells the story of one year of heartbreak in his book on 1918 BY SUE GROVE, AUSTIN PAGE TURNERS Whenever you think things can’t get any worse, I suggest reading Curt Brown’s “Minnesota 1918, When Flu, Fire, and War Ravaged the State.” The horror of World War I, the unbelievable number of deaths from the influenza, and the absolute devastation caused by the fires in northern Minnesota cities created hardships almost impossible to fathom. The numbers alone are hard to imagine: 1,500 Minnesota soldiers died in combat in France; 453 died in the Minnesota fires; more than 10,000 died as a result of the flu; and if that weren’t enough, 1918 was the peak year for tuberculosis deaths in the state at 2,543. Nearly 15,000 Minnesotans died that year out of an estimated population of 2.39 million. Curt Brown, a reporter for Minnesota newspapers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Fergus Falls for more than 30 years, brings the horrors of 1918 to life for the modern reader by recounting individuals’ stories of their experiences and how they impacted them the rest of their lives. Each of the titles for chapters in the book is the name of cities impacted by the events of that year. Brown effectively mixes statistics with survivors’ personal accounts as he takes the reader from place to place. He uses material from Curt Brown letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and interviews to describe what happened. Brown also includes photos from the Minnesota Historical Society, which show the aftermath of the fires in Cloquet, Moose Lake, and Hermantown. The images portrayed both by the photos and by his descriptions leave lasting memories for the reader. I will never be able to forget the 60 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

accounts of the rescuers coming upon whole families who had died in above ground root cellars or in wells, where they had gone to escape the devastating flames that destroyed entire towns and farms in northern Minnesota. The impact of the flu cannot be understated. It is called the “Spanish Influenza” because it was thought to have begun in Spain and spread world-wide, but the name was a misnomer because it most likely originated in Kansas. As troops were moved around the country, they spread the flu to military bases or brought it to their hometowns. As victims of the fire moved in with relatives or relocated to nearby towns and cities, they were exposed to the virus. At least 106 people died of flu and pneumonia immediately after the fire. Brown goes on to talk about how the flu was “fought” around the state, including in Rochester, where the nuns at St. Mary’s Hospital mobilized to take care of the many victims of the flu. From October through December, almost 200 patients were admitted to St. Mary’s with influenza, including six nuns. In addition to stories about the fires, which provide the most graphic images, the impact of World War I, and the influenza, Brown also discusses the political climate at the time, including the impact of the Nonpartisan League. It was a tumultuous election cycle with many interesting players. This nonfiction work reads like fiction, and is hard to put down. Brown’s use of authentic voices of those who experienced all the horrors of this year, draws the reader into the accounts.

TURN THE PAGE If you liked reading “1918,” Sue suggests you also try reading “Fires of Autumn” and “The Cartographer of No Man’s Land.” “Fires of Autumn” by Francis M. Carroll and Franklin R. Raiter – In the fall of 1918, devastating forest fires swept across a major portion of northeastern Minnesota. Drawing on both published survivors’ accounts and on trial testimony never publicized, the authors bring to light this saga of destruction, resurrection, and resilience in the face of adversity. The origins of the fires and the dramatic stories of the fire sufferers and their survival are featured in the early chapters. Subsequent chapters deal with relief operations and the controversial legal battles that followed among the victims, the U.S. Railroad Administration, and the U.S. Congress as the survivors struggled to obtain compensation for their losses. “The Cartographer of No Man’s Land” by P.S. Duffy – From a hardscrabble fishing village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, an astonishing debut novel about family divided by the great war. Nova Scotia, 1916. Angus MacGrath, a skilled sailor and navigator, is lost — caught between a remote wife, a disapproving father, and a son seeking guidance. An ocean away from his coastal village, missing is Ebbin Hant, Angus’s adventurous brother-in-law and best friend. Ebbin’s unknown fate sets angus on an uncharted course with profound consequences for those he loves and those he comes to love. In search of his own purpose and hoping against all odds to find Ebbin, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing and enlists. Assured a safe job as a military cartographer in London, he is instead assigned to the infantry and sent to the blood-soaked mud of the front-line trenches in France, where he begins his search. September–October 2019 | Austin Living | 61



Riverland scholarships make a difference Scholarships make a difference. There is a financial benefit of scholarships for sure. Each dollar that a student receives through a scholarship means less that they’ll need to pay themselves or take out a student loan to pay. Reducing the total cost of going to school allows students to focus more on their education and worry less about juggling one or more jobs. However, there’s another impact that is felt by scholarship recipients but is more difficult to describe. For some, it’s that feeling that there are people you don’t even know supporting you from a distance. For other students, knowing that someone else valued their education enough to make sure someone else received a degree, too, must mean that all the work and sacrifices must be worth it. And, for other students, scholarships provide an extra push to get started, and receiving a scholarship is affirmation that it is time to take the next step. All of these reasons are why scholarships truly do make a difference in students’ lives. Caitlynn Blizzard is one of 500 students awarded scholarships each year at Riverland Community College. She received a Workforce Development Scholarship last year, and it meant more time with family at an important moment in her life when it would have been easy to walk away from her educational goals. Caitlynn’s family has a history of working in the nursing profession. Her mom is a nurse and her grandmother was a nurse, so naturally Caitlynn was drawn to nursing as well. She planned to enroll in the program at Riverland Community College to carry on the nursing tradition. And, then, her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She needed and wanted to help care for her but didn’t know how she would balance work, school and being a caregiver. At about the same time as her grandmother’s diagnosis, she received a scholarship to attend Riverland Community College. The scholarship allowed her the flexibility she needed to work less, be with her grandmother and continue pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. Caitlynn acknowledges that the scholarship came at a perfect time and is the reason she is still in school. This fall, she begins her second year of courses and is excited about carrying on the family legacy of nursing.

“I will always be grateful for the scholarship because it meant I could spend more time caring for my grandmother,” she said. “It made a huge difference in my life. It is so amazing how people give to support scholarships blindly, not really knowing who is going to receive the scholarship but hoping they will make something out of it, and that’s exactly what I hope to do.”

I will always be grateful for the scholarship because it meant I could spend more time caring for my grandmother. It made a huge difference in my life. It is so amazing how people give to support scholarships blindly, not really knowing who is going to receive the scholarship but hoping they will make something out of it, and that’s exactly what I hope to do.” — Caitlynn Blizzard

Riverland Community College Foundation raises, manages, and distributes resources to support, enhance, and promote the educational opportunities Riverland Community College offers the people of our region.

Thank you for supporting Riverland students! 62 | Austin Living | September–October 2019

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A community that sells itself BY JERRY WOLESKY • PHOTO When my wife Mary Anne and I first moved to Austin in 1971, we had no idea how much we would love and cherish Austin. We are proud to call Austin our home and I can’t think of a better place to have raised our family. Anywhere you go in Austin, people are friendly. The gift of smiling faces goes a long way. The can-do attitude of the people who live here creates a great positive community spirit. This fosters volunteerism with people helping people, which improves the quality of life and opportunities for all citizens. The wonderful work of Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, Spruce Up Austin, the Welcome Center and all the local service clubs and you realize people care and are Jerry Wolesky willing to commit time and effort for the good of our community. Austin’s commitment to the arts is wonderful. The historic Paramount Theater, the ArtWorks Festival, the Austin Artworks Center, the McPhail School of Music, the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Summerset Theatre are all fantastic examples that the Arts are well and thriving here, enhancing our quality of life. Austin has a proud history of providing excellent educational opportunities, along with fine athletic and extracurricular programs for our youth. Look no further than 64 | Austin Living | September–October 2019


IJ Holton Intermediate School and Wescott Athletic Complex to see state-of-the-art facilities our community enjoys. The Austin Assurance Scholarship Program at Riverland Community College is another example of the value the community puts in education, and for 100 plus years there has been an educational choice with the K-12 Pacelli Catholic Schools system. Austin possesses boundless recreational amenities with numerous green spaces in a wonderful park system, miles of bike/ walking trails and the crown jewel Jay C. Hormel Nature Center and its Interpretive Center. Within a few months a state of the art Recreational Center will open to the public. This positive spirit has been led by the collaborative work of the Hormel Foundation, the City of Austin, the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and the future planning efforts of the vision 2020 Program. Collectively they have created an inclusive environment of people helping people. I sincerely hope we all look around and appreciate this wonderful community we call home. In my job I have had the honor and privilege to have helped many Austin residents find suitable homes and settle here. This community sells itself. I love Austin, and it’s easy with all it offers!


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8.625” x 11.125” Austin Living – September/October issue 8.625” x 11.125” Austin Living – September/October issue

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