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2 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


FEATURE S october 2013 Volume 8, Issue 10



Corked and bottled

South-central Minnesota wineries and breweries have a lot on tap this fall.


A shelf above

A tour of top-shelf tastes in Mankato.


Brew it yourself

Homemade sips growing in popularity.


Day Trip Destinations: New Ulm Oktoberfest

About the Cover

A trio of experts in top-shelf drink meet minds at NaKato Bar and Grill. From left: NaKato bar manager Sam Powell, Mankato Brewery co-founder Tim Tupy and sommelier Tancredi Cucurullo. Photo by The Free Press Media photographer Pat Christman. MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 3




6 From the Editor Taste of success 8 Odds ‘n’ Ends 10 Introductions Jason Kocina 12 The Gallery MSU’s Les Miserables, Ron Gower,





Mankato Marathon

28 That’s Life Downsizing, or bluffing our way through it 30 Garden Chat Sowing hopes for next year’s garden 32 Day Trip Destinations New Ulm Oktoberfest 34 Then and Now Mausoleums in Mankato 38 Coming Attractions Events to check out in October 44 From This Valley Hangin’ at the Albatross

30 Coming in November We’ll remind ourselves of some reasons we’re thankful to live in south-central Minnesota.

34 4 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Of course, November is a good time for that. We’ll put some food on the table and have a story ready to tell. We hope you’ll stop by and join us.

Old Main Village… A Tradition of Choice Mankato’s Main Attraction A Senior Living Community • Independent & Assisted Living • Short Term Stays Available • Heated Pool & Spa • Delicious Meals • Historic Setting • Transportation • Pets Welcome

Fall Fashion Show October 3, 2013 ~ 5:30-7 p.m. Free. Join us for refreshments & beautiful fall fashions. Please RSVP as seating is limited. 301 South Fifth Street Mankato, MN 56001

Convenient Care

(507) 388-4200 A Platinum Service® Community Managed by The Goodman Group

Our providers now offer evening appointments Monday through Thursday. We’ve made it easier to work with your family’s busy schedule. Our patient’s parents have been asking for evening appointments, and the Mankato Clinic has listened.

Please call 507-389-8529 to make an appointment for your child. Back-to-School Reminder: Call now to book school and sports physicals for the fall.

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


From The Editor


October 2013 • VOLUME 8, ISSUE 10 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTING Nell Musolf WRITERS Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Marie Wood Leticia Gonzales Emre K. Erku Robb Murray



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

6 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Taste of success: grapes, hops


hree decades ago any suggestion that the corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota might hold promise for growing grapes and hosting wineries would have been easily dismissed. It wasn’t unreasonable to argue it’s too cold in Minnesota to grow grapes and there’s not enough of a market for whatever we could grow to support a full blown winery. Well, it seems the conventional wisdom of a few decades ago has been shattered by a surprising reality. The Mankato region plays host to three area wineries. First there was Morgan Creek between Mankato and New Ulm. Then Indian Island Winery grew out of its own vineyard out near Janesville, and a few years ago, Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery sprung up near Kasota. All appear to be alive and well, according to our cover story this month. Turns out Minnesota is a pretty good place to grow grapes, though they are varieties that are suited to cold weather and end up creating wine that has chilly associations at times. The Minnesota grape varieties are bred by the University of Minnesota. Marquette, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris and La Crescent Minnesota grapes lend themselves to wines such as Chankaska Creek’s Coeur de Colline or “heart of the hills” in French. It’s a wine aimed at taking the chill off a person in the Minnesota winters and is served with a swirl of dark chocolate. You get a taste of what each winery has to offer in Marie Wood’s piece on area wineries in this month’s feature. The Minnesota Frontenac Gris grape allows Indian Island to make its unique “Dancing Spirit” white port. “You don’t see a lot of white ports. They are unique and have special flavors,” says Indian Island owner Ray Winter. “(Dancing Spirit) is a sipping drink, an after-dinner type of drink – something to savor.” Morgan Creek winery was the fifth winery in Minnesota, getting its start with plantings back in 1993 and

its first vintage in 1998. The longtime local Marti family of Schell’s Beer fame has since then been sheepherding the southern Minnesota grapes into wines like Sweet E or Sweet Bliss, described by Paul Marti as a “faux ice wine.” But local wine isn’t your only choice in the Mankato post-soybean era of growing things for fun and money. Turns out local beer drinkers don’t have to take a back seat to local wine connoisseurs. While August Schell Brewery had been churning out beer for more than a century, the production of local craft beers has become a more recent phenomena. Schell’s does its traditional Oktoberfest and numerous others (Goosetown is becoming one of my favorites) but is now joined in the area of local brews with Mankato Brewery’s own selection of everything from the hoppy tasting Mankato original to the Haymaker IPA and the Organ Grinder amber ale. The presence of a local Mankato Brewery was revived in 2012 after a 40 plus year hiatus when Tim Tupy and partners opened for business and now offer a variety of craft beers and social gathering at the Brewery in lower North Mankato. The local beers are found in liquor stores and a variety of local pubs and you can also buy the legendary growler jugs of beer right from the brewery. The area breweries and wineries have even spawned a little tourism industry with travel companies offering motor coach tours of southern Minnesota’s libation stations. The presence of locally-made beer and wines seems to revive a kind of community pride, in not just having good products made locally but knowing the people who do it and toasting their success. So we lift our glass in recognition and celebration. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382.

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

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Join the pre-game celebration downtown City Center Mankato to kick-off the the 2013-2014 Maverick hockey season.


See us at houses #2, #3 and #11 on the Tour of Homes

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 7

Carving A NEW LOOK ? PriNt SOLutiONS tO Fit yOur NEEdS Brochures annual reports catalogs magazines posters hard cover Books soft cover Books print on demand direct mail and more . . .

Odds ‘n’ Ends

By Tanner Kent

This Day in History Oct. 29, 1909: Underneath the large headline “Have Gone to Iowa,” The Free Press reported on the departure of one its most degenerate and incorrigible residents. According to the lengthy article, C.B. Thompson left Mankato for Forest City, Iowa, thereby ridding the town of a man “who has given the police and his neighbors no end of trouble and annoyance.” Apparently, C.B. Thompson was an abusive alcoholic who marked his arrival in town years earlier by locking his wife in a room at the Stahl House. After three days of captivity, the police finally intervened in her release. Later, police responded several times to threats that he was going to kill his family. When he arrived at the train depot to leave for Iowa, he reportedly would not pay the freight charges or purchase tickets for his wife and kids, saying “they can walk.” Only after an officer forcibly removed $20 from his wallet were tickets purchased for Thompson’s wife and children. The newspaper further noted that Thompson left Mankato “as drunk and ugly as when he came.” Oct. 10, 1871: In the pages of the Mankato Weekly Review, William Bierbrauer announced the construction of a “large and costly” building for cooling beer. The proprietor of Mankato’s first brewery estimated the cost of the building at nearly $4,000. The cooler was 24 feet square and 50 feet high. The basement had an arched ceiling and was used as a beer cellar while the upper floors were used to pack ice. Also on this date, one of Mankato’s earliest settlers — Thomas Dustin Warren, a man whose grandfather was a Revolutionary War captain, and who crossed the plains during the gold rush of 1849 before settling on 120 acres in what is the heart of downtown Mankato in 1853 — lost his case Pictured is a flood on Warren Street in July of 1916 – some 45 against the city in district years after a court dispute was settled between the city and landowner Thomas Warren. | Blue Earth County Historical Society court. The matter at hand was ownership of the land that eventually became Warren Street. Warren’s title to the land had, apparently, been in dispute since he arrived in town, and the district court ruled the city had a right to recover the tract of land they needed for a thoroughfare. Oct. 30, 1951: On Halloween Day, Joseph O. Christ of Mankato went duck hunting and was never seen alive again. His family became concerned when he didn’t return by the night of Oct. 31, and a search party formed immediately. After turning up nothing the first night, the search continued by air, land and water for the next two days. Joseph’s body wasn’t recovered until Nov. 6 when his son and Waseca police chief R.G. Lowe were searching Buffalo Lake near Janesville. It was reported that when Joseph’s son came upon a decoy in the water and attempted to retrieve it, his father’s hand was still attached to the string.

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8 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Ask the Expert: Home weatherization

By Nell Musolf

Simple energy-saving solutions


nbelievable as it may seem, winter is just around the corner. Kris Perendy, weatherization coordinator for the Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) in Mankato, offered the following tips to get your home ready for the rough weather ahead. “Simple and easy ways to save energy that the homeowner can do themselves are weather-stripping around the doors, installing sash locks on windows, putting plastic on windows, closing off any unused rooms and changing the furnace filter monthly,” Perendy suggested. “Putting up plastic and weather-stripping helps eliminate cold drafts from seeping into the house.” The weatherization process can be started at any time since weatherizing helps not only to keep homes warmer in the winter but also cooler in the summer. Perendy said that insulating the attic, eliminating drafts and weatherstripping doors are her top picks for weatherization. When temperatures start to drop, Perendy said that it’s a money-saving move to lower the thermostat at night. “It is best to turn down the thermostat at night. Lowering the thermostat setting saves money because the furnace runs less,”

Perendy explained. For low-income households, MVAC offers weatherization services. In order to be eligible for weatherization assistance, households need to be eligible for the Energy Assistance Program, which is based on 50 percent of the state median income or 200 percent of federal poverty income level. Weatherization assistance can provides an energy audit in which homes are checked for energysaving measures such as insulating, air sealing and a furnace and water heater checkup. More information about MVAC’s Energy Assistance Program can be found at www.

News to use: Lessons in Laundry Care By Family Features


rom the washer and dryer to the detergents used to keep your clothes clean, there are many elements involved in your laundry experience. With all of the money families spend annually on clothing, towels and bedding, keeping these items in shape is important. It all starts with proper laundry care. Here are tips to simplify your laundry chores and keep your family’s clothing squeaky clean: Don’t Skip the Sorting: People tend to ignore sorting according to color, soil level and fabric type. But ignoring these variances in your wash can lead to ruined clothing. Always sort according to soil level. If you mix heavily soiled items, soil transfer can occur. Also be sure not to mix fabric types together in the wash, which can lead to color rub-off and fabric wear. Protect Sensitive Clothes: Be sure to close fasteners such as zippers and buttons, and turn items with colorsensitive fabrics inside-out. Turning items inside-out can also protect products that pill or pick up fuzz, such as fleece.

Don’t Over-do Detergent: When you put clothes in the washer, don’t overdo it with the detergent. While many people associate the amount of suds in the washer with the cleanliness of their clothing, over-sudsing can actually result in a rough feel to clothes and degradation of the fabric over time. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 9




Tanner Kent | Photos

by John


Jason Kocina has worked full-time at Tow Distributing since his graduation from Minnesota State University in 1992. In addition to other responsibilities, Kocina manages Tow’s lineup of craft beers.

Expertise on tap Jason Kocina of Tow Distributing

Jason Kocina doesn’t dispute that he has a coveted job. As sales execution and development manager, the 20-year veteran of Mankato-based Tow Distributing is responsible for (among other things) developing Tow’s list of craft beer brands. As such, he’s become a local expert in the tastes, trends and topics related to the swiftly growing craft industry. But even Kocina admits it didn’t happen on purpose. After working parttime at Tow while matriculating his way to a political science degree at Minnesota State University, it was only after graduation that he decided to work at Tow fulltime. The Mankato Magazine caught up with Kocina for a little conversation about his job, the beer industry and the Mankato company that plays such a crucial role in getting south-central Minnesota’s favorite beverages into the hands of consumers. Mankato Magazine: How did you find yourself in the beer distribution business? 10 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Jason Kocina: I pretty much grew up in the beer business my whole life. My dad worked for a distributor in Glencoe when I was young and I remember me and my brother playing on the stacks of beer. I came in working parttime while I was going to school. I was working in the warehouse, washing trucks, putting together orders, pretty much all the jobs no one wanted to do. And it just evolved from there to where I could get my foot into working with our sales team. It’s nothing I ever thought I would do fulltime, but the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. MM: Tell us a little about your job responsibilities as sales execution and development manager. JK: The part of my job that gets all the cool attention is managing our craft brands. I evaluate sales, look at products and decide which to bring on. I also manage strategic planning for our big brands. It’s a lot of management and planning stuff, deciding how to meet our suppliers’ demands.

with their best chance of success using our local market knowledge. MM: How would you characterize Mankato’s beer palate? JK: It’s an evolving palate. Obviously, there are some really hardcore craft beer fans that will pay $15 for a craft brand, but there are also a lot of people experiencing craft beer for the first time. Beers like Mankato Organ Grinder and Alaskan Amber — amber-style beers that are a little more flavorful — sell really well. But a brand like Odell’s Myrcenary — a huge, double IPA that is delicious — customers are seeing success with that, too. I mean, go to the supermarket and look at the selections of gourmet cheese and artisanal bread. Overall, people’s food palates are changing. I think beer is evolving along with that. MM: Favorite part of your job? JK: I like discovering new beers and I like working with our brewery partners. We call them “partners” because we are. If they’re not successful, we’re not successful. And if we’re not successful, they aren’t either. MM: What is something people may not know about Tow Distributing? JK: Some people may drive by the building and see the big sign and think we only sell Budweiser. We are independently owned and sell brands from across the globe. We really relish our independence, which allows us to take on new brands and breweries.

Just a few of the craft labels area consumers may see on shelves during the fall season. Include are (left to right): Alaskan Brewing Company’s IPA, Mankato Brewery’s Haymaker, Mankato Brewery’s Leaf Raker and Alaskan Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Porter. MM: Can you give a sense of the size and scope of Tow Distributing’s operation? JK: We cover 15 counties in south-central Minnesota — from the Iowa border to just outside the Willmar, east to Highway 13 and west to Redwood Falls. Five days a week we have reps out selling beer and trucks delivering beer — in addition to the beer education and events that our team does with retailers and beer drinkers. MM: What role have distributors, in general, and Tow, specifically, played in the proliferation of craft beer choices on the market? JK: Small brewers have a tough time accessing retailers without distributors. A lot of breweries recognize that they are really good at brewing beer — and that distributors are really good at getting into accounts. Not every product sells in every account. I think we provide small brewers

MM: What’s coming up in the world of beer? JK: October is a great time for beer. We’re finishing up the fall seasonals and moving into

winter. The holiday seasonals are a lot of fun. It’s a chance for brewers to express themselves and change things up. MM: Final question: If you could share a beer with anybody, who would it be? JK: Fritz Maytag. He took over the struggling Anchor Brewery in the mid-1960s and successfully transformed that brewery from a failing business to what many consider to be the grandfather of the craft beer industry, producing world-class beer. I’ve heard him speak and he has such fun and interesting stories about the things he’s seen and done in the beer industry. He could have just sat on his inheritance (he’s part of the Maytag appliance family), but instead he chose to take on a challenge. Besides, beer industry folks have some of the best stories. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 11

The Gallery

Professional influence

MSU taps veteran actor Neil Dale for lead role in ‘Les Miserables’ By Tanner Kent


uring the summer of 2013, still some three months away from debuting “Les Miserables,” Paul Hustoles was agonizing over his choice to play the lead role. Having waited 25 years for a chance to direct the musical based on Victor Hugo’s 19th-century masterpiece — the performance rights to which were only released to colleges in late 2012 — the chair of the Minnesota State University Department of Theatre and Dance wanted his cast to be perfect. He knew he had the student talent to fill all the roles — except that of Jean Valjean, the French peasant who becomes a redemptive symbol of human love and compassion. “I’ve seen young actors shred their voices with that role,” Hustoles said of the sung-through musical notorious for its physical and emotional toll on actors. “The vocal demands are so high.” After Hustoles advertised the role in industry publications, he received video submissions and calls from casting agents around the country. After winnowing the candidates to two in July, Hustoles declared he’d make his final decision in 24 hours. Neil Dale’s submission came that afternoon and promptly changed Hustoles’ mind.

Dale, a Liverpool native who now resides in California, is a veteran of the “Les Miserables” production that set performance records at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. He also appeared in the “Les Misérables” 25th anniversary concert in London, and boasts a lengthy list of TV credits. During his run with “Les Miserables” in the West End, Dale served the “swing” role, playing every character except that of Valjean. The famously dense and emotionally rich musical, Dale said, only became more captivating with repeated performances. “It’s very easy to keep something fresh when you love something as much as I love this show,” Dale said. “My love for this show has never waned.” Arriving on campus in mid-September, Dale met a cast that had already been rehearsing for two weeks. Dale said he was impressed by the Ted Paul Theatre as well as the talent level among students and staff. “We only get four hours a night for five weeks to rehearse,” said Dale, referencing MSU Theatre’s manic production schedule that begins with a series of auditions on the first day of class in August. “The kids have been phenomenal.” For his part, Dale said he is carefully pacing himself and his voice in preperation for the string of performances that begin Oct. 3 and continue through Oct. 13. In addition to monitoring his sleeping habits, eating healthy and exercising regularly, Dale carries a silver flask of ginger tea to all rehearsals. “Even at 43,” Dale said, “I’ve got to build up my strength and stamina.”

Les Mis’ debuts at MSU Oct. 3

“Les Miserables” is the opening show of Minnesota State University’s 2013-14 Mainstage season. In 19th century France, Jean Valjean is released from 19 years of unjust imprisonment, but finds nothing in store for him but mistrust and mistreatment. He breaks his parole in hopes of starting a new life, initiating a life-long struggle for redemption as he is relentlessly pursued by police inspector Javert, who refuses to believe Valjean can change his ways. During the Paris student uprising of 1832, Javert must confront his ideals after Valjean spares his life and saves that of the student revolutionary who has captured the heart of Valjean’s adopted daughter. The winner of nine Tony Awards in 1987, it became the second longest-running 12 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

musical in Broadway history. The 2012 movie version starred Hugh Jackman as Valjean and Anne Hathaway as Eponine. Performances • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3-5 and 10-12 • 2 p.m. on Oct. 5, 6, 12 and 13 Where MSU’s Ted Paul Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts Tickets $22 regular, $19 for senior citizens, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more, and $15 for current MSU students. Purchase online at, or by calling or stopping by the Theatre & Dance Box Office in the lobby of the Earley Center from 4-6 p.m., Mondays-Fridays; call 507-389-6663.

Prolific poet

Mankatoan Ron Gower releases ‘Single Men in Barracks’ By Nell Musolf


hroughout an illustrious career, Ron Gower has done a variety of jobs such as beekeeper, high school English teacher, college professor and freelance writer for The Free Press. Additionally he is a thricepublished poet who has also published an autobiography and had his work appear in a wide variety of magazines and journals. His most recent work, “Single Men in Barracks,” explores topics related to military service with emotionally incisive prose. “I didn’t publish my first book until I was 75,” Gower observed. “I was too busy up until then.” That first book was entitled, “On the Farm, Down the Road.” Gower credits editor and publisher of Blueroad Press, John Gaterud, with supplying the encouragement to complete the book. “John is entirely responsible for my first book,” Gower said. “He made a lot of suggestions that I think improved it a great deal.” For his poetry, Gower said that ideas often hit at the most inconvenient times, such as when he driving down the highway or waking up at 3 in the morning. “I keep a few note cards next to my bed so I can write ideas down,” said Gower, adding that he also keeps note cards in a back pocket so they are handy whenever inspiration hits. Gower estimated he has written around 1,000 poems over his life and that for every one that has been published, there are three or four that weren’t. Poems can “vegetate” for years before reaching the point where Gower feels they are done. “There are some poems that won’t behave themselves,” Gower observed. “They take on a life of their own.” Being a self-professed “word nut” has helped with his poetry. He described his poetry as being sparse. Gower

Ron Gower has published a variety of his writings, including his most recent collection of poetry, “Single Men in Barracks.” | The Free Press file photo has written poems for his grandsons Cade and Quinn and was recently flattered when Cade thanked him for writing a poem about him. “He said, ‘Thanks, Papa!’ and that was nice to hear. Writing is the hardest work in the world but it’s also the most rewarding,” Gower said.

Plenitude My grandson is memorizing the world: A photo of Daddy, teacups in a row (one is missing; why is it gone?), Papa’s pocket knife, which he Must not touch, all cats and dogs For future reference. He names Each one, forgets nothing he sees. Oh, there is so much, and it is all Wonderful: it will take him forever. Ron Gower

Inspired to endure

Marathon print artist affected by recent tragedy


he 2013 Mankato Marathon print was inspired by the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Artist Ginny Bergerson said the design for this year’s commemorative poster was influenced by a sense of vulnerability. (Disclosure: Bergerson is also a Free Press Media employee.) “I have many friends and co-workers here in Mankato that represent a part of this marathon — runners, volunteers, committee members, children, health experts, media groups and more,” she said. “The thought that someone could take this away from us all in a split second made me realize how fragile our freedom to run is.” At the foreground of Bergerson’s image is Lady Justice, the 34-foot statue atop the Historic Blue Earth County Courthouse. She is clutching the ribbons that adorn the medallions given to each race finisher, flanked by the ethereal tatters of the American flag.

With her gaze skyward, Lady Justice appears tested, tried — and enduring. Perhaps not unlike marathon runners themselves. “As you end the race and look up the hill, you are sure to see Lady Justice on top of the tower smiling down on your finish,” Bergerson said. Bergerson is a mixed media artist who works from her basement studio, The Fabulous Firefly. She lives in rural Janesville with her husband Bruce and the three dogs. The 2013 Mankato Marathon Print is available for sale at the Mankato Marathon Merchandise Booth. For more information contact Visit Mankato at 507.385.6660. M

For a full schedule of Mankato Marathon activities, please see pg. 39. MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 13

Winemaker Drew Horton came to Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery in Kasota specifically to work with the cold-hardy grapes Chankaska uses to produce its award-winning wines. | John Cross

Corked and bottled South-central Minnesota wineries and breweries have a lot on tap this fall By Marie Wood 14 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Though still in relative infancy, Chankaska has already garnered several competition honors. | John Cross


utumn is a great time to enjoy the country charm and ambiance of our local vineyards and wineries. A scenic sunset or live music from opera to Americana may grace your experience. Tour, taste and savor local wines made with Minnesota cold hardy grapes. Bask in the afternoon sunshine, warm up by an outdoor fire pit, or learn about the craft in the tasting rooms. Then bring home a bottle and uncork the flavor of the Minnesota River Valley. Local breweries also have been busy crafting new fall brews and bottling old favorites. While the August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm is celebrating old world Oktoberfest, Mankato Brewery is hosting an informal Tuesday night music club. So bring on autumn with a sip or chug!

Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery

California winemaker Drew Horton came to Minnesota for a grape. After seeing an employment listing for a winemaker at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery in Kasota, he Googled “Minnesota wine grape” and learned of the cold-hardy grapes bred by the University of Minnesota. “It was an epiphany. It was an entirely brand new thing in this part of the world,” Horton said. Horton reasoned that people have been making wine for 8,000 years, but very few people get the chance to work with an entirely new grape. Horton was taken by the Marquette, genetically derived from the Pinot Noir, but he loves all Minnesota grapes including the Frontenac, Frontenac Gris and La Crescent. Celebrating its third harvest, Horton has used every single grape grown at Chankaska Creek. He also purchases grapes from vineyards in Mapleton, Minnesota Lake, Amboy, Garden

City, Kasota and others. Every Tuesday, Horton drives to local vineyards and talks to growers. “I can’t imagine making wine without walking a lot of vineyards and tasting a lot of grapes,” said Horton. This small Minnesota winery still in its infancy has collected best in class and gold, silver and bronze medals at prestigious wine competitions, including the San Francisco International, Riverside International, and the Cold Climate wine competitions. October brings the release of some cold-climate specialties. The 2012 Minnesota Marquette Reserve received a gold medal at the 2013 International Cold Climate Wine Competition. This fine dry, red wine is made from the Minnesota Marquette grape, but it is blended with a dollop of California-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. The wine pairs well with roasted or grilled meats and vegetables, root vegetables and strong aged cheeses. The 2012 Couer de Colline, which means “heart of the hills” in French, is a port-style dessert wine made from the Minnesota Frontenac. The port, deeply rich and sweet with hints of cocoa and coffee, tastes like the holiday season. “It warms you when you have it. It’s perfect going into fall and winter. It was my favorite winter sipper,” said Erika Masias, event and marketing coordinator, Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. At the winery, Couer de Colline is served in a martini glass with a swirl of dark chocolate. This port-style dessert wine can be enjoyed on its own or paired with seasonal fare such as Stilton blue cheese, walnuts, dried fruit and chocolate. The 2011 Couer de Colline took the silver medal at the 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 15

In the 2013 Mid-America Wine Competition, Indian Island took the gold medal for its Dancing Spirit wine. Pictured are visitors during the winery’s annual grape stomp event in September. | Pat Christman Visit the Chankaska Creek tasting room to taste and purchase artisan wines and enjoy woodfired pizzas, views from the tasting deck and evening fires on the patio. For hours and events, visit

Indian Island Winery

At Indian Island Winery in Janesville, the Winter family has been at the forefront of the Minnesota Wine Industry. In 2000, the Winters founded Winterhaven Vineyard & Nursery. As a University of Minnesota-licensed nursery, the Winters entered the industry as a grower and seller. In 2010, the Winterhaven Vineyard yielded the Indian Island Winery. “We’re in the infancy as a lot of people would put it in the wine industry,” said Ray Winter, owner, operator and family patriarch. In the 2013 Mid-America Wine Competition, Indian Island took the gold medal for its Dancing Spirit wine. Dancing Spirit is a white port made from the Frontenac Gris. Indian Island uses grapes grown in its own vineyard and also looks to other local growers. Ports are aged longer than wines and tend to be more complex and potent, explained Winter. “You don’t see a lot of white ports. They are unique and have special flavors,” said Winter. “(Dancing Spirit) is a sipping drink, an after-dinner type of drink – something to savor.” Dancing Spirit is best paired with citrus and fruit desserts such as peach pie or cobbler. Lemon-flavored treats go very well with this lively port. As October wanes, many people will be hankering for an Indian Island favorite, Wita-pa. This sweet red dessert table wine has hints of cinnamon and spice that fill the wine with holiday spirit. Wita-pa should be served lightly warmed and pairs well with turkey, pumpkin pie and chocolate. Wita-pa was released at the Indian Island Grape Stomp and 16 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

quantities are limited. “People who want Wita-pa – they need to get it now,” said Winter. Indian Island Winery is open through December. The Indian Island kitchen cooks up Minnesota flavors in chicken wild rice soup, pizzas and elk and buffalo burgers. Enjoy live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. For winery hours and events, visit

Morgan Creek Vineyards

A pioneer in the Minnesota wine industry, Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm was the fifth winery in Minnesota and the first outstate grape winery. Owners and operators George and Paula Marti planted French hybrid grapes in 1993 and enjoyed the first vintage season in 1998. Now growing cold-climate varieties, Morgan Creek has collected many awards over the past 15 years. Paula says her husband, George, a fifth generation descendent of August Schell, has “fermentation in the blood.” At Cambria Crush, its October grape stomp, Morgan Creek is releasing two wines that are regional and seasonal favorites. Sweet E, originally named Sweet Bliss, is a dessert wine that

has won numerous awards at competitions in San Francisco. “Sweet E is a faux ice wine. It is made from the Frontenac Gris grape. It was harvested last season, the juice was frozen. The extract is removed and the ice is left behind,” explained Paula. “It takes a lot of TLC to make it work. The results are quite amazing.” In making Sweet E, the volume of liquid used to make the wine is reduced, which in turn increases the sugar and alcohol content, added Paula. Sweet E is sold in smaller bottles called split bottles, because it’s usually consumed in smaller quantities. A white dessert wine, Sweet E pairs well with berry or citrus desserts, as well as apple pie and ice cream. At Morgan Creek, Sweet E is served in a 4-ounce cordial glass with a lemon torte. This month, Morgan Creek also releases Saint Wenceslaus, its signature holiday wine. The Frontenac grape in this wine already has a cherry character that is stepped up by an infusion of sour cherries, while the cherry pits add a nutmeg character, explained Paula. “It’s a very versatile red holiday wine. That holiday savoriness is in aroma and flavor,” Paula said. Saint Wenceslaus pairs well with holiday entrees of turkey, beef, pork and wild game. Every year, the wine is produced in limited quantities and sells out quickly. While available at select liquor stores, you can turn the purchase into an experience when you visit Morgan Creek Vineyards. Enjoy tastings, tours and live music. Standing events include Winedown for the Weekend on Fridays, Jazz Nites on Saturdays, and Country Brunch on Sundays. Woodfired specialties and sweet treats are on the menu. For tours, tastings and events, visit

Mankato Brewery

Brewing is back in Mankato and locals are proud to boast a hometown brewery for the first time since 1967. In 2012, Mankato Brewery revived the brewing tradition here. Organ Grinder amber ale and Haymaker IPA have found a loyal following while the Center Street Series of limited-release beers introduces new brews and seasonal flavors. The brewery has held art contests for label design, as well as beer naming contests. In September, Mankato Brewery released Leaf Raker, the fourth in the Center Street Series, named for the brewery location in North Mankato. The brew is available on tap and in sample packs and four-packs at local liquor stores. “It’s a nut brown ale, so it’s brown in color with a slightly nutty flavor, heavy on the malt, and a slight smokey flavor,” said Mankato Brewery co-founder Tim Tupy. “It’s going to be

perfect (for fall).” Back by popular demand, Mankato Brewery will release Mint Stout on Nov. 1. The beer “created a cult following last holiday,” noted Tupy. “It’s a stout with chocolate notes and a nice, smooth mint flavor,” said Tupy. This year, Mankato Brewery will bottle the beer so it will be available in liquor stores. Last year, Mint Stout was only available on tap in select pubs and at Mankato Brewery. The brewery has become a popular space for community organizations to host fundraisers, thank volunteers and combine a worthy cause with hometown beer. An informal “Tuesday thing” is also taking root at Mankato Brewery. Bands have asked to play the brewery, so on many Tuesdays at 6 p.m., a band plays one set while people hoist a local brew. When the brewery closes at 7 p.m., people can go to a local pub that serves Mankato Brewery beers on tap or they can go home with a growler of their favorite brew. For brewery tours, tasting room hours, and bottles and pints near you, visit

Schell’s Brewing Co.

Every year, Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm invites Minnesotans to celebrate Oktoberfest like they do in Munich with traditional German music, lederhosen, food, and beer. With 153 years in brewing, Schell’s has the beer thing down. Every September, Schell’s releases Oktoberfest beer. At your local watering hole, Labor Day often brings on the tap change from a summer beer to Schell’s Oktoberfest. “Oktoberfest is our biggest-selling seasonal,” said Kyle Marti, Schell’s marketing director and sixth generation descendent of August Schell. “It’s a very traditional, true-tothe-style lager. Being a lager brewery, we pull it off pretty nicely.” Oktoberfest is still one of Marti’s favorites as it signals the change of season from summer to fall. And Schell’s Oktoberfest goes perfectly with bratwursts and sauerkraut, but any grilled meat such as steak or burgers will do. Lagers are made with a bottom-fermenting yeast that brings out a malty character. Schell’s purchases malts from Rahr Malting Company in Shakopee. The Shakopee malthouses are the world’s largest single-site malt producer in the world. The original malthouse dates back to 1937. This month, Schell’s is also releasing Chimney Sweep, a seasonal black lager that was first introduced in 2012. “Chimney Sweep has got that nice roasty flavor, but not bitter, and doesn’t overwhelm the palate,” said Marti. For brewery tours, visit M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 17

Just a few of the top-shelf labels held by the NaKato Bar and Grill. | Pat Christman

A shelf above NaKato takes fine whiskeys to another level


et’s say you’re a whiskey drinker. And let’s say you’ve heard something about the top-shelf selection of whiskeys kept by the NaKato Bar and Grill in North Mankato. Sitting down at the bar, perhaps you’ll order a dram of Johnny Walker or Maker’s Mark — brands that are respectable in their own right but ubiquitous enough to be found even in Mankato where specialty and small-batch spirits can be a little tougher to come by. Of course, bartender Sam Powell would be happy to pour those for you. But, if you’re game for a more sophisticated sip, and have a few extra dollars to spare, Powell has something even better. Powell produces a bottle of Deanston Distillery’s 12-yearold single-malt, explaining that the whisky’s fruity introduction and gentle finish typify the delicate complexities of single-malts from the Scottish Highlands. (Note: Typically, only Canadian and Scotch varieties of

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whisky are spelled without an ‘e.’) He moves to a bottle of Bunnahabhain, a distillery on the isle of Islay in the Scottish Hebridean Islands that captures the deep, peaty flavors that have distinguished the Islay’s whisky for centuries while also introducing flavors of salt, butter and spice. Moving to Ireland, Powell offers his bottles of Knappogue Castle — a 17-year Irish single-malt, twin-wood whiskey that is aged in bourbon barrels before finishing in sherry casks, and its 14-year-old cousin that matches the 17-year’s complexity but with a punchier burn on the finish. For good measure, he produces a bottle Jefferson’s Presidential Select 21, which retails close to $150. Powell estimates there are about 200 bottles of the small-batch bourbon whiskey in the entire state, with fewer than a halfdozen at bars. Prized for its smooth texture and spicy complexity, Powell said this particular label is symbolic of his efforts to provide patrons with a top-shelf selection unlike any other in Mankato.

Budget-friendly recommendations

Bringing wine to life Drinking fine wine doesn’t have to be costprohibitive. On the contrary, Tancredi Cucurullo said there are plenty of quality wines available for under $20. The following are more worldly selections Cucurullo found right here in Mankato. 2011 Trapiche Oak Cask Cabernet Sauvignon: An Argentinian wine that tastes of black cherries and cedar with afternotes of tobacco and smoke. $10.99 Poggio alla Badiola 2007 Toscana: A Tuscan wine produced with Sangiovese and Merlot grapes, it’s a smooth red with personality. $16.99 Vinchio Vaglio Serra “I Tre Vescovi”: A dark and intense Barbera d’Asti. $14.99 Domaine Sainte-Anne Cotes-du-Rhone: An eclectic red produced from a variety of grapes in the Burgundy region of France by a label known for a lineup of solid selections. $16.99 Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 Rioja: Described as “velvety and voluptuous” with flavors of plum, blackberry and chocolate, this Spanish wine produced in the La Rioja region was named one of 2011’s top wines by Wine Spectator magazine. $18.99

“I had to nag my salesman two times a week for a month to get this,” said Powell, who began hand-selecting high-end whiskeys and Scotches about a year ago for the NaKato and has since introduced regular tastings and an off-sale business that offers lower-than-retail prices. “I started with two bottles and it just ballooned from there. We’ve gotten a great response.” After receiving blessing from the NaKato’s owners, Powell began gradually adding to his selection. Starting with bottles of Jameson’s 12- and 18-year Irish whiskey, he now boasts a top shelf consisting of nearly two-dozen labels from around the world. The NaKato hosts regular whiskey tastings — which include 10 samples, plus food, for $20 — and features a whiskey of the month. Powell rotates his selection regularly, almost as often as the bar’s selection of draft beers. “Most of these bottles you can’t find anywhere else,” he said. “It’s become a little bit of a passion of mine.” — Tanner Kent

A sommelier’s guide to sipping


ancredi Cucurullo doesn’t merely drink wine. He studies it, regards it with meticulous appraisal, gently swirling his glass and nosing the aromas. He sips delicately, rinsing the liquid over his tongue and drawing it the full length of his palate. Swallowing, he runs his tongue over his teeth and ruminates with a certain poetic sense on the wine’s flavors and features. Now a cook at Olive’s Restaurant, Cucurullo only recently transplanted to Mankato from his native Positano, a town in the Campania region of southern Italy. In his 20s, Cucurullo went into business with his best friend, who inherited a restaurant from his grandfather. In the next 15 years, Cucurullo went to school to become a professional sommelier — that is, a master of alcoholic spirits, particularly wine — and continued to develop his expertise. He remains a certified member of the Association of Italian Sommeliers. With equal fluency, Cucurullo can expound on wines from around the world, from France and Italy, to Spain, Argentina, South Africa and Napa Valley. But to him, winemaking is as artistic as scientific. He appreciates the color, consistency and structure of the wine as well as the taste. He speaks of wine as if an animate object, imparting the effects of grape selections, barrel choice, soil composition, vineyard climate and weather on wine quality. “Wine is alive,” Cucurullo says in a thick Italian accent. “It is a living thing.” But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Learning to appreciate wine, he said, is as easy as using your senses. Those wanting to learn more about their wines can start with a trio of examinations: 1) Visual: Tilt the wine glass slightly and notice its color. In general, white wines gain a deeper, amber color while reds grow paler as they age. 2) Olfactory: Swirl the wine gently to release its bouquet. The resulting traits are produced by a series of chemical processes in the winemaking; wines contain hundreds of chemical compounds that produce a stunning variety of smells, hence the varied descriptions of flavor comparisons used by wine experts. Cucurullo recommends holding the glass at chest level and breathing deeply through the nose, being careful to notice the complexity and intensity of the bouquet. 3) Taste: Sip the wine and pass it through all parts of the mouth and tongue. Hold it for several seconds in the mouth, then purse your lips and breathe in slowly (this process further vaporizes the wine, releasing more of its flavor). As you swallow, notice the lingering tastes in the mouth and throat where wines reveal the final secrets of their complexity. — Tanner Kent MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 19

Six pack of craft


A hobby drinker’s introduction to specialty brews

’m no expert. And I rarely drink more than two beers in a sitting (maybe three if there’s something to celebrate). But over the course of the last few years, as the craft beer movement has taken its rightful place at the forefront of American consciousness, I’ve been among the many who haven’t been afraid to try something beyond the Budweisers and Millers. (Now, don’t get me wrong; Anyone who reaches middle age and says they don’t count the fine folks at Anheuser-Busch among their friends is probably hiding something. We ALL owe them a debt of gratitude.) There have always been beer microbreweries. But only in the past 10 years or so have their wares been so widely available as to allow anyone to dabble. And that’s what I do. I dabble. And my dabblings have produced a list of favorites. Now, I’m going to state right up front that if you’re looking for a list of chocolate beers or a who’s who of the porters and stouts of the world, you’ll want to look elsewhere. I like a good Guinness on occasion, but my tastes generally lie with lighter fare. So, here you go. In no particular order, a six-pack of suggestions from just another guy who loves beer. 1. Pluot Ale, from New Belgium I can already hear the groans from the purists out there. But hear me out. This beer comes from the Lips of Faith series by the New Belgium Brewing Company, the folks who brought us Fat Tire. It’s an oddly satisfying beer, just like the fruit from which its name comes. This beer is good, but it ain’t cheap. The Lips of Faith line is a spendy one, but it’s worth it. 2. Aprihop, Dogfish Head Brewery I know, I know ... Another fruity beer. But, again, hear me out on this. The Dogfish Head Brewery has a history of crafting fine beer, and they’re one of the pioneers of the modern micro-brew movement. Although, truth be told, they’ve gotten a lot bigger in the last five years. They make a lot of great beer, and this IPA is no exception. In addition to the apricot, it’s got a healthy dose of fine hops (or as the brewer itself says, “irresponsible amounts of Amarillo hops”), making it a refreshing and more than a little bold.

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3. Starfire, Fitgers This beer just might be my favorite. I’d been loyal to another beer from Fitger’s in Duluth before I tried the Starfire, and now I’m sold on their signature brew. It’s the kind of beer where you take a drink and immediately start plotting out in your mind how you can finagle a situation that allows you to have several more. To throw a bone to the dark beer lovers out there, Fitger’s Big Boat Oatmeal Stout is pretty amazing, too. 4. Dawn Treader Belgian Tripel Another Duluth beer, this one comes from the new kid on the brewery block, Canal Park Brewing. The first glass I had from CPB was something called Kessel Run, which was outstanding. And then I tried this. At nearly 10 percent ABV, it can take the casual beer drinker from first gear to third a little quicker than the average brew. After this one, I needed a nap. It is, as the brewer says, “For people who like long hikes, late nights, and conversations with yourself.” 5. Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA I was drawn to the Flying Dog booth at the inaugural running of the Mankato Craft Beer Festival because of the artwork on the bottles. It’s all done by Ralph Steadman, the British artist whose mind-bending work graced the covers of books by Hunter S. Thompson. I tried ... well ... several of their beers, and this one was my favorite. With Warrior Hops and El Diablo yeast, it’s easy to see this one isn’t the kind of brew you want to piss off. 6. Goosetown, Schell’s Brewery As far as I’m concerned, they can do no wrong at Schell’s. Just about every beer I’ve tried from Schell’s has been good. I’m a fairly loyal Firebrick guy, but I’ve enjoyed my share of their Schmaltz Alt as well as their new Chimney Sweep. But the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me from Schell’s has been this new Goosetown. It’s light, the kind of beer you can appreciate with one bottle or several. BONUS: Stickum, Mankato Brewery I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the local boys. They’re still new on the beer scene, but they’re doing fine, fine work. My favorite so far is the second beer they released. It’s looks dark but it’s not a stout or porter. It’s hoppy, fun and comes with a name you can ponder how to pronounce while you imbibe a local product. — Robb Murray

Noble search On the hunt for fine spirits


n connoisseur culture, spirits represent the meticulous craft of an artist dedicated to arousing all five human senses through a methodology of agriculture, chemistry, physics, and intuition. At Mankato’s Hilltop MGM Liquor Warehouse, exhibits of these carefully aged spirits sit high on the top shelves awaiting their purchase. They’ll find new homes with aficionados or lucky associates being rewarded for a job well done. In any case, their contents are thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed with attentive care. One of these fine wonders, according to liquor manager Chris Mlodzik, is a bottle of Louis XIII de Remy Martin cognac. Priced at more than $2,000, this is the spirit of nobility. It is a blend of eaux-de-vie, a colorless fruit brandy, aged 40-100 years near the Bay of Biscay in France. “Even the empty (crystal) bottles are selling between $500 and $600,” said Mlodzik, showing off the plastic case in which the bottle sits. “I’ve never even tried it.” Mlodzik also carries selection of pristine Scotches, which rest in a more reasonable price range (from $60 upward to $600). He said there are people buying specific bottles of Scotch “every few months,” and the subtleties of the digestif’s taste determine the purchasers’ options. “A lot of Scotch drinkers, if they’re buying a good singlemalt, have a very acquired taste. All are different depending on where it’s made: highlands, lowlands, different types of

highlands, the different casks they’re in,” Mlodzik said. Most on-sale establishments also carry a selection that caters to more sophisticated palates. At Johnny B’s Sports Bar & Beef, a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label stands higher than all the others. Resting inside its blue case for all to see, wedding parties and enthusiasts most frequently quaff the distinct, enjoyable burn of the blended Scotch. Managing bartender Travis Baas said people know the Johnny Walker brand, which is it retains top billing over other brands such as Glenlivet. “Blue is in (Johnny Walker’s) elite category,” Baas said. “Red, Black, Green, Gold – they blend the elite portion of these to make Blue.” Usually inside this bar, its football, pitchers of Michelob Golden Light and the occasional Cherry Bomb, a popular choice among the younger demographic. But Blue Label is reserved for ceremonial occasions and for those out to impress. “I might sell a bottle in a day, I might sell a bottle in a month,” Bass said. — Emre K. Erku

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 21


By John Cross

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n a countryside awash in yellows, oranges and reds, October may wear the loudest colors of the year. But otherwise, our 10th month speaks to us quietly. The noisy thunderstorms of the summer months mostly are behind us, the chilly gales of November yet to come. And on quiet windless mornings, when the Minnesota River Valley wears a cloak of fog, October speaks to us in a whisper. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 23

Bev Stevens and Don Kaiser are the owners and operators of Brew-n-Wine Creations on Victory Drive in Mankato. | John Cross

Brew it yourself Homemade sips growing in popularity


By Nell Musolf

or the majority of people who want to relax over an icy cold beer or a fragrant glass of wine, a trip to the nearest liquor store is usually the first step in planning an evening’s relaxation. For an increasingly large number of people, however, the liquor store is no longer on their placesto-go list. Instead they are brewing their own beer and making their own wine. In Mankato, Paul Hoines is the manager of Brew-n-Wine Creations, 219 S. Victory Drive. Hoines said the store has seen a steady increase of customers who are interested in learning how to make beer and wine in the comfort of their own homes. While customers range in age from their early 20s and up, Hoines has noticed that the trend seems to be for younger people to make beer, while older people are more interested in grape-based beverages. A wine kit typically makes 30 bottles of wine and it takes from six to eight week from the initial steps to being ready to bottle. 24 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“The people who are in the 21-to-30 age group seem to like to make beer,” Hoines noted, adding that while the stereotype is that men are the beermakers, that isn’t what he has witnessed. “We have a lot of ladies who are into beermaking.” Many of the beermakers seek to make a home brew that is similar to what they buy at the store, from pale ales to darker and richer brews. What they concoct is pretty much up to them. “We have everything they need at the store,” Hoines said. “They get to decide how they want it to come out.” Being able to personalize beer and wine is one of the biggest attractions when it comes to making a home brew and customers visit Brew-n-Wine to create their own signature libations. Kits are available at the store for both beer and wine. Hoines also offers a service called “You Brew” where a customer comes to the store, makes beer or wine under Hoines’ tutelage and then leaves it at the store to age.

If a customer prefers to brew at home, Hoines emphasizes the most important aspect of spirit making: sanitation. “It isn’t hard, but you have to make sure everything is completely sanitary while you’re working,” Hoines said. “You need to have a totally sanitary environment.” Customers have made wine for events such as bachelorette parties and other occasions where they want to make something that is both special yet personalized. “That’s what’s nice about ‘You Brew,’” he noted. “You make whatever you want and then I’ll baby sit the bottles at the store.”

Growing their own

Karen and Ken Bunde became interested in making their own wine when Ken decided to plant a vineyard on two acres of land that they owned. They first grew Marquette and Brianna grapes since they are varieties that are well-suited to the Minnesota climate. Over the past few years they have added St. Croix and Louise Swenson along with other varieties. After growing grapes for a few years, they took a winemaking class through the local community education program. The class was held at Brew-n-Wine where they not only learned how to make wine, they were also able to buy supplies. “We started with a wine kit that included French grapes,” Karen Bunde said. “My daughter-in-law also took the class. She is very good at subtle tastes and flavors in the wines and is a good researcher, so together we think we are a good team.” In addition to growing grapes for their own consumption, the Bundes also sell their grapes to local wineries. “We have seven different varieties that we sell to wineries, about 4,000 vines. It keeps us busy, because we all have other

jobs as well,” Ken Bunde said. Karen Bunde said, “Most growers who have more than a hobby amount will work with wineries and develop contracts, which is what we have done. As far as making wine from the kind of grapes we have, I have the utmost respect for our local wineries and the challenge it is to make quality wines from our cold-climate grapes. There are several good, award-winning wines being made close by.” For the hobby winemaker, Karen Bunde thinks that kits can be a fun activity to pursue during the winter months. She recommends that newbies to the winemaking business take the time to really know what kinds of wine they and their family like and enjoy. “My recommendation is that if you enjoy wine made from Minnesota grapes, be sure to visit Minnesota wineries and appreciate what they have to offer. They have done all the hard work and I’m excited about what they are learning and producing,” Karen Bunde said. “It’s a lot easier and more relaxing!”

Fruit-inspired hobby

Winemaker Stan Wills enjoys trying his hand at creating wines that might not be normally found on liquor store shelves. Over the years he has made fruit wines out of grapefruit, tangelos, rhubarb, cranberry and mulberry as well as mixed berry and various apple wines. He has also made wine from plums, elderberries, blueberries, wild raspberries and peaches as well as maple syrup and jalapeno peppers. Wills considers wine to be a “user-friendly” hobby, especially when using wine kits because the kits require very basic equipment and only the ability to follow directions. However, MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 25

Brew-n-Wine Creations carries a variety of ingredients needed to flavor homemade beer and wine (right). In addition, the store also offers a service that allows people to make their beer and wine inside the store, then leave their beverages to age until ready for consumption (above). | John Cross the process of making good fruit wines requires a higher level of expertise, plus the outlay of money for additional testing equipment to help create a balanced wine that also tastes good. “When I decided to try making fruit wines, my goal was to learn how to make good wine,” Wills said. He added that everyone who likes wine often has a different opinion of what is “good” wine and that when it comes to taste, it is always a matter of personal opinion. “When making and finishing a batch of wine, it is made for what we like,” Wills said. “People might like some of the variations of rhubarb wine that I make but not others.” Wills said that his own favorites of the wine he makes are grapefruit and blueberry.

Power in numbers

Looking for fellow wine/beer makers? Corks and Caps is a local group that meets at 7 p.m. On the second Thursday of the month, September through May, at the Midtown Tavern, 524 N. Riverfront. The group chooses a beer or wine to taste, and then compares a home brew with the store-bought equivalent. “We discuss the properties of different wines; for example, a chardonnay, or a type of beer, and then hopefully someone will have a wine or beer that they’ve made at home that we can compare to what’s sold in the store,” said Corks and Caps member Denny Rohwer. M

26 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Tips for getting started Brewing beer 1. Use high-quality, fresh ingredients. 2. Keep it clean. Make sure anything that you use in the brewing process has been thoroughly sterilized. 3. Do your homework. Read all directions carefully. 4. Use quality equipment. 5. Allow yourself a learning curve. Your first batch might not taste exactly like you expected but your second — or third — might be even better than you imagined.

Making wine 1. As with beer, cleanliness counts. Make sure your winemaking area and the equipment you use have been sterilized. 2. Read and follow directions carefully. 3. Taste what you’ve made and don’t be too critical of your results. 4. Start with a kit.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 27

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

Downsizing, or maybe just bluffing our way through it I

’m not sure if it’s due to middle age or a visceral reaction to all of those reality shows about hoarders who live in absolutely horrifying houses, but I have entered a serious downsizing phase in my life. I suddenly no longer want to hold on to anything that doesn’t really matter to me and I really, really, really don’t want to dust it. It all started with the bookshelves in our family room. I’m a Kindle holdout so our shelves are crammed with books ranging from the Dr. Seuss books our sons used to read back in their kindergarten days to an autographed Joan Crawford autobiography that I bought for a quarter at a thrift store. These shelves also hold all of the reading material that my husband and I plan to read “someday.” Someday when we have the time, the will, and just the right lighting. Retirement, perhaps. Since we are both clinging tightly to our mutual dream of eventually moving to a place where we can head to the beach every morning holding a canvas tote full of books between the two of us, I haven’t been very discriminating about what books we keep and don’t keep. But as I recently dusted those bookshelves and moved pile after pile of books from one spot to another, it dawned on me that if indeed we ever do move to a beachfront property, why on earth would I want to pack boxes of books to bring with us when I could just as easily check most of them out of the local library in our lovely new beachfront community? With the exceptions of my very favorite Dr. Seuss books and Joan Crawford’s autobiography, many of our books went into bags earmarked for the local thrift store. As I worked, I remembered a former neighbor of ours who, when the downsizing bug bit him, held an unusual rummage sale. After filling his entire driveway with books, clothes, furniture and other various odds and ends, he plopped a bright pink sign at the edge of the lawn that read “FREE.” Within minutes people began to descend. Cars came screeching to a halt as people leaped out and scurried toward the piles of loot like seagulls swooping down on a freshly spilled box of saltines. Never having been averse to the four-letter word f-r-e-e, 28 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Mark and I strolled over to see just what our neighbor was getting rid of. In a word: lots. Lawn chairs, mowers, lamps and toys were all there for the taking. It was the best rummage sale I’d seen in a long, long time. Apparently everyone in our neighbor’s family must have been a reader because there was an impressive pile of books including several paperbacks about the cold-war exploits of “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” But in addition to greed, there was also more than a touch of bittersweetness in the air and our neighbor seemed a little lost as he stood among the throng of people searching through his memories. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Bluffing my way through it,” was his response before he strolled away. I felt a pang of guilt as I looked down at the items I was holding. (Yes, I grabbed all of “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” books). It can’t be easy to watch other people paw through your personal possessions, fueled by the all-toohuman desire to find something wonderful for absolutely nothing. The downside of downsizing is that in addition to getting rid of your stuff, in a way you’re also getting rid of your past. By the end of the day, our neighbor’s mountain of memories was reduced to a molehill of things that no one wanted, not even for free. From our living room window I watched as our neighbor threw what was left into a Dumpster. Then he ambled out to sit in his usual spot, underneath a huge maple tree, the place where he kept an eye on the neighborhood. He seemed a little sad, perhaps a touch defeated by the inevitable march of time. Now, several years later, Mark and I have begun the downsizing process, too. One of these days we’ll probably have our own rummage sale, although I doubt we’ll be generous enough to make it a free one. I just hope that when the time comes, we’ll be able to sell our history with as much dignity as our neighbor. If not, we’ll have to bluff our way through it too. M

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

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Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

Sowing hopes for next year’s garden


ardens are now put to rest, and for a few weeks, I couldn’t be happier about that! I got weary of looking at the weed patch that our garden had become while the man of the house and I nursed our poor, aching backs. I’m always in search of the next big thing in gardening – the seed that will produce the best produce, the gimmick that will keep the rabbits and raccoons away, and the ultimate weed barrier. But in late summer, I was sitting at the kitchen table perusing a fall seed catalog, when Larry sat across from me, put his hand on my arm and looked deep into my eyes. Then he said, sincerely and softly, “Jean, I think it’s time you accepted that the old ways are the best ways. No more mini-dragons or hay bales next year, OK?” Then he stood up, sighed, shook his head and walked away. My mini-dragon, of course, was supposed to be the barrier between me and the weeds, as I tried to fry them to death. It didn’t work out so well. I was going to argue that the hay bales gave us our first ripe tomato, until I recalled I had eaten it in the garden without sharing. So I said nothing. For right now, that sounds just fine to me and my back. In the spring, when I’m all fired up and full of energy, we’ll see what comes next. I’m pretty sure I’ll find something I like better than hands and knees on the ground, pulling weeds and cursing purslane. I’m expecting the spring seed catalogs to start coming in any day now. They come earlier and earlier before each season, just like the Christmas catalogs. I can report a few successes from this past garden, however. The raccoons never got into my “Gotta Have It” sweet corn! No, we never got the electric fence up – our backs, you recall. I think the weeds grew so thick in the plot, raccoons were afraid to go in there. Either that, or the weeds were so thick, they had no idea there was corn there. What I discovered is that I had a lot I could have shared with them. We couldn’t eat it all. I’ll have to remember to stagger planting next year to have corn for a longer period of time. When it got a little too old for our tastes, however, my chickens were happy as they got to finish the corn off. I think the dogs might have snagged an ear or two away from the hens, too. My zucchini never got sick and died. We had zucchini coming out our ears all summer long. The stink bugs came in toward the end, but by then, we’d had our fill. I always tell people (who ask) that when they pick their first edible summer squash, they should plant more summer squash seeds. Zucchini are so susceptible to diseases — they never last all summer long. Maybe the bugs and diseases couldn’t find their way through the weeds, either. We had a bumper crop of peppers and tomatoes this year. In fact, one of the tomatoes I picked early in the sea30 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

This early-season tomato weighed in at almost two pounds. son weighed over a pound and a half! It was grown from seeds I got from a woman in Minnesota Lake some 20 years ago. At the time, there was a story in The Free Press about how she had been planting and saving the seeds for 40 years. All she knew about the seeds was that they had come from Russia. I called her and asked if she would share a couple of seeds. She sent me six, and my love of heirloom tomatoes was born. This one filled a pint jar all by itself. There was also mixed news from the garden. I had no cabbage loopers in the broccoli or in the cabbages. They are the little green worms that are the exact same color as broccoli and cabbage until they are cooked. They then turn white. Gross! The reason we had no cabbage loopers is because we had no butterflies. And that is not such good news. While my disappointments were relatively few, there was the downright bad news from the garden this past summer. My Super Sauce tomatoes that were supposed to fill a quart jar didn’t pan out. They were large paste tomatoes, but nothing special at all about them. And then there’s the story of the carrots. I didn’t even get enough carrots to make one carrot cake. Of course, that’s totally my fault. I dumped the manure I scooped from the coop on them, and I completely lost interest after that. Uh oh – I’m already looking forward to next year. M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

I’ve been up all night!

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Day Trip Destinations: New Ulm Oktoberfest

By Leticia Gonzales

The 32nd edition of New Ulm’s Oktoberfest will be held Oct. 4-5 and 11-12. | Submitted photos

‘A very merry celebration’


hat began as a celebration of matrimony between Bavarian Crown Prince Louis and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810 has turned into an annual celebration around the world. New Ulm is gearing up for the 32nd edition of its own festival that celebrates the city’s deep German heritage and culture over two weekends of hearty fare, polka music and, of course, beer. “New Ulm is a really German town; we like to celebrate that,” said Audra Shaneman, president of the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce. Whether you are there for the rich, buttery kringles, German potato salad or old-time bands, Shaneman said Oktoberfest is a “very merry celebration.” This year, the celebration will be held Oct. 4-5 and 11-12. “People are here to have fun,” she said. “They want to dance, they want to hear music.” Oktoberfest organizers have planned festivities at four locations across New Ulm during the first and second weekends in October, including: Shells Brewery, Morgan Creek Vineyards, Holiday Inn New Ulm, and downtown New Ulm. Mary Neumann, a food and beverage manager who is in her first year as an event organizer, is no stranger to what goes on behind the scenes of the festival. Having lived in New Ulm for 13 years and worked in the restaurant business during past festivals, Neumann said she has always enjoyed the music that comes with the celebration. Often the most memorable are the Narren, who feature handcarved wooden masks and unique costumes derived from German folklore characters. “The Narren do a snake dance,” Neumann said. “They get

32 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the crowd involved. It’s sort of along the lines of the chicken dance.” With the Holiday Inn and the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce as festival sponsors, most of the music offered at the festival is at the Holiday Inn or in the downtown district. Even the pool area at the Holiday Inn is converted into a seating area with a band stage and dancing floor. “It’s very unique,” Neumann said. “It’s really fun to watch the transformation.” While visitors can expect the usual events such as the Cambria Crush Annual Great Grape Stomp and the August Schell Brewing Company tours, new this year at the downtown location is the Beer Olympics on Oct. 5, as well as a roadshow antique appraisal Oct. 12. The Beer Olympics will include regional radio DJ “Stunt Monkey,” who will be the event’s emcee and lead teams of people through various non-drinking games and events to bring out the spirit of competition. “We try and support our chamber members and other retailers too,” Shaneman said. Domeier’s German Store and Gutentaghaus are a few of the many German retailers that participate in the event, selling souvenirs and gifts. Part of Oktoberfest is exploring New Ulm. Shaneman said the horse-drawn trolley rides are a popular attraction among couples and families because “you get to drive by all of the great architecture.” Other family-friendly activities are the kiddie parade and petting zoo, which take place Oct. 12. M

Sights to See

Men also wear alpine hats, often covered with pins.

What to Wear Oct. 5 at Oktoberfest, festival-goers are encouraged to wear their “German garb,” since German-American Day is Oct. 6. Historian George L. Glotzbach said the clothing worn on that special day has deep roots that can be traced back to the villages of Bavaria. “We here in New Ulm have what I consider a Bavarian culture,” said 82-year-old Glotzbach, who has been a part of the Oktoberfest celebrations for the past decade. He said Bavaria’s proximity to Austria and Switzerland, where the Alps are located, are the source of the traditional attire that festival-goers try to emulate in New Ulm. “The Alps have a special culture,” he said. “That is where the clothing comes from. Each village in this area had its own specific costume.” The costumes, otherwise known as “trachts,” were usually worn on religious holidays as many of the villagers in that area were Catholic. Similar costumes are donned at New Ulm’s Okotberfest, including lederhosen for the men, and dirndls for the women. Lederhosen, said Glotzbach, translates to “leather pants.” The dirndls usually consist of a white blouse with a bib-like dress flowing down to the ankles. “You will see a lot of the traditional German colors, but you will see all the colors in the rainbow depending upon the ethnic location of a person’s village,” he said. Often times, said Glotzbach, women will wear a little flower in their hair, and men will include an alpine hat covered with pins. “Each of these pins has a meaning to me,” he said. “I have 60 pins in my hat from all over Germany.”

Oktoberfest isn’t the only sight to see in New Ulm. With its high percentage of German ancestry, there are many monuments that honor the heritage and culture of the city’s founders. George L. Glotzbach, development director and founding member of the Hermann Monument Society in New Ulm, said the Herrmann the German statue represents the struggles of the German immigrants who started flocking to New Ulm in the 1840s and ’50s. “The Germans decided they had to unite to preserve their culture and their language,” he said. Weighing in at around 7,000 pounds and reaching upward to 102 feet, the monument features a 32-foot-tall, copper-clad statue of German warrior Hermann (Arminius), who fought against the Roman imperial army. Last month, the city celebrated the 125th anniversary of the first cornerstones of the granite foundation and Kasota stone base (the monument, however, wasn’t complete until 1897). Glotzbach said although the Hermann is a smaller version of a monument in Detmold, Germany, it’s still a generous 99 steps to the top. Another historical site to visit is New Ulm’s Glockenspiel, a carillon

New Ulm’s Herrmann the German monument. clock tower at Schonlau Park at the intersection of Minnesota Street and 4th North Street. Programmed to play music for a consecutive nine minutes, three times a day at noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., the Glockenspiel touts bourdon bells that weigh a total of 2 tons. Translated to mean “bell tower,” Glotzbach said the Glockenspeil is a common apparatus found in Germany. The tower in New Ulm features 43 different bells with dancing characters mounted on the platforms. “Pioneers, Indians, brewers, representing the various trades and history in New Ulm,” he said.

Oktoberfest entertainment Lineup Morgan Creek Vineyard • Oct. 5: Dance groups such as the Minnesota Traditional Morris Dancers and the Rakstar Belly Dancers and the New Ulm Narren will perform 1-4 p.m. on the winery grounds. • Oct. 5: Competitive Stomps held at 1p.m. & 3 p.m. Winery Hours 11 6 p.m. Stompers must pre-register for this event. Downtown New Ulm (Center Street alongside the Visitor Center)

• Saturdays, Oct. 5 and 12: Experience old-time bands. Schell’s Hobo Band 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Wally Pikal Band 2-5 p.m. • Oct. 5: German-American Day Parade at 11 a.m. Starts at the Glockenspiel & goes downtown to the Visitor Center. • Oct. 12: Nissel Band 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Wendinger Band 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Schell’s Brewery • Oct. 12: From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., German food, music and dancing. Ticket are $5, Kids 12 and under are free. Tours are $3. Visit www. for more details. Holiday Inn to New Ulm • Oct. 4: German Rivers Room: Wendinger Band: 8 p.m. to midnight; Poolside music 6 p.m. to midnight. • Oct. 5: German Rivers Room Sandra Lee & The Velvets: 7:30-11:30 p.m. Poolside music noon to midnight. • Oct. 11: German Rivers Room Wendinger Band: 8 p.m. to midnight; Poolside music 6 p.m. to midnight. • Oct. 12: German Rivers Room Powerhouse: 7:30-11:30 p.m. Poolside music 6 p.m. to midnight. Visit www.newulmoktoberfest. com for more details MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 33



Now: Mankato

mausoleums By Jean Lundquist

Woodland Hills in Mankato has both an indoor and outdoor mausoleum. | Pat Christman

Resting in stone solemnity Mausoleums remain part of Mankato burial landscape


houghts of mausoleums, where people are laid to rest above ground after death, evoke images of old spider webs, creaky doors on rusty hinges, and often of filmy ghosts wafting through cold, stale air in bent, stray sunbeams. Mausoleums frequently draw the curious to wonder who is inside, and why. Older mausoleums were usually standalone buildings located in cemeteries and memorial parks. (The difference is that cemeteries have monuments, while all headstones in a memorial park are flat). One of Mankato’s oldest mausoleums fits that standalone image, the other does not. The most modern mausoleum in Mankato was built in 1984, and is nothing like the older sepulchers. The first mausoleum known to be built in Mankato was in the chapel at Calvary Cemetery. A total of 12 crypts 34 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

were located in the basement beneath the chapel, built in 1895. They held the bodies of 12 Jesuits, including five brothers and seven priests, serving the St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church. The last body was interred in 1922 at Calvary Mausoleum. That was about the time the mausoleum was abandoned, and all caskets were moved to outdoor plots. A small, free-standing mausoleum is also found in Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery in Mankato. The stone building was designed to hold eight caskets, but the most it ever held was two. David Lueck was a member of the Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery Board for a long time. He says two women with the maiden name of Stroeble or Strobel were interred there until sometime between 1995 and 2003. Lueck says the early details of the mausoleum are

sketchy, but in the 1980s, the family members who owned the building offered to give it to the cemetery board if they would provide in-ground burial for the women. It took several years to determine where those remains should be placed, to be with other family members. The mausoleum has been vandalized several times, Lueck says, but it may still be used to inter urns for cremains in the future. Vandals destroyed an original stained glass window in the building, but another was created, and is in place with protections surrounding it. Another mausoleum in Mankato was conceived of in 1910 when a representative of the Iowa Mausoleum Company, located in Waterloo, Iowa, came to town to visit with the Glenwood Cemetery Board. The sales agent told the community the Glenwood Mausoleum would be the first “modern” mausoleum to be built in Minnesota. It would have an interior of pure whitish gray Vermont marble, enamel-lined compartments with a rest room and large chapel provided for bad weather. It would be such a strong building that, “A locomotive weighing 40 tons could run across the floor without checking it or injuring it in any way,” according to local newspaper reports of the time. The Iowa Mausoleum Company finished construction a few years later, and at the time of the dedication, September 1912, two bodies had already been moved from outdoor plots to the mausoleum. They were the bodies of Richard Temple and Perry Wysong. According to Blue Earth County Historical Society Archive and Collections Manager Shelley Harrison, The Glenwood Cemetery was developed in the “golden age. It was designed as a park, and I’m sure the mausoleum added to that.” The Iowa Mausoleum Company put up $1,000 for

perpetual maintenance and repair, but assured the Glenwood Cemetery Board that no repairs would be needed for at least 75-100 years. By 1920 the company was bankrupt and out of business. In 1929 it was determined that temporary repairs that had been made to the building for unreported reasons would not hold, and more extensive and expensive work would need to be done to make the mausoleum sound again. Several crypt spaces remain available in the Glenwood Mausoleum. Although families of original purchasers of crypts were all given keys according to Harrison, now the mausoleum is locked up tight, and needs a board member present for anyone to enter and visit a loved one. In 1984, the Woodland Hills Indoor Mausoleum became available when the Woodland Hills Funeral Home opened for business. Woodland Hills Funeral Director and owner Tom Samuelson says the outdoor mausoleum opened in 1978. It is an open-air crypt with no roof. Visitors are outdoors. It is also open to visitors all the time. The indoor mausoleum at Woodland Hills is larger than the outdoor burial chamber. It is a wing on the actual funeral home itself. Because it’s climate controlled, visitors can be comfortable whenever they stop by. Samuelson tells the story of one elderly gentleman who visited the crypt of his wife three of four times every day all the first year after her death. After the first year, he came only once a day, but like clockwork, he came every day after lunch. “He sat in this chair that he pulled around the corner. He wore grooves in the carpet. He was very faithful in his visits.” Samuelson says for some people, the choice of a mausoleum for a final resting place is for the comfort of MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 35

In addition to the mausoleums at Woodland Hills, there are such burial places at Glenwood and Pilgrim’s Rest cemeteries. Mankato’s first mausoleum was constructed at Calvary Cemetery in 1895. | Pat Christman surviving visitors. For others, it’s because either the person or their survivors don’t want an in-ground burial. In days past, it might have been more for the status of ending up in a mausoleum.” When the Woodland Hills indoor mausoleum was originally designed, it was intended to have rooms for families to purchase. The intent was that up to eight family members could be interred together, and survivors could decorate the rooms as they desired. That didn’t pan out, however. “In 1978, $100,000 wasn’t realistic,” Samuelson said. That was before he owned the facility. Surveillance is in place to prevent vandalism at Woodland Hills. However, when Samuelson was a mortuary science student in the Los Angeles area, one mausoleum was vandalized by a fellow student. “That guy was creepy,” he recalls. “He went into the mausoleum where Groucho Marx’s cremains (cremated remains) were interred, and he stole them. He took them to a party, and then returned them later that night. He then could say he had partied with Groucho Marx.” M 36 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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Coming Attractions: October 1-2 — 49th Nobel Conference 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Speakers and Q&A sessions -- Gustavus Adolphus College -- $115 reserved seating, $70 general admission, $50 for a group of 10 High School or College students for overflow room -- 8-9:30 p.m. Oct 1, Dark Energy concert -- www.gustavus. edu/events/nobelconference/2013/ 3 — MSU Performance Series: Stephen Carlson 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -$12 general, $11 MSU student -- www.

3 — Gustavus Artist Series: Roots of Bluegrass: The Rose Ensemble 7-9 p.m. -- Christ Chapel -- Gustavus -$12 adults, $9 Seniors/students/staff, free to Gustavus students -- www. -- 507-933-7013 3-6 & 10-13 — Minnesota State University presents “Les Miserables” 7:30 p.m. Oct 3-5 & 10-12 -- 2 p.m. Oct 5-6 & 12-13 -- Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University -- www. -- 507-389-6663 4 — Historic South Front Street Pub Crawl 6 p.m. — parking lot behind Denco Lighting -- $15 Blue Earth County Historical Society members, $20 non memebers -- must be 21 or over -- 507-345-5566

6 — MSU Performance Series: Bob Bingham and Gordon Thorne 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU student -- www.mnsu. edu/music/events 8 — MSU Performance Series: University Jazz Groups 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU student 11 — Gustavus Artist Series: Robert Gruca 7:30-9 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall -Gustavus -- $12 adults, $9 Seniors/ students/staff, free to Gustavus students -- -507-933-7013 12 — Maker Fair 10 a.m.-3 p.m. -- Blue Earth County Fairgrounds -- Fairgounds St., Garden City -- free -- 507-549-3887

6 — Mankato River Ramble 8 a.m.-3 p.m. -- Land of Memories park, Mankato -- www.bikeriverramble. org -- 612-730-3730 38 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

20 — MSU Performance Series: University Concert Band 3 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU student -- music/events 21 — MSU Performance Series: An Evening with Slaid Cleaves 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $15 general, $13 MSU student -- www.mnsu. edu/music/events 25 — OcTUBAfest 2013 7:30-9 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall -Gustavus -- free -- 507-933-7013 26 — Halloween Fun Run & Walk 9:30 a.m. -- St. Peter Community Center -- 600 S. 5th St., St. Peter -- www. -- 507-934-3400

12-13 — Ewenique Quilt Show Jesus Assembly of God Church -722 Sunrise Drive -- 507-934-7943 13 — MSU Performance Series: Jeff Ziegler and Nicola Melville 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU student -- www.mnsu. edu/music/events 15 — MSU Performance Series: University Orchestra 7:30 p.m. — Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -$9 general, $7 MSU student

5 — Say Cheese! Savor the Wine 1:30 p.m. -- Morgan Creek Vineyards -23707 478th Ave., New Ulm -- $25 6 — Le Grand Bande & Chorus presents Handel’s “Water Music” 7-9 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall -Gustavus -- $10 -- 507-933-7013

19-20— Mankato Marathon See page at right.

26 — MSU Performance Series: The Debbie Davies Band 9:30 p.m. -- Hooligans -- 1400 E. Madison Ave. -- $15 advanced, $18 day of show -- 27 — MSU Performance Series: Fall Choral Concert 3 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU student -- music/events

17 — MSU Performance Series: Bella Ruse 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU student -- www.mnsu. edu/music/events

28 — MSU Performance Series: Fall Choral Concert 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU student -- music/events

Mankato Marathon The Mankato Marathon is two days of races and other health- and runningbased events held Oct. 19-20. Below is a full list of the events and important information for racers. Saturday • Scheels Sports and Health Expo: The Scheels Sports and Health Expo is the home base for Mankato Marathon. Open from 12-7 p.m. at Myers Field House at Minnesota State University. Here you can pick up your info packets for the races and register for any races that are not currently full. There will also be a variety of vendors and exhibitors.

Wireless Center. Mankato HalfMarathon: The Half race starts at 8 a.m. at the Minnesota State University campus parking lot and will finish downtown on Riverfront Drive near the Verizon Wireless Center. Get more information, register or view course maps at

• Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic Speaker Series: Listen to speakers talk a variety of topics from 1:30-7 p.m. at Myers Field House at Minnesota State University. • Toddler Trot: This 50 yard dash for ages 2-5 starts at 1 p.m. at the Scheels Sports and Health Expo. • Diaper Dash: This 10-yard dash for ages up to 24 months starts at 1:10 p.m. at the Scheels Sports and Health Expo. • Kids K: Kids will line up and start YMCA warm-up activities at 2:15 p.m. at Minnesota State Unviersity. The race for ages 7 to 10 starts at 2:30 p.m. and the race for ages 6 and under starts at 2:45 p.m. • Mankato Marathon 5K: The race starts at 4 p.m. at the Minnesota State University campus parking lot, and finishes at the same location. The race awards will be at 5:30 p.m. during the speaker series. Sunday • Mankato Marathon 10K: The 10K race starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Minnesota State University campus parking lot and will finish downtown on Riverfront Driver near the Verizon Wireless Center. • Marathon and Relay: The Marathon and Relay race starts at 8 a.m. at the Minnesota State University campus parking lot and will finish downtown on Riverfront Drive near the Verizon


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40 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Blue Earth county fair 1. Competitors do their best to keep a hold of their lambs during the market lamb competition. 2. Taylor Hollerich takes her paint quarter-horse Ms. Rocket for a trot around the arena in Garden City. 3. County fairs are anything but glamerous. Brock Hansen (9) gives one of his pigs a bath before their showing. 4. From left: Abby (9), Luke (7), Erin and Lilly (2) Scholtes play a few games of bingo. 5. Olivia Oftedahl (8) strokes a bunny in petting zoo. 6. Paige Hoehn and her mom, Joanne, soak up a little bit of history while at the Blue Earth County Fair. 7. (L to R) Ada Koehler and Emily Anderson take a ride on the camel at the Animal Fest exhibit. 8. One barn smelled as fresh as a garden, as flowers were displayed throughout.




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MANKATO MAGAZINE • october 2013 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Tune it up for the troops 1. One of the singers in Powerhouse belts out a few tunes, getting the party started right in Riverfront Park. 2. This custom airbrushed bike was up for auction at the event, a paint job that cost about $30,000. 3. As games, music and people flood Riverfront Park, party-goers still find room to sit and enjoy their surroundings. 4. Cadence Tish, 8, soars down a zip line, one of the new family friendly games brought into the event. 5. A lone flag waves in the wind, welcoming people into Riverfront Park for the Tune it up for the troops event. 6. Dog tags hang solemnly on a wodden statue of a soldiers belongings.


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42 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



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By Pete Steiner

Hangin’ at the Albatross I

t wasn’t Studio 54. But for Mankato at the time, it wasn’t a bad approximation. The Albatross. Or simply, “The ‘Tross.” Dancing. Good times. Viking sightings. Sex in the city. Perhaps no bar, not even the Square Deal or the Caledonia or The Hurdy Gurdy, ever achieved the legendary status of Al Gruidl’s establishment on Warren Street. As one friend pointed out in 1976, ‘The drinking age was 19. So you put this sort of forbidden place right across the street from the college campus — what do you think is gonna happen?” It was late in the “Me” decade. Disco had taken the country by storm and, in December 1977, the mega-hit movie “Saturday Night Fever” was pumping out “Stayin’ Alive” and other dance favorites to radio stations and dance clubs. “Urban Renewal” had obliterated most of Mankato’s legendary downtown live music bars, including the granddaddy of them all, The Rathskeller. So Gruidl took his liquor license up the hill into the new strip mall on Warren Street. They put in some crazy, modernist angles, an elevated dance floor, some big subwoofers — and voila — the Albatross, capable of holding 1,000 patrons a night, had landed.

“Remember Hi Ho Silver night and Schooner nights at the Tross?? I still have my schooner!!” — from an online chat room “I think I had some good times there, but I really can’t remember.” — Reply from a friend who frequented the Albatross.

Disclaimer This piece should be considered more as creative non-fiction than journalism, as I’ve relied heavily on others’ sometimes hazy recollections. I was pretty involved with my future wife by that time, not making the club scene, and not much a fan of disco dancing. Jeanne and I did love the Mexican cantina restaurant that took up part of the south end of the ‘Tross, so we might show up there 44 • october 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

who would sidle up to the bar in Viking jerseys, often successfully convincing gullible young ladies that they did indeed play for the Vikings and were available for “dating.” One guy offers this: “If you couldn’t [hook up] at the ‘Tross, you had to be a total loser.” A former DJ says, “It was a vibe, an experience different from anything the town had seen.”

early on a Saturday evening. But it was the nightlife, the late-hours’ music and dancing that was the real cache of the place.

“Is the Albatross bar still there? That place might go a long way in explaining the STD problem. Almost got into a fight with (QB) Jim McMann (sic) there once when he was extremely rude to a waitress.” — recent onlione post made by former Vikes’ punter Chris Kluwe

High times in Sin City When I ask for recollections, a common response is, “You’re not going to quote me, are you?” It’s like trying to line up witnesses for Whitey Bulger’s trial in Boston. Anyone want to admit publicly to being part of the scene? Hey, get over it! It’s 30 years ago. The statute of limitations has expired. A local businessman offers this story: He had a young female office worker who was apparently very attractive. One morning she came in to work and told the businessman she was “dating Tommy Kramer (former star Vikings’ quarterback).” The boss merely smiled, thinking to himself, “I wonder how many there are like her, who are all ‘dating Tommy Kramer.’” And there’s more than one local guy who can tell a story of losing a girlfriend to a Viking – at least temporarily. Yes, real Vikings players did frequent the ‘Tross during training camp. And there are the stories of well-built young men, MSU students,

About a month ago, I caught up with Al Gruidl by phone. He lives in southern California now, near Palm Springs the last six years. He sold the Albatross in 1998, and it closed five years later to make room for the University Square mixed-use development across from Taylor Center. Gruidl says, when he first proposed his idea in 1975, the City Council was reluctant to let him take his Rathskeller liquor license up the hill. Moreover, state zoning laws prohibited liquor establishments from being as close to a campus as the new bar would be on Warren Street. Not yet 30, Gruidl recalls, he made the trek to St. Paul repeatedly to lobby the Legislature to modify that law. With the drinking age just 19 at the time, he knew he had “a huge potential crowd” within blocks of the new location. Still, when he finally got his variance, he confesses even he had no idea the ‘Tross would succeed like it did, with a thousand or more patrons each night.

The bar was named “The Albatross” apparently as a dig at someone who testified to the city council that allowing the license would be “an albatross” – not the bird, but the colloquial meaning of “a constant burden.” Another plus: Gruidl liked having “Al” as the first syllable. •••• The patrons and the cash were rolling in, and the Albatross helped bring Mankato a national reputation as a party town. But to switch to a baseball metaphor, the ‘Tross got a curveball in 1986: The drinking age was raised to 21. That would cut a huge swath out of the clientele. With the drinking age raised, Gruidl came up with an innovative plan: “18 to party, 21 to drink.” That set off another row with the Mankato City Council, concerned about the possibility of underage drinking. Before long, Gruidl was called before the council to address concerns, as detailed in this extract from 1988 city council minutes: Gruidl stated that his establishment runs a minimum of three bouncers, and approximately 250,000 college students patronize his bar each year. He stated that it is difficult to catch all the fake identifications used . . . he stated that it’s a game to the students to get served in the bar if they’re under age.

“We had lots of security, spent a lot of money for that.” It’s clear he still harbors some resentment toward the city for the ultimate demise of the ‘Tross. “They let unlimited bars open, so (to comete) everybody had to go to ‘all you can drink.’” When that brought real problems with overconsumption, he feels, the Albatross was specifically targeted. “I guess they wanted it closed.” •••• OK, Al, so can you confirm any rumors? Like afterhours parties? Gruidl is laughing now. “I guess we were known for ‘the Aqua Follies.’” At last, someone who’s willing to go on record! Gruidl says the party would switch to his house, and the afterhours crowd often included Vikings. Because of their 11 p.m. curfew at the dorms, they had to sneak out to head to his house because some of the coaches might still be at the bar. Legend has it that the curtain rose when young female partiers would jump into the pool at Gruidl’s home and, removing their bikini tops, would improvise versions of synchronized swimming. Those were the days, my friend… M

•••• To this day, Gruidl maintains there were few violations:

Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

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