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As A // Life Park Ranger


Food // The Truck Scene


Of // Saviors Summer


To NASHVILLE And Back Dariann Leigh’s Journey From The North Country, To Country Music Radio

ISSUE 4 2019

ISSUE 4 2019 Printed in USA


SAFE, RAPID RESPONSE Altru Health System has launched Altru Care Flight, an air ambulance transport program to serve the patients of Altru and the region. A Pilatus PC 12 fixed-wing aircraft anchors the new service and is located at the Grand Forks Regional Airport. The air ambulance is equipped with the latest and most advanced lifesaving equipment and a critical care trained medical staff composed of paramedics and registered nurses to safely transport patients to their next medical destination.

Benefits of Altru Care Flight Include: 1. Transports patients at a greater rate of speed, getting you the care you need, when you need it most. 2. Able to travel through challenging weather conditions. 3. Allows space for additional passengers and a larger care team. 4. Offers a more reasonable cost than helicopter medical transports. 5. Provides collaborative care with Altru’s Emergency and Trauma team.

ADVANCED MEDICAL CARE Dr. Christopher Boe serves as the medical director for Altru Care Flight. Dr. Boe is an emergency medicine physician at Altru with extensive experience. He works closely with Altru Care Flight’s team to ensure care is provided at the advanced level that regional partners have come to expect from Altru.

Learn more at

Altru entered the air transport field to ensure our region has access to the best care available at a reasonable cost with a safe and rapid response. Operating a fixedwing program out of Grand Forks that was part of Altru’s Level II Trauma Center proved to be the best opportunity for our region.

We are committed to providing our “ patients with the highest quality care in emergency situations. Altru Care Flight allows us to extend this commitment further into the region.

- Dr. Christopher Boe, medical director

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ISSUE 4:19 //










Larry Hagen has spent most of his professional career working or living at some of North Dakota’s most magical outdoor parks. At Turtle River State Park, he’s gained a new appreciation of nature, and the people that seek it, at a place just minutes west of Grand Forks.


Meet the Kuenzel’s, a husband-and-wife team that decided to buy and restore a small-town golf course. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t, but three years after doing the unthinkable, the team is supplanting their place in the legacy of the Whispering Oaks course.


The New Flavors Food Truck has thrived across Grand Forks as a unique, mobile restaurant capable of enhancing our sense of food, culture and community.


In Hallock, Minnesota, there is a blueprint for main street revival efforts. It all started with the Evenson family, a $100 bill, an old service station and a vision to create an ultra-rural craft brewery capable of bringing people in from all directions.




Dariann Leigh, from Northwestern Minnesota, is about to break out on the national country music scene. Find out what she’s learned after recording in Nashville and touring the region.




Finding The Answers Of The Region Is it the people, or the place, that keeps us engaged, motivated and excited about the time and energy we invest into our daily lives? In this issue, we set-out to capture the unique realities and some of the more unique people and places of the region. We weren’t trying to answer that question, even though we found the answer. In Hallock, the Evenson family has brought a new energy and vision to their lives through the craft brewery movement. People from everywhere are heading to their ultra-rural tap room for one of their exquisite concoctions. Sales are doing great, they are expanding. But, there is more to that story then the Evensons. It can best be understood through a simple stat. When they bought their building on the main drag in Hallock, MN, there were eight vacant buildings. Today there are none. Nestled on the banks of the Turtle River, a state park and a golf course offer unmatchable experiences to campers or golf enthusiasts. In the articles, “Life As A Park Ranger,” and “Saviors of Summer,” it was easy to see a correlation between the two spots. Both were amazing places, but came with even better people. Eating at the New Flavors Food Truck on a random summer day (one of the many perks of the job), it was easy to see that the place the food truck was parked at was a big reason for the long lines waiting to order. But, after ordering, talking with the chefs and tasting the food, it was also easy to see that the truck could have been parked on an iceberg and people would have found a way to get there. So, as you’ll read in this issue, the answer to the question of people or place can certainly be pondered. Our guess is you’ll arrive at the same conclusion we did. If you wonder what it is about the GRAND region that makes it so worthy of capturing it in writing and photos, there is only one plausible answer: It’s not one or the other; it’s both. 8

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Luke Geiver

EDITOR, GRAND Lifestyle magazine


GRAND LIFESTYLE TEAM CEO Joe Bryan President Tom Bryan Vice President, Marketing & Sales Director John Nelson Editor Luke Geiver Art Director Jaci Satterlund Photographers Jamie & Jeremy Manstrom Circulation Manager & Copy Editor Jessica Tiller Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe Account Manager Dayna Bastian Account Manager Ryan Livingood

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions to GRAND Lifestyle magazine are free of charge to everyone, with the exception of a yearly shipping and handling charge. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: GRAND Lifestyle magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203

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LIFE AS A PARK RANGER 'Living in a park is a good thing. When you look across the Red River Valley, you just don’t find places and parks like this.' L ARRY HAGEN




On any given weekend, the Turtle River State Park, west of Grand Forks, is as big as many small towns. Larry Hagen is the head park ranger there. He is a lifelong devotee to the outdoors, public-access park life, and running and maintaining wild places groomed for a bit of civilization. His job description is long. He lists customer service, trail grooming, educating, enforcing and peace of icer on his duties list, among others. He’s worked and lived at ive state parks in North Dakota and has learned how to balance the duties of running parks that can be as busy as a small town, to enjoying the solitude and peace of a cool, quiet summer evening that comes standard for those that live and work at some of the state’s most beautiful and unique settings. He’s been living or working in the state park settings



since 1978. At Turtle River, he has a house that comes standard for all head park rangers. When he isn’t at the park, he’s probably enjoying some kind of outdoor activity somewhere else. “Living in a park is a good thing,” he says. “And, when you look across the Red River Valley, you just don’t ind places and parks like this.” Hagen has seen change across the outdoor scene since his early days. People want different things now and different experiences, he says. But, there is no denying the power of the camp ire, he explains. It brings people together and unites them around the simple, common elements of our lives that can draw us all into the current moment, and provide the type of wonder that no screen can ever match, he explains. The camp ire has stood the test of time and will continue to do so as long as state parks exist, he says. It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that the item his of ice runs out of most is still the ire starter.




More than 80 percent of the park is impacted by trails. Hagen and his team take great pride in the complexity of the trail system. They work hard to keep them groomed at all times of the year. Mountain bikers and skiers have taken notice. Scheels has donated a bike maintenance station due to the high-volume of bike users. Fat-tire bikers have come to love the rides in the winter. Hagen hopes to host more events at the trails, including a stop on the International Mountain Bikers tour.


FIND YOUR SPOT For tenters, spots along the river allow pa-

trons to fall asleep listening to the babble of the river. Look out for deer shuffling by, along with other animals and birds in the distance. Campers can still see wildlife from their upgraded spots. They can also listen to the sway of cottonwoods around them. The park has the only river in the state park system that can boast trout fishing. The North Dakota State Game and Fish department stocks the river at various times throughout the year. During certain months, don’t be surprised to find fly-fisherman wading the river.





For those looking to partake in the beauty and tranquility of the park for just a day, Hagen and his team make sure dream weddings or corporate outings are all possible. A few years ago, the park hosted 38 weddings. Hagen’s daughter was married at the park. Cabins and renovated buildings that come with commercial kitchens, Wi-Fi and an undeniably cool woodsy feel, can hold 400 people. A step dam along the river lets visitors rest and enjoy day trips. Bridges and fields give photographers unlimited settings to shoot.




Hagen has seen a transition from park goers and campers throughout his years across the state. Today, the demand for infrastructure upgrades like showers, camper and recreational vehicle hook-ups, including sewer and electric at every site, and certainly dependable Wi-Fi, is mostly a must. Camping units have become luxiurous and efficient. Most people don’t tent anymore, instead opting for the outdoors if it comes with air conditioning, heat and shelter if the rain comes. But, even with the changes, Hagen says there is always one constant. “Everyone wants a bit of freedom. If they go somewhere and they don’t like it, they want to be able to hook up and go. Camping in some ways has always been about being self-sufficient.” Enjoying the breeze in the trees or the hum of nearly nothing is also still alluring to campers, Hagen says. “That will never change. People want solitude at times.” G






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EAT & DRINK // Photos by Manstrom Photography


Food Truck

SCENE It’s a random summer day and the schedule says the truck will be parked in the middle of the UND campus. The day before, it was parked near LM Wind Power. The day before that, near the Lyons garage in the heart of downtown Grand Forks. According to the schedule, the truck is usually in a different spot every day. As we walk onto the campus street, it is clear the schedule was right. From a block away, the yellow hue that’s made the truck easily recognizable, is glossy and bright in the sun. The large logo on the side of the vehicle indicates that we—and the line of people already standing outside it—are there just in time. For the past few summers, a team of community leaders working to provide New Americans with a chance to showcase their culinary skills while connecting the chefs to the foodies and resi24 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 4 2019



Owner/Operator of Steers Restaurant, Dean has been an advisor, chef and mentor to many of the food truck chefs with dreams of making it big.


After moving to the U.S. from France, Sai noticed the region was missing his favorite foods from France: crepes. Sai has worked on the campus of UND and spent two years in the food truck. If you get to try his crepes with smoked salmon, you’ll see and taste why he will be successful with a brick and mortar restaurant someday.

GLOBAL LINE-UP The Mah’s call West Africa home. The other chefs represent regions from several other places. Like the Mah’s, many intend to, or already have, open restaurants or non-movable establishments to serve their home cooking from. “Food is something we’ve always loved to be around,” Rhode Mah says. “It is something that makes people smile, so it is always worth making.”


Operating as The Yak, Mishra provides Himalyan and Nepalise food that has grown a huge following across the region.



dents of the region (and vice-versa) has helped operate the New Flavors Food Truck. Each day, different chefs with different backgrounds from different cultures than those typically found in the region, can utilize the truck and sell their version of a home-cooked meal to the masses. The line of hungry patrons waiting to put in an order as we approached the truck shows the original goal of the truck was, and has been, fully realized. In the front of the line, a male patron that was clearly in the construction trade, leaned into the ordering window laughing and smiling while he asked the chef what a fried plantain was. He could have passed for a Viking, wearing a construction hat and protective eyewear.


From the Phillipines, Stokke provides cuisine cooked from a wok, creating Filipino dishes. She once worked at a prestigious hotel in Qatar.



FOOD TRUCK OPERATIONS Terrill Taylor, a doctoral student in the counseling and psychology department at UND, helps run the operational side of the truck. Taylor, a Texas native, says he likes the mission of the truck. Taylor helps to schedule the chefs, ensure the truck and its cooking components are in great condition, and also spreads the word about the truck. Taylor also helps Pete Haga, one of the original organizers of the truck. He’s learned how well food brings people together and how serious the chefs take their craft. “All of the chefs are motivated to provide great food. They always ask me what they could do better,” he says.

After learning what they were, he stroked his grey mustache and then put in a full order, along with an order of several other items. After he was done, two women of a completely different ethnicity put in an order. Behind them, a completely different set of people placed their order. It was a melting pot of food truck foodies ordering tastes of Liberia, the home region of the chefs using the truck that day. Rhode Mah and her mother, Emilia, both from Liberia in Africa, were busy cooking. In the hour we spent chatting with them and others about the truck, the experience, and how amazing the food was, (the Mah’s can cook) the line never got smaller. G













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Small-town Roots,




Dariann Leigh is a Nashville recording artist from Karlstad, Minnesota, population 760. After working with Purple Cow Records, an independent record label from Nashville with ties to the Midwest, she has become a 19-year old country pop artist. For the past two years, her life has been unlike most teenagers. Leigh has spent multiple weeks in Nashville recording new music for her irst EP, partaking in day-long photoshoots, branding efforts and promotional work, and above all, singing her style of country-esque music on stages of all sizes. Ask any regional music industry a icionado and they’ll tell you, like they told us, that she is about to break out onto the national music scene. Her day-to-day life is now devoted to interviews, performances and social media updates. Her songs are played in daily music challenges against the biggest acts alive. Nearly every streaming service has her music. She travels a lot, going across the Midwest, and more and more, past the states that are familiar to her. Her irst music video for her new song, “Give Me A Minute,” was shot near her home. She wore a Thief River Falls Norskies hockey jersey for part of the video, riding a snowmobile and playing hockey in other segments. There is no doubt she has the appeal and aura of a small town artist capable of singing the lights out on any sized stage. If you haven’t heard her yet, you will soon. And if you have heard, or seen Leigh in person or on the radio, you know why we’re pro iling this small town girl with the memorable voice and big dreams.

How did you get into music? DL Music has always been a big part of my life. I sang all the time; at church, in school, ishing with my family. You name a place, I sang there. When I was 14, I decided to really try and see what I could do. I entered a couple competitions to dip my feet in the water a bit. That all led to getting bookings at events.



Dariann Leigh worked with a team of photographers, musicians and others during her time in Nashville.

How would you describe your style of singing? DL My style is country/pop; but more country than pop.

What are some of the more memorable places you’ve performed at? DL One of the more memorable places I’ve sung at would be at a winery in Las Vegas. I’ve also sang at a Ronald McDonald bike fundraiser and the Mall of America. Honestly though, every place I’ve sang at has a place in my heart.

Why did you go to Nashville? And, what did you learn about yourself after coming back? DL I went to Nashville to record my irst big project. I released my debut single to Music Row Radio, as well as streaming platforms this year, and its been a huge learning process. Being in Nashville made me want to work harder for my dreams. It made me dream bigger. It made me excited to move there sometime in the near(ish) future. I also learned I am blessed to come from the town I do, and to have the support that I have.




What were the challenges you overcame to get to where you are now? DL I have had to overcome the negative mindset that everyone can have from time to time, and really set myself into a positive atmosphere to be able to genuinely push myself to be the best person I can. Doing music, sometimes you have to miss out on family events or other events to go put on a show. Missing that stuff can be disappointing sometimes, but I have really supportive family and friends that understand why I have to miss things. Seeing the audience at my shows, and being able to get up on stage and do what I love makes up for everything and then some.

What is a typical day like when you are in Nashville recording? DL Wake up, eat a good breakfast, maybe go do something around town. Then I would head into the studio warmed up and ready to go. I would be in the studio anywhere from 12 pm to 9 pm. It all varies a bit, but that was the more typical time slot. It’s a lot of fun, and building these songs I have coming out soon, is one of my favorite things I have been able to do in my career.

What is your favorite lyric or line from one of your songs? DL I have so many, so it’s hard to choose! But one of my favorite lines from my debut single, “Give Me A Minute,” is “let me be your lighthouse in the storm.” I love that lyric because of the stories of female lighthouse keepers. The story that stuck with me when I was a little girl, was a wife whose husband was a sailor. Whenever he was away, and he saw the lighthouse, he would think of her. In the darkest storms, he could ind his way home because he knew the keeper of the lighthouse was his love guiding him home.



What are you currently focused on with your career? DL I am currently focusing on these next four songs that I will be releasing, writing for my next single, as well as jamming out at all of my shows this summer.

What do you think is important about your own story? DL Life is short, chase your dreams! Go after what you’ve always dreamed of. I know it sounds cliché, but you really don’t ever know until you try. G



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Evenson decided to offer $100 to the owner of an old service station he’d always thought could be a great place for a business, especially a craft brewery. To talk about the inspiring rise of Revelation Ale—the ultra-rural craft brewery and tap house that sparked a new life for the brewery’s founders and a new, reinvigorated roadmap for an entire community—we left the tap room and walked across the street to the new coffee shop.

while reliving the early days of the venture he started with his family after leaving jobs in banking in Portland, Oregon. Revelation Ale, like the coffee shop, or the looring store or some of the other new buildings that have been redone or repurposed in the last few years, was just one piece to the reimagined small town main street. When he acquired the old service station on the corner for $100 with dreams of starting a brewery, there were eight vacant spaces on the main stretch. Today there are none. Business owners used to ight to get cars and people to the area. Now, there is a parking issue. Although Evenson and his team would like to say the town’s revamp is directly linked to the quality of Revelation’s product, he knows it’s more than that.

Ryan Evenson, one of Revelation’s founders, thought it seemed itting to talk craft beer, community revitalization and the unique situation he, his wife and his brother helped create in Hallock, Minnesota, a small town in Northwestern Minnesota less than one hour from Grand Forks, North Dakota. Bean and Brush, the coffee shop and artist’s outlet that opened shortly after Revelation Ale across the street, The Magic Of Revelation and Hallock Evenson and his family are familiar with the realties was—and is—as much a part of the story as anything, according to Evenson. To him, it made sense to sip a coffee of rural. He grew up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. His 46 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 4 2019

Guest Beertenders To grow its list of patrons, involve the community and to simply have a fun time, the Revelation team came up with a concept they call "guest beertending. "At various times throughout the month, groups, organizations, teams or others are invited and allowed to experience a night at Revelation from behind the bar. For one night, Evenson and his staff step aside and let a participating group pour and serve beer to patrons. The participating guest tenders receive 100 percent of the tips and ten percent of the night’s take. The guest-tending nights are always popular and draw new people to Hallock. According to Evenson, there are a lot of laughs, vocal horsing around and smiles. “People just like the atmosphere,” he says.

The Community Provides When Evenson says the community chipped in to the success of Revelation, he isn’t kidding. Local artists have made embroidered signs and plaques for display in the tap room. A sign maker donated signs seen on the inside and outside of the building. Sponsored tables adorn a huge list of names that wanted to be involved with Revelation.



wife, Lindsey, is from the region. They went to North Dakota State University. After falling in love with the culture and lifestyle of craft beer making in Portland, he knew pursuing his passion of creating a product like craft beer would never be realized in a place so populated. “I’m not sure this was the place most people would have thought of,” he says with a smile. “But we’ve been more than surprised by what is possible.” After working jobs in the region upon their return, Evenson decided to offer $100 to the owner of an old service station he’d always thought could be a great place for a business, especially a craft brewery. He and his brother had a dream to chase and they never thought twice about the location or the size of the customer base in the surrounding town. His dad had already shown his commitment to living near his sons. He had followed his son out to Oregon, then back to Minnesota. The cost to tear down the building was more than Evenson was offering, so the owner accepted his deal. At the time—circa 2015— the building was rough. Light shined through the ceiling, the loors were unusable, the entire facility needed major renovation. With his brother, wife and father (along with several others) the team took a year to renovate the building. The elevator once used to haul milk and tools into a lower level is still there, but most everything else has been updated. Today, Evenson says with a clear sense of pride, there are architects in Minneapolis trying to design new buildings to match the Revelation concept. The building still features a functionable garage door opening that on summer days, allows patrons at the bar an open-air breeze with views of the rural skyline. From the inside of the building, you can hear the sounds you’d expect from a small town—the hum of a distant grain elevator, the swooshing sound of bicycle spokes riding by and the trees outside swaying to a soft wind. To get the business up and running, Evenson sought out investors, ran a Kickstarter campaign, sold t-shirts and used his authentic Minnesota-nice charm on anyone who would listen. Lindsey created several successful marketing and brand awareness campaigns. They followed their company mantra: to do beer and business differently.


The Home of Edison’s Medicine Revelation is known for its Blood Orange Wheat, Peanut Butter Stout, fruit conditioned sours and Edison’s Medicine—all beers that are different, but worth any length of drive. Admittedly, Revelation has always tried to appeal to the craft beer enthusiast while meeting the needs of the north-country-every-man. In addition to beer, the team serves homemade rootbeer and pop. Both are extremely popular and are always near the brink of running out.



STATS FROM MAIN STREET Product is self-distributed to over 100 locations in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada. Employs 16 people with current job ads for more. Since opening, the operational footprint has expanded from a 7-barrel system to a 15-barrel system located in a second, purchased building.

Roughly two years after opening, the team is seeking new employees. They acquired another building, a few doors down, to house their brewing operations. The town, and others, are major supporters of their continuing efforts to stay on their rapid rise as a successful craft brewing operation in rural America. Overhead lights in the new brewing building are from the Minnesota capitol building. The bar top is from a piece of remilled wood taken from Devils Lake. The current booths are from a local bowling alley. Evenson has a hard time describing his tap room customer base. “People are coming from everywhere,” he says, listing major towns in every direction, including Canada, as locations where high numbers of customers travel from. Running the brewery has changed the lives of everyone involved with Revelation, Evenson says, and unleashed a sense of purpose and happiness that he never wants to 50 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 4 2019

give up. When his dad moved back to Minnesota, he was ill. But today, he explains, “I just started feeling better after working here for my son.” At times, the hours are odd, and the miles traveled to events or places to promote the product are long. In any given week, someone from the team could be in Winnipeg, Minneapolis, eastern North Dakota or further south. Running the facility has kept him and his team in a constant quest for ef iciency. They’ve learned about building codes, plumbing, growing hops, telephone poles (he got some installed on a piece of ground to string up the hops he was trying to grow), how to market an ultra-rural craft brewery, and most importantly, he freely admits, how much is possible in a small town when people have a sense of direction and a spirit to approach everyday life and business the Revelation way. G

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OUTDOORS // Photos by Manstrom Photography



When Darrin and Brandi Kuenzel acquired a multi-acre property, mixed with old-growth trees, open ields and stretches of land carved out by the Turtle River, they never knew how much they would care for and learn to love a carved wooden statue overlooking a riverbank. An oak tree limb still dangles over the carving. A vintage bridge is close by. On most summer days, the water just feet below the igure, trickles past. It is painted stark red today, just like it was years ago when it irst went up. It stands in vibrant contrast to its surroundings. According to the Kuenzels, the wooden statue represents more than the basic shape of an old-timey golfer holding a club. It was carved more than a decade ago in remembrance of John Sweeney, the ambitious Manvel, North Dakota-farmer who pooled his resources from friends and family, acquired land and helped turn a grouping of farm acres and river run into a celebration of summer in farm country, a place for an age-old sport of leisure that thousands of Red River Valley inhabitants play, practice, cherish and bemoan: golf.



The statue of Sweeney was carved and placed near the middle of the Whispering Oaks Golf Club, the same course Sweeney dreamt of and helped create decades ago. Sweeney was only able to enjoy the fruits of his golf course building labor for half a decade. He passed after it was built in the late ’90s. Today, after acquiring the unique course from the previous owners—who operated the business as River's Edge—and reimagining its future through renovation and new offerings, the Kuenzel’s more fully appreciate the statue and everything it represents. While the entrepreneurial couple learns the ins and outs of the golf course business, both say they are still giddy about their decision to take on the business and continue the course's legacy as Whispering Oaks. “I remember the irst night we reopened the new clubhouse. The place was packed. I’ll never forget Sweeney’s daughter rushing up to me and giving me a big hug. She had tears in her eyes. So many people from Manvel and Oslo were there. She was happy we were helping to continue the legacy of her father,” Darrin says. “I think I started to tear up myself.”

'We're giving this our all and trying to make improvements--large and small--to the course every year.' DARRIN KUENZEL


How To Own A Golf Course Whispering Oaks isn’t your average golf course. Designed with nine holes, but eighteen tee boxes, the course allows players to play the course two different directions. Because of the added tee boxes, players can get a different experience playing each course setup. Occasionally, the Kuenzels hold tournaments that challenge golfers to play the course both ways—the "front nine" followed by the "back nine"—giving them a true 18-hole golf course experience. The Turtle River winds through the course and provides an obstacle to players and water for irrigation. The course has always been allowed to utilize water from the river. Back in the early days, Sweeney’s brother helped install bridges for crossings that were supplied from the county. The bridges are still in use today, with a few additions.


Built For The Golf Business Darrin became a business owner at age 21. Since then, he’s owned roughly ten businesses. A property manager that has owned his own mowing and lawncare service, in addition to food operations, Darrin feels comfortable at the course. Although he is trying to give up the day-today duties at Whispering Oaks to his staff, he knows he has to remain at the course (he also just likes being there). Brandi graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in recreation and leisure services. Brandi is overseeing more of the operation every day, including the clubhouse and landscaping. “I love the environment of it all. I love working out here. Everyone is in a great mood. I feel like this is the perfect thing to do.”

Prior to an extensive remodel the Whispering Oaks clubhouse, bar and restaurant—all housed within an addition to an old potato warehouse—the golf course's gathering place was in need of an update. Today, it is open, airy and fun. The improved clubhouse is one of many projects the Kuenzel's have completed since buying the course four years ago. When Darrin told Brandi he had an opportunity to buy a golf course, he knew it was a crazy idea she would 58 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 4 2019

back. Brandi played both high school and college golf, and the Kuenzel's two oldest boys were aspiring high school golfers (they both now play on the Red River High School golf team). Golf was already a huge part of their life. After issuing and agreeing on a number of contingencies, the Kuenzels became owners of the course in 2016. “All of it got real, real quick,” Darrin says. “It has been a bit surreal and hard. But it has all been worth it,” Brandi says. Before they began course and clubhouse renova-


The 'Lightning Tree' Decades ago, lightning struck the iconic tree on the 5th/15th hole at Whispering Oaks. Rather than removing the grounded-but-living oak, the course builders left it in place. Today, it is one of Whispering Oaks' most defining obstacles and beloved features. The Lightning Tree was once even a backdrop for a wedding ceremony.



Making Golf Free Eager to make the course more inviting to youth golfers in the region, Darrin and Brandi Kuenzel made a decision earlier this year to let kids play golf at Whispering Oaks for free. The vision has paid off. The Kuenzel's kids, their friends, and many other young golfers are all coming to Manvel to play. Sure, they aren’t paying green fees, but they are stopping by the clubhouse for food or drink before or after a round, or sometimes using a cart. Most importantly, Brandi says, they are getting to experience the course along the Turtle River, the reversible hole set-up, the trees and the fairways and the sounds of the country doing something at a place worthy of a legacy.


tions, everything from the fairways to the greens were in rough shape. Some of the bunkers had weeds growing in place of sand. Broken water-infrastructure kept parts of the course from receiving proper water treatment. One of the bridges was out of order. The course was spiraling into a bad place. Since 2016, Darrin and Brandi have changed the course culture for the better. “We had, and still have, a lot to prove out here,” he says. “We're giving this our all and trying to make improvements—large and small—to the course every year.” To date, Brandi, with the help of a friend with an eye for aesthetics and design, has created a visually pleasing entrance to the clubhouse, complete with landscaping boulders, plants and grasses in a setting it for a high-end course. A patio area was

added outside the clubhouse. Walls inside the clubhouse were taken down and others erected to give anyone sitting inside enjoying food from the new menu, a beautiful view of the course. This year, a putting green was added. Next year, tee box reconstruction will continue. The biggest ongoing expense is the mowing and maintenance equipment, some of which can reach $80,000. Darrin looks to used equipment from the Twin Cities for upgrades. He’s hired managers who know golf courses to keep it looking more and more impressive every season. The team is in the process of rebuilding several of the course's tee boxes with boulder retaining walls. “It’s been an interesting story for us,” Darrin says. “I feel obligated to take care of the place now.” Both Darrin and Brandi admit owning the course hasn’t

been easy. There aren’t a lot of how-to videos or online manuals for doing such, they say. With the help of friends, a trust in their previous work experience and a newfound commitment to an endeavor they know means as much to others as it means to them. They both declare that the business of summer—and the legacy

of their unique property with old-growth trees, river banks and mowed ield openings—is a good one to be involved with. Their new passion for the course is safe and secure. None of them are going anywhere. Not the new owners or the growing member list. Certainly not the statue, painted red and carved out to mimic a

man set on the Turtle River as if it—or he—was looking back out towards the heart of the course and to the clubhouse in the distance, smiling with a sense of pride after the smack of a club hits a ball and someone’s laugh trails off like a whisper into the air of a summer evening before sundown. G

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Rigorous. Fun. Worthwhile. Transformative. Serious fun! NVYO. Advancing young band and orchestra musicians, sign up now for Dal Segno camp August 12-16; registration and info for school year programs at Make music, make friends, make a difference. Scholarships available. For more info visit contact our office: or 701-757-3009 415 Demers Ave Suite A, Grand Forks

NVOG is a privately owned OBGYN Clinic. Dr. Rory Trottier and Dr. Deborah Lachance see women of all ages with Lab and 3D Ultrasound on-site. They are the only provider’s in the region with the MonaLisa Touch laser for postmenopausal symptoms/ breast cancer survivors. Keeping up with the latest technology in women’s healthcare and the trust you get with our providers is insurmountable! 2810 17th Ave S. Grand Forks, ND 58201 701-738-2004 Follow us: Facebook & Instagram



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Profile for BBI International

GRAND Lifestyle magazine - Issue 4, 2019  

The Best of the Grand Cities magazine.

GRAND Lifestyle magazine - Issue 4, 2019  

The Best of the Grand Cities magazine.

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