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FEATURE S November 2013 Volume 8, Issue 11




How hope, love and positivity helped Wes Schuck beat cancer.

18 Wish granted

Area arts and culture venues have reasons to be grateful.

24 Band on the run The rise of the Mankato music scene.

32 Day Trip

Destinations: Shakopee Autumn Festival

About the Cover

Now 18 months removed from a stage IV cancer diagnosis, Wes Schuck was the picture of happiness and vitality in his Mankato home. Photo by The Free Press Media photographer Pat Christman. MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 3





6 From the Editor Thanks for everything 8 Odds ‘n’ Ends 10 Introductions Bruce and Beth Meyer Beefalo Farm 12 The Gallery Jason Willis, Amanda Wirig, literary notes 28 That’s Life A truce in the food fight 30 What’s Cooking Gather ‘round the all-local feast 32 Day Trip Destinations Autumn Festival in Shakopee 34 Then and Now Mavericks hockey sweaters 38 Coming Attractions Events to check out in November 44 From This Valley A backyard conspiracy



32 Coming in December What else? It’s holiday season and we’re ready to celebrate.

34 4 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


With our feature on a real-life Santa Claus, some seasonally inspired poetry and a few other Christmasthemed pursuits, we should be able to put you in the mood — even if you’re not ready for winter just yet.


With Special


We are proud to introduce these new providers to the Mankato Clinic team. The Mankato Clinic offers complete health care services and a convenient location when and where you need it. Call 507-625-1811 to make your appointment.

From the hundreds of students that come through our door each week for lessons, to the churches and schools that rely on us to keep their sound system running smoothly, we would like to extend our warmest thanks.

Suresh Devineni, M.D., Oncology, Main Street Travis Hansen, M.D., Child Psychiatry, Madison East Ron Her, M.D., Urgent Care, Main Street Christopher Mager, M.D., Diagnostic Imaging, Main Street Alice Malecha, NP, Wound Care, Main Street Nicole Marti, NP, Nephrology, Main Street Amelia McQuery, RD, LD, CDE, Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center, Main Street Deb Sowers, DNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatry and Psychology, Madison East

This Thanksgiving season, we would like to remember all the people who have been with us over the past 27 years. Serving the greater Mankato community is a blessing and we truly cherish each and every person who chooses to come through our doors.

Learn more about our providers by visiting

In order to serve you better, we will be open Sundays from Thanksgiving through Christmas from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.





Run by musicians, for musicians. Intersection of Highway 169 & 14 Mankato • (507) 387-3881





MANKATO CLINIC 1-800-657-6944 • MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 5


From The Editor


October 2013 • VOLUME 8, ISSUE 11 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTING Nell Musolf WRITERS Pete Steiner Leticia Gonzales Sarah Johnson Colin Scharf



Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Thanks for everything


he typical “What are you thankful for?” question for Thanksgiving painted into a story line of the November Mankato Magazine could seem trite at first, clichéd at best. But reading through the stories that revolve around that theme bring surprises in tone, an unusual sort of sincerity about small differences and episodes of “Really?” that should make us all a bit smarter about the place we live. As summer wanes and the furnace kicks in, we in the magazine business know people will be looking for interesting things to read and do in lieu of a busy summer schedule. On that order, we have some options. On interesting reads, we offer a few newcomers to the Mankato Magazine’s loosely knit cadre of authors. Colin Scharf is a musician from western New York who came to Mankato and Minnesota State University for grad school. Since 2007 he has been working open mic nights and playing with bands in music venues around Mankato. His piece “Bands on the Run” chronicles the rise of the Mankato music scene, providing interesting insights into the music culture and the people who make it. His piece weaves its way through various tap rooms from the former McGoff’s Irish Pub to what will soon be a renovated Red Sky Lounge and all points in between. His perspective as a working musician gives readers a real feel for the people behind the music and the establishments that support them, or don’t. I’m familiar with most of the places he mentions, but I’ve never quite understood what makes them tick until reading Scharf’s piece. Another newcomer, Sarah Johnson, is a North Mankato mom with three grown kids and a selfdescribed chocolate addict who introduces us this month to a cornucopia of foods you can find for your Thanksgiving table that are grown and produced in southern Minnesota. Her grocery list is impressive and

surprising: “Turkey raised in Cannon Falls, Wykoff or New Ulm. Ham from a variety of pork producers, including my favorite just outside Mankato. Bread baked with flour and milled in Welcome, where I’ll also get the cornmeal for my cornbread. I’ll need honey for that cornbread, of course, and that’ll come from beehives in Lafayette or Gaylord.” The arts seem to be on the end of a good share of thanks in this month’s issue as well. The 410 Project in downtown Mankato, a local gathering spot for all manner of visual and sometimes performing arts, was recently awarded a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council to establish Black Water Press, a new printmaking avenue for area artists. Peter Olson, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, is equally thankful. The organization has settled on a location for its new 15,000 square foot museum at 224 Lamm St. in Mankato. With local donations and a sizeable fundraising effort, the “old bus burn” will be transformed into a “worldclass museum for the families of southern Minnesota,” Olson says. The arts appear alive and kicking all along Highway 14 from Waseca to New Ulm. Both cities have major art center renovation and building projects underway. The Waseca Center for the Arts is part-way through a renovation project that includes a remodeled second floor auditorium that has begun to host classical music performances. In New Ulm, the Grand Center for Arts and Culture renovation includes a community art gallery, arts and culture education space and a recording studio. As out-of-town visitors often tell me, the Mankato region is a place with lots of amenities that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Thanks to those who make it so. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 7

Odds ‘n’ Ends

This Day in History By Tanner Kent

Brochures Annual Reports Catalogs Magazines Posters Hard and Soft Cover Books Direct Mail and More!

Nov. 7, 1905: The Free Press reported on a regional turkey shortage, telling readers: “Gobblers are scarce and codfish balls may have to take their place as a Thanksgiving dish.” Apparently, two consecutive wetter-than-average springs had harshly affected the youngest generations of area turkeys. With such scarcity, Mankato merchants told the newspaper they’d have to sell the birds for 20 cents per pound — the equivalent of paying about $5 per pound in today’s dollars. Also on this date, the newspaper printed the following pearl of period wisdom in the lower-right corner of the front page: “Lots of young girls who are devoting lots of time to music lessons will learn after marriage that cooking is a more valuable accomplishment than thumping a piano.” Nov. 27, 1913: On this date, the North Mankato Commercial Club rejected what may have been the first official attempt to merge with Mankato. Backed by a small contingent of fervent supporters, the measure to merge nonetheless failed. Among the club’s 35 members, four voted in favor of merging and 12 against. The rest abstained. Under the headline “North Mankato would enact role of loving sister to big suitor” and referring to that city as “Brooklyn” (a reference to the latter’s long holdout from merging with other boroughs to form New York City), the article detailed a robust and well-attended debate. Despite arguments that the city would gain strengths of scale and increased property values, most in the club remained unmoved. Emil Rohde summarized the view of dissenters when he said: “We have better streets than Mankato has and we will be better off to continue to govern ourselves. The Lord has done more for North Mankato than Mankato could ever do.” Nov. 7, 1893: Frank Svartengren, whose 12-year-old son had found the body of Lars. P. Nelson while rabbit hunting two days earlier, announced his intention to take action against the deceased’s widow for the $200 reward. Lars Nelson had been missing for several days when he was found dead of suicide by Svartengren’s son. Nelson’s wife said her husband had threatened suicide on multiple occasions; she suspected the final straw came after moving onto a new farm in Eagle Lake and finding the property highly oversold. Apparently, Mrs. Nelson angered Svartengren when she offered only $5 for his troubles. Nov. 13, 1893: This snarky little jab at Mankato’s northern neighbor appeared on page 3 of The Free Press: “How the mighty have fallen. Thirty years ago, St. Peter aspired to become the capitol of the state. But the other day, says the (Brown County) Journal, a man driving through town mistook it for Kasota.”

Corporate Graphics Your Printing Solutions Company

1750 Northway Drive North Mankato, MN 56003 800-729-7575 8 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Pictured is the St. Peter business district in 1883, four years before a November fire that decimated many of the buildings shown, and 10 years before a visitor confused the town with Kasota. | Courtesy of Nicollet County Historical Society

Ask the Expert: Turkey Tips

By Nell Musolf

Turkey 101: The right bird, the right methods Renee Retzlaff is the director of culinary services at Oak Terrace Assisted Living. Come Thanksgiving, she will oversee the turkey preparation for approximately 150 residents. Here are some of her tips for making a tasty turkey: • A 12- to 14-pound turkey will take approximately threeand-one-half to four hours to cook. If you do not have a meat thermometer, try buying a turkey with an inserted thermometer that will pop when the turkey is completely done. If you have a thermometer, breast meat should reach 170 degrees and meat in the deep part of the thigh should reach 180 degrees • If you stuff your turkey, allow another hour for cooking depending on the size of the bird. •When figuring out how big a turkey to buy, anticipate that about 60 percent of the total weight of the turkey will be useable. If you are feeding 12 people and want an 8-ounce serving per person, multiply 12 and 8 (96 ounces) and divide that by 16 ounces to get your total pounds of cooked meats (6 pounds). Then, divide 6 pounds by 60 percent and that would equal a 10-pound turkey to feed a group of 12. However, that wouldn’t leave many leftovers.

• For a roasted look, take the lid off the turkey for the last half hour of cooking to let the skin brown. Baste the bird with pan juices or butter. • When it comes to fresh or frozen turkeys, Retzlaff doesn’t feel there is much of a difference and personally prefers the convenience of a frozen turkey. She also likes to jazz up her stuffing by adding chopped, unpeeled Granny Smith apples to her stuffing along with toasted pecans or walnuts. “Apples add another texture, a different flavor and color to stuffing and Granny Smith’s bake well and do not turn mushy,” Retzlaff said. “Our residents at Oak Terrace will be in for a tasty new twist on a classic meal this Thanksgiving.”

News to use: Pet grooming for cold weather By The Washington Post


s the weather cools down and the night temperatures dip down towards freezing, consider these cold-weather pet tips: • How long you are leaving your pets outdoors? Even though they have their own fur, pets can be vulnerable to the change in weather. Be sensitive to the temperatures. • When having your pet groomed, ask for a longer cut for the colder weather. Keep the shaved look for the hot summer months.

• Never leave your pet alone in the car at any time of the year. • If you use a space heater in a room of the house, make sure your dog or cat doesn’t lie anywhere near it. Don’t leave it on anytime with a pet in the room without your supervision. Your pet could knock over the heater. • For your sake as well as your pet’s, have your furnace checked for carbon monoxide leaks. • Take your pet in for a fall check-up. Your vet can tell you how hardy your pet is and if he has any health conditions that could make him feel the cold more. If your pet has a heart condition, arthritis, kidney disease or many other ailments, he shouldn’t be left outside for long in cold weather. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 9




Tanner Kent | Photos


Pat Christman

Bruce and Beth Meyer’s 60-acre farm is located between Elysian and Cleveland. Specializing in beefalo, the couple also raises goats, pigs, buffalo and poultry.

Farming for the future


ith its beefalo herds, diversity of crops and livestock, large vegetable garden, on-site farm store and array of sustainable farming methods, there isn’t another farm in south-central Minnesota quite like Bruce and Beth Meyer’s. Located outside Elysian on the same tract of land on which Bruce was raised, the Meyer farm is a testament to the bounty this land can yield if treated with reverence and respect. For more information about the Meyer farm, visit www. Mankato Magazine: I understand you currently reside on the same Elysian farm on which Bruce grew up. Did Bruce ever make a conscious decision to take over the farm, or did it happen more coincidentally? Beth Meyer: Growing up, Bruce and his siblings all had chores and helped out on their parent’s dairy farm. Bruce enjoyed it and being a farmer was always a part of him. So, when his dad came to him to ask if he wanted to run the farm, Bruce was grateful for the opportunity. At first, he farmed on shares and later, when his dad retired, Bruce rented the land. He also purchased 30 acres nearby where he raised his buffalo herd for 25 years. It

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now pastures part of the Beefalo herd. MM:What did Bruce farm before you arrived? How has the farm changed since then? Beth: Before we met, Bruce raised buffalo, beefalo, and Red Wattle pigs, selling the meat by quarters and halves. He also raised corn, oats, alfalfa and made hay on various fields close by. In addition, Bruce had a small garden where he grew vegetables for his own use. After we met in 2003, the only thing that really changed was that the farm now had an extra pair of hands for the ever-increasing workload. We continued with Bruce’s vision by going completely chemical-free, taking our meat to farmers markets for a couple of years to establish name recognition. We followed that by opening our farm store in 2006 and adding a website. MM: What prompted you to begin selling your meat in the hand-built farm store on your property? And what can customers find there? Beth: Need and convenience were the driving factors for opening the on-site farm store. The farmers markets were great for letting people know that we had meat products to sell, but the travel time to and from and the time spent

away from the farm was difficult for both of us. Having the farm store allowed us the ability to set our own hours and to offer special appointment times for anyone who couldn’t make it during regular farm store hours. When you come to our farm store you can expect to find beefalo, Red Wattle pork, roasting chickens in season, and farm fresh eggs. We carry burger, roasts, steaks, jerky and snack sticks, summer sausage, a wide variety of pork including bacon, brats, hot dogs, ring bologna, ham steaks, chops and more. We recently introduced goat meat including burger, chops, roasts and ribs. MM: As operators of one of the few beefalo farms in southern Minnesota, what drew you to the breed in the first place? What benefits are there to both raising and eating beefalo? Beth: As an avid reader, Bruce had done research into the various breeds of beef cattle and came across the beefalo breed. He found a breeder within a few miles of the farm back in 1986, starting his herd with a heifer calf named Ernie and expanding from there. There are many benefits to beefalo. Being a cross between a bison and a beef animal, they have qualities of both species. Like bison, they are easy calvers, do well on pasture grasses, have high-quality, lean meat with little fat and marbling, low cholesterol and are high in protein. Like beef cattle, they are very easy to handle and grow to maturity in less time than bison do. And the taste is exceptional. MM: How difficult is it to gauge the tastes of your customers, and how much do you have to plan ahead to ensure you raise the correct livestock to fill all of your customers’ orders? Beth: It’s not too difficult to gauge the tastes of our customers. The people who come to us are looking for great-tasting meat that is healthy, chemical-free and humanely-raised. And, many are looking for that special connection back to a farm; something you can’t get at the grocery store. Sometimes we get ideas by what new customers to our farm store will ask for. Other times, we get ideas from things that we read about in food publications. Part of being sustainable means we raise only that which we can realistically sell so there is no waste. We have been very successful at achieving that goal. Very few are ever turned away and nothing ever goes to waste on our farm. MM: Your farm is, it seems, deeply committed to sustainable and natural farming methods. Can you explain some of your techniques as well as what motivates you to pursue such methods? Beth: We believe that everyone is responsible for the health and sustainability of our planet and we all must do all we can to leave it better than we found it. We must care for it, nurture it, and keep it healthy just as we do our animals that depend on it for their existence. Rotational grazing with the beefalo, for instance, is a big part of being sustainable. It involves dividing a large pasture area into smaller sections (paddocks) and moving our beefalo daily to new fresh grasses, thereby giving each paddock the chance to grow back. This prevents the animals from eating only the good grasses and leaving

The Meyer farm has an on-site farm store with regular hours that also takes special appointments. behind the weeds. By not having too many animals concentrated in one area, it also prevents them from chewing down the entire pasture to stubble which can result in soil erosion, increased pressure from weeds, and greater difficulty for grasses to grow back. MM: For us city folk, can you put into words the amount of work and level of commitment it takes to operate your farm? Beth: It takes both of us working every day to keep the farm going and to feed the animals and us. Some might say that it is a 365-day-per-year job, but we see it more as a way of life rather than a job. There is a huge commitment to caring for the animals, even if it is to simply watch them to gauge that they are all getting enough to eat out in the pastures. Calving, kidding, farrowing and hatching all require extra time and care to make sure all goes well and to work toward the best outcome: healthy babies and moms. And our work happens in the middle of a cold March night or under the blazing heat of a summer day or in the pouring down rain of spring or fall. Patience, flexibility and a deep love of this land and these animals that we have been entrusted to care for are needed to keep doing what we do. We feel truly blessed to be doing what we do. MM: Finally, with Thanksgiving around the corner, what kinds of dishes are on the Meyer table? Beth: We haven’t quite figured that out yet. It might be a goose, a duck, a turkey, or a chicken depending on what might be unsold at that time. But it will include stuffing with our homemade bread, mashed and sweet potatoes from our garden, butternut squash and maybe carrots or green beans (also from our garden) and most probably a wonderfully rich, decadent dessert such as cocoa crumb cake (from an Amish cookbook that we bought a few years ago) and some extraordinary chocolate cinnamon ice cream with the cream courtesy of one of our Gernsey cows. And we will give thanks for every bite of it! M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 11

The Gallery

Gaining momentum

Mapleton author’s self-published series a stepping-stone By Tanner Kent


riting a seven-book series would be an arduous task under any circumstances. Doing it without an agent, marketing team or publisher — while maintaining a full-time teaching job in the Maple River School District — would be an example of true literary determination. Jason Willis is that example. “I guess I’m a little OCD,” said Willis, who’s now selfpublished “Pan’s Apprentice,” which represents the fifth installment of his Seven Fires Chronicles series, an epic journey across time that is rooted in Minnesota geography, regional history and Native American tradition. “Writing this series has allowed me to have a healthy obsession.” What’s more, the series has allowed Willis to advance his career as a professional writer. As self-published works continue to prove their moneymaking mettle in the literary world — thanks in large part

to the runaway success of Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and E.L. James’ “50 Shades” trilogy, both of which were originally self-published — the once-derided publishing method is gaining legitimacy. And Willis is an example of that, too. When he started formulating his series more than a decade ago, he did so with an agent and an eye toward traditional publishers. When he was met with rejection, he forged ahead, self-publishing the first in his series, “Hamlet’s Ghost,” in 2008. To make self-publishing profitable, however, authors must promote and sell the book themselves. During summers off from school, Willis split time traveling the state and region while writing the next installment of his series. Over time, he gained a nucleus of devoted readers and began selling enough of his books to make his travels and time commitment somewhat profitable. During his trip to the South Dakota Book Festival over the summer, he was approached by a publisher interested in his series. “With self-publishing, I was able to do it my way and still make some contacts,” Willis said. “And having to sell the book myself, I’ve learned a lot about what readers are looking for, and how to get them hooked.” At this point, Willis has the final two books in his Seven Fires series outlined and ready for writing in addition to a pair of other serial works he’s developing. He plans to polish the manuscripts in the next several months and begin shopping them with traditional publishers next year. “If I hadn’t self-published, I’m not sure I’d have had the confidence to keep going,” he said.

Page turners

Turner Hall calendar, Minnesota fishing lore, and more


he second edition of the Turner Hall calendar is now available. And it’s not hard to see why organizers are calling it “scandalous.” The 2014 version of the calendar — which serves as a fundraiser for the historic venue that touts itself as the oldest bar in Minnesota and the home of the state’s oldest gymnastics program — features the women of Turner Hall as models for the photos. Not surprisingly, Turner Hall manager Virginia Suker Moldan said this version was considerably more challenging than the last calendar, which featured the men of Turner Hall. “This one was a lot more work,” she said, noting that several shoots were complicated by uncooperative weather. “But we got some photographs that are creative and interesting.”

12 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

For more information, visit

• Minnesota State University’s Aruni Kashyap, a master’s student in creative writing and author of “The House With a Thousand Stories, presented last month at Princeton University. He was a guest of the South Asian Studies Program. Later this month, Kashyap will speak about his debut novel (published by Penguin of India) at the George Town Literature Festival in Penang, Malaysia. • Nicole Helget’s forthcoming novel “Stillwater” has been slated for a February 2014 release. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the work of historical fiction represents the North Mankato writer’s first work since the critically acclaimed young adult novel, “Horse Camp,” she wrote with her husband. “Stillwater” is set in fronter Minnesota and, according to promotional materials, explores the

Mixing media

Mankato’s Amanda Wirig is an artist comfortable in many styles By By Nell Musolf


ust call her Mrs. Paul McCartney. Amanda Wirig, mixed-media artist as well as electric guitarist in the local band Royal Atomic, has a bit of a crush on the “cute” Beatle. “I’ve been love with him since I was 16,” Wirig admitted. “That was the year the Beatles ‘Anthology’ came out. I saw him in concert last July in Milwaukee and it was a great concert — even though his wife was in the audience.” Wirig comes from a musical family (her dad, Dave, is a member of the band Main Street) and remembers growing up in a musical home. She now puts her talents to use teaching guitar lessons at both Scheitel’s Music Store and at RBA Public Charter School. In addition to playing the guitar, Wirig also plays the piano and the flute. As a musician, Wirig finds teaching music to be very rewarding. “I get to introduce kids to a bunch of bands that they’ve never heard before,” Wirig said. Amanda Wirig with an example of her painting. | Free Press file photo “It’s interesting because some of the music I the great music that is available at the restaurants and bars think they’ll love — like Elvis — they don’t like, but most on Front Street. Wirig will also be part of a group of the music I share with them they end up enjoying.” presentation at the Emy Frentz Arts Guild from Nov. 21 When she isn’t making music either on stage or in a through Dec. 18. classroom, Wirig might be found putting the finishing Wirig graduated from Minnesota State University in touches on a piece for her Etsy store, Shiny Black Vinyl. 2003 with degrees in art and music. Given her druthers, She also recently finished decorating one of the traffic she’d like to be able to devote the same amount of time to signal boxes in downtown Mankato as one of the 10 artists both of her passions. chosen to help beautify the city. Wirig chose a music “I have to split my time up between music and painting,” theme for her box (which is located in front of the Wirig said. “Ideally, I’d like more time for painting. downtown Walgreens). The signal box has a “blues thing” Hopefully someday that will happen.” going and Wirig said she chose the blues to tie in with all

“dark side of the pioneer spirit — the urge to abandon home and loved ones in search of opportunity.” • Nicollet’s Thomas Uehling has published “Minnesota’s Angling Past,” the next edition in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. •Clint Edwards’ essay, “The Coffin Handles Were Stalks Of Wheat,” which originally appeared in Post Road Magazine, was listed as a notable essay in “Best American Essays 2013.” M

The “scandalous” Turner Hall 2014 calendar is now available. | Calendar photo by Images by Drea MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 13

Two years ago, Wes was told he had stage IV cancer and two months to live. Today, he and wife Kristi are celebrating his improbably recovery. | Pat Christman


How hope, love and positivity helped Wes Schuck beat cancer By Tanner Kent

14 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


omehow, Wes Schuck knew this would be the woman to save his life. Problem was, he had just gotten her fired. A 19-year-old Gustavus Adolphus College student who filled his free time by playing guitar in a band down at Patrick’s bar in St. Peter, Schuck had been trying for weeks to catch the attention of the cute blonde who bartended on the nights he played by ordering Coca-Colas at the bar. For her part, she had already taken notice of his boyish good looks and easy charm. They had already been flirting for weeks when he was caught by her boss with something more than Coke in his cup. She took the rap for her underage suitor, and both found themselves bounced out into the Minnesota cold. Alone and blanketed in falling snow, the two must’ve looked young, naive — and hopelessly smitten. But Wes must’ve noticed something more, something eternal in the fleeting emotions of the moment. For, when he turned to the woman who would someday bear his children, make his home and nurture him through life’s turmoils, it was with a startling prediction: “Kristi, I’m going to marry you someday.” Of course, he didn’t know enough at the time to add, “I’m also going to need you to help me beat a terminal case of cancer.” But he would’ve been right about that, too.

School for heedless tomfoolery and devil-may-care hijinks. When his band teacher when on vacation, Wes got permission from his teacher’s wife to toilet-paper their home and yard. He cleaned up the mess himself, but not before taking pictures of the event and leaving the negatives in his teacher’s darkroom to be discovered later. Wes livened listless moments in the high school theatre’s sound booth by jumping through its sliding window and toward the sea of chairs just beyond. Longtime friend and Two Fish studios partner Cam Johnson said he remembers Wes casually mounting handstands on the pop machine while strolling the hallways. “He’d just keep walking like nothing happened,” Johnson said. “But that was just Wes.” After getting married, Wes credits Kristi with helping him channel that unbridled energy into more productive avenues. With her support, Wes founded Two Fish Studios in 1997, quickly growing the business into a formidable industry player. Within a few years, the studio had already cut more than 85 CDs, won a few awards and scored some impressive contracts. Around that time, Wes led a team that patented a system for mobile audio engineering that allowed him to record a live musical event and produce a professional-quality CD within 15 minutes of the encore. He showcased the technology in 2003, recording wellknown jam band The String Cheese Incident’s entire “Almost Winter” •••• tour. But in the sometimes Sitting in the front cuthroat music porch of his Mankato entertainment industry, home, Wes Schuck’s 170success brings attention. pound frame belies little of A patent infringement the chemotherapy lawsuit against Wes and treatments that saturate his mobile engineering his limbs and torso with idea was eventually thrown cytotoxic medicine twice out of court, but not before daily, and the collection of a major media stents and ports that keep conglomerate had his body from overflowing Wes Schuck uses a variety of ingredients for his daily juicing diet, from cucumbers and extracted a six-figure sum with toxic material even as carrots to kale and fennel. in legal fees. he speaks. Another of Wes’ His movements are lithe and spirited, not unlike those you ventures, a now-defunct local arts and culture magazine, was might expect from a 38-year-old man who has a reputation in struck with a lawsuit before the first issue even went to press. this town as the relentlessly energetic force behind Two Fish That case was eventually thrown out as well, but the incident Studios. His conversation is free and loose, exhibiting the same helped spell the publication’s early demise. warmth and charisma you’d expect from a media visionary Through it all, Wes said his wife has been the constant. whose current projects include the development of a reality“You know Kristi,” Wes said. “She’s such a supporter.” based TV about dog training and an ambitious social media Neither could have known, however, just how much Wes venture called the 100 Band Project that aims to leverage the would come to depend on her support. power of music in exchange for broader social benefit. From appearances alone, it would be hard to guess that this •••• seemingly vibrant man was told 18 months ago that stage IV colon cancer could kill him in as little as 60 days. After Wes’ initial diagnosis in January 2012, doctors “I’ve said many times that she’s saved my life,” Wes said of performed a series of surgeries to “keep me alive until I could Kristi, his wife of 16 years. “I don’t know where I’d be without start chemo.” Scans later showed that the cancer had completely her.” blocked his colon, overtaken his liver and spread to his lymph When the two first met, Wes was not far removed from the nodes. His prognosis was grim: Two months to live. Six, at last time he threw himself from a moving car. Or, rolled himself best. down a flight of stairs. Or, jumped out of a classroom window. Wes and Kristi, however, refused to live by such a timetable. A spirited youth who harbored a dream to someday become “I took a deep breath and I said, ‘He’s here and he’s living. a stunt man, Wes gained a reputation throughout Willmar High I’m here and I’m loving him. That’s all we are guaranteed,’” MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 15

Wes and Kristi Schuck pursued a combination of both traditional and holistic treatments for colon cancer. In addition to chemotherapy, Wes is also a religious juicer, ingesting more than six juice shakes a day. He has also cut dairy, sugar and gluten from his diet. Kristi said. “But that timetable just wasn’t going to work for us.” By the time his chemo regiments started in February, the Schucks had also begun meeting with a holistic doctor in St. Paul who prescribed that Wes double his sleep, drastically improve his nutrition and begin meditative exercise. With that, Kristi had found her mission. As the right-brained thinker of the pair, she threw herself into the details of Wes’ treatments with life-saving zeal. With her guidance, Wes soon cut gluten, dairy and sugar from his diet and began “over-dosing on nutrition.” Kristi researched everything she could find about juicing, collecting recipes and instituting family-wide changes in nutritional lifestyle. Spending upward of $1,000 a month on fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables, she started concocting as many as six juice shakes a day packed in beneficial vitamins and minerals. Though traditional medicine has yet to definitively prove any additional benefits of juicing, Kristi said the juice is more readily absorbed by the body and keeps Wes’ immune system overloaded with nutrients. For Wes’ part, he said the juices represent a welcome counteraction to the toxic elements inside his body. “I can feel how incredibly powerful some of these foods are,” he said. “The human body is so amazing in what it can do. I want to give my body resources and maximize its potential.” 16 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

•••• But the Schucks say their most potent weapon has been positivity. Where others may have sulked over the future, Wes and Kristi have made a concerted effort to be grateful for the present. Where others may have wallowed in pity, Wes and Kristi have avoided stasis, maintaining frantic work and family lives that bear little difference to those they led pre-cancer. Just months before his diagnosis, Wes competed in the notoriously grueling Tough Mudder event. Though the symptoms of his cancer were already beginning to manifest in painful stomach aches and nauseating bouts of indigestion, he completed the course. Doctors would later tell him he’d likely already had cancer for 5-7 years at the time of the competition. A few weeks after his cancer diagnosis, Wes drove through a blizzard overnight to reach Virginia in time to spend the weekend working on his potential TV series, “The Wolfkeeper,” with fellow Gustavus graduate Toriano Sanzone. Even when Wes was sweating and shaking in uncontrollable fits, his body racked with withdrawal symptoms after months of medicating with powerful prescription pain pills, he still managed to drag himself to Chicago to videotape an inner-city dog training exercise. “I knew Wes was unique,” Kristi said. “And I know that the uniqueness of people absolutely counts when fighting this

disease.” On the Caring Bridge site they updated regularly during the initial months of Wes’ diagnosis, the couple used words like “opportunity” and “thankful” to talk about the cancer that changed their lives. To this day, Wes maintains he is grateful for the positive life changes his cancer has encouraged. Though neither is blind to the reality of Wes’ situation, they say the months since his diagnosis have reaffirmed the important things in life, refreshed their investment in life and renewed their love. “There are a lot of aspects about this journey I’ve been thankful for,” Wes said. That investment in hope appears to have paid dividends. Though their resolve has been continually tested — one of the most extreme examples coming in October 2012 when a colon stent perforated Wes’ bowels, requiring emergency, lifesaving surgery — his progress has been little short of miraculous. Scans in mid-2012 showed that the cancer in his body had stopped spreading and, indeed, may be dying altogether. Though scans later in the year revealed that his liver couldn’t be saved with surgery — removing the calcified tumors, the surgeon said, would leave him with less than 20 percent of that organ — they did reveal that his cancer appeared to still be relatively stable. With that, doctors began discussing his lifespan in terms of years, not months. “I know our approach has been a little outside the box,” Kristi said. “But I can’t imagine it being any different for us.”

•••• Now, on a subdued October afternoon at a coffee shop on Front Street, there is nothing but contentment on Wes’ face. Kristi is on her way to visit, he says, to say hi and drop off a shot of wheatgrass. His 100 Band Project — an ambitious venture that has identified 10 bands in 10 cities across America that have agreed to participate in a nationwide movement to build a youth center — is gaining momentum. And the potential TV series he’s filming with Sanzone is about to embark on a lengthy publicity tour. He jokes, fully aware of his gallows humor, that these projects all require a certain long-term commitment. A term, he said, that he has every intention of fulfilling. As he waits for Kristi to arrive, an autumn storm begins to thunder over the valley. He excuses himself to answer his cell phone, greeting his young daughter who is calling from school. He cups the receiver and whispers across the table — “She doesn’t like storms” — as he begins to patiently counsel her fears. After a few minutes, he finds a weather radar on his phone and asks a question that he no doubt has asked himself during the length of his cancer journey: “This is going to pass in no time — do you think you can stick it out?” After he hangs up, a proud smile crosses Wes’ lips. Her answer was the same as his. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 17

Participants in a class at the 410 Project’s newly created Black Water Press are pictured with instructor and 410 director Dana Sikkila (left). | Pat Christman

Wish granted

Area arts and culture venues have reasons to be thankful

Finding a way to enhance the space at the 410 Project, has long been a goal of the gallery’s director Dana Sikkila. In August, Sikkila and other volunteers ramped up their efforts to make that goal a reality by applying for a grant through the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council. “We’re still new to the grant-writing process,” said Sikkila, crediting Keith Luebke, an art administration instructor at Minnesota State University, for advising the 410’s grant proposal. “So, we were very grateful for the help.” Sikkila’s group applied for the grant in August and found out that they had been awarded it a few weeks later. The money will be used to purchase printing materials for Black Water Press, the newly added printmaking center in the rear of the gallery located on Front Street in Mankato. “The money from the grant will enable us to buy the special kind of papers, inks and screen emulsions that we need,” Sikkila said. Black Water Press is a community-supported printmaking 18 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

center with a focus on presenting printmaking techniques to the greater Mankato area. Sikkila came up with the name Black Water as an homage to her Boston Terrier Murphy as well as to Erik Waterkotte, a former MSU professor. “And also because black water is what you always end up with when you are printmaking,” Sikkila said. Until now, many local artists have had to go up to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for specialized printmaking needs; but with Black Water Press up and running, many of those needs can be met locally. Sikkila believes that the new printmaking center will not only raise the 410’s image, but also benefit the Mankato art community at large. “I think the Black Water Press is going to be a perfect fit for Mankato,” Sikkila said. “People have gone out of their way to help us and now, with the grant from PLRAC, we’re starting in a new direction. Slowly but surely, we’re starting.”

Starting last month, Black Water Press began offering printmaking classes to the public. The classes are free but limited to six students per session on a first-come-firstserve basis. The classes are taught by Sikkila and Allison Roberts, a local artist whose silkscreen work has been shown in exhibits and galleries throughout the region. “People in the community, artists and people wanting to explore the arts, have a hard time working with printmaking since it involves specialized equipment, tools and supplies,” Roberts observed. “This grant, and the founding of Black Water Press, will give people the opportunity to give printmaking a try.” Moving Up Peter Olson, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, has many reasons to feel thankful this year. The Children’s Museum will be moving to its new location at 224 Lamm St. at the end of 2014, a space that will give the museum about three times the size of its current location. “We are so thankful for the opportunity to transform the old bus barn into a world-class museum for the families of southern Minnesota,” Olson said. “In fact, we expect to welcome visitors from every county in Minnesota.” Olson said that the museum staff is grateful to the City of Mankato as well as all of the supporters who have given “time, treasure and talent to make the permanent museum a truly special destination.” “The new building is around 15,000 square feet,” he said, “so after a complete renovation we’re likely to open with about 10,000 square feet of amazing exhibits and other public spaces with the rest of the square footage used for offices, storage and other back-of-house needs.” Another plus of the new location is the fact that it sits on a two-acre lot in the heart of downtown Mankato where there will be plenty of room for outdoor play spaces, learning environments, parking and room for future expansions. Olson said that when the Greater Mankato Rotary chose the Children’s Museum as its signature project, they signed on to contribute $100,000 to help pay for the Rotary Education Center in the new museum and $100,000 worth of volunteer hours over the next five years. Rotarians are currently helping staff events at the museum’s interim site. “This extensive level of hands-on support is helping the museum deepen our offerings, grow our visitorship and build wonder-filled exhibits for the permanent museum,” Olson said. “With the support of Rotary and the rest of our generous community, we’ll soon be opening an amazing children’s museum for all to enjoy for generations to come.” Krista Bentsen, who works as the birthday party and group event Coordinator at the Children’s Museum, is also excited about the move as well as thankful to work at the museum. “Having a real children’s museum in Mankato will spark that lifelong love of learning that is so important to healthy development,” Bentsen said. More Space for Art The new Waseca Art Center is a light, bright airy space and is the cause for much gratitude from executive director Patricia Beckmann — as well as the many artists and patrons who will benefit from the new location.

Dana Sikkila used a Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council grant to begin purchasing the supplies needed to operate Black Water Press. | Submitted photo “The new center is the result of the contributions of people who worked hard to make it happen,” Beckmann said. “We had a lot of volunteers who made this financially possible.” With a gift store and lobby area where work from the permanent collection can be displayed, the first floor of the Waseca Art Center also hosts the gallery where area artists have shows that typically last for five weeks. “It’s a nice space,” Beckmann said of the gallery. “There are walls that can be moved so if an artist doesn’t have quite enough work to fill the entire room, we can rearrange things and make the room smaller.” Upstairs there is a renovated auditorium, resplendent with pale green walls, a refinished floor and a stage at one end for concerts. In October, the first fall concert was held featuring classical violinist Yevgeny Kutik. Beckmann said that she can visualize the space being used for other events such as wedding receptions or parties. A mainly unfinished conference room is behind the auditorium. There it’s possible to see how far the art center has come. “Someday we hope to make this into a multi-purpose room and add restrooms as well as get the elevator up to code — but unfortunately, we don’t have $130,000 to do that right now,” Beckmann said. The basement has been named ArtSpace and it includes a place for art and music classes for children, a family bathroom and a staff kitchen. There is also a library nook that was recently enriched with a donation of books by John Horan of Waterville. “As executive director I’m thankful for the people in the MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 19

The Grand Center for Arts and Culture in New Ulm has undergone major recent renovations. | Submitted photo community who made financial contributions to make this all happen,” Beckmann said. “We’re hoping that support continues. We’re also grateful for all the grants we have received and especially to the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council for its support.” Grand Plans In New Ulm, the Grand Center for Arts and Culture (GCAC) recently underwent a renovation. Anne Makepeace, GCAC’s founding director, described some of what was changed: “The entire building has undergone renovation to create a complete arts and cultural center for New Ulm and the surrounding area,” Makepeace said. “There is a threestory addition on the back with an elevator that goes to all four levels of the building. The second floor houses a community art gallery, arts and cultural education space, a recording studio and music lesson and studio space. The 20 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

third floor houses eight studios and a small apartment, potentially to be used by an artist-in-residence.” So far, Makepeace said the renovation has been appreciated by local residents. But even with so much work done, the center still has plans for the future, including continuing to work on the renovation of the basement after figuring out a purpose for the space. Makepeace said the center also needs furniture and fixtures throughout the building. As with other area arts centers, the people at GCAC are thankful for many things this season. “We are thankful to the GCAC board, the many artists and musicians who have helped with fundraisers and volunteering,” Makepeace said. “We’re also thankful for the community’s support and interest and to our many donors.” M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 21


By John Cross


hough winter officially does not arrive until Dec. 21, come November, it already lurks in the shadows of a waning autumn. Except for a few persistent fisherman, perhaps some hardy duck hunters, southern Minnesota lakes in late fall can be mostly empty spaces. So there are few witnesses on those first chilly, windless evenings, as fall gradually gives way to the evertightening grip of winter.. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 23

Bands on the Run: Red Sky’s Place in the Rise of the Mankato Music Scene by Colin Scharf

Falling Stars On Sunday, Jan. 25, 1959, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and Dion and the Belmonts rocked Mankato’s Kato Ballroom on their Winter Dance Party tour. Tickets cost $1.50. The promotional flyer encouraged everyone to “dress right to feel right.” Parents were welcome free of charge. The Winter Dance Party was the Kato Ballroom’s premier concert, pulling in about 2,400 teeny boppers. The music died eight days later in a frozen Iowa field. After playing the Surf Ballroom in nearby Clear Lake, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to make the next gig in Moorhead. He was sick of their tour vehicle — a converted school bus with no heat — and hoped to make Moorhead a few hours early to do laundry. The Big Bopper and Richie Valens finagled their way onto the doomed aircraft as well. A combination of bad weather and pilot error caused the plane to crash in Albert Juhl’s bean field. Nobody survived. Since the Ballroom opened in 1946, Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lee Lewis, and countless other luminaries have graced the stage. The Ballroom hosts the legendary polka dance show “Bandwagon,” which has been going strong since 1960 and is among the longest continually televised TV programs in the world. The venue also hosts 24 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Buddy Holly tribute shows, classic rock cover bands, weddings and reunions, as well as concerts by larger regional acts like Trampled by Turtles. In November 2012, my band — Good Night, Gold Dust — filmed a music video inside the Ballroom. In late August of this year, my parents visited Mankato and I drove them there. I figured it wouldn’t be open, but wanted to show them anyway. “Just think of the Gold Dust video,” I said. “It looks like that.” To my surprise, the front doors were open. A handwritten signed taped to stucco wall said “Under Renovation.” We parked behind an SUV bearing Connecticut plates. Two women in workout clothes snapped photos of each other against the Ballroom’s exterior. One of them, Tania Cordes, was the venue’s new owner. In Lean Times I left behind three bands when I moved from western New York to Mankato in August 2007. On lonely nights I’d listen to our recordings, an experience akin to digging out photos of long-lost friends. I drifted without a band. At the time, Mankato had one musical outlet: open mic

When the Red Sky Lounge closed earlier this year for renovations, a cornerstone of the Mankato music scene closed with it. Pictured is Mankato hip-hop artist Intelligent Design performing at the Red Sky. | Submitted photo night at McGoff’s. Every Thursday night during my first year of grad school, my roommate and I would stumble onstage with pints of Guinness and acoustic guitars. A dozen other musicians waited offstage with guitars, keyboards and bongos. Everybody looked forward to Thursday nights. Everybody looked forward to playing music. But open mic nights lack the ceremony of a real rock show: the three-band bill; doors at 9, music at 10; merch tables selling albums, T-shirts, stickers; the exhilaration of a packed club dancing and singing your songs. You don’t get that at open mic night. In lean times, though, you play the Irish pub’s open mic. That is, until it closes. Take Me To The Sugar Room McGoff’s shut down shortly before St. Patrick’s Day in 2009. While half-empty liquor bottles collected dust in the vacated bar, the open mic scene shifted two blocks up Second Street to the Sugar Room. The quintessential hole-in-the-wall, the Sugar Room might’ve

been modeled after a pirate ship’s captain’s quarters. Red curtains covered dirty windows. On some nights that long, narrow barroom actually swayed like a clipper ship on choppy seas. The Sugar Room was the perfect haven for freaks and wierdos who subsisted on stiff drinks and electric guitar. Every Wednesday, rappers, punkers, and singer/songwriters hauled their equipment into that cave. Many of Mankato’s current original musicians honed their chops at the Sugar Room — Joe Williams, the Style Biters, Angry Bukowski, Little Prairie Pickers, Jordan Carr, Betty and Ocho, and more. Bands began booking shows on weekends. The Mankato music scene had found a home. The Sugar Room’s only drawback was its size. The bar’s maximum capacity was probably 43. Fire codes must’ve been broken on Charlie Parr nights, when the bar was so packed you could hardly raise your drink to your mouth. But I’d love to go back. Everything felt new. My two bands — Shotgun Fiction and Good Night, Gold Dust — played regularly. A musical community had formed. The Sugar Room was a magical place. MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 25

everything [we’ve] been able to do.” The RedSky Shanghai In 1973, a man named Hilly Kristal opened a bar called RedSky Renaissance CBGB in lower Manhattan. CBGB stood for Country, After the Sugar Room closed in March 2011, the scene BlueGrass, and Blues, the type of music Kristal hoped to officially rooted itself at Red Sky. In July 2012, Justin Fasnacht attract. According to legend, a band called Television convinced — better known as Fuzzy, founder of Mankato Internet radio Kristal to let them play CBGB. By 1975, New York punks like station FuzzTalkRadio, which plays music by, and promotes the Ramones, Patti Smith, Talking Heads and Blondie had shows for, Mankato musicians — started a bi-weekly event been rocking that crummy stage. CBGB became the preferred called FTRTNDC, or the FuzzTalkRadio Tuesday Night haunt of the Warhol crowd, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop Drinking Club. and legions of pierced, tattooed musicians and scenesters. After work on Tuesdays, Fuzzy would drop by Red Sky with When Red Sky Lounge opened in September 2008, general a friend. “It would be just the two of us and the bartender,” he manager Ryan “Rudy” Stroup hoped to create a “contemporary, recalls. “Rudy approached me one night and asked if I would funky … upscale atmosphere.” RedSky’s slick hardwood floors, book a show.” Fuzzy had creative control, so long as the event minimalist furniture, and attracted more than two red and black décor set the people. tone for a hip urban “I thought of making a cocktail bar, the type of variety show. We invited place with dress codes, the MNSU stand-up colorful drinks, flashing comedians and the night lights and thumping ranged from comedy to techno. acoustic, rock, hip hop and On a Wednesday evening metal,” Fasnacht said. in January 2010, I walked FTRTNDC was a into Red Sky with my success. Red Sky’s location, Shotgun Fiction bandmate cool atmosphere, and Amber Smith and Josh supportive crowds Willaert, drummer for the continued to attract new Style Biters. Our bands talent into the flourishing wanted to play. music scene. Rudy, the tall, barrelAnother bi-weekly event chested manager, looked — the Acoustic Showcase skeptical. “What’s the — is one of the longestmusic like?” running local music series Shotgun Fiction sounded in town. Started in 2010 by like hornets swarming over Ocho, Mankato’s bearded a broken radio blasting s i n ge r /s o n g w r i t e r disco. extraordinaire, the The Style Biters played Acoustic Showcase hip-hop mixed through a provided yet another stage Colin Scharf’s band Good Night, Gold Dust performing at the Red Sky. | Submitted photo. for original musicians. Nintendo console. “We play dance music.” “Hearing an original “Bring 30 people,” Rudy said, “and you can play for free song is really intimate and personal,” Ocho says. “It means a beer.” Following a heavy Facebook and text message lot to artists when people pay attention and get into their promotional campaign, 30-some people showed up for what I material. I’m glad Red Sky supports that.” dubbed the Red Sky Shanghai. Rudy admits that he’s “always had a passion for live In many ways, that first Shanghai shifted the music scene entertainment,” and he feels fortunate that his bar has from the Sugar Room to Red Sky. Red Sky’s large stage and provided “a community of people who enjoy music and convenient downtown location provided a more suitable venue musicians themselves … a place to hang out and play.” for the three-, four-, and five-piece bands cramming the Sugar Room’s tiny stage. Ghosts The Red Sky Shanghai became a monthly event: a threeToday, McGoff’s signature green awning is gone. The band bill showcasing original Mankato musicians. New bands darkened windows sport the text “Associated Psychological playing open mics at Savoy and the Sugar Room hoped for Services.” The Sugar Room transformed into Tandem Bagels. Shanghai bookings. Red Sky was becoming the scene’s new Bulldozers and wrecking balls will soon raze RedSky. home. I went into the bagel shop once. The line was long, and so I “Without the support of the local music community,” Rudy wandered to the windows overlooking Second Street. That’s says, “Red Sky would have closed years ago.” And without the where the stage used to be. I planted my feet in the spot where support of Red Sky, the local music community would have I’d stand when Gold Dust played and I stared across the bright scattered back into basements, legion halls, and unsupportive café. People made polite conversation over coffee and bagels. bars with indifferent owners. Giggling children pestered their parents. “We are very fortunate in Mankato to have such a talented, But my ears rang with crashing cymbals and guitar solos. diverse bunch of artists to entertain us … on a nightly basis,” Phantom Chuck Taylors scuffed the café’s tile floor. Rudy says. “The local artists and their friends are the core of My heart sank. 26 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

The Style Biters performing at the Red Sky. | Submitted photo. I left without ordering. I haven’t been back. It’s a shame, too, because I’m a New Yorker. I love bagels. That’ll Be The Day I’d be a bad Mankato musician if I didn’t mention the What’s Up Lounge, Mankato’s cornerstone rock club whose bar, stage, and bathrooms are layered with stickers from years of great bands; or the Coffee Hag, that lovely Old Towne café whose cozy, living room-esque atmosphere perfectly suits acoustic musicians. Both venues have a long history of supporting Mankato’s original talents. But it is true that Mankato’s current scene grew out of McGoff’s and the Sugar Room. And from the wreckage on South Front Street, a new venue will grow. The updated Red Sky will feature a rooftop bar and stage, a patio, a side room for acoustic shows, and a main room modeled after Minneapolis’ legendary First Avenue, with a bigger stage and wraparound mezzanine. “Red Sky 2.0 is (improving) what worked and changing what didn’t,” Rudy says. “In the new venue … live music will have the best opportunity to thrive (and provide) the best experience for the music lover and musicians themselves.”

Red Sky should reopen in fall 2014. In the meantime, the Kato Ballroom presents an interesting opportunity: a classic venue with a grand stage marked by famous kick drums and amplifiers; a new owner, and a somewhat orphaned music scene. Tania Cordes and her husband moved from Connecticut to Mankato after purchasing the venue from her husband’s aunt, Janet Sell, who’s been running the Ballroom since 1985. As the Ballroom’s new owner, Tania hopes to “bring back … the nostalgic charm of the 1940s. “It is a dream of mine to run this business,” Tania says. The Ballroom will continue hosting private parties and regional bands, but Tania is also interested in broadening the venue’s customer base and attracting a younger crowd. “I definitely have interest in a local band night,” she said. Ocho and Fuzzy are excited by the possibility of hosting Kato Ballroom shows. Every Mankato musician I’ve spoken with is also excited to play that stage. Maybe, when Tania officially takes over on New Year’s Day 2014, the current Mankato music scene could find itself expanding the Ballroom’s history. Maybe that could be our new home. For a while. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 27

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

A thankful truce in the food fight


work with a woman who has very definite ideas about child-rearing, especially when it comes to mealtime. “You give a child five minutes to eat and if they won’t eat it, take it away! They won’t starve to death,” she stated quite emphatically the other day. I wish I had known this woman 22 years ago when my oldest son was born. If I had known her then and had been able to adopt her philosophy and apply it at our kitchen table, how different mealtimes might have been under our roof. Before I had children, I naively believed that meals were going to be the one area of family life that would be perfect. I planned that our little family would eat dinner together every single night at six o’clock, dining on such delights as freshly baked biscuits slathered with butter and homemade blueberry jam. Stuffed pork chops. Threecheese lasagna. Of course there would always be a pitcher of cold milk on our dining room table and conversations would be both stimulating and informative. I’m sure such fantasies were the direct result of a lifetime of viewing sappy ads for coffee and Kodak on television but when our first son was born, I was determined to make those fantasies into reality. For a long time, we did eat together every single night, although I never quite managed to get the milk out of its plastic jug and into a pitcher. Eating together is an easy goal to accomplish when children are still in high chairs and delight in such meals as mashed bananas and pureed beef liver. Some of my favorite home videos take place around our dining room table. Mommy, Daddy, and two blond little boys who appear happy to be eating whatever I’ve dished onto their plates. But something happened when Joe was about 2 years old. That must be the age when taste buds really begin to develop because Joe developed aversions to foods overnight that he’d loved only days before. Thus, our first picky eater evolved. For days on end he’d eat only hot dogs or macaroni and cheese or chicken patties, turning his small nose up at any of the nutritious recipes I found in parenting magazines, recipes that were supposed to please even the finickiest of eaters (and required far too much prep work). 28 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“Thank goodness we don’t have to worry that Hank will be like Joe,” I said to my husband after our second son was born and began to eat solid food. Even as a baby, Hank would have gladly eaten the wallpaper off the walls had we given him the chance. He consumed everything in his path — vegetables, fruit, even a Big Mac when he was able to wrestle it out of its proper owner’s hands. Surely Hank would never turn into a picky eater. I was right. Hank didn’t become a mere picky eater. Hank became a Supremely Picky Eater. From that magical age of 2, he subsisted on peanut butter, milk, and carrots. Our pediatrician proclaimed both boys healthy and told me to keep on offering them good foods. Several friends suggested I stop playing short-order cook, advice I’m sure I should have taken. But I wanted to feed them something, so I continued to make Joe chicken patties and Hank peanut butter sandwiches with no crusts. It never seemed like enough food to me but they were growing. Joe and Hank also showed remarkable self-control when it came to food, a trait that they surely didn’t inherit from their mother. They were able to stop eating when they were full and eat only when they were hungry. Watching them leave half of a meal behind (and then devouring it myself so that nothing went to waste), I often thought that if they could tell me how they were able to display such iron wills when it came to food, we would be able to sell their formula to the dieting industry and become instant millionaires. As our kids grew older, we still ate at the dining room table although the meals I served bore little resemblance to the meals I fantasized about. Each night I’d make something for Joe, something for Hank, and something for my husband and me. There were one or two recipes we all liked and those were the nights I truly looked forward to. These days, dinners together are a rare treat indeed. My husband and I dine alone at the table more often than not and the days of chicken patties and crustless peanut butter sandwiches are now a dim memory. But when Thanksgiving arrives and our table is filled with enough variety to satisfy everyone’s particular taste buds, I know that once again I will look around our table and be truly thankful.


Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.

Mankato Magazine

What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

Gather ‘round the all-local feast


n most days, the closest I feel to gratitude is a breathless “thank you, thank you, thank you” after a close shave while driving. It’s time to give up my bad habits and plan my gratitude in advance. This Thanksgiving, I’m going to concentrate on being thankful that I live in southern Minnesota, a place so bountiful that almost everything on my holiday table could come from right around the corner instead of a thousand miles away. When I shop specifically for locally produced food, I am always amazed at the depth and breadth of our area farms. Here’s what’s on my fantasy Thanksgiving menu, all courtesy of real local farms, with items actually available in late November: Turkey raised in Cannon Falls, Wykoff, or New Ulm. Ham from a variety of pork producers, including my favorite just outside Mankato. Bread baked with flour and milled in Welcome, where I’ll also get the cornmeal for my cornbread. I’ll need honey for that cornbread, of course, and that’ll come from beehives in Lafayette or Gaylord. Milk bottled in New Prague, butter churned in Hope, and eggs laid in Owatonna or Hutchinson or St. Peter. I’ll need apple cider pressed in Lake City. Onions and potatoes dug outside St. Peter. Ditto for squashes and pumpkins for both pies and decorations.

Apple pies baked at orchards from fruit plucked in Waseca and Lake Crystal. Wine stomped from grapes grown in Kasota, Janesville and New Ulm vineyards. Beer from Mankato and New Ulm. Soy candles for my centerpiece poured in St. Francis. For my green bean casserole, I’ll find beans flash-frozen in Caledonia, cream separated in New Prague, and mushrooms cultivated in Harmony. We even grow our own gasoline here, thanks to ethanol. A few items, of course, can’t be produced here no matter how hard we might try. Coffee. Black pepper. Bananas. Chewing gum. These things need tropical climes. But almost all the important herbs in my kitchen are grown here: oregano, sage, basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, cilantro. By drying my herbs, I’ve got plenty left for my Thanksgiving dinner. I learned much of this information by walking the aisles at our friendly local food coop in St. Peter, which has conveniently labeled all the produce with chalkboard signs telling exactly where the food was grown. Many of those chalkboards said “local” or even named the actual farm. Food coops are passionate about getting their hands on as much local food as possible, so it’s always a good bet you’ll find a variety of things there. Farmer’s markets and roadside stands are obvious choices for local

foods. Even the big supermarkets are getting on the “locavore” bandwagon and advertising local foodstuffs. Anything grown in a garden or on a windowsill counts, of course, as does foraging for wild edibles such as berries and mushrooms. Hunters and anglers eat locally every time they cook their catch. And if you search the Internet, you’ll find dozens of local farms ready to sell you their wares online or in person. A certain do-it-yourself spirit is handy: Last August I noticed a patch of wild grapes growing near an overpass by my house, picked them and delivered them to my mother, who dutifully labored over a hot stove (while I relaxed and ate chocolates) to produce the most wonderful jelly in the history of jellies. It’s not difficult to be thankful for this verdant crack in the earth’s crust called the Minnesota River Valley. We may not have the tallest buildings, or the artiest museums, or the widest freeways, or the brightest lights. What we do have is great food – the very sustenance of life – growing right under our feet. It’s mind-altering once you think about it. And that’s something to be grateful for, too. M

Sarah Johnson is a cook, freelance writer and chocolate addict from North Mankato with three grown kids and a couple of mutts.

Turkey Marinade Here’s my recipe for the Hands-Down All-Time BestTurkey-You’ll-Ever-Eat Marinade: Combine in a container large enough to hold your bird and the following: 1 pint bourbon 1 container orange juice concentrate, thawed 1 cup apple cider vinegar ¼ cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons minced garlic 2 teaspoons dried ginger 2 teaspoons salt Bottled hot sauce, to taste Enough water to cover your turkey 30 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Locally grown Thanksgiving ingredients at the St. Peter Co-op. | John Cross Poke your bird a bunch of times with a fork to let the marinade sink in. Dunk it in the pot and let it sit in your fridge a couple of days, turning once or twice before roasting. This creates an ultra-moist, ultra-flavorful meat with hints of citrus and smokey bourbon. Even people who don’t care for turkey want seconds with this recipe.

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Securities offered through National Planning Corp. (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through The Sherwin Group, Inc.; a Registered Investment Advisor. The Sherwin Group, Inc and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 31

Day Trip Destinations: Autumn Festival in Shakopee

By Leticia Gonzales

Upward of 30,000 people visit the annual Autumn Festival in Shakopee. | Submitted photo

Arts and crafts extravaganza


hen Jim Huffman organized his first Autumn Festival Glenn Eilders, a 39-year-old artist and owner of Antler and in 1983 in Omaha, Neb., he only intended to provide Wood Creations from Courtland, has sold his handcrafted a vehicle to sell his own work. items at the Autumn Festival for the past three years, and is “I used to be a wood crafter and I tried to get in a show in returning for a fourth year. He was first introduced to the Omaha. They wouldn’t let me in, and I am stubborn, so I said festival by his wife, who shopped the festival. I would start my own,” Huffman said. Eilders uses antlers from deer, elk and moose to create A little persistence goes a long way; Huffman’s Autumn household items and decorations such as grilling tools, table Festival has since grown from a 50-booth craft and floor lamps, chandeliers, flower pot stands display in one city, to a five-state yearly tour in and wine racks to name a few. What Autumn Festival: both spring and fall that features more than 500 “I like to design a unique item that is different An Arts & Crafts Affair vendors from 30 states. The Twin Cities was from anything that anyone else has created,” When added to the tour in 1987 at Shakopee’s Eilders said. Nov. 14-17, Canterbury Park. His projects, which can take anywhere from a Canterbury Park, 1100 Referred to as the “Biggest and best indoor Canterbury Road, Shakopee. few hours to several weeks to create, are thoughtshow in the United States,” the festival, Huffman out and often customized to the buyer. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. said, can take three to four hours to walk “Each year I spend time throughout the year Thursday and Friday, through. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and (looking) for deer, elk and moose antlers that Huffman said the event draws up to 30,000 have naturally shed to the ground,” he said. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission visitors in a four-day span and takes “arts and In addition to the Autumn Festival in Adults $9, Seniors $8, crafts out of churches and schools” and organizes Shakopee, Antler and Wood Creations Children under 10 are free. them into a big facility for a grand event. Out of participates in more than 20 shows throughout More info the five cities toured, the Shakopee attraction is the Midwest including Minnesota, North Visit the largest show. Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Indiana. for details. From handmade clothes for adults and kids, “I take great pride in creating a high quality to woodworking, stained glass and pottery, product that brings a touch of the outdoors into Huffman said the items found at the festival are one of a kind. the home of each customer that can be enjoyed for many “It’s just very high-quality arts and crafts, where people years,” he said. “It gives me great satisfaction to see how make their products,” he said. “It’s something you can’t buy at excited people get when they purchase my items and return the store. They make very good Christmas presents, because the following year telling me how much they have enjoyed them through the year.” M they are more customized for their friends and family.”

32 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Point of interest: Stans Museum


he Scott County Historical Society-Stans Museum in Shakopee is one attraction visitors can sneak away to see while in the area. Serving approximately 8,000 people, The Scott County Historical Society has been a part of the Shakopee community since 1969. The Stans Museum opened its doors in 1997 after the Stans Foundation donated and restored the 1908 Dutch Colonial building. Together, the society and museum offer programming, events and exhibits throughout the year to people and families of all ages. The museum just underwent a major redesign to make the space more “welcoming and usable.” “We updated our reception desk and museum store, created a new archival storage space, created two new exhibit spaces, updated our kitchen to accommodate events better, and created new storage space,” said Kathleen Klehr, executive director of the Stans Museum. “And, in the research library, we have installed a new digital microfilm reader and Wi-Fi.”

Some of the recent exhibits guests can visit include “Outside the Law: Prohibition in Scott County,” open through March 2014, and “Storied Treasures: Highlights from the SCHS Collection,” open through December 2014. “Originally, half the exhibit space was devoted to permanent exhibits related to Maurice Stans, a local boy who worked for two presidents of the United States,” said Klerh. “Since that time, the exhibits have opened up to include much more local history; they change on a regular basis, and contain lots of hands-on, interactive components.” Scott County Historical Society-Stans Museum is located at 235 Fuller St. South, Shakopee. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $4 The Stans Museum is named after Maurice Stans, a Scott for adults $4 and $2 for students. County native who served two presidents. | Submitted photo

Point of interest: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open year-round. | Submitted photo With the crisp, fall weather at its peak, an outdoor visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska is a perfect spot to explore more than 1,000 acres of exquisite plant life, gardens, prairies and woodlands. Open 363 days a year, the Arboretum features a sculpture garden that touts 22 abstract sculptures as well as a visitor center, art gallery, café-style restaurant, horticulture library and learning center. Children and adults can participate in hands-on activities at The Marion Andrus Learning Center’s “Please-Touch” Greenhouse.

As part of the Arboretum’s new Seasons of Music series, visitors can also enjoy the performance, “Gershwin in Paris,” on Nov. 14. Cost is $25 for Arboretum’s member or $35 for non-members. Reservations can be made at www. There are also many great activities to delve into even in the winter months. “While the gardens are hibernating, visitors can still enjoy rigorous snowshoe treks, cross-country skiing and nature walks -- with or without a guide -- during the winter months,” said Barbara DeGroot, public relations specialist for Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The Visitor Center also offers snowshoes rentals as well as ongoing art exhibits in the Reedy Gallery and Restaurant Gallery. The Learning Center includes Weekend Family Fun every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. as a drop-in basis. November’s theme is “Prehistoric Plants;” December’s theme is “Gifts from the Bees;” and January’s theme is “Cozy Up to a Cactus.” The “Making Spirits Bright” season with holiday decor, storytelling, music and more runs Nov. 29 through Jan. 5. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located at 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska. Hours vary and admission is free. For more details, visit www.arboretum. MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 33



Now: Mavericks

hockey sweaters By Drew Lyon

Dressed for success 70 1969-





Photos courtesy of Paul Allan

here are several qualities every hockey fan and player appreciates in a sweater jersey: comfort, style and tradition. Throughout its history, Minnesota State can claim all three features. Minnesota State’s hockey program began in 1969. Then known as the Mankato State Indians, the team rarely tweaked its sweater jersey design patterns for most of the 1970s. Instead, they favored a simple, straight “Indians” logo with gold arm stripes for the road sweaters, and a similar swooping “Mankato” design on the white home sweaters. After the school switched to the Mavericks nickname in 1978, the sweaters were in need of a makeover. “Mavericks” and “MSU” designs were commissioned in the 1980s; in recent years, much to the delight of its fans, the team has worn the retro sweater jersey from the 1980 NCAA Division II championship season. “The fans love the throwback sweaters,” said Minnesota State Associate Athletic Director Paul Allan. “They have that classic hockey look.” In the 1996-’97 season, MSU graduated to Division I 34 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


hockey, and the school’s “bull” logo was applied to the team’s home jerseys. In the past decade, the bull has been revamped and modernized; the sweater jersey fabrics became sleeker and more adaptable to sweat. Since his hire in 2008, MSU equipment manager Scott Rideout has been charged with the task — or rather, the thrill — of arranging the latest Maverick sweaters. “A lot of the time, I design it, and then I run it by the manufacturers and the coaches,” Rideout said. “And they give their input. I always try to design with the fans and players in mind. … It can be a challenging part of the job, but it’s always a blast, too. I try to have fun with it.” As the Mavericks enter their 45th season of collegiate hockey, Mankato Magazine takes a look back at the program’s fashion evolution. 1969-70 The original dark Mankato State Indians sweater: Bill Techar (left) kneels with beloved longtime head coach Don Brose, who retired in 2000.



2000 -01

1974-75 Original Mankato State white sweater: Coach Brose (right) with Bill Essel. “I just love the fashion from this era,” Allan said. “It just says: ‘1970s.’ But it’s a neat look, and check out that hair.” 1981-82 Jim Follmer (left) and Paul Mattson (right) pose with Brose in the Mavericks’ classic gold jersey, the same worn during the team’s Division II championship season in 1979-1980.

2002-03 - alternate

1985-86 Team photo of the Mavericks in their dark purple home jerseys. This was the first season after the program dropped down to Division III. They finished fourth in the nation in 1985-1986. 1986-87 A new look: Goaltender Brian Langlot in a white “MSU” sweater. 1997-98 After seven seasons in Division III — including a second-place finish in 1991 — the school jumped up to Division I in 1996 and unveiled its “bull” logo. Pictured: T.J. Guidarelli. 1998-99 Team photo of the 1998-99 squad in its white jerseys.

2002-03 - road

2000-01 After the school is rebranded “Minnesota State University,” the Mavericks joined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1999 and debuted a new yellow sweater. Pictured: Jesse Rooney. 2002-03 - alternate The team issues its first line of third jerseys. “The guys always love the third jerseys,” Allan said. “I really like this one especially.” At the end of each season, the third jerseys are auctioned off; proceeds are donated to the program’s scholarship fund. All of the team’s regular home and away sweaters can be purchased on game days at the Verizon Wireless Civic Center. Pictured: Grant Stevenson, who later played for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. 2002-03 - road Dana Sorenson wearing the team’s black and purple road sweaters. 2004-05 Steve Wagner sporting the team’s new gray third jersey.


MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 35

te lterna a 0 -1 2009

2007-08 - road

k - throwbac 6 0 5 0 0 2


2005-2006 An updated “bull” logo and home sweater design. Pictured: Chad Brownlee. 2005-2006 - throwback To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1980 Division II championship team, the Mavericks donned the throwback sweater from the title season. Pictured: future St. Louis Blues captain and Olympian David Backes. 2007-2008 - road Goaltender Dan Tormey in the team’s road purple sweater.

ck rowba h t -11 2010

2009-2010 - alternate Ben Youds skates in the team’s third jersey. “Scott (Rideout) has always done a really good job of using some nice designs,” Allan said. “This is a great example.”

2011-12 home

2010-2011 - throwback A blast from the past: Goaltender Austin Lee in the team’s unobtrusive, retro third jersey, a callback to the 1980s. 2011-2012 - home Cameron Cooper in the team’s home sweater. “The sweaters the players wear now are so much lighter than they used to be,” Rideout said. “They’re breathable and the material just holds up a lot better.” 2011-2012 - road Jean-Paul Lafontaine, pictured here after scoring against the University of Minnesota, in the team’s road black sweater with purple and white stripes. “I really liked how this looked, when we went from purple to black,” Rideout said. “It’s a personal favorite.”

road 2011-12 -

2012-13 36 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

2012-2013 “This is another one I really like,” Allan said of last season’s third jersey. “Another classic look; the fans really loved this sweater with the laces. We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback.” Pictured: Taylor Herndon. M

“My Experience Is Your Success” Jennifer Wettergren 507-340-2280

422 Park Ln, Mankato

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 37

Coming Attractions: November 1-3 — Merely Players presents “Little Shop of Horrors” 7:30 p.m., 1-2; 2 p.m., 3 -- Lincoln Community Center, 110 Fulton St. 2 — Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Showcase Day 10 a.m.-2 p.m. -- Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Museum, 27 N. Broadway, New Ulm -- free -- 507-354-7305 7 — MSU Choral invitational Concert 7:30 p.m. -- Saint Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, 105 N. Fifth St. -- $9 general, $7 MSU students and other students K-12 -- 507-389-5549 7-9 — Minnesota State University Theatre presents “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” 7:30 p.m. -- Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University, Mankato -- $16 regular, $14 seniors, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more, $11 current MSU students -507-389-6661 9 — Gustavus Guest Artist: Asako Hirabayashi 1:30-3 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 9-10 — Minnesota Valley Chorale presents Schubert’s Mass in G 7:30 p.m. (Nov. 9) at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato -3 p.m. (Nov. 10) at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Mankato -$12/$ 10 — Gustavus Symphony Orchestra in Concert 1:30-3 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 14 — MSU Good Thunder Reading Series with Angela Duryee and Luis Alberto Urrea 3:00 p.m. craft talk, Ostrander Auditorium. 7:00 p.m. reading in CSU room 253. Free.

38 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

14-17 — Minnesota State University Theatre presents “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” 7:30 p.m., 14-16; 2 p.m., 16-17 -Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University, Mankato -- $16 regular, $14 seniors, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more, $11 current MSU students -- 507-389-6661 16 — duoARtia in Concert: Holly Roadfeldt and Jeri-Mae Astolfi 1:30-3 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 16 — Robert Cray with special guest Sena Ehrhardt 6 p.m. -- VWC SoundStage, Verizon Wireless Center -- $39 -- 800-745-3000 17 — Troy Gardner and Elizabeth Karelse Violin and Piano Duo 1-3 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 20-23 — Minnesota State University Theatre presents “Betrayal” 7:30 p.m. -- Andreas Theatre, Minnesota State University, Mankato -- $10 regular, $9 seniors, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more, $8 current MSU students -- 507-389-6661

21-24 — Pure Movement Plus: The Choreographers’ Gallery 8-10 p.m., 21-23; 2-4 p.m., 24 -Anderson Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus College -- $9 adults, $7 senior/students, 1 free to Gustavus students and staff -507-933-7590 22 — Justin Moore - Off the Beaten Path Tour 7 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -$39.75, $24.75 and $19.75 -- 800-745-3000

23 — The Gustavus and Vasa Wind Orchestras Fall Concert 1:30-3 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 23 — Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Viva Vivaldi series: Winter 11 a.m. -- Mankato YMCA Exercise Room, 1401 S. Riverfront Drive -- free -507-625-8880 24 — Christmas Treasures 12-4 p.m. -- Old Main Village, 301 S. Fifth St., Mankato -- free 26 — MSU University Jazz Big Band 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU students and other students K-12 -- 507-389-5549

29 — Kiwanis Holiday Lights Opening Day Ceremonies and Parade 6 p.m. -- Sibley Park, Mankato -507-385-9129 29 — Parade of Lights 6 p.m. -- between 4th South and 4th North on Minnesota, Downtown, New Ulm -- 507-233-4300 29-30 — Christkindlmarkt New Ulm Event Center, 301 20th St. S., New Ulm -- 507-276-6298

MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 39

Your Health

By By Lenny Bernstein | The Washington Post

Fitness norms: Guides, but not gospel for all


ow am I doing? That’s a natural question when it comes to health and fitness, especially for men and especially as we age. You want to know whether all your hard work is paying off, or how far you have to go to catch up. And if you’re just starting to work out, you’re interested in how much effort you need to invest to improve and maintain your health. Experts say there are reliable norms, advice that is solidly based on research and testing, but they recommend that you use the information with caution. “Age and gender-predicted standards always give you a template to work toward. It lets you know where you are in terms of your fitness level,” said Jonathan Myers, a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University and a health research scientist at the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System. “The ‘but’ is that you benefit from exercise without getting too caught up in where you are relative to a standard, without getting too compulsive about measuring your heart rate.” If there’s one measure you should pay attention to as you get older, it’s your cardiovascular fitness. Here’s why: Numerous studies have proved that it is the single best predictor of mortality from any cause, not just diseases of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Cardiovascular fitness also improves quality of life — think fatigue, back pain or the inability to climb stairs or do yard work. Best of all, most of the benefits come when you switch from little or no exercise to a regular program. Or, as health experts put it, when you move out of the bottom two quintiles and into the middle. At the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, doctors have been collecting data from tens of thousands of patients they have pushed to exhaustion in treadmill tests since 1970, producing one of the largest databases of cardiovascular information in the United States. “We found that just 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity three to five times a week decreases chances of dying from any cause at all by 58 percent and increases longevity by six years,” said Tyler Cooper, chief executive officer of Cooper Aerobics Enterprises. Just moving from “poor” or “very poor” to “fair” on the Cooper scale conveyed most of that benefit, he said. In fact, cardiovascular fitness is such a reliable predictor of good health that in January, the American Heart Association proposed creation of a national registry of cardiorespiratory fitness data to establish norms and help physicians use them in treating diseases associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyle. A project to compile that information has been launched in a dozen health centers across the country, and the Heart Association hopes to expand it. “Although [cardiorespiratory fitness] is recognized as an important marker of both functional ability and cardiovascular health, it is currently the only major risk 40 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

factor that is not routinely and regularly assessed in either the general or specialized clinical setting,” the Heart Association wrote in its policy statement in the journal Circulation. Still, there are caveats. Normal heart rates can vary by as much as 20 beats per minute, and sometimes people grow overly concerned when their statistics don’t mirror the norm. “ ‘Normal’ has great variability — even maximal heart rate can be as much as +/- 20 bpm from prediction equations,” Benjamin D. Levine, a professor of medicine, cardiology and exercise science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, wrote in an e-mail. “The problem is when people deviate from ‘norms,’ they get worried.” Some fitness activities defy efforts to define what is normal. Experts agree that strength training is essential to ward off the roughly 1 percent annual loss of muscle mass that occurs after age 50 and that flexibility and balance exercises are nearly as important. But it’s not easy to offer advice that is applicable to a widespread population. “It is difficult to set age-related norms for muscle strength because there are so many variables,” said Rosemary Lindle of Professional Fitness Consultants in Bowie, Md. Those include genetics and body size. Some people may have strong upper bodies but weaker lower bodies. “What a 55-year-old should be able to do in terms of pushing a weight . . . is going to depend on so many other factors,” Myers said, “whereas anyone can get on a treadmill” and take roughly the same exam. And some tests may not be right for everyone, especially the elderly. “Not all these tests would be appropriate for every single individual,” said Jacque Ratliff, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. “Not everybody is going to be able to run 1.5 miles.” The American College of Sports Medicine offers modified fitness tests for older people, including a sit-andreach flexibility check that is done on a chair rather than on the floor, according to Barbara Bushman, a professor in the kinesiology department at Missouri State University. The takeaway, experts said, is to measure yourself against norms where appropriate, consult trainers or other professionals to help gauge your progress, but keep up a regular exercise program at all costs, especially as you grow older. “Exercise is the best medicine there is,” Cooper said. “It has an effect on everything in a positive way.” M

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

The great arf walk 1. After a long morning of fetch, Rufus spends a little time bonding with his owner, Casey Rose. 2. Dog lovers spend the afternoon mingling and showing off their canine friends. 3. Gypsy the dog sits on her owners lap, decked out in frills made specifically for dogs. 4. After chasing after his Frisbee, Dexter isn’t sure if he should return or simply enjoy the open fields. 5. Laura Biggs and her dog, Annie, make a new friend as they enter Land of Memories park to participate in the Great Arf Walk. 6. The most popular dog at the park, 3 Mutnik, says hello to a few fans, Johanna Kruse and Brendan Samson. 7. Cindy Reimers does her best to keep Willie dry and warm on a very gloomy day.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Mankato PowWow ~ Sunday 1. Dancers displaying their moves and dress. 2. Desirae Watkins, Amelia Owen, and Tate Frazier (left to right) show off their frozen treats. 3. Men drumming and singing for the dancers. 4. A dancer gets into the competition. 5. Dancers young and old all participated on Sunday. 6. Tim Drummer looking at items for sale in one of the tents. 7. Another dancer during Sunday’s event. 8. Dancers of all ages participated in the festivities.


2 4




42 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

mankato public safety riot training 1. Members of Mankato Public Safety discuss options on how to safely stop the riot and help victims. 2. Volunteer rioters form a barricade to keep police out of the bar. 3. “Rioters” make their way through the walkways of the downtown bar district as evaluators and onlookers watch from above. 4. The Army National Guard marches in formation toward the riot. 5. Members of the Army National Guard practice extracting rioters from the large group. 6. The training 3 session came complete with volunteer rioters.






MANKATO MAGAZINE • November 2013 • 43




By Pete Steiner


A backyard conspiracy

utumn had begun gloriously: five straight 70-degree, sunfilled days. Past the equinox, yet hawk moths and even an occasional monarch were still seeking garden nectars. With no forecast of frost through the first week of October, the leaves had barely begun to turn, while a few just-in-time rains had amazingly left the lawn still green. That likely meant yard work until November. The rabbits didn’t mind. They’d had a boffo summer, judging by their offspring – three generations, by my casual calculation. I’ve said before, someone could make some money in our neighborhood with a Rent-aRaptor business. Our rabbits show no fear. Munching contentedly at the edge of the garden or in the middle of the lawn, they’d merely stare in your direction, bolting only when you got closer than six feet. Call it the Year of the Rodent. Which brings me to our squirrels. •••• A couple years back, in this space, I wrote a paragraph about our massive backyard walnut tree. I figure it’s about 50 years old. Could be more, but the house was built in 1969, and our former neighbor Jack told of how he and the home’s original owner, Chauncey, once tried to uproot the sapling. But by then, it already had that deep taproot that is just one of the walnut’s brilliant coping mechanisms. Rather than cutting it down, they simply shrugged and left it. The great canopy today covers most of our backyard, and half our neighbor’s. This is where the squirrels and the “conspiracy” in the title of this piece come in. I think the big tree’s genesis likely came when a great-great-greatgreat grandparent of one of the current crop of backyard rodents buried one of those large, green-clad walnuts, intending to dig it up later for sustenance, but then forgot about it. See, all living things are tethered together, however loosely, and 44 • November 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

mature walnut trees seduce squirrels into this bargain: We’ll cough up a bunch of nutritious walnut meat for you if you just “squirrel away” a few of the nuts; you carry them up to 50 yards or more, and odds are, some will sprout, extending our domain farther and faster than we could alone. And who cares if Mr. Steiner has to make three or four trips to the compost site every year to get rid of the overflow? •••• The young woman who sometimes attends the office at the SMC compost facility knows my car by sight. Everyone’s supposed to stop and check in, but she usually waves me through. She’s heard my autumn spiel so many times: “Garden vines, twigs, and A COUPLE CONTAINERS OF WALNUTS.” Walnut trees are said to give you a break every other year, but our fully mature tree sometimes ignores that schedule. Besides, now there’s one of its offspring in our front yard that produces in opposite years. •••• “Walnut – that’s a dirty tree, man. Won’t let you grow tomatoes in your garden, either.” I’ve gotten versions of that response any number of times. About the tomato part? That’s another of the walnut’s diabolically clever survival tricks: It dominates its space by discouraging other green and growing species. It does this by dispersing the chemical juglone through its roots. Tomatoes, peppers, and many shrub and tree species – all are poisoned by juglone in the soil. Walnuts play rough. My wife finally figured she could grow tomatoes again using a raised, square-foot garden. We had a nice crop this year. •••• For a couple years, I tried eating some of the walnuts, which are very healthful. But it takes work. You have to shuck the green outer layer, let the nuts dry, then crack the extremely

hard shells and use a pick to pry out the meat. I broke a couple nutcrackers before finding one rugged enough for the job. Gives you plenty of respect for a squirrel’s jaws, as well as the price of walnuts in the store. •••• As I write this, the squirrels, industrious little conspirators that they are, are planning for the season they know will come. They’re burying nuts. Cute little scurrying, bushy-tailed, grey conspirators. I don’t know if walnut trees have consciousness, but they “know” their conspiracy with the squirrels defies efforts at prophylaxis. A mature walnut propagates via overwhelming numbers, producing 1,200 nuts, or 150 pounds, or three bushels, of fruit in a single season. “Cut it down and sell it.” That’s another suggestion some make. Walnut veneer, after all, is in high demand. But urban trees, for various reasons, are not highly sought by lumber buyers. Besides, even when greed tempts me, I recall Mr. Gauker’s giant elm from my West Mankato childhood. That tree might have been 250 years old, at a time when Mankato had thousands of majestic elms. North Broad Street was lined with a cathedral canopy of the beautiful trees. Then came Dutch elm disease. Took just a decade for most of the elms to be devastated. Like others, Mr. Gauker tried expensive treatments to save his elm, but they finally had to cut it. To me, that seemed to leave a huge hole in the sky. No more raking, but no more shade. So I’ve made my peace with the walnut. I like its shade. I’ll haul bushels of nuts to the compost. But as to the conspiracy with the squirrels, I think I’ll pull any nextgen trees I find sprouting in the yard or the garden. M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

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