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Nightly Dinner Features!

Peaceful, Easy, Living



Transforming Elder Care… Water’s Edge offers a real home where control, dignity, and a sense of well-being are returned to Elders, their families and direct care staff. eHolistic & Nutritional Wellness Program e24-Hour Culinary Service eHonoring Elder Individuality & Choices ePrivate and Deluxe Couple Suites each with Individual Baths e12 Elders per Home eScenic Waterfront Living

800 Agency Trail, Mankato (Corner of Victory & Balcerzak) 2 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

JUNE 2014




FEATURE S May 2014 Volume 9, Issue 5



Make your home a castle Home improvement trends and ideas

18 Home is where

22 Take me out to the

Meet Sweet Pea, the cat who has transformed an assisted-living facility in Le Center

From Tink Larson to Franklin Rogers, the best of southern Minnesota ballparks

the cat is

ball game

About the Cover

Tink Larson is right at home in the field named in his honor. He’s maintained the Waseca baseball gem since the late 1960s. | Photo by Pat Christman MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 3







6 From the Editor Spring relief is on the way 8 This Day in History 9 The Gallery 10 Introductions Holly Resner of Old Main Village 12 Chit Chat 26 Then and Now Goin’ up the county 30 Day Trip Destinations Canterbury Park 32 Garden Chat Nuts to winter! Let the growing begin 34 That’s Life Trying hard to keep it civil 36 What’s Cooking Upscaling homemade food gifts 38 Your Health Is organic really better for your health? 40 Your Style Floral furniture and accessories 42 Happy Hour The bitters truth: Bitters are booming 44 Coming Attractions Events to check out in May 52 From This Valley Put on the coffee: Radio recollections

Coming in June



We’re turning the music up. From music venues both classic and unexpected to Mankato musicians far and wide, summer is here and we’re ready to groove. Grab your dance partner and your favorite records, and we’ll sing the chorus together.

44 4 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



From The Editor


May 2014 • VOLUME 9, ISSUE 5 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Sarah Johnson Heidi Sampson Drew Lyon Leticia Gonzales PHOTOGRAPHERS John Cross Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Ginny Bergerson MANAGER ADVERTISING Jen Wanderscheid Sales Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey


Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Spring relief is on the way Backyards and ballparks beckon


he spring sigh of relief is much bigger this year in Minnesota. It’s that moment when we all take a deep breath with the hope that a hellish winter is finally receding. It’s never over, even in May, but we can be confident, as we tend to be, that it is indeed receding, like a big riptide. In the case of this winter, it might be more like a tsunami. I scheduled my lawn mower maintenance at C & S Supply in late March, a nod to the optimism techniques I got from a seminar I once attended that suggested if you think something strong enough, imagine it, visualize it, it will likely come true. I was visualizing spring earlier and warmer than normal. On the day they were going to deliver my lawnmower, they canceled because of an impending snowstorm with a coating of ice on the roads for an appetizer. A week later, it was delivered, but my visualization was not yet working. So it is this larger-than-normal spring sigh of relief that we reflect on in this month’s Mankato Magazine. Our home improvement experts talk of things like smartphone apps for controlling the heat in your home and energy-saving ideas that can come from a home energy audit. But we also impart wisdom on spring-like outdoor landscaping with walls of vines and fountains that come out of rocks. One expert notes you can have fire and water coming out of the rock at the same time if you so choose. And one cannot think spring without thinking baseball. Freelance writer Drew Lyon takes us through the lore of three of the region’s tremendous amateur ballparks, from Tink Larson field in Waseca to Johnson field in New Ulm, where storied major leaguers like Terry Steinbach once rounded the bases. Tink, longtime coach of Waseca teams, at 70 plus years, has been tending the field since the 1960s and lives across the street. He has been a true keeper of Waseca’s “field of

dreams.” And he’s got a story or two about the origin of those familiar looking seats. In between Waseca and New Ulm, we have Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato, home to the Northwoods League MoonDogs. A summer evening at “The Frank” is mandatory for anyone who loves good baseball and family entertainment. It’s named after one-time editor of The Free Press. The old-fashioned summer fun at The Frank often involves pie eating and half-priced beer when the MoonDogs strike out the “beer batter.” It happens more than you would think. Readers might find another summer sporting venue to the north about 50 miles at Canterbury Downs horse racing park. There are a surprising number of Mankato and Le Sueur area residents involved in the park and the breeding and racing of horses. Animals figure into another story in these pages. Dr. Jean Craig, a family physician at New Prague’s Parkview Medical Clinic, recently “prescribed a feline” for the residents at the Ecumen elderly care and living facility in Le Center. Freelance writer Leticia Gonzalez writes about the cat Sweet Pea’s caretaking abilities of the elderly. Pets in facilities like this where people are old and sick can help lower blood pressures and remove the edge of depression. Ecumen providers retell stories of how Sweet Pea has been watching over the residents in their last stages of life in ways that are heartwarming, though simple. The cat lies at the bottom of a bed in some cases, or waits outside a door of a dying resident. Its presence is their power and comfort. A good lesson for us all. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382.



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This Day



By Tanner Kent May 6, 1899: Mankato lawyer W. L. Comstock announced in the Daily Free Press that his client, R. O. Craig, was bringing a case against the city for trespassing upon land Craig owned near the stone quarry. Comstock declared that the city invaded Craig’s property to cut a strip 280 feet long and 80 feet wide to connect Lafayette Street with Third Avenue. Comstock said no legal process was undertaken to procure the land and was quoted as saying: “The seizing of this land is of a piece with the same lawless proceedings whereby the city cut down Cherry Street without the notice of property owners.” May 6, 1904: After much discussion, city council members agreed to improve several Mankato streets. Led by Mayor Taylor, the council approved the paving of Front Street (from Poplar Street to Washington Street) and Jackson Street (from Broad Street to the railroad tracks). Also, members voted to curb and gutter Fifth Street (from Hickory Street northward). The Daily Free Press commented the next day: “The Council finally gathered itself together last night, girded up its loins and went after Mankato’s poor streets.” May 16, 1932: Early on this morning, two robbers escaped from the Texaco Oil Station, 502 N. Second St., with a gold watch and $180. When proprietor H. P. Olson, who slept at the station, heard a noise at 1 a.m., he went to the door and was seized by two individuals who demanded to know where the money was kept. Olson attempted to deceive the robbers, telling them “the boss” had the safe combination. At this, he was bound and gagged, then dragged to the cellar. He wasn’t found until 8 a.m. when a fellow attendant saw two checks on the floor and, surmising something was amiss, began searching the premises. May 17, 1925: At 1:30 p.m., Mankato police officers Tufte, Harding and Billington raided the home of Lawrence Adams on Willow Street. After finding jugs and bottles of hard liquor, Adams was placed under arrest and accompanied to the police station. Before entering, Adams broke loose and dashed between the station and the Northern States Power Company toward the Main Street bridge. The Daily Free Press commented colorfully on the escape: “Sprinting toward the bridge, he put the flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi, to shame. When he reached the bank of the river, he did a regular Annette Kellerman dive and struck for North Mankato. He has not been seen since.” (Nurmi was a legendary Finnish distance runner in the 1920s. Kellerman was an Australian swimmer and film star popularly credited with inventing synchronized swimming.) 800-729-7575

The Free Press compared one criminal’s daring dive into the river during an escape to one performed by Australian swimmer and film star Annette Kellerman.

May 27, 1879: The Mankato Weekly Review reported on the death of Mrs. Peter Rooney of rural Winnebago, who apparently poisoned herself by cooking and eating pie-plant leaves. Pie-plant, once a common nickname for rhubarb, is poisonous if large amounts of leaves are ingested. On May 9, Mrs. Rooney had cooked the leaves for dinner and “ate heartily of them.” Shortly after her meal, she began feeling sick and commenced vomiting. She did not send for medical help until two days later; by the time a doctor reached her from Winnebago, it was too late. “Death relieved the sufferer some time before he got there,” the Review reported.

The Gallery

An artist by any other name …

Mapleton’s Knecht would rather think about his work than labels

By Nell Musolf


onathan Knecht is a little uncomfortable with the label “artist.” Knecht, who grew up in North Dakota, graduated with a bachelor’s in art and biology from Dakota Wesleyan University. In 1989, he married his wife, Amy, and moved to Mankato where the couple lived until the mid-1990s before purchasing a farm south of Mapleton in 1996. Knecht, Amy and daughter Aubrey still live there along with an assortment of animals. But getting back his thoughts on being labeled an artist … “As far as wanting to be an artist, I do not know if that has happened yet,” Knecht said. “I personally wince at the term ‘artist’ but that is just because I am a freak. I’m not ripping on anybody who chooses to call themselves that, but to me that word seems to pigeonhole people’s ideas. It can be an exclusionary word. I don’t think of myself as an artist but more of a guy that likes to create stuff. And I think we all have that to varying degrees and avenues.” Knecht has worked at B. Stark as a silk screener for the past 19 years. When not at work, he can often be found in a barn on his property where he creates artwork out of found pieces or what he says other people might call “junk.”

“I would call my creativity process random,” Knecht said. “Each piece really develops in different ways. Sometimes an idea comes from an object I find. Sometimes I have an idea and I look around for the objects or photos that fit the idea. It is pretty free-flowing and ideally takes some times. Everything percolates for a while.” Knecht credits social issues as often being at the heart of his inspiration and uses his art as an outlet for the helpless frustration he often feels toward the current state of the world. He also makes a deliberate attempt to move away from the tight and formulaic paintings and drawings that he did while in college and earlier in his career. “I had a college professor yell at me once to just loosen up,” Knecht recalled. “It was one of my best pieces of advice.” For the future, Knecht plans to continue enjoying his idyllic life with his wife and daughter while working on art pieces that reflect his concern over social concerns. “I guess it is just really cool that people can appreciate the creativity of others and can share it with them,” Knecht said. “Maybe I am an ‘artist.’”

Knecht will host an exhibit of his art during a show at the Carnegie Art Center June 12-28. An opening reception will be held 7-9 p.m. on June 14.

With disarming and sometimes arresting visual imagery, Jonathan Knecht creates art often inspired by social issues. | Photos courtesy of Knecht MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 9




Tanner Kent

Holly Resner became the executive director of Old Main Village in August 2013. | John Cross

At home in Old Main

An introduction to executive director Holly Resner Mankato Magazine: How did you become a health care administrator? Have you always envisioned yourself in the field? Holly Resner: I have always had a passion for working with older adults, starting back in college when I was a nursing assistant at a local long-term care facility and eventually at Good Counsel. Upon graduating from college, my first job in my field was as a program development manager with Lutheran 10 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Social Service of Minnesota, managing an 11-county senior volunteer program. At the time, assisted living was still a relatively new concept and was not on my radar. How I came into the business was actually due to a family situation in which I assisted grandparents with the transition from home, to senior housing and eventually to assisted living. When a position opened up in assisted living, I knew I had to be a part of it. My initial work was with a company

Residents participate in a fitness program at Old Main Village. | John Cross called Alterra, later acquired by Brookdale Senior Living, as an executive director. I then became a regional director of operations and eventually a regional sales manager with Brookdale. I left the industry for a few years and am very happy to have returned. MM:When did you come to Old Main Village and what attracted you to the position? HR: I joined Old Main Village as the executive director in August 2013 and I was familiar with The Goodman Group, a leading national senior living and health care company, due to my work with Rasmussen College. I had always wanted to return to the industry and when the position became available, I knew it was the right decision. Assisted living is home to me. It’s where my heart is and has always belonged. I was so excited to be able to work in such a wonderful, historic setting and to be able to lead an amazing team in the exceptional care provided to our residents. I was also drawn to our company, as it has developed many distinct, industry-leading programs. Old Main Village, like all of our managed communities, provides Platinum Service, a customer-centered service philosophy. The core content of the program came from a representative team of staff members from the communities we manage and was developed with Horst Schultze, who created the customer service program at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The program encompasses 20 standards that enable us to consistently provided unparalleled service. MM: What does a typical day entail for you? HR: Is there such a day? The day begins with our morning “stand up” meeting in which we cover our Platinum Service Standard of the day and provide department head updates. From there, it could be some office work, assisting in various areas of the building as needed (marketing, life enrichment, dining, etc.) and of course meeting with residents, families and staff as the day progresses. I keep my door open at all times, unless I am having a confidential conversation and I love when residents come to my office to visit.

are so many different options for this service in our area. The best way that I can describe assisted living is an environment that provides assistance with activities of daily living to residents that are not able to complete these tasks completely independently. For example, the setup and administration of medications, providing support and help during a shower, or help while getting dressed or undressed. Different assisted-living communities provide different levels of support – for example a “twoperson” transfer in which two caregivers are required to help transfer a resident from their bed to a wheel chair, or incontinence management. Not all senior living communities offer the same levels of support, which is great in that we all work together in order to provide the safest and most supportive environment possible for what the resident needs. MM: Of course, the Mankato area has several assistedliving options. What qualities distinguish Old Main Village? HR: Our setting is truly unique and our history is very well-known as being a part of Minnesota State University. No two apartments are alike in our building and so many of our residents have ties to MSU, either as faculty or through family. In fact, one of our residents actually lives in her classroom – her apartment is located in the same place she used to teach. And, we are the only assisted-living community in Mankato that offers a heated pool and hot tub for our residents and their families, and even to the community via our partnership with VINE. MM: What do you think are the greatest challenges or changes in regard to assisted-living facilities? HR: I think as we see more baby boomers retire, the expectation for assisted-living communities will definitely change. People want options and choices, and to maintain their independence and lifestyle for as long as they possibly can. Life enrichment programs will need to focus on meaningful and purposeful activities and communities will need to be designed in order to accommodate the lifestyles that people have come to expect in their own homes. MM: What’s it like to operate in a facility with so much historical tradition and local significance? HR: It is a privilege and an honor to work at Old Main Village. I am an MSU grad myself, but of course the college was all on top of the hill at that time. To walk the halls, to see the architecture that has been maintained and to see what the building has become is very powerful. MM: What do you enjoy most about your work? HR: I can’t really think of an aspect I don’t enjoy. The residents make my life so full of purpose and meaning. It is a privilege to work in their home each and every day, and to do my part to ensure that they receive the best quality of life possible. M

MM: As an “assisted-living” facility, what does that term mean? Can you sketch the services and care Old Main Village provides? HR: Assisted living can be a very confusing term, as there MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 11

Chit Chat

Advice to get your garden growing

Storing winter clothes

By Nell Musolf



ebecca Krenik, Master Gardener and owner of Blue Heron Landscape Design is an expert in the horticultural world. To celebrate spring, she offers the following tips for the beginning gardener: • Locate your garden in a spot where you can see it from inside your home. This will make it easy to monitor it for water, weeds and unwanted visitors. An added plus is that it is pretty to look at. • Vegetables need at least 5-6 hours of sun each day. Perennial flowers differ depending on variety. • Start small. Plant what you like to eat and start with just a few varieties. Easier plants for beginners are peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peas and potatoes. • Watch the spacing on vine crops such as squash and zucchini as they can take up a lot of room. These plants can be trained to grow on fence if one is available. • Plants herbs anywhere. Next to the kitchen door or next to your favorite sitting spot are two good choices for herb gardens. Choose varieties that you cook with and use them fresh during the summer and dry them for winter use. Good choices are: tarragon, basil, sage, chives, cilantro and oregano. • Mulch your garden to retain moisture and keep weeds down. Leaves leftover from the fall can be used or shredded wood mulch. Don’t use wood chips as they blow or wash away in wind or rain. Natural shredded wood mulch can be found at local compost sites. Krenik has noticed a trend in gardening that avoids separating divided space between flowers and vegetables and suggested that people garden wherever they have space. “The tomatoes with its cage can grow next to your peony. The green beans or cucumbers can climb on a decorative trellis behind a shrub rose. Swiss chard is not only nutritious but also has architectural foliage that ranges in colors from dark green to lime to fuchsia. Use strawberries as a ground cover or to border the edge of a bed. Be creative,” Krenik said, “And happy gardening this season!”

APP Review Plates

By Nicole Anzia | Special To The Washington Post lthough it’s tempting to toss everything into a bin and deal with it in nine months, try to resist the quick fix and take some time to put the gear away properly. You’ll be glad you did in December. Coats and jackets: Before storing winter coats and jackets, empty the pockets. Wool coats should be dry-cleaned. Snow pants, down and synthetic jackets, as well as fleece, can be washed and dried at home. Storage boxes like these are a clean Store your clean items in and efficient storage solution. breathable garment or storage bags, and use a mothball substitute or cedar to keep insects away. Boots: Leather boots should be cleaned with leather cleaner and suede boots should be professionally cleaned before you put them away for the season. To help the boots retain their shape, fill them with scrunched-up plastic bags or tissue paper or use boot shapers. Store the boots in their original boxes or in a plastic boot bin. Sweaters: Sweaters don’t last forever. Even though it can be difficult to say goodbye to your favorite sweater, don’t go to the trouble to clean and store sweaters that are worn thin or pilled. As with other items, make sure your sweaters are properly cleaned and then store in them in breathable bags with either cedar blocks or a moth deterrent. If you’re tight on space, consider using a storage ottoman or bench or under-the-bed bins. Bedding: Finding a space to store bulky winter bedding is a challenge. Down comforters should be professionally laundered and stored in a large, breathable cotton bag, unless you have space to cover and hang them. Compressing the down in a storage bag is fine, but hanging it helps to maintain its loft. Clean flannel sheets and blankets should be put in bins labeled with their size. And while you’re at it, this is a good time to wash pillows, pillow protectors and mattress pads.

By Hayley Tsukayama | The Washington Post Going out is fun. Divvying up the bill? That’s not quite so fun. For some reason, no matter how clever your group of diners, there is something about a restaurant bill that makes the collective wisdom go fuzzy. With the Plates app, users can skip the back-of-the-receipt arithmetic and easily calculate what everyone owes, even with tax and tip. For parties of fewer than 10, Plates will do the division for you — even if a dish was not shared by the party. Just enter the price of all the items on your bill, let the app know who shared what, and you are all set to go. The app is published by Splitwise, a company devoted to making it easy to split all kinds of bills with friends and family, but no Splitwise account is required to use the app. The company has said an Android version of the app is in the works. Free, for iOS devices.

12 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Fitness ideas that fit your schedule By Tanner Kent


arly Hopper is the program coordinator for fitness and wellness programs in Minnesota State University’s Office of Campus Recreation. This position supports and coordinates fitness programs for campus-wide and individual needs. We asked her for a few tips on working fitness goals into busy daily routines:

with little to no modifications for beginners. Chances of injury or feeling like a failure and quitting may be high when the intensity of a workout is too much too soon.

Mankato Magazine: For those who have never exercised or had a fitness regimen, where are some good places to start? Carly Hopper: Find a friend who is already active or wants to be active. Set a time to start walking; aim for 20 minutes, three to five days a week. Schedule it and make it part of your routine. Keep goals simple, attainable, and challenging: Start with three to five days a week at 20 minutes each time for a month. Then change the time to 30 minutes, or keep it at 20 minutes and add a hill to your workout, or add an extra day for a challenge. Sign up for a yoga class with a friend and approach it as a night out instead of having to exercise. Yoga is a great way to gain confidence, balance, strength, and work on flexibility.

MM: What exercises or activities will yield maximum aerobic impact? CH: Interval-type workouts Carly Hopper are a great way to potentially burn more calories in a shorter time period and work more muscles. For example, do the following exercises for 20 seconds each, with a 10 second rest between: jumping jacks (20 seconds), 10-second rest, push-ups (20 seconds), 10-second rest, jump rope (20 seconds), 10-second rest, mountain climbers (20 seconds), 10-second rest, high knees (20 seconds), 10-second rest, squats (20 seconds), 10-second rest, jog in place (20 seconds), 10-second rest, alternating lunges (20 seconds), 10-second rest, plank (20 seconds), 10-second rest, and butt kicks(20 seconds) with a final 10-second rest. Repeat once more to equal a 20-minute workout. Most of the time these types of workouts can be intense; but it is only for 20 seconds at a time and then you get a break. Most people can talk themselves into doing most things for 20 seconds if they know they will get a break.

MM: Are there any simple ways people can incorporate fitness time into otherwise busy schedules? CH: Utilize lunch times to squeeze in fitness activities. For example, if you have an hour for lunch, go outside for a walk; or if you can’t get outside, walk stairs for 15-30 minutes. You still have 30 minutes to eat and relax. When you run errands, park your car in a parking space furthest from the door. If you are waiting for kids at practices, plan ahead and wear your tennis shoes; find a hill to walk while you are waiting. MM: Do fitness activities have to be strenuous or rigorous to be beneficial? CH: Fitness activities do not have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Not everyone can handle an “Insanity” workout

MM: Do you have any recommendations for how someone can choose a trainer that is right for them? CH: Look for a nationally certified personal trainer from an accredited program that has experience working with someone in your age group and with your similar goals. A good trainer will meet you where you are at physically and mentally and has the ability to make you feel comfortable in your own skin. M

Spice up your salad with atypical ingredients By Sarah Johnson


ankato Magazine caught up with Erik Larson, produce manager at St. Peter Food Co-op, to ask him what’s exciting this month in the salad department. Her are his top five tips for getting ready for the salad days of May: Beet greens. If you plant a row of beets, and have to thin them out, a baby beet green salad is delicious Also, the tops of beets add a sweet, earthy flavor to any salad. Fennel and citrus (supremed oranges or grapefruit). As a combination, they provide sweet, bright flavors to salads. Another combo I think is unbeatable is pears and strawberries. They’re especially wonderful in salads with feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

There are a wide variety of micro-greens and sprouts available, such as pea shoots and daikon radish sprouts. They pack a surprising amount of flavor in small quantities. Though May is not peak season, early stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines start to become available. They’re often overlooked as salad ingredients but are every bit as good in a salad as apples or pears. The early-season varieties of certified organic peaches from Mexico, available in May, are some of the best of the year. They compare in flavor and texture to the Colorado peaches we see in August. MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 13

Tom Davis, owner of Davis Comfort Systems, has lots of ideas for how to turn your home into a technological mecca. | John Cross

How to make your home a

castle (smart-secured, energy-efficient, quality-controlled)

By Heidi Sampson

14 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

This wall-mounted system controls a variety of home functions and even gathers live weather data. | John Cross


or many homeowners, warmer weather brings with it the inclination to try something new in the area of home improvement. For those seeking to become more sustainable and energy efficient, energy audits can personalize costsaving measures specific to the home. Today’s smart technology creates the opportunity for peace of mind knowing a smartphone can access all security needs from a vacation destination or while at work. Smart technology extends into the heating and cooling industry offering remote access and hybrid systems capable of switching fuel sources to save money. DIY solar panels offer homeowners the chance to create their own cost-saving measures when fuel prices skyrocket. And for those looking to improve their landscape — bringing the indoors out, introducing boulders that spit fire and creating living walls will guarantee a unique touch to any home improvement project.

Energy assessment audits Before placing a solar panel to the outside of a home, Eric Lennartson, marketing coordinator and architectural designer of I & S Group, recommends making sure that the simple things have been taken care of first. “Before going to that kind of a process,” Lennartson said, “(having) a well-insulated home and seeking the advice of an energy audit are useful. A homeowner should want the whole house to reduce consumption. Solar panels are a great goal, but there are so many little things that can be done beforehand.” A few simple things could include switching to CFL or LEED lighting, purchasing Energy Star appliances or having a utility company install a switch on an air conditioning unit that would allow them the capability of turning the unit off or on during peak times. An advanced home energy assessment audit is also a good first step to looking at the overall energyuse picture within a home, as an audit can specifically identify what needs fixing, upgrading and replacing. “An energy audit is personal to your home,” Lennartson said. “It lists exactly what you can do in your house, which is better than a general list that applies to most homes.” An A+ for home security The newest trend in security is what Jennifer Domas, administrator for A+ Security, calls the A+ App. This app has the ability to control lighting, temperature, cameras, the opening or closing of garage doors, turning sprinklers on or off, even unlocking or locking of doors from a simple smartphone app. In fact, the entire security system could be engaged or disarmed from the app itself. “If a homeowner is on vacation, they could turn on the lights

to make people think they are home when they aren’t,” Domas said. “You can even make sure the security system is armed after you’ve left for vacation and that the garage door is down. Everything can be done via cellular. Phone lines aren’t required.” Smart options For a homeowner looking to install an energy-efficient heating and cooling system, Tom Davis, owner of Davis Comfort Systems, can provide smart technology, hybrid systems and geothermal options. The Trane ComfortLink II Control is an air quality-management tool that controls air temperatures and operates as an up-to-the-minute weather station that gathers and displays live weather data, forecasts, radar images and weather alerts. The Nexia Remote Climate Access allows for remote capability from smartphones and web-enabled computers. “This also gives low and high temperature alerts,” said Davis. “It’s a built in freeze alarm, which is really nice. It sends text alerts if something is wrong.” The Trane Earthwise Hybrid Split System is capable of heating or cooling a home using either electricity or fossil fuel. With the flexibility of using dual fuel sources, this system can enhance the home’s energy use by switching back and forth to which ever source is more efficient. Another option available is a geothermal heat pump. The geothermal heat exchange system consists of a ground loop that can either be placed vertically or horizontally. “In the winter, it moves the heat out of the ground into the home; and in the summer, it draws the heat out of the home back into the ground,” Davis said. MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 15

James Dontje and a DIY solar panel he built at his home. | John Cross DIY solar panels For those willing to construct their own solar panel, James Dontje, director of the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation at Gustavus Adolpus College, frequently presents how-to workshops on the subject. All that solar heat requires is a south-facing wall, a solar panel placed vertically — next to snow for better reflection — sunshine, some ducting, fan and a control. Surprisingly, solar panel construction can be completed for as little as $260, with all materials being purchased locally except for three items: the fan, a backdraft damper and a snap thermostat switch. “A solar panel requires a pretty unobstructed view to the sun,” Dontje said, “but the value of a solar panel jumps on fuel shortage years.” This past year, the Made in Minnesota Solar Rebate Program was launched to give rebates to consumers who instal solar photovoltaic or solar thermal systems certified as manufactured in Minnesota. (Applications for the being program are still being accepted: visit MNcommerce. ). The rebate is equal to 25 percent of the system’s cost, up to a maximum of $2,500 for residential, $5,000 for multi-family and $25,000 for commercial systems. Outdoor options grow Ryan Schmitz, owner of Aquatic Gardens & Landscaping, likes the idea of an outdoor room, such as an outdoor living room or kitchen. These areas allow for homeowners to sit on 16 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

their patio and yet, everything is focused on the interior of the space, a room without walls. These spaces may add a natural outdoor fire feature as well. “A boulder could be turned into a fire feature,” Schmitz said. “A part of it could be hollowed and then a gas mechanism inserted. The rock would actually burn. It can also be done with water. It’s possible that a rock could bubble water and spit fire at the same time.” Another unique creation is the idea of a living wall. A living wall can be installed to the side of a house or even on an 8-foot fence to create a lush wall of plant material that is evergrowing, blooming and changing. Systems can even be designed to be self-watering. “It’s kind of an urban movement where space is limited,” Schmitz said. “If you don’t have anything on the horizontal plane, what you have is the vertical plane.” For those seeking sustainable options, a rain-exchange system is able utilize run-off from the roof by capturing water into an underground holding facility. The captured water could then be used to wash vehicles or water lawns. Permeable pavers are another way in which to capture water, as the pavers create a larger space for water absorption into an underground holding facility. M

Right Examples of outdoor living spaces created by Aquatic Gardens and Landscaping.


$25 to $100 rebate per



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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 17

Sweet Pea, a rescue cat, has become a treasured companion to staff and residents at Ecument Le Center. | John Cross

Home is where the cat is Sweet Pea and her strange sixth sense have transformed Ecumen Le Center By Leticia Gonzales


t’s not uncommon for nursing homes to have a few pets in residents’ rooms or even in the main living area itself. But when Dr. Jean Craig, a family medicine physician at Parkview Medical Clinic in New Prague prescribed a feline for the Ecumen facility in Le Center, former House Manager Chris Carter never imagined how connected the residents would get to the cat. “She said, ‘You know what you need here, Chris, is a cat,’” 18 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Carter said. Craig, who had patients at Ecumen Le Center, has a hobby of rescuing stray cats and nursing them back to health. Out of the 78 cats she has found homes for over the past five years, Sweet Pea is the first one to be placed at an assisted-living center like Ecumen Le Center. “She has a heart of gold,” Carter said of Craig. “Her and I have spent a lot of time talking about how things mesh, and

how our mission of creating home, and her mission of creating happen. homes for animals kind of go together.” “With death, you don’t know. Sometimes families will say, Carter agreed to house Sweet Pea, a black- and gray-striped will it be a week, will it be a month?” Carter said. “And we feral cat, after Craig shared how the animal could help reduce jokingly said amongst ourselves, ‘We will just watch the cat.’” blood pressure, stress and anxiety among the elderly. But when Sweet Pea became closer to Pearl, it was no joking “They have been proven to keep people independent,” said matter. Craig, who did a project on the impact of pets on the elderly “About a week before Pearl passed, Sweet Pea got up on the during her fourth year of medical school at the University of bed and would lay on Pearl’s feet, and she wouldn’t leave the Iowa. It can also help those who had to leave their pets behind, room, just to go the bathroom, drink and eat, and go on back,” which Craig said can be psychologically hard on the residents. Carter said. “We had LaVonne, who passed away as well, and “If they have to take care of an animal, they are more Sweet Pea was in her room a great deal watching TV and kind motivated to do things,” of went through the whole she said. process with her.” Even what may seem Carter said observing like a simple task of Sweet Pea during that getting out of bed each day process was a powerful to feed the animal or take experience. to it to the litter box can “When LaVonne passed make a difference in their away, that took about two mood. weeks. Then (Sweet Pea) Once Sweet Pea was would just sit on the floor introduced into the outside of Lavonne’s resident’s shared living room,” Carter said. “We space at Ecumen Le actually use a dignity quilt, Center, it didn’t take long a quilt we put in a for her to get acclimated resident’s room after they to her cozy surroundings. pass. After we took the “The residents thought quilt out of her room, and it was the just the coolest we started moving things thing,” Carter said. out, then she was finally What started off as a satisfied that she didn’t novelty grew to be need to hang out in there something deeper for the anymore.” staff and residents of While Craig hasn’t seen Ecumen Le Center. Sweet Pea in action, she Whether it’s a sixth sense continues to hear about or a heightened awareness the cat’s connection to to her surroundings, Sweet residents at Ecumen Le Pea’s attraction to Center. residents who were ill or “We don’t know how dying became apparent. cats know, but I think they When a resident named can smell the changes in Ruth went on hospice, the body, and sense those Sweet Pea was there — individuals who are dying, even though she wasn’t and wants to be with wanted. them,” she said. “(Ruth) always said, The residents often ‘That cat belongs outside,’” share that same longing to Carter said. be with Sweet Pea during Despite Ruth’s initial their last days. intolerance to Sweet Pea, “The ones who are Ruth allowed Sweet Pea to Sweet Pea has a strange sense for finding those who need her comfort. | John Cross animal lovers, who want to stay nearby as her health be with her in the end, worsened. there’s a certain amount of “As time got closer, she would be lying on the chair in Ruth’s reassurance, reassuring to the family to,” Craig said. “Families room,” Carter said. “She never went up on the bed.” have the option of keeping her out and closing the door, but After Ruth passed away, Sweet Pea found her way to another many would like to have her in and share her presence.” resident, Pearl, who was more welcoming. Pearl took to Sweet Sweet Pea’s awareness to residents hasn’t just been about Pea so much that she would lock the cat inside her room. death. “Sometimes you couldn’t find Sweet Pea, and there she “We have had residents who have maybe had a hospital stay would be in Pearl’s room,” Carter said. and they come home, and she will either sit out in the hallway Prior to falling ill, Carter said Pearl was always up in her or she will sit in their room in a chair,” Carter said. “Or, if she recliner with Sweet Pea by her side. Even though it appeared knows they are cat lovers, she will sit on their lap or on the her passing was imminent, the staff wasn’t sure when it would bed. And when they are getting to feel better, she moves on. It’s MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 19

just been kind of a neat thing.” Mable, another resident at Ecumen Le Center who is in her late 90s, suffers from anxiety, dementia and Alzheimer’s, is a different person when Sweet Pea is by her side. “(Mable) always has to sit in her wheelchair where she can see the dining room,” said Carter. “I think being alone is scary for her. But on the days Sweet Pea lays with her on her bed, she doesn’t call out.” Sally Gallaher, who started working at Ecumen Le Center as the weekend cook this past November, has also taken notice to Sweet Pea’s impact on the residents. “She is a real spitfire, so she really brings lot of smiles and laughter to them,” Gallaher said. “Everyone just enjoys her and loves her. She’s always out and about.” Unlike the other cat that boards at Ecumen Le Center, Sweet Pea is never shy about interacting with the residents. “They just get a kick out of how she likes to sleep on their chairs, or she likes to chase the other cat,” Gallaher said. “She’s just really spunky and brings lot of life to all of us. On the gloomiest day, Sweet Pea is always there to brighten it.” Both Carter and Gallaher agree that having Sweet Pea at Ecumen Le Center creates a feeling of comfort and connection the residents need. “It’s good for people to have that,” Carter said. “People have nurturing and they need to have something to care about. Somebody, something, and Sweet Pea — I think fulfills that for them.” M

“On the gloomiest day, Sweet Pea is there to brighten it.” | John Cross 20 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 21

The baseball park in Waseca was renamed for longtime coach and caretaker Tink Larson in 1994. | Pat Christman

Take me out to the ball game The best of southern Minnesota ballparks By Drew Lyon


e’ve been told in countless documentaries, books and films that baseball is perhaps the most romantic and languid of sports. Granted, the poetic waxing borders on the hokey and mawkish, but even cynics concede, if begrudgingly, there is hardly a more bucolic setting for an athletic event than the national pastime played in a classic, oldtime ballpark. Trimmed green grass. The crack of a wooden bat. Packed grandstands filled with fans, friends and neighbors. Hot dogs and cold beverages. Sunny skies or under the lights. Good times in the land of the free. Summer days and nights were made for baseball. Writers and baseball diehards alike have made pilgrimages to many of our region’s ballparks, and for good reason. Waseca’s Tink Larson Field and New Ulm’s historic Johnson Park both celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2014, while Mankato’s Franklin Rogers Park is more than 50 years old and home to the Northwoods League’s Mankato MoonDogs. Tink Larson Field, Waseca Local legend Clint “Tink” Larson is an archetypal “baseball

22 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

lifer” who can effortlessly regale listeners with dazzling yarns that span a half-century. Larson was hired as Waseca’s head baseball coach in 1967 and still lives across the street from the field that was renamed in his honor in 1994. Since the late 1960s, Larson has maintained the field and he takes pride in the field’s features. “It’s not like other parks,” he said. “We very seldom have very many bad hops in the infield and it has a fantastic drainage system. One year, we had 8 inches of rain and we played the next day, but don’t ask me why.” Originally called Community Field, Tink Larson Field was built in 1939 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration project. “A lot of the fields in Minnesota were built during that time,” Larson said. “They all had old-time grandstands, so any of the parks that were built in those days do look a little similar, but they’re also unique, too.” Tink Larson Field is quite literally a second home to its namesake. When the family dog, Harmon, died, the Larson’s buried him behind home plate. Memories were built there and family bonds grew tighter. His son, Mike, became an

A plan hatched by Tink Larson and executed “under the cover of darkness” helped secure the seats for the ballpark in Waseca. | Pat Christman international baseball scout and Larson’s late wife, Sharon, who died in January, ran the park’s concession area for more than 40 years “The field is part of the reason why I have actually not done some other things in my life that I had a chance to do,” Tink said, “because it would’ve required me to leave the field and not take care of it. For example, a couple of times I could’ve taken a scouting job in baseball. So far, I’ve turned them down.” Larson is also quick to credit Waseca’s Parks Director Mark Bartelt for the field’s pristine condition. “He’s been very helpful and supportive over the years and allowing us to do our thing on it,” Larson said. “He has been just as responsible for how nice that field is as we are.” Larson assumes his share of credit for the seats in the park’s grandstand, which were acquired in a murky legal manner from Metropolitan Stadium, the former home of the Minnesota Twins. In Larson’s retelling of the caper, an acquaintance knew someone in the state Legislature who knew the head of Bloomington’s Port Authority. Keys in hand, Larson hatched out a plan. Larson piled the baseball team into a set of big trucks, slipped into an undisclosed building, dismantled the seats and later installed them into the field’s grandstand. “The statute of limitations has passed, so let’s just say we got them at a reasonable price,” he said, laughing. “We went there under the cover of darkness.” When asked for his favorite memory of the field, Larson cites Waseca’s walk-off win in the 1990 regional championship that led to a state championship. His second favorite moment occurred not as a coach, but as a player. “When I was about 60 years old,” Larson, 72, said, “I happened to get lucky and hit a 3-run homer with two outs in the ninth, and that was the only home run I hit in all the years I played at that park.”

After 35 years as Waseca’s coach, Larson is now in his sixth year as an assistant coach at Minnesota State University. But he’ll still be keeping a careful eye on the field across the street. “I enjoy it, so it’s not like it’s a job or anything,” he said. “I do something on the field every day; I just enjoy seeing that it looks nice and that the players have a nice field to play on.” But Tink says this season will be a difficult one without his beloved Sharon by his side. “It’s going to be completely different,” he said. “She’s always been a part of my life in baseball, and my life support for the last 50 some years we were married. She’s a huge part of what this field became.” Johnson Park, New Ulm Built for about $14,000 in 1939 as another WPA project, Johnson Park is nestled in the baseball hotbed of New Ulm and consistently ranked as one of the top ballparks in the state. The town’s storied baseball history dates back to the late 1800s, according to local baseball historian and former New Ulm Mayor Carl “Red” Wyczawski. “New Ulm was always a baseball town,” Wyczawski said, “and Johnson Park is one of the nicest around. It’s a treasure.” Johnson Park, named after then-Mayor Fred Johnson, originally resembled an amphitheater; the grandstand was cut into a ‘V’ shape and was placed parallel to the baselines. Within a few months of its opening, Johnson Park played its inaugural night game, a first in southern Minnesota, according to Wyczawski. Baseball was such a fixture in New Ulm that from 1948 to 1958, collegiate ballplayers, many of them from the south, were hired to play for local outfits. “I think it’s safe to say New Ulm has been prominent in amateur baseball,” said Wyczawski, 88, who worked in the Milwaukee Braves’ public relations department before moving MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 23

ABOVE AND UPPER-RIGHT Built in 1939, Johnson Park in New Ulm has beheld its share of baseball glory. | John Cross to New Ulm in 1956. “We had the state amateur tournament here in 1958. I was chairman of that. We set an attendance record —26,054. It was unbelievable.” The park’s dimensions were much grander in those days and have since been restructured. “It used to be 420 feet to dead center, and 380 to left field, which is a long, long poke,” Wyczawski said. “That’s like the old Polo Grounds in New York.” The park has received numerous contributions from the New Ulm Baseball Association; Wyczawksi estimates the NUBA has poured between $50,000 and $100,000 into various improvements to Johnson Park’s during the last 40 years. “We’ve put a lot of money into the field itself,” said Wyczawski, a member of the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. “We’ve had to re-do the infield several times, we have a new scoreboard. Merchants have always been generous, which has helped our youth programs tremendously.” Johnson Park has witnessed 10 no-hitters, played host to dozens of players who would graduate to the professional ranks, highlighted by New Ulm native and former All-Star and World Series champion Terry Steinbach. On June 21, the city of New Ulm will honor Johnson Park’s 75th anniversary with an exhibition game between the town’s two amateur teams. Alumni from the team’s 16 state championship teams will appear at a banquet later that day at Turner Hall. “Johnson Park is a big part of New Ulm,” Wyczawski said. “Seventy-five years later, baseball is still a big sport here, and it’s important we recognize that.” Franklin Rogers Park, Mankato Affectionately known as “The Frank” by locals, Franklin Rogers Park was built in 1961 and lies in a neighborhood in Mankato’s hilltop section behind Mankato East Center. It was first called Key City Park but was later renamed after Franklin Rogers, a Free Press sports writer. The Frank’s profile has been raised since 1999, when the field hosted its first game in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league. Several future major leaguers, including former Mankato Masher Curtis Granderson, have played at Franklin Rogers. Extensive improvements have been made since the stadium’s early days, when there was subpar lighting, no roof on the grandstand and no decks along the foul lines. In the mid-2000s, The Frank was refurbished with new stadium lights, sound system and additional seating, which led to the team hosting the 2007 Northwoods League All-Star Game. In the years since, “The Dog Pound” along the third base 24 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Though Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said Franklin Rogers Park is in need of upgrade, it still provides an impressive setting at dusk. | Photo courtesy of SPX Sports line and the patio area along the first base line have become fan favorites for groups of friends and company outings. But more renovations are required to make The Frank, which is run by Mankato’s Park and Recreations Department, a first-class baseball park, argues Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges. “We still have a long ways to go,” he said, “but I think really we brought it back to a level where fans can really enjoy the experience, and the MoonDogs have certainly helped with that. I think the field has a lot of potential; compared to other fields, it’s still relatively new.” Hentges estimates the park, which seats 1,400, needs about $1 million in enhancements, including more bleachers, and improvements to the dugouts and drainage systems, concession and bathroom amenities. “We need to create public support behind it,” Hentges said, “so people can see the park is a livable asset. It’s money well spent; I really think it would be a lost opportunity should we delay the investments needed.” In addition to the MoonDogs, high school and summer amateur teams also play at The Frank. Hentges envisions a future where Mankato’s baseball facilities are at a level capable of hosting state high school tournaments. “This town for baseball has such a good foundation, with the success of our local teams at the high school and college levels,” Hentges said. “And the Frank is an extension of that. As we’ve seen, it can be a draw. We just need to propel it to the next level.” M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 25




By Jean Lundquist

Nicollet County built its poor farm in 1870 near Swan Lake in Granby Township. | Photo courtesy of Nicollet County Historical Society

Goin’ up the county Life on the county poor farm


n the mid-1800s, both Blue Earth and Nicollet counties built so-called “poor farms” to house those with nowhere else to live. As the poor farm in Blue Earth County was opened, a county commissioner was quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “Blue Earth County will always care for her poor, and the poor are always with us.” 26 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

At the time, the state of Minnesota provided funds for “libraries, jails, courthouses and poor farms,” according to a newspaper report. Blue Earth County Historical Society Archives and Collection Manager Shelley Harrison said many of the people who went to live at the poor farm had no children able or willing to take them in. “It was basically a nursing home …

before there were programs like Social Security.” In Blue Earth County, land for the poor farm was purchased in Rapidan Township, south of Mankato. The land was wooded and a log cabin was built from trees found on the land to house the first inmates of the poor farm, as residents were called. In 1881, more land was purchased and a large brick structure was built. A few years later, the brick building was doubled in size as the population increased. That building still stands today. Superintendents were hired to operate the farm with the intention that it could feed the inmates and the family of the superintendent, who also lived there. Superintendents were to take care of the residents and also had to operate a successful farm, tending to the fields, the animals, the garden, and the yard. In 1888, the building could house 24 inmates. As the poor farm was described in a local newspaper, “In this building are gathered the poor, the imbecile and the weak on whom fortune has ceased to smile.” The newspaper called the poor farm a “beauty spot in the county.” Indeed, it was considered something of a park and people regularly visited the farm on a Sunday afternoon drive. If they stopped, the visitors were often invited for supper. It might seem inevitable that the grounds were so well-kept with inmates providing free labor. But in fact, residents were never forced to work for their keep. One superintendent reported to the county commissioners, “The inmates of the home do very little work and even if induced to lend a hand, lay down the task when so inclined.” He concluded by saying it was easier to hire help than to watch over the inmates. One exception was a man named George Aubrey. He lived at the poor farm for 20 years and was said to be a good worker. With a relatively easy lifestyle at the poor farm, perhaps it’s not surprising that Commissioner Mahowald said in 1891 that he received requests daily from those who wanted to live at the poor farm “from those who are too lazy to work.” In time, most of the residents were elderly and/or disabled. In 1964, the building and a few surrounding acres were sold to then-superintendent Pearl Dodge with the stipulation that it

remain a nursing home for at least five years. It was known then as the Oak Grove Home. It became a private residence in 1988. Brian Frink and Wilbur Neushwander-Frink purchased the building in 1998. It is not only their home, but also an art gallery and artist space called Poor Farm Studios. The Nicollet County poor farm has a similar story. Nicollet County was founded in 1853. And Historical Society Collections Manager Bob Sandeen said that even from the earliest days, the county took care of its poor, though the poor farm wasn’t built until 1870. Before the poor farm system, Nicollet County paid Josiah Horner to take in and care for Napoleon Brisbo, “a lunatic pauper.” An 18-bedroom house was the initial structure at the site located in Granby Township, six miles northwest of Nicollet. It was rebuilt in 1916 to modernize it. The location was an inconvenience for most inmates, according to Sandeen. Because it was so far from town, activities like going to church or having visitors were disrupted. But it was located in Granby Township, Sandeen said, because it was the central part of the county. Very near Swan Lake, the closest bay is called Poor Farm Bay. Again, inmates were required to do little, if any, work. In the 1920s, a caretaker’s daughter told of a young newly married couple who came to live on the farm. The man claimed to be blind, but the daughter often found the woman showing the man flowers and butterflies in the gardens. In 1970, the building that had once housed poor farm residents burned to the ground. Before that, it had been a nursing home where residents could stay if they wanted but had to pay for their keep from Social Security or other aid programs. It was abandoned in 1958 when it was condemned. In the 1930s, the Nicollet County Board decided to build County Road 4 through the old poor farm cemetery. They ordered workers to remove headstones and throw them in the woods. Only one resident’s body was recovered and brought to St. Peter for burial. It was the father of John A. Johnson, a three-term Minnesota governor. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 27


By John Cross


he opening of the fishing season in Minnesota is required by law to fall on the Saturday two weeks prior to the Memorial Day weekend. Through a quirk of the calendar, in most years, that special day coincides with yet another special May celebration — Mother’s Day. To assuage any bad feelings neglected mothers might harbor over sharing the limelight with leeches, worms and walleyes, they can fish without a license during the fishing opener weekend. Nevertheless, husbands and fathers are advised to proceed with caution in their attempt to balance domestic harmony with piscatorial pursuits. Otherwise, Fido might not be the only one in the dog house. M

28 • May 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

MANKATO MAGAZINE • May 2014 • 29

Day Trip Destinations: Canterbury Park

By Leticia Gonzales

Horse racing opens May 16 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. | Photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Off to the races


innesotans don’t have to bet their bottom dollar to attend the Triple Crown or the Kentucky Derby to see live, horse-racing action. Canterbury Park in Shakopee, which kicks off its 20th season of horse racing on May 16, is a sure draw. “Some people like it just to see the horses, because not everyone has a horse,” said Jay Dailey, real estate broker and auctioneer from Mankato who is prepping five race teams for Canterbury. “Some people like to go because it’s the thrill of a race. They can put $2 down and win their fortune maybe.” Dailey, 52, not only has a background in horseshoeing and training horses, he has 20 years experience judging race shows and rodeos. “The first time I ever went to a horse track was Arlington Park in Chicago; I was in grade school,” he said. “At that time, I already had horses and was showing them in 4H. I was impressed by all of the excitement and all of the people, and all of the things going on.” Dailey said he has been going to the Canterbury race track since its opening, sometimes as many as four times a week during the season. “There are a lot of days I go and I won’t even bet $2 on any race or any horses,” said Dailey. “I just go because I enjoy the 30 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

sport.” The excitement at Canterbury can be hard to resist. Although Vicky Yahnke and her husband, Chuck, haven’t entered their horses in a race at Canterbury Park in more than four years, the couple plans watch the live races a few times a month when the season runs from May 16 through Sept. 13. “I think we like to think of ourselves as kind of ambassadors for the racing industry because we truly enjoyed it and met great people, and had fun doing it,” said Vicky Yanhnke, who lives just outside of Le Sueur. Inspired by longtime horse trainer Bernell Rhone, Yanhnke said it was the breeding business that led her them to race horses. “We were one of the first owners there when Canterbury opened, so we got into it kind of early,” she said. That year the two attended a horse sale in Kentucky and returned to Minnesota with five pregnant mares. “We were excited about the fact that Minnesota was going to be in the horse-racing business,” she said. The Yahnkes are still connected to the breeding business. As caretakers for pregnant horses from out of state, Yahnke said mares born in Minnesota are eligible for Minnesota thoroughbred races, which are more restricted and result in

If you go What Canterbury Park When May 16-Sept. 13, Where 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee Admission General Admission: $6 Premium Day General Admission: $8 Kids 17 and younger admitted free General Parking: Free Valet Parking: $8 or $15 on premium days. More info

Photo courtesy of Todd Larkin

extra purse money and incentives. Horse owners from other states use Yahnke’s services in order to take advantage of the opportunity. “People are really excited about how the track is being run,” she said. “It has stirred up more interest in breeding again in Minnesota.” Jeff Maday, of Canterbury Park media relations, said the racing fan has a lot to look forward to this season. “I like to think there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day at the races,” Maday said. “One of the exciting things about horse racing is that anything can happen.” Canterbury offers various theme nights that attract a diverse group of people. From Buck Night on Thursdays where admission, soda and hot dogs are each $1, to Minnesota’s Biggest Happy Hour event on Fridays — there is something for everyone. “All-Star Saturdays feature our biggest promotional days and the best races,” Maday said. “Sunday is Family Day with free pony rides, face painters and a petting zoo.” Returning fans will also notice some upgrades from last season. “We expect the barn area to once again be at capacity, which is 1,600 horses,” Maday said. “The quality of the horses will improve as well, along with the increase in purses. The casual fan can expect many of the promotional days that have been popular in the past such as Extreme Race Day, Canterbury Uncorked and the July 3 Fireworks Spectacular.” Extreme Race Day, which features zebra, ostrich and camel races between the traditional horse races, is one of Canterbury’s biggest events. Last season the event set a park record when it attracted more than 20,000. Overall, last season the park received more than 6,500 visitors per day. “We try to find events that will be successful but that will also appeal to individuals that might not otherwise spend a day at the races,” said Maday. “Once we get them here we are confident they will enjoy the experience and we will have created a new fan. At the same time we need to continue to pay attention to our traditional guests and offer them the best racing available.” M

Valleyfair means fun for all


alleyfair amusement park in Shakopee is just a short two-mile drive from Canterbury Park, adding to a full weekend of fun. Featuring more than 75 rides and attractions — including eight rollercoasters — admission into Valleyfair also includes Soak City Waterpark, Planet Snoopy and live performances. Todd Larkin, promotions and communications manager, said Valleyfair is excited to debut an all-new family area named Route 76. “Inspired from the year Valleyfair opened in 1976, Route 76 will feature a new ride and three classic rides that debuted the first opening day,” Larkin said. “Flying up to 42 feet, Northern Lights will have everyone clinging to the handrails for the ultimate new family ride experience.” Updates have also been made to the Antique Autos and The Tilter and Scrambler attractions. Valleyfair also has a variety of different events and promotions for guests that visit the park this season. From May 24-26, any member of the military, active or retired, receives free admission into the park. Military personnel may purchase up to six discounted admission tickets for only $29.99, which is 30 percent off gate price through the entire season. Additional promotions and deals for admission tickets can be found online at “Valleyfair is for the entire family,” Larkin said. “From little ones to grandma and grandpa, we have something that will entertain everyone.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 31

Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

Nuts to winter! Let the growing begin


very year, I try to plant something new. This year, I’m planting peanuts. More about that in a moment. First, an overall look at the plans for this year’s garden. When moving day arrived in April, it was none too soon. “Moving day,” of course, refers to the day I can take my seedlings out of my basement and into my new greenhouse because the warmth has arrived. Last year, my neighbors Carol and Dale still had their hoop house up with the covering intact. Last winter did the plastic covering in, however, and that greenhouse is no longer in service. I offered them the use of my greenhouse this spring, so naturally I needed a larger one than the 6-by-6-by-6-foot house I used last year. That greenhouse and I are no longer friends anyway. Here’s the reason, and I’ll swear it’s true – that greenhouse threw a cinder block on my foot while I was trying to set up shelving. Or, maybe the cinder block jumped on my foot all on its own – I’m not real sure because it all happened so fast. But I’ve been pretty angry about it ever since. So the greenhouse I don’t get along with went to live with a new owner (I sold it). My new and improved greenhouse was home this year to all my baby plants, plus some flowers for Carol and Dale for the wedding they are hosting later this month for their granddaughter. This new greenhouse is great – I can take a nice, warm nap in it. Of course, I did that in the last one, too, but I was worried about evil cinder blocks attacking me while I snoozed. I always put at least three seeds in every cup I plant, with hopes that at least one will germinate. At least 98 percent of the time, all three germinate. So in late April, I haul my lawn chair into the greenhouse and start repotting. I always hope for a rain shower when I do that because it sounds so wonderful and is so easy to snooze. I put my plants in the greenhouse in mid-April, and re-pot them in late April. Roughing up the roots a bit stimulates the plants to grow a more vigorous root system and makes for a stronger plant in the garden. In a new red Solo cup, with more room for roots to expand, I’ve got a strong plant to set in the garden. My chickens outdid themselves in producing a nitrogenrich batch of manure for the garden last winter. Because it’s so “hot” with nitrogen, it’s important to make sure it’s not too thick in the garden. But what an excellent byproduct for the garden it is. Because I use bean straw for the bedding in their coop, I

32 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

don’t have to worry about, or fight, a crop of oats. There are no errant seeds in the bean straw. I still have the bales of oat straw at the edge of the garden from last year’s experiment with bale planting, but they will be easily moved. If not, I’ll be sure to not distribute it in the garden as organic matter, because it would only result in another crop of oats, which I do not intend to grow. Last winter was more harsh than a winter has a right to be in these parts. Too much cold Too much wind. Too much snow. The remote starter on my car died and I had to go out and physically start the car every morning. It was harsh. So when the seed catalogs arrived and one said peanuts would grow in zone 4, I bit. I bought some. Then Larry told me his family grew peanuts “all the time” when he was a lad. So I guess this is not going to be a new experience for Lar, but it will be for me. The seeds arrived after the really deep-freeze weather had passed, and they look for all the world like peanuts. I can’t wait until the middle of this month, after the fishing opener in Minnesota, when I set out my plants, sow my seeds and start my peanuts. Let the growing fun begin! M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 33

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

Trying hard to keep it civil F

or some time, Minnesota State University has been running a “civility campaign,” something that was apparently launched with the goal of encouraging an atmosphere of civility on the campus in particular and the world in general. Some of the suggestions geared toward making southern Minnesota a more civil place include: acknowledge others, think the best, avoid personal questions and be agreeable. There are a lot more suggestions, but those ideas seem to stick in my mind whenever I encounter a situation where being civil is highly preferable to simply being a creep. Acknowledging others can be a major hurdle for many people, especially those driving on local streets. Few things in life infuriate me more than being in traffic and having the driver to my left or right dart inches in front of my bumper without so much as a nod or a wave. Although why I would expect another driver to acknowledge that he had just cut me off is an obvious display of my lingering n a i ve t y. Everyone who has gotten their driver’s license has also learned how to perfect the tunnel vision that goes along with doing something asinine on the road. Said tunnel vision allows the driver to convince himself that if he doesn’t make eye contact with the person he nearly rammed into, the wronged driver might not notice how dangerously close she was to having to make the 34 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

dreaded, “Hello, State Farm?” call. Thinking the best is another lesson in civility that seems to be on life support in today’s society. Why would any of us want to think the best of our fellow human beings when thinking the worst— or at least the less savory — is so much more interesting? Years ago, we lived next door to a couple who never seemed to sleep at night. No matter what time we got up for a trip to the bathroom or a glass of water, their lights were burning. Of course, Mark and I assumed that they were doing something illegal, nefarious and extremely interesting that had to be done under the cloak of evening darkness. It turned out the husband worked the night shift and the wife kept the same hours so they could go to bed at the same time. That logical explanation took the wind out of our sails for days. While we weren’t exactly thinking the worst about those former neighbors, we weren’t thinking the best either. Avoiding personal questions, a wise move if e v e r there was one. While most adults know better than to ask what’s up with the sudden weight gain or wanting to know why on earth someone chose to wear green when it makes them look halfdead, there remains a fairly large segment of society that seems to have a distinct disconnect between appropriate and nonappropriate questions. Personally, I

believe that avoiding questions about a person’s appearance, spouse and offspring is a fairly safe bet. Other areas best avoided include the time honored no-no’s of sex, religion and politics. I would also toss in salaries, shoe sizes and taste in pizza toppings as well. Of course, this doesn’t leave a whole lot to talk about, but in my opinion it’s far better to engage in idle chitchat about the weather than make someone start to cry by asking how their son’s thesis is going. only to learn that said son has dropped out of college and society and is now spending all of his time sleeping when he’s not trying to break the highest score ever on his newest video game. Finally, there is be agreeable. This suggestion reminds me of the time when Mark and I were at a crowded gas station in Indiana, patiently waiting for the next available pump. A woman in a Honda Civic leaned out of her car and asked if she could go next as she was in a big hurry. Mark agreeably said, “Go ahead. We’re not in any rush.” The expression on the woman’s face changed from friendly to furious and she gave us a glare that should have taken years off of our lives. When she was done filling her car, she marched over to us and said, “I can take a lot of things but I can’t take sarcasm!” and then stormed off. Mark and I stared after her in shocked silence. “Did I sound sarcastic?” Mark asked. “No, you sounded agreeable,” I assured him. “Well,” he said as he drove up to the gas pump, “I won’t be making that mistake again.” To this day I don’t know if he made a mistake or was simply being civil. I only know that ever since then, when I go to gas stations my tunnel vision is always fully engaged


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

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 35

What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

Upscaling homemade food gifts


hen my kids were youngsters rampaging around the house, kicking soccer balls at the walls and fighting over the last piece of cake, my favorite saying was on a refrigerator magnet: “I love giving homemade gifts. Which one of the children would you like?” Now that they are old enough for me to regret my being such an awful parent, I am still struck by how deeply the urge remains to give homemade gifts. Are they evdidence of tender loving care, or do they merely scream “I am a cheapskate?” Depends on what they are of course. Going upscale definitely will make your recipients sit up and take notice. Scrap the crappy plaster handprints and macramé plant hangers and try some upscale foodie gifts like these:

Dark Chocolate Candy Bark Forget the cheap-o versions of almond bark out there: What people really crave is this over-the-top recipe with chopped-up candy bars. And since it’s made with dark chocolate, in my book it’s considered “health food.”

Flavored vodkas Flavored vodkas are all the rage these days. Making your own is incredibly easy, allowing you to look like a boozy gourmet with almost zero effort. It’s possible to infuse lots of flavors into the relative blandness of vodka: fruits, spices, herbs, vegetables and nuts. Just get a one-liter bottle, add the flavoring of your choice, and let it infuse for a couple of days before using. Strain to discard solids. It can sit at room temperature for up to a month. Tangerine: 2 strips of peel (with no white pith); Vanilla-Cardamom: 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed, plus 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise; Pine-Juniper: 3 spruce or pine sprigs, plus 5 juniper berries lightly crushed; Fennel-Lemon: 2 sprigs fennel fronds, plus 2 thin slices lemon; Celery-Bay Leaf: half-stalk celery, plus 2 celery leaves and 1 dried bay leaf; Coffee Bean-Hazelnut: 4 coffee beans, plus 2 tablespoons toasted chopped hazelnuts. 36 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

6 ounces chocolate-flavor candy coating, chopped (1 cup) 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (1 cup) 3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped 1 tablespoon shortening 2 cups assorted chocolate candy bars of your choice, chopped ½ cup salted peanuts, chopped Line a large baking sheet with heavy foil; grease foil. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl combine candy coating, chocolate and shortening. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir one cup of the assorted chopped candy bars and the peanuts into melted chocolate mixture. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread mixture into an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with the remaining one cup chopped candy bars; lightly press pieces into chocolate. Chill about 30 minutes or until firm. Use foil to lift candy out of pan. Using a sharp knife, cut candy into pieces. Layer pieces of candy bark between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Sarah Johnson is a cook, freelance writer and chocolate addict from North Mankato with three grown kids and a couple of mutts.

Bacon Jam For the ultimate homemade gift for the bacon aficionados in your life, bacon jam is the bomb. Slather it on hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, or use it to make the ultimate in breakfast sandwiches. Once you try it you’ll find dozens of ways to use it, including eating it right out of the jar in your weaker moments. 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces 2 cups finely chopped shallots (from 3 large or 8 small shallots) 4 small cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon) 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 1/2 cup bourbon 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/3 cup sherry vinegar 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar Cook bacon (in two batches) until slightly crisp and remove from pan, reserving browned bits and 1 tablespoon fat in pan. Add shallots and garlic to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until translucent , about five minutes. Add chili powder, ginger and mustard and cook, stirring, one minute. Increase heat to high; add bourbon and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add vinegar and brown sugar and return to a boil. Add reserved bacon; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until it has the consistency of a chunky jam. Refrigerate in an airtight container at least one hour and up to four weeks. And for any self-described rednecks out there who wouldn’t appreciate an upscale gift no matter what, “Hillbilly Potpourri” is a cute gift to include with a 12-pack of cheap beer. Combine the following items in a small bowl or basket: peanut shells, beer bottle caps, toothpicks and spent shotgun shells. Serves 4, high-falutin’ table décor included. M

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Your Health

By Tamar Haspel | Special To The Washington Post

Is organic food really better for your health?


rganic or conventional? It’s a choice many grocery shoppers are faced with, over and over. The price difference is easy to see; it’s right there on the product. The quality difference is much harder. Leave aside for the moment whether organic agriculture is better for the planet and whether organic livestock have better lives, although there’s a strong case for both of those arguments. Leave aside flavor, too, because it’s subjective and variable. What motivates many organic buyers, particularly the parents of small children, is health benefits, and there are two questions: Do organics do us more good (in the form of better nutrition), and do they do us less harm (in the form of fewer contaminants and pathogens)? Because the risks and the benefits vary by product — meat is different from produce — it’s important to look at each category separately. Here’s a rundown of the evidence on nutrition and contamination levels for organic and conventional products in five categories — milk, produce, meat, eggs and fish — to help you decide whether to buy organic or stick with conventional.

Milk Nutrition: Compared with conventional milk, organic milk has higher levels of omega-3 fats, which protect against heart disease and may decrease the risk of depression, stroke, cancer and other diseases, but the quantities are too small to be very meaningful. (It takes 11 quarts of organic milk to equal the omega-3s in four ounces of salmon.) Contamination: Neither organic nor conventional milk contains antibiotics. By law, every truckload of milk, organic and conventional, is tested for veterinary drugs, including antibiotics, by trained dairy workers. Any load that tests positive is pulled out of the food supply. In 2012, that was one in 6,000 loads. Organic cows aren’t given antibiotics, and conventional ones are given them only for illness, and their milk isn’t used until after a withdrawal period. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests for pesticide levels and has found them to be “very low.” The main culprit is DDE, a remnant of the agricultural pesticide DDT. DDT was banned years ago, but the USDA said it “is very persisten[t] and remains in many cropland soils. It is also in the body fat of all Americans and most farm animals and wildlife. Conventional and organic farmers can do little to avoid the DDE residues in milk. Over the next 30-50 years these residues will gradually decline below limits of detection.” Pasteurization fails some of the time, allowing milk contaminated with bacteria to get into the food supply, but there are no reports comparing illnesses caused by organic vs. conventional milk. Hormones: The issue with milk is that many 38 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

conventionally raised dairy cows, unlike organic ones, are injected with bovine growth hormone (BGH, the synthetic version of which is called either recombinant bovine growth hormone, rBGH, or recombinant bovine somatotropin, rBST) to increase their milk production. The problem isn’t the hormone itself — it’s unlikely to survive pasteurization or human digestion and, even if it did, its mechanism doesn’t work in humans — but rather a compound called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I). Both organic and conventional cows have IGF-I in their milk, but cows that get hormone treatment may have more of it. Humans also produce IGF-I, and a recent review of many studies concluded that milk drinkers generally have higher IGF-I levels. But it may not be because of IGF-I in milk. Eating animal and soy protein can also increase IGF-I levels in our bodies. It’s not the IGF-I in foods, but how the body responds to other compounds, that increases human levels. Some research has linked IGF-I to cancer. The American Cancer Society found that “some early studies found a relationship between blood levels of IGF-I and the development of prostate, breast, colorectal and other cancers, but later studies have failed to confirm these reports or have found weaker relationships.” The organization concluded in 2011 that “the evidence for potential harm to humans is inconclusive.” A 2009 FDA report says that IGF-I levels in rBGH milk are safe The use of rBGH has fueled concerns among some parents about giving milk to children, but the FDA report concluded that “consumption by infants and children of milk and edible products from rBGH-treated cows is safe.” Bottom line: Organic milk has higher omega-3 fat levels, but probably not enough to make a difference. Exposure to pesticides, contaminants or hormones is not a significant risk in either organic or conventional milk. Produce Nutrition: Many studies have compared the vitamins, minerals, macronutrients and other compounds in organic and conventional produce, and a 2012 review concluded that the results were all over the map. The one exception was that the phosphorus content of organic produce is higher, although the review, done by Stanford University scientists, calls that finding “not clinically significant.” Along with calcium, phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth. Contamination: There are two issues for foods that grow in the ground: pesticides and pathogens. There is widespread agreement that organic produce, while not pesticide-free, has lower residue levels and fewer pesticides. A study using USDA data found that 73 percent of conventional produce sampled had residue from at least one pesticide, compared with 23 percent of organic, though that study is more than 10 years old. There also isn’t agreement about whether that’s meaningful

for human consumption. Carl Winter, a toxicologist at the University of California at Davis, says that the Environmental Protection Agency has found that lifetime risk of adverse health effects due to low-level exposure to pesticide residue through consumption of produce is “far below even minimal health concerns, even over a lifetime.” Dana Barr, a research professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, has less faith in the EPA standards. She points to one particular pesticide class, organophosphates, and notes evidence — including a 2013 review she co-authored — correlating exposure to possible neurological problems such as ADHD and lower IQ in children, which she says the EPA standards don’t adequately consider. But another review last year by a different group of scientists found “the epidemiologic studies did not strongly implicate any particular pesticide as being causally related to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants and children.” As of December 2013, the position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was that high levels of organophosphate exposure were associated with some neurobehavioral problems in farm communities with exposure higher than that in the general population. The EPA expects to have a new assessment of organophosphates in 2016. In the meantime, the agency has determined that certain foods –- snap beans, watermelon, tomatoes and potatoes — are likely to have higher residues of the pesticide than other produce. If you’re pregnant or feeding small children, you may want to consider organic versions of those foods. As for pathogens, the 2012 Stanford review found that E. coli contamination is slightly more likely in organic than conventional produce. The best strategy to reduce risk from produce isn’t to buy either organic or conventional. Rather, it’s to cook your food. Bottom line: While there may be no significant nutritional difference between organic and conventional produce, organic does have lower levels of pesticide residue. However, there isn’t universal agreement on the risk those residues pose.

violations and a similar small number with residue within legal limits (mostly of arsenic and antibiotics). The bigger concern is pathogens. Studies of bacterial contamination levels of organic and conventional meat show widely varying results. These findings suggest that organic meat may be slightly more likely to be contaminated, possibly because no antibiotics are used. But conventional meat is more likely to be contaminated with antibioticresistant bacteria. The 2012 Stanford review found that slightly more organic chicken samples were contaminated with Campylobacter than conventional samples and that organic pork was more likely than conventional to harbor E. coli. But the risk in meat overall was essentially the same. And whether meat is conventional or organic, the solution is adequate cooking. Bottom line: There doesn’t seem to be much difference, health-wise, between organic or conventional meats. Grass-fed beef has a slight edge over grain-fed because of higher omega-3 levels, but the amounts are probably too small to affect human health. Eggs Nutrition: As with milk and meat, the omega-3 levels of eggs are affected by the hens’ diet and can be increased by pasturing or diet supplementation for either organic or conventional hens. Eggs high in omega-3s are generally labeled. Contaminants: There’s very little research on contaminants in eggs. The USDA’s 2011 National Residue Program tested 497 egg samples and found no residues of pesticides, contaminants or veterinary drugs, including antibiotics. This isn’t surprising because, according to Pat Curtis, a poultry scientist at Auburn University, laying hens aren’t routinely given antibiotics, and there is a mandated withdrawal period after they do get the drugs (to treat illness) before their eggs can be sold. The 2012 Stanford review concluded that there is “no difference” in contamination risk between conventional and organic eggs. Bottom line: There are no significant differences affecting health between organic and conventional eggs.


Meat Nutrition: As with milk, the main issue here is omega-3 fats. Some organic meat and poultry have more of them than conventional products do. The reason is diet: Animals that eat more grass have lower fat levels overall and higher omega-3 levels than animals fed more grain. Although measurements of omega-3 fats in beef vary, the numbers are low and substantially below what can be found in a serving of salmon. Contaminants: The USDA randomly tests carcasses for residues of pesticides, contaminants and veterinary drugs including antibiotics. In 2011, it screened for 128 chemicals, and 99 percent of the tested carcasses were free of all of them. It found a few with residue MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 39

Your Style

By Lindsey M. Roberts | Special To The Washington Post

Bring spring indoors with floral furniture and accessories


hen everything is coming up roses outside, it shouldn’t still feel like the dead of winter inside. With spring on our doorstep, we went searching for expert advice on decorating with poppies, magnolia branches, wisteria, roses and more in prints and patterns. “We love our gardens in Britain, our English classic country gardens, and the weather doesn’t always allow us to sit in them,” says Suzanne Imre, editor of the design magazine Livingetc. But what’s ephemeral in nature becomes enduring indoors. “Bringing them into the house means we can enjoy that country feel no matter what the weather is.” Imre reports that floral prints are being given a grittiness with bugs and weeds, and modernized through digital printing, oversize blooms, creative cropping, bold colors and, conversely, tone-on-tone colors. Plus, there’s a renewed interest in Britain’s storied archives of Liberty of London fabrics and botanical drawings. For Americans with modern tastes and aversions to feminine furnishings, designers David Mitchell and Celia Welch suggest adding a touch of softness. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy, during the first week of April, getting a big vase of flowers to bring home,” Mitchell says. “There’s a beauty about bringing warmth and nature into your house in the cold winter. A floral fabric would do the same thing.” • To warm up a modern interior with floral prints without going granny, Welch recommends concentrating your efforts on one statement. Try an accent wall of floral wallpaper, for example, or a bold floral print on a pillow or chair, as on the Lotus Blossom Wingback Chair ($1,398,

• “I think people shy away from florals because they’re kind of precious — but there’s a new age of florals,” Welch says. Try adding one floral item for some softness, such as this hand-beaded peacock-and-floral Cream Peacock Bench, a traditional piece updated with crisp teal, lime and fuchsia. It would add a flourish to an otherwise streamlined interior ($1,499, www.horchow. com). • To avoid seeming dated and stuffy, Imre suggests finding patterns that are gritty or unexpected (for instance, flowers that are realistic, bugs and all). She likes the “edgy” “Unlikely Garden Print” by Renee Garner ($30, “The coolest thing is, the flowers are actually weeds,” she says. • “Modern homes can look quite minimal and sleek and very restful on the eye, but sometimes they do need a little bit of personality and pattern, and that’s where florals can come in,” Imre says. For a fresh spring update that requires little commitment, there’s Rifle Paper Co.’s Botanical Coaster Set ($16, In peach, rose, vintage blue and peacock blue backgrounds, the set of eight pulp-board coasters features designs reminiscent of the folk art found on the narrow boats 40 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

that travel the English canals.

• Both Welch and Mitchell like using tone-on-tone floral patterns. “A lot of times you see two-tone florals and they’re black-and-white; they have this graphicness,” Mitchell says. But there’s a lot of beautiful florals that have a tone-on-tone effect” that aren’t black-and-white. For a dramatic statement, Welch likes the Charlottenberg Porcelain duvet cover from Designers Guild, a company that Imre also loves ($300-$325, www.designersguild. com). • Mixing floral prints can be tricky. “There’s a fine line between good and what starts to get a little crazy,” Welch says. “Sometimes we say, ‘Here’s the trend, and here’s what you can do, and here’s how to do it,’ but it’s really about what you can live with.” But Farrow & Ball, she says, always gets floral wallpaper right. She suggests the classic English pattern in the company’s Wisteria paper, drawn from 19th-century jacquards ($260 for a 10-meter roll, Imre is considering a similar monochrome wallpaper from Designers Guild for her bedroom. • Another way of modernizing a floral print, Imre says, is by finding one that zooms in on the flower, showing only parts. Also, “there’s a big trend at the moment in oversized florals,” she says. Vivienne Westwood, a British design icon, created a cropped, oversize Magnolia Ice Wool & Silk hand-knotted Tibetan rug for the Rug Company ($218 per square foot, www.therugcompany. com). It’s a show-stopping splurge. “I love the super scale of the flowers and the flash of green against the elegant cream,” Imre says. The rug design is also available with a black background (wool only) and available for custom orders. • After years of black-and-white photography dominating artwork in homes, Imre says we’re ready for something with more life. British designers, especially, are tapping into their rich history of botanical drawings for inspiration. C. Wonder’s gicleé Botanical Wall Art ($118, www. would lend a natural touch to a salon-style arrangement. • Thomas Paul’s Botanical Pillow gives a vintage drawing a modern twist. “I like the reference to Victorian botanical drawings reinterpreted in a digitally printed fabric,” Imre says. ($104, If a painterly, watercolor floral is more your thing, Imre says to find it in a digitally printed pattern for an update on tradition. “It’s still the techniques and fabrics that [the pattern] is presented on that will make it feel quite new.” • “Fresh flowers are my favorite way to go,” Welch says. She suggests buying lots of one flower, such as roses or

tulips, instead of a mixed arrangement. Four-packs of tulips will make “a large impact,” she says. To make the look even more contemporary, cut the flowers down to fit in a low vase, using stones to anchor the stems in place. For something that lasts a bit longer than a bouquet, Welch likes the Tulip Magnolia Branches from Terrain ($58, www.

Mankato Magazine

• Janus et Cie is a source that Welch turns to time and again for accent pieces that are beautiful but “unusual” • especially the company’s pots and vases. She likes the Ambition vases for its double dose of spring: They displays flowers in sculptural form on the outside, even they’re not holding live flowers on the inside ($84-$568, “If there’s a pretty masculine space and you want to soften it a little bit, this is a great way to do it,” she says. • For a delicate touch on a dresser, nightstand or end table, New Yorker John Derian’s decoupage is a must. Artisans take antique and vintage prints and affix them to handblown glass. The Papaver Pair tray ($145, www.johnderian. com) “showcases florals at their prettiest,” Imre says. “The glass emphasizes the delicate details of the blooms, and the colors are soft and feminine.” • Wisteria’s exotic bone-inlaid Jaipur Mirror in black “is modern, but it’s also traditional,” Mitchell says. “You could put it in an all-beige room and it would add edge to it.” As with fashion, it’s hard to go wrong with decorating in black and white • but if you already have a vibrant home, there’s no need to gild the lily. “You could put [the mirror] in a colorful room and make all your lampshades black, and that would look great, too,” Mitchell says ($499, also available in gray, www. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 41

Happy Hour

By Michelle Locke | Associated Press

The bitters truth: Bitters are booming


aking drinks without adding a dash or two of bitters is like cooking without seasoning. Rhubarb bitters? They’re out there. Macadamia nut, papaya bitters? Ditto. There even are chocolate bitters and one made from a singlemalt scotch. It’s a bitters boom. All bitters serve essentially the same purpose — to unify and highlight other ingredients, mostly in cocktails, but sometimes in food. They are made by distilling herbs, seeds, roots and other ingredients, and — true to their name — have a bitter or bittersweet taste and potent aroma. If you’re new to bitters, be aware that there are two types. Potable bitters — such as amaro, an herbal liqueur — can be drunk straight, often as a digestif at the end of a meal, or mixed in a drink. Campari falls into this category. Non-potable bitters — such as Angostura — are intense and work as an ingredient only. These usually are measured by the drop or dash. Adding bitters to a drink doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as taking a classic gin and tonic and adding a dash or two of grapefruit bitters to heighten the taste. M

Swedish Mule 2 ounces vodka 3- to 4-inch strip of orange zest 1 sprig fresh mint 2 dashes cardamom bitters Ice Ginger beer, cold In a tall glass, combine the vodka, orange zest, mint and cardamom bitters. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to bruise the zest and mint. Add ice, then top with ginger beer and stir gently to combine.

Dark Night Note: A fresh chili gives this scotch-based cocktail just a hint of bite. Select a chili according to your heat tolerance. A jalapeno would work for most people. But if you like it hot, try a habanero. 2 ounces scotch 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur 1/2 chili (ribs and seeds removed, if desired) 2 dashes chocolate bitters Amarena cherries, to garnish In a tumbler, combine the scotch, coffee liqueur, chili and chocolate bitters. Stir and muddle the chili with a spoon or muddler. Remove and discard the chili, then add a couple cherries. Dark Night, a drink made with Aztec chocolate bitters. | AP Photo/Matthew Mead

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 43

Coming Attractions: May 1 — MSU Performance Series: Ray Booneville 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -$12 general, $11 MSU students -507-389-5549 2 — Raw Fusion Fashion Show 8 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -$75 VIP, $50 general seated, $35 general standing 2 — The Woodwind Chamber Ensembles Spring Concert 7:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 2 & 3 — Carmina Burana performances 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday -Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $9 MSU students -- 507-389-5549 2-4 — Grace: The Gustavus Dance Company 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday -- Anderson Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus College -- $9 adults, $7 seniors and students, 1 free for Gustavus students and staff -507-933-7590 3 — Mankato Walk to Cure Arthritis 9 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. walk begins -- Myers Field House, Minnesota State Univeristy -651-229-5373

3 — Mankato Walk to Defeat ALS 8:30 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. walk begins -- Mankato West High School -1351 Riverfront Drive -- 612-672-0484 3 — 2014 Senior Honor Recital 1:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 4 — Blue Earth County Historical Society Victorian Tea Party 1-4 p.m. -- R. D. Hubbard House -606 Broad St., Mankato -- $15 adults, $10 BECHS members, $5 children ages 5-17, free children under 5 -507-345-5566 4 — Lucia Singers Spring Concert 3:30 p.m. -- Christ Chapel, Gustavus Adolphus College -- 507-933-7013 4 — Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Canción de las Américas (Songs of the Americas) 3 p.m. -- Mankato West High School -1351 Riverfront Drive -- $15.00 Bronze, $20.00 Silver, $25.00 Gold 4 — Spring Percussion Ensemble Concert 7:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 8 — Rachael Hanel and Andrea Scarpino reading 7:30 p.m. -- Arts Center of Saint Peter -- 315 S. Minnesota Ave., St. Peter -free -- 507-931-3630 8 — Taste of Home Cooking School 3 p.m. pre-show activities, 7 p.m. show starts -- Verizon Wireless Center -- $37 VIP, $25 premium seating, $15 general admission -- 10 — Gustavus Wind Orchestra Spring concert with Gustavus Choir and the Choir of Christ Chapel 1:30 p.m. -- Christ Chapel, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 11 — Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Music on the Hill: Imaginative Craftmanship 2 p.m. -- Good Councel Chapel -170 Good Councel Drive --

44 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

$12 single event, $40 seasons 13 — 50+ LifeStyle Expo 2 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -- free -- 16 — Hot Jazz for Decent People: The Blue Earth Collective 7 p.m. -- Arts Center of Saint Peter -315 S. Minnesota Ave. -- $10 -507-931-3630 17 — Spring Into Fun Closing Bash 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- free -- Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota -507-386-0279 17 — Christ Chapel Handbell Ensembles 7:30 p.m. -- Christ Chapel, Gustavus Adolphus College -- 507-933-7013 17 — The Vasa Wind Orchestra & Philharmonic Orchestra 1:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 18 — Brassworks! 3:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 26 — 10Kato Run 6:30-8 a.m. registration and packet pick up, 8:30 a.m. races start -Dickinson and Emerson Streets -$20 before May 15, $25 after May 15, $30 Race Day -- 507-829-6576 27-31 — Highland Summer Theatre: Rope 7:30 p.m. -- Andreas Theatre, Minnesota State University -- $16 adults, $14 seniors and youth under 16 -- 507-389-6661 31 — Gustavus Symphony Orchestra Finale Concert 8 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -507-933-7013 31 — MAD Girls Roller Derby Bout 7 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -$10 in advance, $12 at the door, $15 trackside (18+)

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507.469.8276 MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 45

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

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1522 N. Riverfront Dr. Mankato 388-3163 MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 47



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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

MVAC Warm your heart fundraiser


1. Steve Pierce was the lucky raffle winner of a wheelbarrow full of beverages. 2. The self-taught auctioneer scans the crowd for anyone hoping to make the winning bid on one of the many items up for grabs. 3. Tables were full of friends having a great time sampling soups, listening to music and participating in the auction. 4. Song Blast, based in the Twin Cities, brought energy to the event with their dueling guitar act. 5. A group of friends takes a moment from enjoying the live music to pose for a photo. 6. From left, Jackie Woodwick and Sheila Ous enjoy warm soup and good company during the fundraiser. 7. Chris Christie (center) was all smiles as she celebrates with her friends after making the winning bid on an African Safari.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 49

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix 1

C & N Dart Tournament 1. Team Heimey’s Darts members (left to right) Jeremy Beilke, Kaci Ness, Brenda Mather, and Jim Sinz. 2. Buster’s Brew Crew members (left to right) Sandy Nelson, Troy Stoltzman, Sharon Duenes, and Ricky Paz. 3. The Eagle’s Nest Struggle Bus Team. 4. Team Vesta Liquor members (left to right) Tony and Sarah Walberg and Jensine and Neil Cole. 5. Rod and Rhonda Barr are half of the team Buster’s Barr None.





50 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

1. MacKenzie Robbs, 4, and Julianna Robbs, 5, hope for the candy flying through the sky to land in their outstretched hands. 2. From left: Nora Whipps, 6, Addison Landsom, 7, Lola Pell, 7, Trista Landsom, 7, Jaiden Landsom, 10, and Samantha Pell, 10, get comfortable in a prime viewing spot just befor the start of the parade. 3. Jamie Connor holds his son, Drew, who participated in the parade, watch the remainder of the floats go by. 4. The Reds baseball team piles as many members into a truck as possible as the group hands out candy during the parade. 5. The candidates for Miss Shamrock wave elegantly to the crowd in downtown St. Peter. 6. The St. Peter Crusaders band brought up the rear of the parade, playing Irish jigs and taking musical requests from the audience.

ST. Patrick’s Day Parade 1

2 3




MANKATO MAGAZINE • may 2014 • 51




By Pete Steiner

Put on the coffee: Radio recollections


ummaging through old files and piles. Again. Jeanne continues reminding me, throw away more stuff, so the kids won’t have to, eventually. I get started, and then come across something that stops me in my tracks. A postcard sent me when I was a country DJ at KYSM, back in May of 1978. It reads, “Put on the coffee pot, I’ll be listenin.’” It was signed by Ruby Wilder, widow of legendary country personality Hiram Higsby. Hiram’s 50-year media career began in high school, with stops along the way at some of America’s greatest stations, like WLS, KMOX and KMOA. The last decade of his life and career he spent at KDHL in Faribault. Hiram, the folksy personality with a million stories, would sign off nightly, saying, “Put the coffee pot on Ruby, I’m comin’ home!” Thus I got chills when Ruby sent me that card. It was three years after Hiram’s death, and … no, it couldn’t be me carrying on the tradition, could it? I’ll never make the Country DJ Hall of Fame, as Hiram did, posthumously in 1995. Still, just to be mentioned in that company ... ••••


Some called Hiram Higsby “The Hillbilly Hobbs.” Lo and behold, in that same file drawer I was cleaning out, there was an article I had saved about the one and only Franklin Hobbs. For decades, the velvet-voiced Hobbs had comforted tens of thousands of listeners across the country through the nighttime hours. His rich tones booming out over the 50,000-watt, clear-channel WCCOAM, people 10 or 1,000 miles away would hear him say, “This is Hobbs …,” and he’d pitch some product and then segue into a song by Peggy Lee, or maybe some soft jazz. In our small west Mankato house, I could hear my parents’ bedroom radio through the walls as I was drifting asleep around 10:30. Even though Hobbs’ music might not have been my choice, there was such comfort in that voice every night. So smooth, so soothing, so convincing. Hobbs left ‘CCO in 1981, the first of many of their legendary announcers to either leave, retire or be fired. Many of us veteran Mankato personalities tried to model our own style after Hobbs or Steve Cannon or Howard Viken, giants who made 830 the dominant radio player in the state, the one every other station had to compete against — until they killed the golden goose around 2000, trying to force new wine into old wineskins. Radio, like all media, was evolving. There were more choices, there was increasing localism and narrow-casting. Tom Barnard at KQRS gave ‘CCO a taste of its own folksy medicine and carved out a large slice of audience. And some dumb decisions by the CBS bosses in New York, like letting the Twins and Gopher sports get away, didn’t help.

Speaking of narrow-casting, back to Hiram Higsby. Here in the Northland in the 1970s, country music was still mostly for a niche audience. Hiram was country, as Barbara Mandrell put it, “when country wasn’t cool.” Before Garth Brooks. Before a nice tush and being able to carry a tune were all you needed to be a star. When country singers needed to have some true grit. If you went to hear Merle Haggard here at Riverfront Park last summer, you know what I mean. Oh, Merle drove the women crazy with his looks as well as his lilting voice back when he was younger. But when he sings about being in prison or being really down and out, well, you know he’s actually lived that. I can imagine ol’ Hiram now, spinning his tales in Hillbilly Heaven, sittin’ around drinking a pot of coffee with Hank Williams and George Jones and Tammy Wynette and Waylon Jennings. OK, so maybe it’s not coffee that George and Waylon and Hank are drinkin’….

52 • may 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

•••• This article didn’t unfold quite the way I originally imagined it, but that’s how life is. I haven’t written my radio novel yet, but I have plenty more radio tales. If you would be willing to read them, if they let me write them, I could share more down the line. Let me know at M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

Katomag 5 14  

People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley

Katomag 5 14  

People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley