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FEATURE S August 2014 Volume 9, Issue 8



Family Farms Finding a niche is key to thriving in a challenging occupation.

18 Kitchen Essentials

Area cooks tell us what kitchen items they can’t live without.

22 Big Loser

Samantha Castilleja lost 140 pounds after being rejected by reality TV.

About the Cover

Adam Ellefson, one of the owners of Living Land Farms, poses on his farm near St. Peter. Photo by Pat Christman MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 3






6 From the Editor Passion behind good food 8 This Day in History 9 The Gallery 10 Introductions Beer maven Angi Proehl 12 Chit Chat 26 Day Trip Destinations The Great MN Get Together 32 Garden Chat Of bugs and mud 34 That’s Life Not everyone enjoys camping 36 What’s Cooking Pass the bottle 38 Then and Now School lunches got healthier 40 Happy Hour Apple drinks are all the rage 42 Coming Attractions County fairs, Vikings, RibFest 44 Your Health Sweat etiquette 45 Faces & Places 48 From This Valley Retired bar owner tells all

Coming in September





4 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

We’ll visit with a home-grown, world-class poker player, examing the changing state of southern Minnesota’s craft beer and wine culture, and head back to school.

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From The Editor


August 2014 • VOLUME 9, ISSUE 8 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Sarah Johnson Jill Roesler Leticia Gonzales Heidi Sampson PHOTOGRAPHERS John Cross Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Ginny Bergerson MANAGER ADVERTISING Jen Wanderscheid Sales Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey


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. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Quiet passion is behind good food


s Mankato becomes a place known for good food and drink, we sometimes overlook local people who are making it that way but don’t run a local winery or an upscale restaurant. They labor quietly with a determined passion in the farm fields that eventually give way to southern Minnesota’s prairies. Mankato Magazine offers insights from some of those passionate people this month. They originate in surprising places. From rural Blue Earth County to St. George in the remote areas of the western Nicollet County to just outside of St. Peter, we profile three farm families who have a passion for home-grown food and produce. Prairie Pride Farm, owned and operated by Roger and Dawn Hubmer and their family, has been producing home-grown, sustainably raised crops, chickens and pork for years. But when you take a risk like that — trying to make money outside of the big agriculture infrastructure — your job just begins with production. The Hubmers direct market their products, bypassing big packers and grain companies, to sell specialized, quality products to smaller, direct markets. The Hubmers produce a special Berkshire Pork and chickens on pastures. They don’t use antibiotics, growth hormones or animal byproducts in feed or other drugs. They grow corn without genetically modified organisms that come with the commercial grades usually transported in hopper cars. They grind their corn into feed for their non-commercial pork and poultry. It sounds like farming from decades ago. Their passion makes it workable today. It’s always surprising when we find out the technologies and cultures we abandoned centuries ago may have a place in today’s world. The story of Living Land Farms just outside St. Peter resonates with a similar tone. Adam Ellefson and his wife, Lupita Marchan, established Living Land

Farms as a Community Supported Agriculture system with the idea that a farm could be designed and operated to serve not only its owners and their livelihood but a community to which it has connections. Living Land Farms is a CSA system with 45 members that takes the production from a 22-acre farm and sells to the community as well as wholesale to the St. Peter Food Co-op and the River Rock Coffee shop in St. Peter. The land is part of Ellefson’s grandparents’ farm purchased in the 1950s. About five years into the operation, they have two greenhouses and a small barn. The idea takes community farming one step further to not only market direct to consumers bypassing grocery chains, but also building community support for sustainable healthy food from people who have commitments beyond their bank accounts. David and Don Wendinger (twin brothers) and their families operate a more traditional farm with cattle and hogs as well as crops near St. George in western Nicollet County. The brothers set out on their father’s farm and then expanded into two operations moving from dairy to about 450 head of cattle and 600 or so acres of crops. Farming has never been a complicated business, but one that requires perseverance, a strong work ethic and a willingness to do everything and anything to keep the herd healthy and productive. “What I love about farming is that there’s freedom on the farm,” says David Wendinger. Farming sometimes can be taken for granted as an economic engine in the Mankato area. And farming’s community-building assets may also be under the radar but no less important. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6382, jspear@mankatofreepress and on Twitter at @jfspear.

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This Day



By Robb Murray

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August, 1910: Wealthy Farmer Martin O’Malley was arrested for murder for allegedly poisoning his step-children, Mary and Francis. Said the Mankato Free Press at the time, “O’Malley was charged with the crime, but for want of evidence, was released. Detectives were engaged and had O’Malley in the sweat box two or three days and nights. Early this morning, O’Malley confessed the crime, and his arrest followed.” Medicine he reportedly fed the children was analyzed and was said to contain high amounts of strychnine. August 4, 1951: It was a bad day to be a stone quarry worker. Walter Johnson, 38, was crushed to death under a four-ton piece of stone at around 1:20 p.m. It happened at the Babcock Company in Kasota. Coworkers said Johnson had been standing on top of the stone This Minnesota Historical Society photo shows the Babcock Company. fastening derrick hooks to it when, “for some inexplicable reason,” the Mankato Free Press reported, “the huge stone block began to roll to one side, carrying Johnson with it. He fell under it. The country coroner said Johnson’s chest and abdomen were crushed, and that he likely died within minutes. He’d been employed by Babcock for 18 years. August 4, 1961: Some new additions to the YMCA were coming in over budget. The YMCA had about $192,000 to work with for an addition. But low bids for general construction, electrical work and plumbing and heating came in at roughly $250,000. The contractors, being understanding fellows, gave the YMCA a two-month extension to come up with the necessary funds to keep the project on track. August 1, 1968: Pfc. Gerald Sack was killed by a sniper in Vietnam. Sack, of Madison Lake, was born in Mankato and attended Franklin School and Mankato High School, graduating in 1967. He had been a member of the 101st and 173rd Airborne divisions of the U.S. Army. He had only just left for Vietnam June 17th of that year. He left behind a wife, his parents, two brothers and a sister. August 16, 1961: An 8-year-old North Mankato boy was killed when an embankment by his home collapsed and covered him in sand and clay. Little Robert Bigham lived at 727 Page Avenue. According to the Mankato Free Press account, three boys had gone into the hills at the northwest edge of the city. They hiked to the top of a hill and happened upon a mound of clay dirt. After playing in and on the clay, a section of it suddenly gave away, covering the three Bigham boys. Another boy, 9-year-old Kevin Haefner, was with his friends and witnessed the event. “I dug with my hands and a hatchet and got Jim out,” he told the newspaper. The two ran home for help and also told area neighbors. Eventually police also arrived but Robert Bigham was under the dirt for roughly 30 minutes before his body was finally pulled out.

The Gallery

Art Sidner

Digital Photographer By Nell Musolf


fter retiring in 2004 from a career as a mechanical engineer, Art Sidner began a new hobby that quickly became a passion: digital photography. Along with Barb Holmin, Sidner began the Mankato Digital Photography Club (MDPC) in 2009. “Our club is more of a learning club,” Sidner says. “We focus on getting better and better as photographers. Digital photography is like playing the piano — the more you practice the better you get.” Sidner, who teaches digital photography for the St. Peter Community and Family Education and Maple River Community Education programs, enjoys working with students at all skill levels. He prefers digital photography more than film photography because it gives the user room to learn and grow. Sidner points out that digital photography is also easier on the environment. “Back in the 1970s I visited the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York,” Sidner recalls. “The plant was enormous and I asked someone there what was the biggest challenge they had at that moment. He told me ‘finding enough silver to keep going.’” Silver is needed for film photography but for digital photography, the chemical process of developing has been replaced by software and computer programs. “Digital cameras interpret images differently from film cameras,” Sidner says, “but the job of the photographer is essentially the same.” Sidner enjoys shooting landscapes, people and architectural interiors. A local favorite is the Hubbard House. “The Hubbard House offers so

many different things to photograph,” Sidner says. “The woodwork, the furniture, the light coming in through the windows — with a digital camera I can get the proper focus that I want.” Sidner notes that one downside of digital photography is the increasing complexity of cameras, and that can frighten off newcomers to the medium. However, a definite plus is the fact that a digital photographer can take as many pictures as he pleases without having to purchase film. Sidner also likes the instant feedback of digital photography. “That instant feedback is one reason why I think digital photography has become so popular,” Sidner says. “People don’t have to wait to see how their pictures have turned out. They can see them right away.” Since taking up digital photography Sidner has won several awards including best image from the Blue Earth County and Nicollet County fairs. He was also awarded Outstanding Color Print of 2014 by the Twin Cities Area Council of Camera Clubs. Sidner, who moved to southern Minnesota with his wife after living in the cities, believes that the area has been underrepresented, photographically speaking. “People have photographed the North Shore and other parts of the state extensively,” Sidner says. “Southern Minnesota is just as beautiful but in a different, gentler way. I think I’ll be photographing southern Minnesota for a long time.”

After retirement, Art Sidner turned a hobby into a his latest passion. His photographs have won several awards, and now he teaches photography for community education programs in St. Peter and Mapleton. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 9




Robb Murray

Beer Angel I

Angi Proehl is a visible and enthusiastic member of the area’s evolving beer culture

f you’re at all the kind of person who enjoys a cold adult beverage, you may have seen her around. Born in Seattle, Angi Proehl is changing the way a lot of women think about beer. Her day job is at Forensic Treatment Services in St. Peter. But after hours she can often be found in bars or liquor stores, offering tastes of Finnegans beer to customers (Finnegans is the brewer that donates all its profits to food shelves.) Or, you may see her 10 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

meeting up with the girls from Barley’s Angels, a group that encourages beer appreciation among women. She’s ubiquitous in the local beer scene. And unendingly interesting. MM: Tell us about your love affair with beer? Angi: I’ve always liked beer but never took it so seriously until about two years ago. What I appreciate about beer is

its complexity and choices, but the simplicity in having a beer and the social aspects. I love being able to try numerous beers and knowing that somewhere out there, there is a special, awesome beer that I will fall in love with that someone else may not do the same thing for. But I also love that if I want to hang out with my friends, we can have a beer whether it’s craft or not, and just enjoy being together. My love affair with beer has propelled me into a world of new friends and opportunities, while I came to the realization that beer doesn’t have to be bad, especially when it tastes so good and is doing wonderful things for our community. So my craft beer love is more about the beer. It’s about the beer world as a whole. A few months ago, Nik and I went on a “beer-cation” to Colorado for my birthday. We visited a few breweries in Fort Collins, Longmont, Denver, and Golden; the experience, while it was a short visit, was amazing! The buzz in breweries is always awesome! Everyone is there to have a good time, to relax and drink a good brew (or root beer for the kids and water for the dogs!). I get giddy with joy of all the “buzz” that will be in our area soon. MM: You’re the community leader for Finnegan’s, a company that brews a great beer for a greater good. Tell us how you got involved with them and what it means to you to able to combine your love of beer with an apparent love of doing good? Angi: Many, many years ago, I bartended and served at McGoff’s Irish Pub and one day a lady (Jacquie Berglund, founder) came in with her beer, Finnegans. We all tried it out and loved that 100 percent of the profits went to local charities (at the time it was for survivors of domestic abuse) and it’s good beer. Fast forward 12 years later and I find a posting on Facebook for a Community Leader position with Finnegans. I applied and a few days later I was given this amazing opportunity to represent Finnegans beer in the local distribution area. As a community leader, I help get the message out about Finnegans: the beer that donates 100 percent of profits to your local food shelves. MM: As a near expert, give us a few recommendations for beers (either local or not). Tell us why you like them, and don’t be afraid to challenge our readers’ palates. Angi: I am still learning and tasting so much and in a few weeks, this list could change but these are beers that I will always love or will rave about to all: Finnegans Irish Amber: a good gateway craft beer, 4.7 percent ABV*, and refreshing. Dangerous Man Coconut Milk Stout: So much deliciousness. This is a special treat when we can get it and you can only drink it at the brewery; 6.3 percent ABV, 27 IBU’s** with toasted coconut that hits your nose immediately with dark and milk chocolates. The body is silky, rich and smooth. Schell’s Star of the North Berliner Weisse: This will challenge what you know or think you know about beer (actually I think all craft beers do that in some special way). I remember the first time I had a sour beer and this was it; I was blown away instantly and this collection by Schell’s is amazing. Odell Loose Leaf: Sessionable ale at 4.5 percent ABV, crisp and refreshing, hop-forward and flavorful. Founders All Day IPA: I am still trying to drink more

of the super hop bomb beers and I can tell you this: a few years ago I couldn’t drink a whole pint of IPA. But as I’ve kept trying new beers and understanding what is happening, I’ve gotten better at enjoying hoppy beers The Proehl Sweet Stout (homebrew): This was one of our first brews and the best. I miss it. MM: You’ve started up a local chapter of a group called Barley’s Angels. Tell us about it, why you did it, how it’s going, etc. Angi: Barley’s Angels is an international group of local chapters for women who want to explore, experience, and educate about craft beer. Women are from all levels of beer knowledge: novice to experts, enthusiasts, homebrewers, and more. We thrive on being social, responsible, and engaged to our craft beer and community; which is all the reason I thought we needed our own chapter here in Mankato! When I enjoy something, I go all in. Craft beer isn’t just about beer to me and I wanted to know more. I want to know the demographics and culture too because that’s what I consider when I present Finnegans to people and in my day job as well. I was looking into all kinds of information about people in craft beer and came across articles about women and craft beer which piqued my interest (I am a women’s studies graduate, so I think that “lens” is always on). Two groups stood out to me, The Pink Boots Society (“Empowering women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education,”) and Barley’s Angels. I decided to look into starting a local chapter for women interested in craft beer and in the next few days it all took off really fast. MM: How vibrant is the beer culture here in southern MN? Angi: It’s developing. We have pockets that are growing and people are filling in those areas with tastes, knowledge, and support for craft beer. When Mankato Brewery opens their space to have music, weddings, Zumba, and other events it gives our community a place to be while recognizing that craft beer is more than drinking. It’s local people supporting one another and sharing their craft and space. That will start opening eyes and minds to a more vibrant and sustainable craft beer culture; especially in a community that is so giving. I am hoping to see more breweries open in the area, but we need a community to support it. We are getting there and I hope it’s sooner than later. MM: Your family is very active and likes to keep in shape. Tell us why that’s important to you. Angi: A few years ago, Nik decided he wanted to start running. Well, I couldn’t sit on the couch and watch him do this; I needed to get running too! I gained a lot of weight over the years after being very thin for 24 years of my life, and while I was “active” with my kids, it wasn’t enough. That first run, I cried before I made it to the end of the block. Now, while it is not easy and there are challenges every single day, we have run marathons and made an effort to support friends and family in their active lifestyles. To me, it’s more than about losing weight; it was about challenging myself, setting goals, and kicking butt! * Alcohol by volume ** International bittering units M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 11

Chit Chat

Summer time and the grilling is easy! By Sarah Johnson Think veggies this summer and throw some on the grill each time you fire it up. They’re delicious paired with grilled meats or all by their lovely selves. Here are some time-tested tips to help you get perfect results every time. 1. Cut ‘em down to size. Aim for a size that’s small enough to cook quickly, yet big enough to keep from falling apart. Cut tomatoes in half; slice eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash into ¼-inch rounds; cut bell peppers into thick strips; take the stems off mushrooms. Asparagus and scallions can go on whole 2. Oil ‘em up. Lightly coat in olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper, or use your favorite spice blend or marinade. 3. Precook ‘em. Boil carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes to get them started on the road to Tender City. Otherwise you’ll be waiting a lo-o-o-ong time for dinner. 4. Flip ‘em once. Place veggies directly on the grill, over medium heat. Cook 4-10 minutes until tender, flipping once, to get those gorgeous grill marks

Ask the Expert: Melt-proof makeup By Nell Musolf


he hot humid days of the end of summer can take a toll on makeup. To keep things fresh, Courtney Won-Riemann, makeup artist and counter manager for Lancome at Herberger’s, offers the following suggestions: 1) Start with a clean face. Wash your face with a mild cleanser before applying makeup and avoid using any products that contain oil. Pat skin dry with a clean towel. 2) Follow washing with a toner. A toner will help get the skin cleaner than just washing alone. 3) After toning the skin, use a primer to help hold makeup on all day. Most primers are oil free. 4) Use foundations that are light or sheer. Again, avoid anything with oil in its base. 5) Use waterproof shadows and mascaras. They are less likely to smear. 6) Use less makeup than usual or, if possible, use a concealer and skip foundation all together. 7) Finish with a translucent powder to set makeup. 8) If necessary, use blotting papers to get rid of an oily shine during the day. 9) Go for lighter lipstick to stay summery looking, or use a nice light gloss. Leave the heavier lip colors for

12 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

winter. 10) Remove makeup thoroughly at the end of the day. 11) Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep skin moist but not oily. “Makeup needs change throughout the year,” WonRiemann said. “Especially in the Upper Midwest where we can go from cool and dry to warm and humid in a matter of hours.” Won-Riemann thinks it’s a good idea to keep makeup as simple as possible during the warm summer months. “Summer is when we get to enjoy ourselves by spending time with our family and friends — not worrying about makeup,” Won-Riemann said. “So keep it simple!”

Salvage Sisters show us how to give an old piece of furniture new life.

Making what is old new again By Jill Roesler


o you own an old piece of furniture that desperately needs a face lift? Or maybe there is an empty space in your home that would be complete with a new cabinet, chair or table. Refurbishing an old, discarded or even ugly piece of furniture doesn’t have to be a chore. Carol Jones and Heather Fisher, owners of Salvage Sisters on N. Riverfront Drive in Mankato, give some simple tips to making over “cast away” furniture. Where to begin First, whether you have an old piece lying around or not, you can find inexpensive furniture at such places as Craigslist, thrift stores, garage sales or even on curbsides. Make your piece solid Once you find the piece that works for your home, you must make sure it’s solid. This means repairing any cracks with the proper glue, reinforcing any legs and replacing or cleaning rust off of nails, screws or hinges. Next, thoroughly clean your item — remove any grime, old tape or glue, stains and paint. To remove the old paint, sand the furniture using a coarse, 40-grit sandpaper. Time to prime Now everything is solid and stripped so it’s time to choose a primer. Do you need an exterior or interior

primer? What kind of material is the piece made out of? Wood, metal, cement? There are different primers for each material. Add a base coat of appropriate primer. Color application Next, you must choose which color works best to suit your style. Add two coats of high quality paint. Jones and Fisher suggest Diamond Vogel Interior and Exterior Enamel. Keep in mind that if using a paint brush or roller, there will be added texture on the piece. Protect your new treasure Now that the color has been added, you must put a single coat of polyurethane over the paint to protect it from weathering. If you would like to remove any texture or if you would like to make it look distressed, lightly sand the item using a 60-grit sandpaper. Jones suggests sanding by hand to better control where you want to create a distressed look. Once you’ve perfected your new treasure, carefully add a gel-based stain. This part of the procedure takes practice, so first practice on a discarded piece of wood or metal. After the gel-based stain is applied, let the piece sit for 24 hours. Finally, apply three coats of polyurethane to protect your relic so you can enjoy it for decades to come. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 13

Adam Ellefson and wife, Lupita Marchan, operate Living Land Farms near St. Peter.

Family Farms:

Finding a Niche of their Own By Heidi Sampson | Photos by Pat Christman

14 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Potatoes are just one of the many gems found at Living Land.


good deal of Southern Minnesota’s heritage has centered on families working the land, raising beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs and chickens. Within the family farm environment, every single member of a family is crucial to its success or failure. Early mornings and late evenings are the telltale signs of hard work and a solid sense of work ethic. Today, the desire to provide quality food for their families, their neighbors and local community drives them to discover a niche of their own against farms ten times their size. Multigenerational farming has produced a love and respect for both land and animals, as today’s farmers practice sustainability, community-supported agriculture and diversity in a lifelong journey of working the land side-by-side. Prairie Pride Farm: Sustainable Farming Prairie Pride Farm, owned by Roger and Dawn Hubmer, specializes in growing a variety of crops, chickens and hogs for direct market. Currently, their son, Paul, assists Roger with the crops, and is the sixth generation since 1878 to be involved with the farm. The Hubmer’s passion is to sustainably raise healthy Berkshire Pork and pasture-raised chickens without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, animal bi-products or drugs. They grow their own Non-GMO conventional corn, using various conservation practices (such as no till, ridge till and strip till,) then grind the corn into feed for their Berkshire pigs and as supplement feed for the pasture-raised chickens. In 1997-1998, when hog prices took a dive, the Hubmers decided to change tactics from traditional farming to more of a direct-market approach after a friend mentioned they should consider selling their meat at a farmers market. It took at least

six months for Roger and Dawn to develop their business plan, complete the necessary research, obtain licenses, find a butcher shop that specialized in USDA, as well as a meat locker that could handle the inspection process associated with chickens. “Our hog and chicken farming is geared toward the direct sales market, rather than the traditional farm market,” said Dawn. “We didn’t really trust the direction that Hormel or the Pork Producers were headed at that time as far as raising lean pork. We believe that when you make a lean product, you sacrifice the flavor. So our belief kind of took a different path.” Roger and Dawn began their direct-marketing approach at the Mankato Farmers Market. Today, they sell their meat at the St. Paul Farmers Market. Roger handles day-to-day operations of the farm, while Dawn handles marketing, website maintenance and farmers market aspect of their direct-market business. “We believe in sustainable farming practices,” said Roger. “Our goal is to keep the food we raise, make and sell as clean as possible. In that way, our farming sets us apart.” Living Land Farms: Organic Community Supported Agriculture Living Land Farms, a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) system, is situated on property Adam Ellefson’s grandparent’s purchased in the early 1950s. Adam and his wife, Lupita Marchan, spent their first summer furiously building infrastructure to support their CSA dream after purchasing 22 acres, six of which were tillable, in 2009. By spring of 2010, their first crops were planted. Today, their property contains two greenhouses, a small barn, a well, electricity and a fence to MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 15

Living Land sells food wholesale to the St. Peter Food Co-op and River Rock Coffee of St. Peter. keep the deer out. “My job in Duluth centered on prairie restoration,” Ellefson said. “We grew native plants and used tractors to work the land. We were farming, just not this kind of farming. But we fell in love with the idea of organic farming. We knew this land was here and thought if we ever had the opportunity to buy it, we would.” As a thriving CSA system of 45 members, Living Land Farm also sells wholesale to the St. Peter Food Co-op as well as River Rock Coffee. For the past three or four years, 16 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Living Land works with Finnegan’s, the craft brewer that donates all profits to feed the hungry. they have partnered with beer brewer Finnegan’s and its ‘Harvest for the Hungry’ program, which operates in conjunction with the Emergency Food Shelf Network. The program partners with area food shelves and on-site meal programs with CSA farms to donate and deliver local, fresh produce to those in need. In fact, 100 percent of Finnegan’s beer proceeds go directly to Finnegan’s Community Fund, which supports the CSAs that provide food to help alleviate hunger in Minnesota. “They are trying to help organic farmers, as well as helping people with low income by giving them good quality food,” said Ellefson. “We also donate to the St. Peter Area Food Shelf as well.” An average day on Living Land Farm starts at 7 a.m. and finishes around 9 p.m. The content of the day varies, as Mondays and Thursdays are reserved for the CSA harvest. Whole sale harvests take place on Tuesdays and Fridays. “Typically, it’s four days of harvesting and three days of weeding and planting,” said Ellefson. “Spring’s a little different. I spend a ton of time in the green houses and in the barn, getting our transplants going. We grow all of our own plants from seed, which are around 15,000 to 20,000 plants a year.” The CSA season ends around mid-November. From lateNovember to late-February, Adam spends his time reassessing the previous growing season, putting seed orders together and preparing his yearly organic certification papers. “I just follow the plan,” said Ellefson. “It would be chaos otherwise.”

D & D Wendinger Farms: A Collaboration of Diversity Less than a mile outside of St. George, Wallace Wendinger started a dairy farm in 1954. In a joint effort, Wallace’s wife, Shirley, and their four children, two of which were twins, David and Don, and their younger sisters, helped run the family’s farm. In 1981, Wallace and Shirley moved to town while David and his wife, Ann, moved into the home farm and took over the dairy operation. Don and wife Karen established their own dairy set up roughly a mile away. David and Don later would diversify their interest by combining forces to create a corporation known as D & D Wendinger Farms. “For livestock, we work our own,” said Don. “However, field work and big decisions are done together.” By September 2003, David and Don realized they needed to update their barns if they were to continue with dairy cattle. The costs associated with updating led them to raising cattle instead. Today, they buy Holstein calves and feeder cattle, finishing them out on both farms. Between the two locations, they have roughly 400-450 head of cattle. They also raise hogs for Wakefield Pork, Inc., as well as maintain a diversified crop base of 650 to 700 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa for the calves. “We’ve been diversified since day one,” said David. “We are constantly buying and selling. We operate on a rotating basis of a couple of loads a month. What I love about farming is that there’s freedom on the farm. We could be doing everything from chores to bedding to repairs to field work or even routine maintenance with the herd. Farming takes hard work and good work ethics, but this way of life is also very rewarding.” M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 17

Laurie Putze, self-proclaimed “mama baker,” says she splurges on cooking oils such as sunflower and grape seed.

Kitchen Essentials We asked seasoned cooks what items they can’t live without, and what items they’d skip By Nell Musolf

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hat makes cooking a special experience? What are some of the items that one cook can’t live without while another cook can’t imagine ever buying, much less using? We asked a few local cooking and food experts for help in finding the answers to the following questions: What kitchen item do you splurge on? Save on? Substitute? Skip altogether? Their answers give a brief glimpse of what’s happening behind their kitchen doors … Laurie Putze Self-proclaimed “mama baker,” Putze splurges on cooking oils. She is especially fond of sunflower and grape seed oil. Putze also allows herself to go a little crazy on spices that she

finds at either whole foods stores or online at Penzey’s. To make up for the times when she splurges, she buys more basic spices such as sea salt and black pepper at the dollar store. When it comes to making substitutions, Putze is indeed creative. Due to dietary changes in her family, she has learned how to use black beans for flour in brownies and swap out egg substitutes for the real deal in many bakery recipes. She reduces gluten by incorporating almond flour — a tactic she says makes for a delicate crust. “However, there are some recipes that I refuse to alter,” Putze said. “Tiramisu must have the five real egg custard!” Cheyenne Oachs, Lace Home Bakery Cheyenne Oachs is a young entrepreneur just starting her MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 19

Oils were mentioned by several cooks as an item they’ll spend more on. Others mentioned high-quality knives or a Kitchen-Aid mixer. own catering business, Lace Home Bakery. When it comes to items she splurges on, she prefers to spend her money on the best ingredients she can find. “I want to make sure I can deliver the best quality food that I can and that is not done with no-name brands you find at the local grocery store,” Oachs said. Oachs watches pennies by saving on things she can buy in bulk such as sugar and flour, noting that the quality of those two items and other staples are fairly standard. What does she skip? Oachs says she finds it easy to take a pass on status symbol kitchen equipment. “I don’t need high tech items in my kitchen,” Oachs said. “For the most part, I skip on new equipment. I see no point in throwing away something that still works. This often saves me time and money since I’m not constantly getting the newest item on the market.”

money by not spending it on prepared foods filled with preservatives or other unhealthy items. Hanselman also does plenty of meal planning and makes her own household goods such as dish, laundry and dishwasher soap. For substitutions, Hanselman uses Wildtree’s grape seed oils as alternatives to butter or margarine in all of her recipes. “There is a butter-flavored oil I can use to make bread, cakes, and cookies. And there are many other flavors available as well that I can use for cooking, baking and sautéing,” Hanselman said. Due to her hands-on cooking techniques, Hanselman is able to skip preservatives completely. “We try to keep our meals as natural and preservative- and dye-free as possible. If it doesn’t have to be in your food, why have it there?” Hanselman said.

Emily Hanselman, Wildtree After her young son was diagnosed with food allergies, Emily Hanselman began researching ways to cook without preservatives. Her research led to a job as an independent representative for Wildtree, a company that sells organic and all-natural products. Hanselman splurges on Wildtree’s products and believes that by spending part of the family food budget on high-quality food, she is actually saving

April Graff, Hy-Vee April Graff, Hilltop Hy-Vee’s dietitian, splurges on a common kitchen item that all too often goes unnoticed or forgotten. “I splurge on good quality knives. Sharp knives make chopping a relaxing task instead of a chore,” Graff said. In addition to quality cutlery, Graff goes for fresh lemons, limes and herbs.

“I don’t need high tech items in my kitchen,” Oachs said.

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As for items our cooks can do without, they mentioned high-tech gadgets and unnecessary salt. “Fresh makes all the difference,” Graff said. Like Oachs, Graff saves in the kitchen by purchasing bulk items she uses frequently. Dried beans, lentils, almonds and oatmeal are a few of the things she purchases in bulk. She also saves by buying store brand staples such as milk, pasta and whole wheat flour. The nutritionist eschews salt in her cooking and tries to substitute low salt or no salt products for the original — and much saltier — versions whenever she can (think soups, broths and canned beans). And on things she takes a pass on altogether, Graff skips fancy gadgets, pre-packaged meals and refined grains when possible.

kitchen luxuries. “I’ve never had a pastry blender or a flour sifter which may be one reason why I’m terrible with pie crust,” she said. “I use the frozen ones now.” Fredstrom has a boomerang daughter who moved back home and introduced her parents to “good” butter as well as new oils and spices. As an added bonus, her daughter also does more cooking. Fredstrom tries to save wherever she can and said that her biggest food savings come from two sources: a Costco membership and a summer garden. The only substitution she uses regularly is in her cookies. “I will confess to using half shortening, half stick margarine in most recipes,” Fredstrom said.

“Fresh makes all the difference,” Graff said.

Sue Fredstrom, Minnesota State University Sue Fredstrom, associate professor and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at Minnesota State University, is another cook who is no fan of salt. “When cooking and baking for my family, I almost always skip the salt,” Fredstrom said. As far as splurging is concerned, Fredstrom’s daughters say mom doesn’t splurge on anything. Fredstrom, however, says she has a Kitchen-Aid mixer, some inherited Le Crueset cookware and a microwave oven with an expandable hood that has lots of options. That, she says, is about the extent of

Michael Lust, NaKato Bar & Grill Michael Lust, the sole man willing to respond to our survey, has been a chef at the NaKato Bar and Grill for two years. He reported that the NaKato splurges on ribs, burgers, wings, bacon and bread, but when it comes to substitutes? “We don’t substitute anything,” he said. M

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Before and after shots show Samantha Castilleja’s dramatic transformation.

Samantha Castilleja:

Stopped Waiting for a Show to

Change Her Life


By Heidi Sampson

t 300 pounds, Samantha Castilleja decided to apply for the show, “The Biggest Loser,” in June of 2012. Taking a road trip with a close friend, the two traveled to Kansas City to apply. Samantha managed to achieve a “front of the line pass” to meet with the casting directors. But, she didn’t make it to the next round of auditions. “That was really heart breaking for me,” Castilleja said. “I thought this was my last chance. My only hope was to get on this show. I’ve tried losing weight on my own before and it just wasn’t working. I wanted their trainers to help me.” Feeling rejected and disappointed, she came back home to Mankato. Her setback in obtaining a position on “The Biggest Loser” sent her into a downward spiral as she ended up gaining even more weight, topping out at 330 pounds by December 2012. One night at the end of that month, Castilleja recalled, 22 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

while eating a large pizza and Diet Coke in front of her TV, a commercial for “The Biggest Loser” came on and moved her to tears. She put the pizza down and asked herself one question: “Why are you waiting for a TV show to change your life?” “I knew I was killing myself,” said Castilleja. “For the first time in forever, I got up and really looked at myself in the mirror. I started sobbing. I can’t keep doing this. Something has to change.” Having struggled with weight issues her entire life, Castilleja can recall a time when a doctor urged her mother to gain control of the situation. In high school, Samantha’s size had kept her from attending prom. In college, she would know the pain associated with not being able to fit into desks. She clearly remembers the big lecture halls in which she had to go to the back of the room and sit at a table because she

couldn’t fit into the standard seating. “Everyone knew why I was back there,” said Castilleja. “Simple things like tying my shoes could place me out of breath. I couldn’t walk up stairs without being winded. I was sick and tired of it.” An Act of Kindness Around of the first of January, Castilleja posted a status update to Facebook containing something close to, “New year, new me. I’m going to change. I’m going to do this so that I can live a longer life and be happy for once.” Among her friend list was a couple she’d done missionary work with a few years prior. They saw the post and offered to pay for a trainer. “Honestly, if they wouldn’t have stepped up in that way,” said Castilleja, “I don’t know if I would have stuck with it. I wasn’t very confident in myself or in getting to the gym.” By the end of January, Samantha started attending Anytime Fitness. In February 2013, Castilleja began working with a trainer, Jay Schultz, who used to work for Anytime Fitness but had sort of branched out on his own. For their first meeting, he came to her place so the two of them could get to know each other before they started working in-depth. Jay also took the time to look through her food supplies to see what she’d purchased. “He kind of took my perspective of what I thought was healthy food and flipped it,” said Castilleja. “For instance, sugars are bad in any form. I remember I had bananas, he said, ‘Bananas have healthy sugars in them. However, when you are trying to lose weight, you want to eat fruits and berries very seldom. Bananas are used as a dessert because they have such high sugar in them.’ He then said that ‘protein, protein, protein was my best friend’ but not as in cheese; protein as in chicken breast and vegetables.’” Jay met with Castilleja up to twice a week for the first four months, at Anytime Fitness. He helped her to learn about appropriate strength resistance and cardio to meet her weight loss goals. On her own, Samantha extended her work out to two hours, six days a week.

“He really helped me to keep myself accountable,” said Samantha. “I was a big girl. It was kind of hard at first because there are people there who are super thin and supper buff but I had to get past my fears. Jay helped instill confidence in me. He said, ‘No, you are trying. You are trying. You are doing something that matters Samantha.’” A Healthy Routine Samantha no longer uses a specific personal trainer. Currently, she works for Verizon Wireless. As a perk to her employment, Verizon employees have access to a wellness center on site, which contains exercise equipment as well as free personal trainers. “I will meet with them sometimes just for a refresher,” said Castilleja, “especially, when I am getting into a routine of doing the same thing. In a call center, you are literally sitting on your butt all day. It’s nice to be able to go to lunch and walk on a treadmill if I want too. It’s a great benefit to working there.” Today, at 190 pounds, Castilleja’s lifestyle consists of visiting the gym four to five times a week for an hour session, 45 minutes of cardio and 15 to 25 minutes of resistance. Sometimes, she said, she eats unhealthful foods. But she believes moderation has been a key to her success. For instance, before her weight loss journey, she used to eat at a Chinese buffet three times a week. She now goes once a week and limits her intake to one plate. “I’m by no means perfect,” said Castilleja. “I try to eat as healthy as possible. I have so much respect for people whom I can tell are struggling and trying to lose weight. I want to encourage them to stick with it. It’s hard work but it’s worth M it.” Samantha’s Tips for Weight Loss: 1) Eat high-protein foods. 2) Stay away from products containing high amounts of sugar. 3) Drinking water can help with appetite control and hydration. 4) Keep a journal of food intake and exercise. 5) Don’t eat before bed. 6) A morning exercise routine can be a good reminder to not give into temptation throughout the day. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 23


By John Cross


chool-aged youngsters would be loath to admit it, but by August, most probably are bored and ready to head back into the classroom. After two months of sleeping late, of languid hours at the beach, the luster of summer vacation that was so bright in June and July begins in August to dim a bit. The beginning of a new school year offers the promise of new friends, new teachers and classes, new challenges. And, of course, a measure of relief for parents everywhere. M

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Day Trip Destinations: Minnesota State Fair

By Leticia Gonzales

A new archway at the west entrance is among the new “treats” at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Salvaged from a wooded area, the arch used to greet fairgoers until it was removed to make way for a water raft ride. Now it has been restored and makes its return this year.

The Great Get Together


Minnesota State Fair has a few surprises up its sleeve

hether it’s been a while since you experienced any one of the 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, or you attendee religiously, this is the year you don’t want to

miss it. In addition to 28 new foods offered this year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, fairgoers will experience many new exhibits and attractions. “I think it’s a great year to come back,” said Brienna Schuette, Minnesota State Fair Marketing and Communications Manager. “If you arrive at the fair via the transit hub, which is brand new, you will be entering a part of the fair you haven’t before. With a third of the 1.7 million fair guests traveling on mass transit, Schuette said the new Transit Hub project has been years in the making. Previously, guests who used Park and Ride or Express buses would be dropped off across Como Avenue. They would then have to walk across the street to enter the fair. The new Transit Hub, which is located at the west of the fairgrounds, will take the buses and pedestrian traffic out of the street and nearby neighborhoods and bring it to one location on the fairgrounds. “We anticipate there will be less traffic on Como, and it will be a lot safer,” Schuette said.

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Once inside the gates, old meets new as guests are welcomed by a 30-foot high, 50-foot wide, steel Streetcar Arch. Recently restored from the 1930s, the restored archway was recently installed as the new entrance to the fair. “They took it down about 30 years ago to put in a river raft ride,” Schuette said. After a mosquito control worker rediscovered it in a wooded area, the fate of the arch became a popular topic when St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray wrote a column about it. “There were vines growing all over it,” said Schuette. “We hauled it out of the woods, and had a company sand blast it and install it on the west end.” The newly installed archway is only the beginning of the new welcoming that visitors will receive when they visit the fair this year. The former Heritage Square complex was also transformed into what is now the West End Market. “The timing of this mosquito control worker discovering the arch, and our transforming the west end, was perfect,” said Schuette. “It’s going to feel new and nostalgic at the same time, and I think the arch is going to show that.” Schuette said the redesign of the former Heritage Square was a long-time coming. Originally built in the 1960s as a teen

State Fair strawberries!


he process to be accepted as a vendor at the Minnesota State Fair is a competitive one. With a limited number of spaces, Brienna Schuette, Minnesota State Fair Marketing and Communications Manager, said there are usually more than 1,000 applications on file to compete for a 12-day license each year. Having previous vendor experience at other fairs, farmer’s markets and festivals is key to a successful State Fair resume. Waseca resident Gayle O’Regan, owner of the Strawberries ‘n Creme booth, has 23 years of experience at the Minnesota State Fair selling bowls of her decadent strawberries covered in non-dairy whipped topping on Machinery Hill. O’Regan, who started her business in 1986, came up with her business idea when she was vacationing in the south. “We were in Florida during their strawberry festival,” said O’Regan. “I thought it was such a treat, and it wasn’t something we had in the upper Midwest.” At one point, O’Regan said she was doing seven county fairs in the state. “I applied to the state fair a couple of years, and finally got in in 1991,” she said. In the beginning, O’Regan said many onlookers at the fair wondered what strawberries and cream were doing at the fair. “We tried to decide who was going to be our markets. We thought it was going to be teens and mothers. Now we find that it doesn’t matter who it is.

fair, it was referred to as the Young America Center. “They had a dance hall and food a beverage and entertainment and activities for the fair,” she said. “It was a separate admissions ticket to get into the gated area. They made it its own section of the fair.” Not only was the size of the venue too small, it was only built to last five to 10 years at most. Even so, in 1975, the theme of the space was changed to Heritage Square to celebrate the bicentennial celebration of the fair in 1976, and remained that way until 2013. Having “far-outlived the original structure,” Schuette said it was in the works to update the area and make it more current and applicable to what the fair is today. Through grants, they were able to renovate the area to include The Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center, The Hugh & Margaret Schilling Amphitheater, KSTP Heritage Plaza, as well as dozens of crafters, artisans and food vendors. The Heritage Center, which is a partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, will feature artifacts and photographs from the 155-year history of the Minnesota State Fair. A few examples include a tennis shoe left by Musician Huey Lewis when he played at the Grandstand in 1984, as well as a piece of rope from a tight-rope walker who walked across the 4-H Building to the Space Tower. There will also be a

Every age is being exposed to fresh fruit, and they all like it.” The addition of more healthy fair foods has also helped her business. “Strawberries aren’t a novelty anymore. People eat on a regular basis. Kids are eating them in schools.” O’Regan’s booth goes through about 1,000 pounds of strawberries and close to 1,000 quarts of non-dairy whipping cream during the 12 days of the fair. At 73 years old, O’Regan gets help from her two sons and a daughter-in-law, but shows no signs of quitting anytime soon. “I am still at it, and I intend to stay at it as long as I am able,” she said. “It’s an enjoyable time for us as a family. We have a real good time together.”

showcase of ribbons from 50 to 100 years ago. “We are hoping the historical component will appeal to all ages, since everyone has a State Fair memory,” said Schuette. The Hugh & Margaret Schilling Amphitheater will offer free music and entertainment throughout the day and evening at the fair. “It’s going to really run the gamut of all types of music,” said Schuette. Music-lovers can enjoy bands and singers from genres such as Americana, fiddle musical, a brass band, classic country and rockabilly. There will also be a variety showcase each night at 5:30 p.m., featuring acts from a ventriloquist, music artist impersonator, a juggler, comedians and singing duos. While most of the previous Heritage Square vendors will be returning to the West End Market, there are at least a dozen new ones. Most are unique specialist shops offering upcycled crafts, clothing, and jewelry made by local artisans. “If you haven’t been to the fair in a while, this is the year to come back, definitely,” said Schuette. “The west end is going to be a fair in and of itself. You can essentially spend a whole day there shopping, taking in the entertainment, and eating at the eating establishments.” M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 27

Another new attraction this year is the redesigned Heritage Square, and the new West End Market.

Other New Attractions University of Minnesota Driven to Discover Research Building - Located on Cosgrove Street across from the Education Building, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

The Common Table - Located in the Agriculture Horticulture Building, open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. on Labor Day).

Separate from the current University of Minnesota building, the new Driven to Discover research Building will house more than 30 university departments looking for children and adults at the fair to participate in various research studies. Topics range from genetics, to jury selection processes, to texting while driving, bullying and heart disease.

The exhibit features a Storytelling Pavilion of displays and demonstrations that tell the stories of 17 partner organizations committed to educating Minnesotans about the ecological, social and economic effects of our food choices.

Minnesota State Fair Horse Show – New Competitions, Breeds and Demonstrations - Located in the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum and at AgStar Arena throughout the Fair’s 12 days.

Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show - Located in The North Woods. Shows daily at 11 a.m., 2 and 4:30 p.m. Showcasing talented rescue dogs, the stunt show features big-air stunts, high-jumping skills, a triathlon for pooches, and a Frisbee catch session.

The Minnesota State Fair Horse Show will feature more competitions, breeds and demonstrations, including the Northern Lakes Vaulters, who demonstrate gymnastics on horseback, Aug. 24.

Military Appreciation Day – Salute to Military Kids Located at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell, Carousel Park and Promo Place (Murphy Ave. and Cooper St.) on Aug. 26.

Bull Riders of America - Located in the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum

Presented by USAA, the day honors the children of military members and veterans who have served. Activities include a parade from the Leinie Lodge Bandshell to Carousel Park at 11:30 a.m. and a kids’ entertainment stage. Promo Place block on the north end of the fairgrounds will also host family activities and military vehicles.

Watch 30 brave bull riders attempt to outlast the daring eight-second ride. The event includes competitors throughout the Midwest, whose performances will now count toward national points. Also featured is Jerry Wayne Olson, whose performance includes a truckjumping Palomino and his trick pony. 28 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Back in the State Fair’s hey day, the archway entrance provided an iconic entrance to what remains one of the biggest state fairs in the country.

2014 Promotional Days Thrifty Thursday (Aug. 21) — Adults (13-64): $11, Seniors (65 & Over) : $11, Kids (5-12) : $8, Children (Under 5)- Free Seniors & Kids Day (Aug. 25) — Adults (13-64): $13, Seniors (65 & Over): $8, Kids (5-12): $8, Children (Under 5): Free Military Appreciation Day (Aug. 26) — Active military, their spouses and kids: $8, Retired military and spouses: $8, Military veterans and spouses: $8. Active military, retired military and veterans receive the discounted admission ticket price when they purchase a ticket at the gate and present valid documentation of military service. Read & Ride Day (Aug. 27) — Adults (13-64): $11, Seniors (65 & Over): $8, Kids (5-12): $8, Children (Under 5): Free. Public library card holders receive the discounted admission ticket price when they purchase a ticket at the gate and present a valid library card. (One discount per card.) Seniors Day (Aug. 28) — Adults (13-64): $13, Seniors (65 & Over): $8, Kids (5-12): $11, Children (Under 5): Free

If you go What Minnesota State Fair Falcon Heights, Minn. When Aug. 21 through Sept. 1, 2014 The fairgrounds are open from 6 a.m. to midnight (10 p.m. on Labor Day). Guests are able to enter the outside gates from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Labor Day). Admission Regular Admission at the Gate: Adults (13-64) - $13, Seniors (65 & Over) - $11, Kids (5-12) - $11, Children (Under 5) - Free

Kids Day (Sept. 1) — Adults (13-64): $13, Seniors (65 & Over): $11, Kids (5-12): $8, Children (Under 5): Free MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 29

HI, I’M JOE TAYLOR. Overton, Texas. What keeps me coming back to the Trail? It’s just absolutely sensational.

I have people tell me what they’ve spent playing one round at Pebble Beach and a night at the hotel, or going to Pinehurst for a couple rounds. We do the entire week, travel, hotel, green fees, good meals and everything for the price of one day at these places. And it’s absolutely a sensational place to come. TO PLAN YOUR VISIT to Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, visit or call 1.800.949.4444 today.

30 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 31

Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

A muddy, buggy time in the garden this summer


nto every garden a little rain must fall. And then the floods came. Checking to see just how muddy the garden was, I put a wary foot forward and stepped in. I was instantly sinking to the other side of the earth, straight toward China. I was fortunate in that I got out with my life, but my shoe remained mired in the mud. I didn’t get it back until two days later. Meanwhile, the weeds flourished. When I finally got back into the garden to attack the weeds, there was another “crop” I found flourishing — mosquitoes and black flies. Back in the house I went to find my mesh “hoodie” to keep the bugs off me. With deet at my ankles and wrists, my gloves and my net shirt, I was ready to do battle with bugs and weeds alike. Alas — the flora and the fauna won that day. That nylon mesh bug barrier sounded like such a good idea at the time, but it’s sweltering in there. The fabric does a swell job of keeping the bugs away, because it is such a fine mesh, they can’t get through. But neither can air. One last trip to the house to get my gel-filled bandanas to put around my neck and forehead to help keep me cool. I had to wait for them to soak a bit, and quite frankly, by the time I got back to the garden, some of my enthusiasm for weeding had waned. I went back out and pulled a couple of five-gallon pails of weeds to the compost pile. Yes, the weeds really got away from me this year! But as I was yanking out the weeds, I told myself it really wasn’t as bad as it looked. After all, none of them had gone to seed yet. It was a bit of a stretch, but I really needed the pep talk! As I was giving myself that p e p

talk, reality came creeping back in. I looked at the row of beans I was weeding and I found myself thinking that maybe I didn’t need to weed the whole row. I mean, how many beans can two people really eat, anyway? So I turned my attention to the peanuts. Again, mid-way through the row, I asked myself the same question — how many peanuts did I really need to grow? I thought about the money I’d save next winter by not having to buy peanuts for the birds, and I kept weeding. With sweat now running into my eyes and between my shoulder blades, I thought about saving money next winter again. Then I stood up, looked at the peanuts I’d just cleared of weeds, and thought maybe I’ll just get a part-time job to purchase those peanuts for the birds. I only had six peanut plants to go, so back on my knees, and back to weed-yanking I went. Normally by that time of year, all my garden muscles are well toned. But it had been such a hard year to get in the garden between downpours, that I was still feeling pretty achy. And despite my high hopes for my garden this year, my carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, beans and squash all needed to be replanted. The cucumbers needed to be replanted twice. The kohlrabi never did sprout. I wondered — was there something in the compost? Too much chicken manure? On the other hand, the weeds looked spectacular! At the other end of the garden, my tomatoes and peppers were looking grand. I had the weed barriers I forgot about last summer around all the tomatoes, and some of the peppers, and they work well. The cabbages and the broccoli plants the dogs didn’t eat looked good, too. One day I heard some unexpected munching and crunching going on in the garden. I turned around, and there were two of the happiest Labs looking at me with broccoli and cabbage leaves hanging out of their mouths. How could I not laugh? The next morning when I discovered the rabbits had eaten most of the peanut leaves, I did not laugh, however. I went back to the shed and hauled out some of the wire tunnels Carol Hanson had given me, and placed them over the remaining peanut greenery. No wonder I love to garden. There’s always something interesting going on! Meanwhile, I’m going to look for some more four-leafed clovers. M

Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 33

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

Happy Camper … NOT! E very summer I hear people talking about getting ready for their annual camping trip. While I listen to them talking about the joys of being in the great outdoors with nothing between them and all that unbridled wilderness two thoughts always pop into my mind: 1) haven’t they ever watched a Lifetime movie about what can happen to innocent campers in the great outdoors? And 2) haven’t they ever heard of a Holiday Inn? What it comes down to is that some people are campers and some people aren’t. I definitely fall into the latter category due, in part, to being raised by a father who spent four years sleeping on the ground during World War II and who, once he got out of the army, refused to contemplate any form of camping again. My aversion to camping also stems from my basic nature of being the kind of person who flinches at the thought of so much as one night away from such creature comforts as hot water, well-lit bathrooms and televisions with remote controls. Avoiding campouts was easy until the summer I was 12 and all of my friends decided that it would be fun to go to a camp located in northern Wisconsin. I convinced my mother that I faced a summer of being socially ostracized if I too didn’t attend camp and early one Monday morning I found myself on a bus along with the rest of my pals heading for two weeks of campfires, nature walks and making lanyards under the northern Wisconsin sky. My plans for a summer of fun with my best pals quickly fell apart almost the moment the bus pulled into the camp. Without even unpacking, we were told to get into our bathing suits and hop into the lake for a swimming test designed to separate the swimmers from the nonswimmers. It was with true dismay that I learned that, even after several summers of swimming lessons, I was still officially a non-swimmer

34 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

undoubtedly because I was never quite able to put my head completely under the water and the dog paddle was my preferred stroke. My dismay deepened when I learned that instead of being with my friends— who could swim—I would be in the tent designated for nonswimmers, the Winnebago tent. Such unfair segregation didn’t stop merely at sleeping quarters. Swimmers got to do all kinds of water activities including canoeing, water skiing and, of course, swimming, while non-swimmers had to hike, play volleyball and work on our underwater breathing skills. Dejectedly dragging my luggage to the Winnebago tent, I felt a tsunami sized wave of homesickness wash over me as I realized that I was still being social ostracized, although in a pine scented setting. “Cheer up,” my counselor Trudy advised me. “Next weekend our tent is going on an overnight camping trip in the woods. You’ll love it.” The morning of our camping trip dawned cold and rainy. My tent mates, Trudy and a guide named Chuck (who, in retrospect looked alarmingly like Charles Manson) and I were driven out into truly the middle of nowhere where we were unceremoniously dumped. I watched as the bus drove away, getting smaller and smaller until soon it was just a yellow dot on the horizon. “How can we get in touch with the bus driver if anything happens?” I asked Trudy since this was well before cell phones were around. “What could happen?” she asked. “We’ll be fine.” I didn’t believe her but since there were no other options beyond being a good sport, I picked up my gear and followed everyone into the woods. The plan was that we’d camp

for two nights along a trail that would eventually end at the shore of Lake Superior where the bus would pick us up Sunday afternoon. My main memory of that trip was being surround by an intense greenness as we slowly moved under an endless canopy of trees, singing camp songs and discussing what dehydrated delicacy we’d have for dinner that night. I also remember hundreds of mosquitos that apparently found people with type O positive blood to be positively delicious and a few random sightings of large hairy dark brown things that might have been bears or possibly Big Foot. The rain stopped around the time we burst out of the woods onto Lake Superior’s shoreline two days later. Lake Superior, with sun diamonds dancing off the water, was beautiful but to me there was something even more beautiful coming into our view. The camp’s bus was tootling into a parking lot several hundred yards away ready to take us back to hot water, bathrooms and almost civilization. Climbing onto the bus gratefully, I knew that my first foray into the woods was also going to be my last. To my everlasting delight, I was M right. Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 35

What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

Cooking with Booze


he main reason people cook with alcohol, frankly, is because HOORAY BOOZE!! BOOZE ROCKS!! YEAH!! But there are bona fide uses for cooking with alcohol, which has a long and storied history encompassing everything from fine dining to drunken tailgate parties. Even people like myself, who don’t drink alcohol in its liquid form for a wide variety of reasons, will enjoy spirit-ed food on occasion. Spirits contribute more than just their own flavor. Foods contain flavor compounds that are soluble by alcohol but not by water or heat alone. The alcohol can liberate these flavors and even create new flavors by creating new chemical bonds. Also, alcohol breaks down proteins, so it’s often used in marinades to tenderize the meat. Be careful, though, when using something with a high alcohol content (like tequila or bourbon) in a marinade, because the meat can become mushy if marinated too long. And for those of you who like to tipple occasionally, there’s always the “one cup of wine for the dinner, one cup of wine for the cook” rule that can make slaving in a hot kitchen a bit more bearable. You don’t have to be too highbrow. As George Carlin once asked, “What wine goes with Captain Crunch?” • Beer makes a great batter to coat foods before frying, because the bubbles in the beer add body and lightness. And beer contains enzymes that break down fiber and soften meat, so it’s also a great marinade. Beer is an all-purpose steaming agent, braising liquid and flavorbooster. • Wine is an ideal deglazing liquid due to the alcohol’s boiling point. As the alcohol evaporates, it concentrates the flavors from the drippings and caramelized bits of meat it has picked up at the bottom of a pan. The tannins in red wine break down the proteins in red meat, making it an ideal braising liquid. And wine imparts flavors ranging from acid to sweet. • If you’re still using grocery store sherry to cook with, upgrade to a liquor store brand and you will be rewarded. The sherry styles that work best in the kitchen are Amontillado and Oloroso. • Cognac is a golden, distilled wine from France, able to pair with both sweet and savory dishes. • Bourbon is a high-proof alcohol that gets its distinct sweet caramel and vanilla notes from being aged in oak barrels. It is frequently used in BBQ dishes, as a pan deglazing liquid, and to add depth of flavor • Rum comes from distilled sugar cane or molasses, so it’s used most frequently in pastry and dessert recipes. It’s often baked into batter, frozen in ice cream, or drizzled atop finished desserts. • Dessert wines, in spite of their high sugar content, are surprisingly versatile. In a variety of dessert wine called ice wine, the grapes freeze on the vine, concentrating 36 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the sugars in the fruit (which don’t freeze like the water) and allowing winemakers to extract undiluted sweetness from them. Port, masala and madeira are all excellent for deglazing pans. • And don’t forget vodka, tequila, vermouth, liqueurs…

Beer-Steamed Mussels With Bacon 4 strips of bacon, chopped 1 large shallot, minced (about ½ cup) 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons) 3 sprigs fresh thyme 3/4 cup Belgian-style ale, or witbier 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves Crusty bread, for serving Place the bacon in a large stainless steel skillet set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set bacon aside. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften and the garlic just begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme to the pan and stir in the beer, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the beer begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cleaned mussels to the pan in a single layer. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check the mussels. Using a pair of tongs, remove any mussels that have opened and transfer to a large bowl. Cover the pan again and simmer for another 5 minutes, transferring any opened mussels to the large bowl. When all of the mussels are opened and transferred to the bowl, whisk the Dijon mustard into the sauce in the pan. Taste the sauce and season with salt and black pepper. Keep in mind that the bacon, as well as the liquor given up by the mussels, are both salty, so not much additional salt may be needed. Pour the finished sauce over the mussels, then sprinkle on the reserved bacon, as well as the chopped parsley. Serve the mussels with crusty bread and cold beer. M Sarah Johnson is a cook, freelance writer and chocolate addict from North Mankato with three grown kids and a couple of mutts.

Michigan Peaches

erik, our Produce Manager, has connections. every summer we receive a truckload of Michigan Peaches direct from the grower. Sweet, ripe, and juicy. Perfect for canning, freezing and eating fresh. reserve yours today! Sign-up at the store; call 507-934-4880; or e-mail: expect them mid to late august.

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Now: School Lunches

By Jean Lundquist

Choices have both expanded and gotten healthier for Mankato Area Public Schools students.

Food for thought F

School lunches have come a long way

or those of a certain age who ate school lunches, hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes is a fixed memory. That meal is no longer served in schools, according to longtime Mankato Area Public Schools Food Services Director Ron Schirmers. “We still do turkey and gravy over mashed potatoes,” Schirmers says, “and we call it ‘turkey in a cloud.’” There have been many changes in the foods offered in school lunch rooms since Schirmers started at the district in 1988. “The foods served mirror more of what kids are eating today,” he explains, but says there is a healthier twist. Today only whole grain bread is offered, and there are no white bread and butter sandwiches. There are subs, pizzas and spaghetti, but only with whole grain rotini rather than regular white spaghetti noodles. Every student’s tray is now required to have a half cup of fresh fruit or vegetables on it. “It used to be we had to offer 38 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

it,” Schirmers says. “But now, they have to take it.” It’s provided in the name of health and nutrition, but not all of it is eaten. It may not be because the students don’t like it, Schirmers explains. “There is a limited time for lunch. It takes longer to chew raw carrots and broccoli than potato chips. Plus, anytime you have two or more kids together, it’s a social time, and they like to talk.” Choice has also expanded. Where once there were two or three entrees for students, there are now nine -- including a vegetarian option. Additionally, whereas before only white milk was available, now there is flavored milk such as strawberry and chocolate. “It is better to get milk in them with a little extra sugar, than to get no milk in them at all,” Schirmers says. With rules requiring more fruits and vegetables, the district is providing new food experiences for students, as well. “We give them options they may not be familiar with, like jicama,

grapes, and apples other than red delicious, that are healthier and tastier.” In 1988, only lunch was served at schools. Schirmers said breakfast was added in the 1990s. Initially there was a bit of a backlash to it. “But it became clear that students came to class healthy, hunger free and ready to learn.” Some of the breakfast entrees include a pancake on a stick, waffles, French toast and omelets, plus cold cereal. Breakfast and lunch are offered all summer long at specific school sites for anyone who shows up and is 18 years old or younger. No pre-registration or notification is necessary. Part of what makes that spontaneity possible is another innovation made since the days of hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes: “Nothing is prepared on site,” Schirmers says. “It’s all heat and serve. We don’t even have a griddle.” That might change, however, as the district begins a partnership with the Minnesota Valley Action Council Food

Hub later this summer. They hope to bring more locally produced foods to the school menus. “We use as much local food as we can now,” Schirmers says. “But it’s hard to put corn on the cob on the menu only to find out the crop isn’t ready, or the fields are too wet to go in and pick. I’m looking forward to a great partnership with The Hub.” One final comparison between school lunches of yore and today is the serving style. “We use a lot of Styrofoam today,” Schirmers says. But he’s quick to point out that it isn’t deposited in a landfill, going instead to be processed into fuel to generate electricity. “Plus it saves on a lot of carpel tunnel and shoulder injuries, and cuts out a lot of chemical use.” Even the leftovers from the lunch rooms aren’t wasted today, according to Schirmers. “It all goes to be composted, even the milk cartons.” M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 39

Happy Hour

By Michelle Locke | Associated Press

Cider, calvados stoke apple beverage trend


all it a rise in core demand. Hard cider already has taken a slice of the adult beverage market in recent years, and now apple spirits of all kinds are showing their appeal as Americans rediscover classics like calvados and increasingly embrace products like apple gins and vodkas. Sales of hard cider have seen robust growth during the past five years. And seeing the success of craft ciders, other new apple-based boozes have entered the market, things like Karner Blue gin, which is distilled from apples, not grains, at New Hampshire’s Flag Hill Winery and Distillery. Karner blue is the state butterfly in case you were wondering. And there are apple vodkas such as Core Vodka from Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery in New York State. Meanwhile, there’s the granddaddy

of the apple spirit world, calvados, which was back in the news this year as coverage of the 70th anniversary of D-Day included mentions of the spirit that is a specialty of the Normandy region of France. In 1944, farmers offered soldiers tots of the powerful stuff during the liberation effort and returning veterans remembered June 6 with calvados toasts. Tourists often picked up a bottle when visiting Normandy, but up to now it hasn’t been very well known in the United States. But interest has grown. Guillaume Drouin of the Normandy calvados producer Christian Drouin says Eastern Europe and the U.S. are growing markets and “calvados is being discovered more and more.” Helping that trend is an evolution in quality that has boosted what was

once viewed as a regional and rather rustic spirit. Christian Drouin specializes in aged calvados, using port and sherry casks to impart extra flavors during the aging. The company was founded by Drouin’s grandfather, who patiently distilled calvados for two decades before releasing his first product. Today, Christian Drouin products range from a white apple brandy, Blanche de Normandie, which can be drunk as an aperitif or used in cocktails, to aged products like the 15-year-old Couer de Lion Pays d’Auge Hors d’Age. America has its own apple tradition, applejack, which dates back to colonial times. The return to brown spirits, as well as the popularity of craft and classic cocktails, also have been good for the market, says Lisa Laird Dunn, vice

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president of Laird & Company. “It’s been phenomenal,” she says. “We’ve actually had to allocate our brandies because of the popularity.” The country’s first licensed distillery, Laird & Company in New Jersey, has been making apple spirits for centuries; the first official record of sale from the distillery is in 1780, says Laird Dunn. Applejack originally was made by freeze distillation, leaving the cider outside in winter and periodically removing ice to concentrate the alcohol. Today, modern distilling processes are used and Laird’s applejack is a blend of neutral grain spirits and apple brandy. The company also produces aged apple brandies as well as Laird Bottled in Bond Straight Apple Brandy which is 100 proof and popular with bartenders for making cocktails. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 41

Coming Attractions: August July 31 - Aug 2 -Blue Earth County Fair 304 Fairground St., Garden City -free -- $5 parking

12 -- Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo 7:00 p.m. -- Vetter Stone Amphitheater -- $32 in advance, $35 day of show

July 31 - Aug 3 -- RibFest 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 12 p.m. Saturday and Sunday -- Riverfront Park, Mankato -- free 12-5 p.m., $5 from 5-7 p.m., $10 7-11 p.m.

12 -- Sioux Trails American Guild of Organists recital: Christine Schulz 12:10 -- Bethalehem Lutheran Church -- 720 S. Second St., Mankato -- free

4 -- German Park Concert Series: Sleepy Eye Area Concertina Club 7:00 p.m. -- German Park, New Ulm -free -- 507-359-8347

15 -- Summer Movies in the Park: Despicable Me 2 8:45 p.m. -- Spring Lake Park, North Mankato -- free

5 -- Sioux Trails American Guild of Organists recital: David Mertesdof 12:10 -- Bethalehem Lutheran Church -- 720 S. Second St., Mankato -- free

18 -- German Park Concert Series: Larry Mages and the Mages Family Band 7:00 p.m. -- German Park, New Ulm -free -- 507-359-8347

8 -- Recovery’s Got Talent 6:30 p.m. -- Hosanna Lutheran Church -- 105 Hosanna Drive, Mankato -- free

20 -- Theory of a Deadman 7:00 p.m. -- Vetter Stone Amphitheater -- $25 in advance, $27 day of show

11 -- German Park Concert Series: The Singing Cowgirl 7:00 p.m. -- German Park, New Ulm -free -- 507-359-8347

22 -- HAIRBALL with special guests Ladies of the 80s 7:00 p.m. -- Vetter Stone Amphitheater -- $15 in advance, $20 day of show 23 -- Mankato Area Derby Girls 7:00 p.m. -Verizon Wireless Center -- $9-$14 25 -- German Park Concert Series: The Concord Singers 7:00 p.m. -- German Park, New Ulm -free -- 507-359-8347

Vikings Training Camp Village Hours 1 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 2 -- 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 4 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 5 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 6 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 10 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 11 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 6:30-10 p.m. 12 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 13 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 14 -- 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. 42 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

When your heart has met its match










MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 43

Your Health

By Robin Givhan | The Washington Post.

Sweatiquette, or how I learned to survive the summer heat


ust like last summer and the one before that, July and August are sticky, broiling and stifling. Aside from those suffering souls whose work keeps them outside or whose circumstances keep them in an unventilated environment, the heat is not so much a physical burden as it is a challenge to aesthetics, decorum and professionalism. It’s not easy to look powerful and composed with sweat pouring from areas you didn’t even know had sweat glands. In a heat wave — and with many more dog days to come — there really is no way to venture outside, from one airconditioned appointment to another, without working up a generous layer of perspiration. The best one can do is to take a few cues from another generation — a time of greater civility, a slower pace and no central air conditioning. 1. Use a handkerchief to mop your brow — and then put it away. Do not be one of those uncouth people walking around with a washcloth on top of their head. K Street is not your personal loo. And hankies are better than Kleenex, which can disintegrate on your forehead, leaving you spackled with bits of tissue. 2. Walk on the shady side of the street and do so slowly. Learn to saunter. 3. The wonders of Dri-Fit and other moisture-wicking fabrics are great if you’re heading to the gym. But for professional purposes, make cotton, linen, wool — tropical weight — your friends. Behold the shirtwaist dress. Light colors are cooler, although darker ones are less likely to show sweat stains. Sandals, yes; flip-flops, no. I won’t even discuss pantyhose. 4. Gentlemen, wear an undershirt and, hopefully, you will not sweat through to your dress shirt. Nicely tailored seersucker is classic and charming, but not with a straw boater, because you are going to the office, not floating down the river on a sternwheeler. 5. Near-nudity on city streets will not keep you cooler; you will only risk sunburning delicate body

44 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

parts. If you are not basking in the afterglow of a 5K: Men, put your shirt back on; women, keep your nether regions reasonably covered. 6. Be a kind host and immediately offer hot arrivals some cold water — or better yet, lemonade — and an opportunity to freshen up. 7. To glow is human. There is no need to aspire to a perfectly matte appearance. No drugstore makeup can withstand this heat and humidity. So go easy on it, lest you look like an Edvard Munch painting. Even better, skip it. Your nude face will not scare small children — or your boss. 8. Do not crank up the air conditioning until icicles form indoors. Let your body adjust to the warmth. It’s a lot more jarring going from 65 degrees inside to 90 degrees outdoors than it is emerging from an office that holds steady at a nice energy-saving 78 degrees. 9. In polite conversation, it’s fine to comment on the weather. Then, move along. Obsessing about the heat will only make you hotter. M

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Arts by the river 1. Visitors to Riverfront Park had dozens of vendors to choose from. 2. Jamy Deboer works on his next glass piece. 3. Shoppers take a look at all the different shapes and sizes of baskets to choose from. 4. Malia Wiley works on her latest creation while at the park. 5. Peter J. Thomas recites poetry in the park for the spectators. 2 6. Visitors check out the beautiful photography of David Barthel. 7. KJ Myrmel stands in front of his artwork, which consists of mainly impressionistic paintings.





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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 45

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Battle of the Bands Parade 1. A member of the Dover Eyota drumline watches his drum major closely to ensure the band stays on time. 2. Snaked along Main Street in Lake Crystal, crowd favorite, the Mankato 77 Lancers were the last of 12 bands during the parade. 3. The 728 Cadets brought a sideshow to the streets, featuring a bearded lady, a jester and an intense color guard group. 4. The NRHEG marching band took cues from the James Bond dynasty and brought his spy game to life. 5. The trombone section of The Waconia Marching Band marches down the street. 6. A blur of swings flys above parade goers. Main Street in Lake Crystal was blocked off for the weekend to support its annual Duck Days events. 7. A piccolo player from the Winona-Cotter marching band. 8. Cale Carey, 3, is all 3 smiles as he goes for a ride on the live ponies.



46 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE






Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

North Mankato Triathlon 1. A family takes in the swim portion of the course as the kids prepare for their triathlon. 2. The first group of racers makes its way into Hiniker Pond. 3. Racers run out of Hiniker Pond after completing the swimming portion of the race. 4. Two athletes from the Rochester Cyclones Tri Team congratulate each other after finishing the race. 5. The second annual North Mankato Triathlon took place around Hiniker Pond. 6. David Jones makes his way across the finish line. 7. Jake Vandal from Rochester celebrates as he earns first place in the kids 8-10 year-old category. 8. Kids make their final biking loop.



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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 47




By Pete Steiner

North End Origins of the BarMuda Triangle: A Talk with Ron Doty


he Rats. The Comfy. The Square Deal. Decades before the moniker “Barmuda Triangle” was applied to South Front Street’s current concentration of watering holes, Mankato’s North End was closer to the epicenter of local nightlife. Close readers may argue that the Square Deal (now Chops) was always on South Front, and the Comfy was near the river in North Mankato, and the Rathskeller was actually just south of Main Street, the nominal dividing line to the North End. But just down the alley and north of Main from the Rats, near where the Library is now, there was a little place called Pappy’s. Young and ambitious, Ron Doty had come to Mankato in the summer of 1971 from Sioux Falls. He’d already been in the bar business for almost a decade after turning 18. Doty knew Mankato, as a college town, was a good place to be in the bar business (at the time, Mankato State was still mostly in the lower “Valley campus.”) Pappy’s was for sale, Doty bought it, and immediately, he had the whole building painted bright red. He put a pink elephant logo in the front window proclaiming, “Jumbo Hi-Balls.” In his first year, business tripled. Doty teamed with another young bar owner, Al Gruidl of the Rathskeller, for a promotion in which a patron paid one dollar for a mug that either establishment would fill with Hamm’s beer on tap. But with Urban Renewal looming, downtown was about to be radically transformed. Doty closed Pappy’s 18 months after buying it. The Rats would be taken in 1974. •••• On December 22, 1972, the day after Pappy’s closed, Doty took his liquor license and opened the Hurdy Gurdy Saloon in a former carpet store between Pagliai’s and Miller Motors [just recently demolished.] Featuring live music seven nights a week, the Hurdy Gurdy and the Square Deal would become the nexus of the city’s newest hot spot for revelers. The Gurdy and the Deal would soon be joined by the Burgundy Haus (now a parking ramp) and South Street Saloon. South Street, the old KC Hall, had 48 • August 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

been bought by Dick Schulte, another bar owner displaced by Urban Renewal. •••• Ron Doty is renowned among club owners across the state. He’s a walking, talking encyclopedia of the history of the bar business and the related politics in Minnesota and Mankato over four decades. He recalls a key date: June, 1973, when Minnesota law finally allowed 18-year-olds to legally drink alcohol. While Doty had misgivings about the wisdom of 18-year-olds drinking, the Hurdy Gurdy boomed. “The day the law changed, we had a line (before opening) that stretched around the corner.” Newly legal young drinkers couldn’t wait to exercise their right. In 1976, the legal age was bumped to 19, then a decade later, it would be re-established at 21. Doty, who always has been active in legislative affairs, thinks 19 should still be legal. The relatively rapid series of age changes kicked off a booming black market in illegal ID’s. While Doty and other bar owners worked to get changes in driver license technology that would make it harder to get fake ID’s, forgers continually managed to stay one step ahead. Doty adds, preventing underage drinking is a constant challenge: “You’re only as good as your employees’ integrity. ••••


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The local bar scene was rapidly evolving. In 1976, Doty bought the former Comfy Bar on the North Mankato end of the old Main Street Bridge. He re-opened it in 1977 as the original T.J. Finnegan’s Pub, on what he calls his “favorite date: December 22.” At the same time, liquor liability laws were putting increasing pressure on establishments that made most of their money off booze. So in 1980, Doty radically altered the Hurdy Gurdy, turning it into a pasta bar and night club called R.J. Noodles. Live music was out, disco DJ’s were in. But the disco boom was brief. “It died in one day, it seemed,” Doty muses. It was 1984, and building the new Veterans’ Memorial Bridge would claim the original T.J.’s, along with the legendary restaurant, The Century Club. Doty decide to move his thriving little pub into the larger Hurdy Gurdy/R.J. Noodles space: “It was clear to me, that was the right move. T.J.’s was doing well, and now we could double its size. It was an immediate hit.”

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As Ron Doty recalls, it was college students who first assigned South Front Street its now-notorious name in the early 1990’s. As drinking establishments proliferated there, the bar owners joined in 1997 to promote street parties, advertising the area as, The BarMuda Triangle, cementing the moniker. While the concept generated lots of revenue, Doty has qualms, wondering if “creating a bar district was a mistake.” He thinks it has led to problems with out-of-control behavior. He also opposed a 2 a.m. closing time, until that movement became inevitable in 2002. Doty sold T.J.’s in 2007 to retire after being in the bar business for 45 years. The place was renamed Red Sky, which itself is now on hiatus while all the demolition and new construction takes place in the 500 block of South Front. As for Pappy’s and the Hurdy Gurdy and T.J.’s? Of course, they’ve all been consigned to that noble list we compile of Places That Are No More. M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2014 • 49

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People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley

Kato mag 8 14  

People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley