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GET YOUR GEEK ON!

Welcome to the worlds of cosplay, Dungeons & Dragons and comic books!

The STATE OF THE ARTS, examined over beers Time to COME CLEAN Get to know BETTY & OCHO Casey Marie APRIL 2019

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GOLFERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD COME TO CHALLENGE THE JUDGE and the two other golf courses in Prattville at RTJ Capitol Hill. Bring your clubs and come take on Judge hole number 1, voted the favorite hole on the Trail. Complete your day in luxury at the Marriott and enjoy dining, firepits and guest rooms overlooking the Senator golf course. With the Marriott’s 20,000 square feet of meeting space, 96 guest rooms and luxurious Presidential Cottage combined with three world-class golf courses, business and pleasure can definitely interact in Prattville.

THE ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL AT CAPITOL HILL offers three magnificent 18-hole championship golf courses. The Marriott Prattville is part of the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Visit www.rtjgolf.com or call 800.949.4444 to learn more. 2 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


FEATURE S APRIL 2019 Volume 14, Issue 4

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State of the ARTS We figured that, to get to the bottom of how supportive and arts-friendly Mankato really is, we’d need to give some of art’s major local players a beer (or two.) It worked. They dished. Check it out.

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In defense of the dork arts Geek culture has become cool. Maybe it always was cool. In either case, we caught up with some geek culture participants to find out why they love to dork.

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Come clean It’s that time of year, you guys: time to clean! But listen, spring cleaning can free your mind, cleanse your soul and give you the launching pad your spring vibe deserves.

ABOUT THE COVER Cosply artist Casey Marie shows us her best Wonder Woman, photographed heroically by Pat Christman.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 3


DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 Faces & Places 12 This Day in History 13 Avant Guardians Mary Solberg

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14 Beyond the Margin The Big Melt 16 Familiar Faces Betty and Ocho 34 Day Trip Destinations St. Paul art crawl

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36 Wine French sparkling wine is not

just Champagne

39 Beer Brewing up a break 40 That’s Life Adventures with Psychic Suzanne 42 Garden Chat Let’s talk radishes

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44 Your Style A green ‘go bag’ 46 Coming Attractions 48 From This Valley Dewey Mettler

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Coming in May The wonderful world of pets!


SURROUNDED BY HISTORY A NIGHT AT THE SPEAKEASY

A NIGHT OF FUNDRAISING, DINNER & JAZZ Friday, April 26, 2019 6pm: Social Hour | 7pm: Dinner The Capitol Room | 419 S Minnesota Street, St. Peter

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BlueEarthCountyHistory.com/Speakeasy

507.345.5566 MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 5


FROM THE ASSOCIATE EDITOR By Robb Murray APRIL 2019 • VOLUME 14, ISSUE 4 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Amanda Dyslin Bert Mattson Diana Rojo-Garcia James Figy Jean Lundquist Jessica Server Leigh Pomeroy Nell Musolf Pete Steiner

PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer

PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Danny Creel SALES Joan Streit Jordan Greer-Friesz Josh Zimmerman Marianne Carlson Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR

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 Robb Murray at 344-6386, or e-mail rmurray@mankatofreepress.com. For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail advertising@mankatofreepress.com.

6 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

The Artist, the Dork and the Maid

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hen I came up with the idea for a Mankato Magazine feature on “arts icons” in Mankato, I envisioned sitting down, one on one, with great painters, musicians and writers and having deep, meaningful conversations about art and what makes them tick as artists. Then I got a better idea: What if we got them all together, threw a few beers at them and turned on a tape recorder while they discussed, as I billed it, the “state of the arts in Mankato”? How cool would that be? Turns out that was way cooler than my original idea. So this month in Mankato Magazine we’re bringing you a lengthy, probing, deep dive into the minds of a few of the major players in southern Minnesota’s arts scene. As the moderator of that discussion (and the guy who had to sift through 90 minutes of audio) I can attest that the 2,000-word article inside this issue is merely the highlights. There was so much good conversation that night that I actually felt bad knowing I’d never to able to include all the good stuff. Hopefully, though, what we were able to publish will be enough to show that — not that anyone needed convincing — southern Minnesota is truly a thriving hub of creativity, a place where creatives are supported, and no longer just the town where Minnesota State University happens to be; the community itself is buzzing with artistic life throughout the year, in every corner, from people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. You’ll leave this discussion confident that everything is going well for Mankato from an arts perspective.

Elsewhere in Mankato Magazine … n Geeks are everywhere! Diana Rojo-Garcia, for her last piece written for us, gets down to dork level, literally. She spent an afternoon at the Dork Den playing Dungeons & Dragons, perhaps the OG Geek outlet. Her inaugural stroll through that world is an entertaining one. But she didn’t stop there. She also sat down with a comic book collector to get to the bottom of one man’s obsession. Finally, she visited with a cosplay artist. Actually, the photos we got of cosplayer Casey Marie were so good we had to bump the arts people off the cover for one of them. We think you’ll agree with our choice. (Thanks for all your hard work, Diana!) n Time to come clean! It’s springtime in Minnesota and that, of course, means SPRING CLEANING! Which sucks. And we completely agree that no one really likes doing it. So we sought out the advice of a few professionals to get you motivated to kick butt on those cleaning chores. So read! And clean! n Betty & Ocho Our Familiar Faces feature introduces you to the gurus of open mic nights across town, Betty Harsma and Dave O’Connell (AKA “Ocho.”) It takes a lot to get up in front of a crowd and perform. Luckily for Mankatoarea amateurs, a kindly and encouraging pair are ready to ease them into performing live.

Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6386 or rmurray@ mankatofreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freepressRobb.


OPHTHALMOLOGY ASSOCIATES & LASIK CENTER WOULD LIKE TO ANNOUNCE TWO NEW DOCTORS TO START AUGUST OF 2019. Dr. Justin Kuiper will be a comprehensive Ophthalmologist in addition to Dr. Birkholz offering state-of-the-art LASIK procedure to the immediate area - why travel, when you can have it right here, at home! Dr. Justin Kuiper grew up in northwest Iowa. He attended Simpson College in lndianola, Iowa, then earned his medical degree at the University of Iowa. He then completed a transitional year internship at Unity Point Health in Des Moines, Iowa, before moving to Columbus, Ohio, for ophthalmology training at The Ohio State University. He will finish his residency in June 2019 and plans to join Ophthalmology Associates on August 5, 2019. Dr. Kuiper specializes in comprehensive ophthalmology, with interests in cataract and refractive surgery, glaucoma evaluation and management, laser treatment for glaucoma and retina problems, medical retina management including intraocular injections, and functional eyelid surgery. Dr. Nathan Carpenter will be the area’s ONLY pediatric ophthalmologist seeing children of all ages. Dr. Nathan Carpenter was born, raised and educated in the legendary state of North Dakota. He earned his medical degree from the University of North Dakota in 2014 before completing a one year internship at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND. He then set off for Cleveland, OH, to complete his ophthalmology residency at Case Western Reserve University, which he completed in 2018. After receiving his comprehensive ophthalmology training, he elected to train one more year in a fellowship of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wl. With family concentrated in North Dakota and Minnesota, he and his wife decided to make their forever home right here, in southern Minnesota. He will join Ophthalmology Associates on August 19, 2019.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 7


FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

JOBS 2019

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The Job’s Daughters Dance was held Jan. 19 in Mankato. The annual tradition requires young women to ask a date to accompany them to the dance. 1. Emma Moffitt and Danny Johnson pose for a photo at the photo booth. 2. “Sound Waves” DJ Phil Korbel fills the air with music. 3. Students crowd the dance floor. 4. Students dance to the music. 5. A group poses for a photo during the dance. 6. Colored spotlights race across the dancing crowd.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Twins Caravan

Each winter members of the Minnesota Twins travel the state to drum up support for the upcoming baseball season. 1. Carlie Wendinger accepts a check on behalf of The Mankato Peppers. 2. Kris Atteberry, radio broadcaster, announces players and managers as the enter the event. 3. Twins players and managers participate in a Q&A session with fans. 1 4. Twins ace José Berríos speaks to the crowd. 5. New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli introduces himself to the fans. 6. Mankato Peppers and Mankato Royals players set up an information booth at the event. 7. Twins General Manager Thad Levine talks about the 2019 season. 8. T.C. Bear helps get fans ready for the upcoming season.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

United Way Men’s Event 1

This annual event raises money for the United Way and features a well-known keynote speaker. This year’s speaker was Olympic gold medalist John Landsteiner, who competes in curling.

1. MTU Onsite Energy was the event’s presenting sponsor. 2. Olympic gold-medalist John Landsteiner was the event’s key speaker. 3. John Landsteiner giving a curling demonstration. 4. John Daley looking over the silent auction items. 5. Dan Lee trying out the curling lane. 6. he event was held at the kato ballroom and featured a curling lane this year. 7. Andy Bobrytzke getting his photo taken with John Landsteiner.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

GMG Annual Meeting 2019

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Greater Mankato Growth’s annual meeting is time where GMG celebrates the Mankato/North Mankato region and its accomplishments.

1. Gary Koch speaks after receiving the GreenSeam Volunteer of the Year Award. 2. GMG Members were invited to leave a note for Jonathan and Ginger Zierdt (Jonathan is in hospice care with cancer). 3. Left to right) Patrick Baker and Bob Hoffman pose for a photo with Ron Vetter and his award for his work with GMG. 4. A group socializes before the meeting begins. 5. Guests were provided a 2 fine dining experience. 6. Patrick Baker starts off the meeting. 7. (Left to right) Ron Vetter, Trudie Gustafson, Julia Ketcham Corbett and Todd Loosbrock close the meeting by talking about how GMG has grown.

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Your Printing Solutions Company Children’s Books, Coffee Table Books, Brochures, Annual Reports, Catalogs, Magazines, Posters, Yearbooks, and MORE!

THIS DAY IN HISTORY Compiled by Jean Lundquist

Flood news around Mankato Tuesday, April 17, 1951 n $24,000 Spent by Red Cross Disaster officials with the Red Cross reported they had helped more than 700 families recovering from the devastating flood, and in doing so had already spent $24,000. The money was spent providing food and shelter. Many victims of the flood had gone out of town, but as they returned the Red Cross was struggling to get them all taken care of. Families were living together in crowded spaces, and more help was needed. n Kasota women plan flood relief drive A clothing drive was planned to help North Mankato victims of the flood by the women of Kasota. A truck was provided to pick up clothing from local residents if needed. Homemade pie and coffee would be for sale at the Kasota Village Hall, with proceeds going to the Mankato Salvation Army. n Tips given on renovation Caroline Frederickson, home demonstration agent in Blue Earth County, recommended the following for repairing wood floors: for oak floors, dry completely and relay any warped boards. Sand them and use filler. For fir floors, the filler may be skipped. Don’t offer the governor a beer MSU Dorm Drinkers Beware Wednesday, April 13, 1977 In 1977, Minnesota residents could legally drink at age 18 — but not in state university dorms, according to state law. Gov. Rudy Perpich met with students who wanted individual schools to regulate liquor on campuses, and hoped the liquor ban could be eased. He also met with students who wanted the ban enforced. He issued a statement warning Mankato State University he was likely to visit the campus unexpectedly because students told him the ban was not being enforced. He then took the students on a tour of a Twin Cities alcoholism treatment facility to let them visit with residents there who “encouraged the students to forget about boozing in their dorm rooms.” Bill provides tuition refund to T.C. draftees Friday, April 11, 1941 Mankato state senator Val Imm sponsored a bill to return unused tuition funds to young men when they were called up to service in the war. The bill applied to all University of Minnesota students and to all students at the state teachers colleges. Both houses passed the bill, and it was awaiting the governor’s signature.

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Boy, 13, admits beating up 3 other youngsters Saturday, April 14, 1960 A young hooligan with previous police contacts admitted to police that he had beaten up younger children in the past few weeks around Mankato. The first boy, 10 years old, was walking home from church on Baker Avenue when he was stopped and beaten up for no reason. The second 10-year-old boy was riding his bike in front of Mahowald’s Hardware Store on north Front Street, again, for no known reason. The third assault occurred on Jackson Street, where the boy demanded 50 cents from his victim. The victim refused, and the older boy beat him up before running away. None of the victims needed medical attention.


AVANT GUARDIANS By Leticia Gonzales

Heart of (stained) glass Mary Solberg channels her passion for beauty into her art

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ary Solberg, a Professor Emerita of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College, discovered her skills as a stained-glass artist on a whim when she came across Henderson Classical Glass, a stained-glass studio and shop, in Henderson. “The front of the store was filled with beautiful glass objects of all kinds that were for sale,” said Solberg. “In the back was a workshop. A sign on the wall advertised Saturday morning and Tuesday evening classes.” Solberg signed up for six Saturday lessons to learn the basics of stained glass making from shop owner Dee Thomas, and created her first piece. “No one could have been more surprised than I was to discover myself as an artist,” Solberg expressed. “I have been ‘in school’ — as a student or a teacher — more than half my life, in a variety of disciplines, but I never received training in art beyond that six-week stained-glass class I took from Dee Thomas more than 10 years ago.” With an undergrad degree in U.S. history, a master’s in Social Work and a Ph.D. in theology, Solberg taught religion at Gustavus for nearly 20 years before retiring in 2015. However, other than the glass-making lessons in Henderson, she has had no training in the art field. “Most of my ‘training or schooling’ in art, as well as outside that field, has accrued through lived experience,” shared Solberg. “Starting when I was a child, I was privileged to travel to and live in many fascinating places — among them Germany, Mexico, and El Salvador, as well as New York, Chicago, and St. Paul — and to meet many interesting people. These experiences have always challenged and expanded my perspective about almost everything, including beauty and art. I’ve also been blessed with an active curiosity and interest in a

host of subjects, from ancient Egypt to astrophysics.” It was these experiences that helped shape Solberg’s interest in stained glass. After her six initial lessons at Henderson Stained Glass, she continued to hone her skills every Saturday beyond until she decided to set up a small workshop in the basement of her St. Peter home. “Having seen a lot of stained glass in churches in this country and in Europe, I’ve always thought it beautiful,” she said. “But it had simply never occurred to me that I might be able to create a piece of stained glass art.” While Solberg’s inspiration for her work can come from any direction, it all starts with the glass itself. “Almost all of it is so very beautiful, in its colors and hues, of course, but also in its textures and variations,” she said. “I sometimes purchase a piece of art glass without knowing specifically what I’ll use it for, just because it’s so beautiful to me.” What started off as a “once-a-week avocation or hobby,” has now become a passion for Solberg. Whether it’s the color and texture found across the landscapes of Minnesota or in Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico Ghost Ranch, Solberg’s work often displays themes such as architectural angles, abstract images from the imagination, or even commemorations of people or activities important to her clients. “I signed up for the classes because I thought I might enjoy trying it,” explained Solberg. “When I started cutting and foiling and soldering stained glass, I discovered that I was an artist. My guess is, there are others like me—artists who just haven’t found their medium yet.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 13


BEYOND THE MARGIN By Joe Spear

Observations on

SNOWMELT, ROOF RAKES and FOOD TRUCKS

T

he change of seasons keeps us out of a psychological rut in Minnesota. We can thank warming temperatures and the meteorological occurrence of snowmelt for this. This event should not be underappreciated or underestimated. We have a record amount of snow to melt this spring. Depending on which meteorologist you believe our snowmelt could be from 70 to 90 inches this year, far above the normal 30 inches. They’re already talking lots of flooding depending on how fast the snow melts, and how saturated the ground is and how fast it thaws. The snowmelt in northern Alaska has moved up on the calendar by about eight days since the 1960s, according to the fine folks who develop Wikipedia articles. Less snow and warmer temperatures are cited as reasons. Some of the highest peaks in the Alpines in Europe are now snow free. There’s a certain tension around the idea of snowmelt. While the new artificial, super tough turf of Franklin Rogers Park awaits its new test of March baseball, the pickup trucks remain steadfast in the parking lot of the Mankato Curling Club just over the center field fence. 14 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

They’re white and big like World War II aircraft carriers, and their owners are unwilling to cede their winter pastime just yet. This is likely due to the competing energy fluxes involved in snowmelt. According to Wikipedia: “These fluxes can act in opposing directions, that is either delivering heat to or removing heat from the snowpack.” And snowmelt is a good time for commerce. Car washes are offering volume discounts. It’s been said people in Minnesota take more hot showers than most to remind them of what warmth is like on the body. We also bring our trucks and cars to the wash more often because it reminds us what a clean vehicle looks like. These are therapies not to be dismissed easily. The bars get busier around snowmelt. There’s more to toast as spring arrives and the darkness is lifted by daylight saving time. People in bars seem happier with a March thaw and watching high school hockey and basketball tournaments. The tournaments get us through to St. Patrick’s Day.


That’s also something to look forward to in spring. It’s a great day for the Irish and others. And the green beer helps us remember we’re glad we don’t let immigrants impose their traditions or religion on us. And this year has been very good for snowmobile and snowblower sales. The stores ran out of shovels and roof rakes. The roof rake was developed with bit of ingenuity and I bet a few beers. You don’t use it much, but it can be a redeeming force in the winter. Scott E. Goodnough of Minneapolis and Thomas F. Moren of White Bear Lake hold the patent for the roof rake. It was approved in November of 1995, about four years after the snowiest month in Minnesota history — November 1991. The men captured the key to this invention in one sentence of their several thousand word patent application. “A handle assembly is affixed to the snow moving member and is sufficiently long to extend outwardly past the eaves of the roof when the snow moving member is placed on the roof in the first position to allow a user who is not located on the roof to pull the snow moving member towards the eaves of the roof.” (Emphasis added.) And it’s been a good winter for guys who buy large pickup trucks and attach large locally-made Hiniker plows to them and attack winter in all manner of being. If winter has to be miserable, it’s good it can boost local economic development. Flood insurance is likely to be in demand. Though it’s good to know our cities, mostly Mankato and MnDOT built up Highway 169 after a tardy notice from the feds that it needed to be higher to protect against flood. I wish I had been a fly on the wall when the Army Corps of Engineers discovered this fact. “Did you know Highway 169 near Mankato is too low. It’s in the floodplain.” “You mean the part they just rebuilt for millions of dollars a couple years ago?” “Yeah. That one.” And the city did what they always do when they didn’t plan an expense: Ask someone else to pay. That didn’t work on North Mankato as they didn’t have a lot of extra money either. So they did what they always

do when multiple cities are out of money. They asked the state, and the Legislature came through. Who wouldn’t be for protecting a city from a flood or homeowners from spending $500 a year on flood insurance. And The Circle Inn would have felt that. So the Circle, the Nakato and Spinners can thank their government for protecting against the flood and keeping the demand for local beverages strong. There is much anticipation with snowmelt. The food trucks are revving their engines and stoking their grills to engage in a new food truck court in Old Town, and others at Mankato Brewery and Chankaska Winery. Mobile-Cuisine.com reports food trucks got their beginning in 1691 in America’s New Amsterdam, which was to become New York City. In 1866 Charles Goodnight invested in the “Chuck Wagon” to serve cattlemen and wagon trains settling the West.

In 1894 sausage wagons were set up to serve students and Yale and Harvard, presumably after a night of drinking tea or some other beverage. And in 1936 Oscar Mayer rolled out the first “Weiner Mobile” to sell hotdogs on the street. Roach coaches became popular food trucks at construction sites in the 1960s. And by June 2014, the National Food Truck Association was formed. It’s an ancient concept that’s coming back and provides a connection to all of us that’s important. People who make and sell food and drink at reasonable prices are friends. So as we spring forward, we lose an hour of sleep but we gain clean vehicles, March baseball, food cooked outdoors and snowmelt. Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear. MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 15


Familiar Faces

Meet Betty and Ocho — Mankato’s open mic night gurus F

Photos by Jackson Forderer

Name:

Dave O’Connell and Betty Harsma City of residence: Mankato

Education: Ocho (real name Dave O’Connell), MS in Mental Health Counseling; Betty Harsma, PhD in Education Brief work history:

Ocho, Mental health therapist 2004-2009, self-employed entertainer 2009-2019. Betty, World Languages Faculty 2010-2016, Self-employed/ Student 2016-2018, Instructional Designer 2018-present

16 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

ew things are as unapologetically “local” than an open mic night. It’s your chance to get to know the unknown, budding, nascent musicians in your community a few songs at a time in a friendly coffee shop or tavern. But for an open mic night to be successful, you need a confident and charismatic personality that can stoke encouragement and put nervous newbies at ease. Luckily in Mankato, we’ve got two such personalities. Meet Dave O’Connell and Betty Harsma, the duo more commonly known as Betty and Ocho. The pair can be seen at various venues around town either performing or setting the mood and tone for others to perform. They are Mankato’s open mic night gurus. MANKATO MAGAZINE: How did you meet? Betty and Ocho: Betty first saw Ocho on stage at the Coffee Hag in 2007. We met at that show and became friends shortly after. Betty started taking guitar lessons from Ocho in 2009. He saw her on stage at a Coffee Hag open mic later that year and asked her to start playing with him. We’ve been performing as a duo since 2010. MM: How did you start doing open mic nights? O: My first time on stage as a solo performer was at open mic at Smiley’s in New Ulm in 1999. I started playing open mics regularly in college from 2000-2004. There were four in Mankato at the time: What’s Up Lounge, Coffee Hag, Choppers and The Albatross (now closed). I hosted open mic at The Coffee Hag, a job I took over from Jenn Melby, the current owner who was then an employee there. When I left for grad school in 2004, I ended up hosting an open mic in Ashland, OR, at a production studio called The Mobius. When I returned to Mankato in 2009, I was asked to host open mic at Professor’s Music and Tobacco Lounge and later at Carbone’s Pizza. When those places closed, I was approached by an employee of Savoy about bringing the open mic to their venue. Around that time (October 2010) Betty and I went out for lunch at Pub 500 and were approached by the manager about hosting open mic there. Pub 500 open


mic continues to this day, every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to midnight. After Savoy closed, I began open mic at Red Rocks in February 2018. That open mic is also ongoing, 9 p.m. to midnight every Thursday night. B: I got my start performing covers and my own music at the Coffee Hag open mic. It was a venue and a place to build up my confidence, repertoire and skills for playing full shows and booking gigs. When Ocho and I were asked to host an open mic at Pub 500, I couldn’t think of a better to way to support the Mankato music community than giving other folks the fun, sense of community and performing/practice opportunity that is open mic! MM: What is your most memorable instance doing open mics? O: One of the things I’m most proud of is performers using open mic to launch a larger-scale music career. The Last Revel and Kind Country both started at my open mics. Now they are both playing the festival circuit and touring regionally. Useful Jenkins and Professor Fresh both started at the same open mics that I played at in college. It’s fertile ground for lasting talent. I also enjoy seeing unexpected collaborations between performers. Just two weeks ago we ended with a freestyle rap cypher with a rock band backing up the artists. None of the people on stage were planning on doing that, and some of them had never been on stage before. But it was a great performance. The audience was into it and the performers had a great time. It wasn’t planned out at all; it just happened organically at the end of the night. B: I second what Ocho said. Some of the other fun moments have been when someone new gets on stage for the first time, it is always something special to be able to cheer someone on and a lot of times they just blow you away with how awesome it is! MM: What are your favorite songs to perform together? O: I like playing Betty’s original songs. She writes straight from the heart, which is not my style at all. So I appreciate being able to collaborate on songs like that. B: I like playing Ocho’s songs. The themes are often off the beaten path, the structures and melodies are fun and unique. It’s really fun to explore music in these new ways with him.

O: I’m focusing on my one-man band project where I play a lot of instruments at once. I’m going to release all of those recordings as a series of videos on my youtube channel youtube.com/users/ ochotunes B : M y s o n g w r i t i n g i s m o re spontaneous and if inspiration strikes, I write! But I do plan to write some new music and hope to do some more writing with Ocho on some stuff. We did some collaboration on my 2018 album “Move. Be. Shine.” on instrumentation and arrangement and I would love to do more of that.

MM: What about individually? O: In addition to originals, I like to play cheesy covers, sing-alongs and novelty music. I’m also in a Nirvana Tribute band (Near-vana), so I play a lot of that music. Betty and I also play in an Irish band, “David and the Clan O’Connell,” which features Irish drinking songs, ballads and sea shanties. B: I like a ton of different kind of music, but maybe have a special place in my heart for over the top 2000s pop and soulful female-lead jams. MM: Besides open mic nights, what else do you guys do? O: I perform solo, with Betty and Ocho, with Near-vana and with The League and with other bands. DJ weddings and Karaoke, host Acoustic Showcase at Buster’s Second Friday of each month, teach guitar and drum lessons, record music in my home studio, write music and lyrics, run sound for bands. For hobbies, I like hiking, bicycling and cooking. B: I teach yoga at Sun Moon Yoga in the Union Market on Front Street, you can find me from time to time teaching conditioning and contemporary dance at Satori Violet Belly Dance and everywhere, anytime on flyfusiondance.com MM: Both of you have released music in the past years. Will there be any new music recorded for the 2019 year?

MM: What is your favorite part about Mankato’s local music scene? O: I like how the performers support one another and come to each other’s shows. They listen to each other’s recordings and interact with each other online. It’s a welcome change from the West Coast. When I lived out there, I saw a lot of egoism and arrogance. B: Ditto to what Ocho said. The community here is off the charts. It crosses genres and generations. The support in the area among musicians and for original works is awesome. MM: Tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you. O: I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland. I have never been there, but I am legally a citizen. B: I am bilingual in Spanish and English. I’ve traveled and studied Spanish on three continents.

Amateur music nights:

n Open mic at Pub 500 9-midnight every Tuesday n Open mic at Red Rocks 9-midnight every Thursday n Open mic at Grand Kabaret in New Ulm 7:30-10:30 third Friday of each month n Acoustic Showcase at Buster’s 9:30-12:30 second Friday of each month

Other upcoming shows:

n Tuesday Tunes with Ocho at Mankato Brewery 4/23 6-8pm n An afternoon with Betty at Busters 4/27 1-3pm n An afternoon with Ocho at Busters 5/18 1-3pm n Yoga + Acoustic Music with Betty at Sun Moon Yoga 5/4 3pm Compiled by Diana Rojo-Garcia

MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 17


Arts gurus gathered to share their thoughts on Mankato’s arts scene. They are (from left) Brian Frink, Dana Sikkila, Joe Tougas and Ann Rosenquist Fee.

State of the ARTS How is Mankato really doing as an arts hub for Minnesota? We gathered four players in the arts scene, gave them beer, and asked them a bunch of artsy questions Story by Robb Murray | Photos by Pat Christman 18 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


F

our creators. Four people who every day live lives in pursuit of art, in furtherance of art, in support of art. And, most importantly, four people who agreed to gather at Mankato Brewery, tip a few back and discuss the state of the arts in southern Minnesota.

Arts Center of St. Peter Executive Director Ann Rosenquist Fee, Minnesota State University Art Professor Brian Frink, artist and 410 Project Director Dana Sikkila, and musician and writer (and former Free Press staff writer) Joe Tougas took us up on our offer to have a wide-ranging, frank, open and honest discussion about what’s working on the arts front in southern Minnesota, what could be improved upon and why so many artists choose to work in this community. Instead of getting in their way with a wordy setup, let’s just jump right in:

On the topic of why southern Minnesota being a good place to create ...

Joe Tougas: It’s cheap. It’s easy to live here. Dana Sikkila: It’s affordable to live and still hold true to the career paths that you want to take. … The art job is not a high-paying job a lot of times. … This is how I feel I can be successful in my life, and being here allows me to really be driven in that and still be a functioning adult, and not living in like a really crappy one bedroom studio.

What are its weaknesses?

Brian Frink: It’s cheap. (Laughs) Sometimes we don’t aspire to bigger things, you know, we’re happy where we’re at and happy with the local scene. Sometimes I think we need to sort of look beyond. Like, I always try to show my work beyond Mankato and beyond the state or whatever. I’m always interested in that. Tougas: It’s a blessing and a curse because it’s supported, it’s encouraged, and at the same time if

Artist and art professor Brian Frink says one of the appeals of living in southern Minnesota is the low cost of living. you’re not the most ambitious person, you can be like, “Oh this is fine, you know this is absolutely fine” (referring to being content with the Mankato scene/crowd). But we have also broken out, as you have, and every now and then you play somewhere where there’s no guarantee of acceptance or interest or anything like that and when you do make an impression it’s very rewarding. Sikkila: I think it’s really easy to coast here because we’re familiar with the community and the artists and the art centers and, yeah, there’s competition, but yet it still doesn’t always feel as threatening. … If you want to be here you have to be really self sustaining and motivated to progress your career

forward.

How has the arts community changed?

Tougas: (The arts community) has been publicized and it’s got a lot of voice these days. When I arrived here, it didn’t get any coverage, but there was still an active arts community to me. I tended to hang out with these funky writers and artists, and this was the 80s and they were talking about the glory days of, you know, 15 years ago. So, I think it’s always been around but it’s just been taken a little more seriously. Frink: The big change has been, I think, is that it used to be centered around the university and now it’s not. I really don’t think it is and I MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 19


Artist and 410 Project Director Dana Sikkila says the zeitgeist of the region’s art identity is the community, whereas it used to be Minnesota State University. think that’s super healthy. Doing This? Which was a great idea and something Sikkila: Yeah, I think it’s the opposite. I think, the that every artist can relate to, but I don’t think that’s a artists that come out of (MSU), the community is lifting chronic thing down here for people in the arts. I don’t them up to the next level. think we sit around going, “God, well this is all for Frink: A goal of mine as an educator was always to nothing!” Because there is support from this create a community that would keep artists here versus community. teaching them to leave, and you’re (Sikkila) a good Sikkila: It’s grown to the point where there isn’t like a example of that. definition of age. You have 20-year-olds and you have Ann Fee: That’s huge. … In my generation in school, 60-year-olds all at the same event. So that mashing has you didn’t stay where you were, your hometown or really developed in the past couple of years which has where you went to college. … When I was here in ‘98 grown this support system especially for emerging or ‘97, Scott was interviewing for a job, so I went to artists. (MSU’s) art department because I thought they will Fee: (To Sikkila) I think you’re right. I think there are have the answer to where’s the funkiness in this town. enough older artists and musicians and writers who It was August, so there’s really nobody there except are still welcomed as active members of the community one faculty member who is not there anymore. So I’m and they’re interested in the legacy work. I think of nervous enough about the year ahead in my life that Pam Bidelman and you; she’s passionate about what I’m just going to like walk in on this woman and be you’re doing, you’re passionate about what she’s doing. like, “Help me!” And that’s, I think, unique to artistic communities that So I said, “Here’s my situation, I’ll be living here for a they would cross generations. year. I currently live in the Twin Cities and I work in the What is it about this place that made arts and I love it. I’m nervous about being here. Tell me you want to call it home? where to plug in. It’s a college town, where should we Frink: I got the (National Endowment for the Arts live? And she looked at me and she just laughed and grant) in ‘94 (the group ironically claps). OK, OK. But at she goes, “There’s nothing but the River Hills Mall.” the time, all my colleagues said to me, ‘Oh, you’re And then it was like a slow-mo thing in my brain, I was going to leave now. You got the NEA.’ I mean, there like, “No, you don’t understand what I’m asking was two artists in the whole Midwest that got one. And because that can’t be the case. This is a college town.” I was like, ‘No, I’m not leaving. I love being here.’ … That sort of made me be more aggressive in finding Because I’d been in Brooklyn, lived in Brooklyn for the people I wanted to connect with. several years and so I saw the urban thing. We came Is Mankato a supportive place for the arts? from Madison, so we saw that scene. And there was Tougas: I bet a lot of artists inevitably deal with some just something accessible about being here that had to form of despair. (To Ann) You even had that campaign do with just me being who I am. I could still project my at the Arts Center in St Peter of “Why Am I Even vision to a particular audience. … I came here because 20 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


of my job I had never heard of Mankato until I got my job. Tougas: I came here to go to college after a year and a half at the University of Wisconsin, where you couldn’t get into the student newspaper, or you had to wait for a couple of years. Whereas I just came up here to visit a friend and he showed me around MSU where there were flyers on the wall: “Please join our newspaper!” At Wisconsin it’s like, I’d love to be in this paper but it’s like, “Oh, no no no — Did you take reporting 123 and public affairs?” and, well, no. Whereas MSU was just sort of like, “Please join us!” That was a perfect break for me to leave home and start fresh here. And a couple years later I was working at The Free Press. It was so exciting to work at a daily newspaper. I never thought I would. And for the majority of my time there I felt like I was getting away with murder, you know, because this was so much fun. Not only writing the news, but writing your columns and things like that. Fee: I just turned 50. Scott just turned 50. We’re looking at our retirement portfolios and to make sure everything’s good. And I’m very aware that my contemporaries, people our age, are having those same conversations and talking about moving somewhere else part time or moving somewhere else entirely or whatever. And I’m thinking, “Oh my god,” like that’s unthinkable to me because I am just now entering the era of being able to make things happen for other people. Which sounds more altruistic than it is because the power involved in that is absolutely intoxicating. You know what I mean? It’s better than having things happen for myself. So that’s why I’ll stay, because of all the supportiveness in this community, and the creativity that it allows, it allows me to start a whole new phase of being power hungry. Sikkila: I came to Mankato in 2004, extremely confused about my life, barely graduated high school. Mankato was the only school that accepted me and I had to be on academic probation when I came and I was just like, “Whatever, this so stupid.” But then I came here. And my whole life was completely transformed because there were people that like I could relate to. I grew up in a very small farm

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 21


Musician and writer Joe Tougas says Mankato’s music scene got a shot in the arm in the 1990s with the opening of the What’s Up? Lounge. town as a creative person, but didn’t know what that meant. And I came here and was like, “Wow, there’s people that like, have jobs as adults that are painting and drawing and performing and teaching and doing all this stuff.” And then you feel like they’re happy, and they kind of know what they’re doing somewhat. … School is just something that kind of got me here and it taught me technique and got me this huge friend base. But coming down the hill and really integrating with the people that have lived here and are working here outside the university was huge. If I would have never started working at Cactus Tattoo, I would have never taken over the 410 because that was Makeba’s thing (Makeba Ische, former 410 coordinator and owner of Cactus Tattoo). And so I think it’s just been like a really crazy universe of things aligning for me here. I had a lot of super close friends who are like, “I’m going to do an MFA somewhere else,” or “I’m going to move to this place or that place,” and I was like, “Well, I don’t want to do more school. I want to do other stuff.” And so I looked at myself and I was like, I really like the people that are here and my friends and I can still be creative and live downtown and have my dog. I had just taken over the 410, which was a little bit of a hole in the wall at the time and I just said, “Will I have this opportunity anywhere else? No way in hell.” So I just basically took that one opportunity and made it grow because, at that time, there were no jobs for people like me.

22 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

On the state of live music in Mankato ...

Tougas: If you were to say Mankato had a resurgence in live music, I would credit the What’s Up? Lounge. Not necessarily the What’s Up? as we know it now, but the What’s Up? when Mike Pietan bought it (in the early 1990s) and decided to put a hootenanny together, like everybody get up and play your out-of-tune six string. It brought hundreds of people. It was an open stage. It was like a revolutionary idea. And then he started seeing that there was this appetite for live music after which he started booking out-of-state bands. And people were nonetheless coming. All of a sudden, this became the place to go to just enjoy music.

On exposing people to new creative work …

Sikkila: It’s been a thing of mine to showcase the work of artists (whose work is) dictated by the space and the time they have to install. From my own experience as an installation artist, (galleries say things like) “No, you can’t show here because you’re going to put too many holes in the wall, or holes period, or you want to put up these projectors.” So we want to work with artists and bring in artists who are working in more experimental ways that wouldn’t necessarily be able to show in other spaces because of the restriction of the medium of their work. We have a really strong standpoint in not censoring artists — to a certain extent. So those are the people we want to support. Because, yeah, we get a lot of people that apply who could easily get in at other places. So we want to give priority to people that wouldn’t (necessarily be accepted everywhere).


Ann Rosenquist Fee, executive director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter, says they’ve been making sure art is accessible to anyone who comes through the door.

On making arts accessible to all ...

Fee: One of the things that’s unique about St. Peter is the presence of the state hospital and group homes and other facilities that serve the mentally ill. Probably organically — but also deliberately at this point because my staff and volunteers talk about it enough — we are a very welcoming space for people who are gently and carefully trying to integrate back into community, and a creative environment is a really good place for that. A lot of those people, you know, they don’t all come into the Art Center, but the ones who do have some kind of interest generally in art making or art appreciation or music or something like that. So we talk about “how do we engage that population so that it’s a good socializing experience for them, but also help them move forward as artists?” We started a formal partnership with the hospital, and thus they bring patients down (to the Arts Center). Part of our work with anybody who comes into the Art Center is, if they seem like they’re expressing any curiosity at all about affirmation of their own artwork, we try to spot that and ask them, “Are you an artist?” and then people start talking about their thing. … We had at least one patient who is now released spend time coming and playing his guitar. So it was like a busking situation. It was a really cool thing for us to watch him in an environment where nobody knew he was a patient. All they knew was he was musician.

On finding inspiration in southern Minnesota ...

Frink: To me it’s more interesting to find magic in places that are kind of humble or not magical. Because you have to find it, you have to work for it. The Grand Canyon is like, pretty cool. Obviously. Right? Right. So when I go camping, for example, if I was to camp at the Grand Canyon, I won’t go paint the Grand Canyon. I’ll sit at the campsite and paint the the weed over there by the tree or something because it’s more interesting to me. It needs attention. The Grand Canyon doesn’t need attention. ... People are wanting to live in places like Mankato because they suddenly find it interesting versus New York or Chicago, so that’s kind of a huge cultural change that’s occurring. It’s hard to live in Minneapolis or Chicago or New York. In my case, I couldn’t have the size (studio) space I have in any of those places and afford it and make the work I make which is important to me. A lot of my colleagues, we’re here for our jobs, but we also find this place has a certain practicality to us being able to do what we want to do and have studios that are the kind of studios we want and things like that so ... I think that’s happening all over the country. It’s not just here in Mankato. MM

MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 23


REFLECTIONS By Pat Christman

24 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


M

innesota prides itself on being the Land of 10,000 Lakes, except in the spring when that number multiplies and lakes form around our houses, farm fields, back yards and in our basements. This year’s rapidly melting snow is making things particularly soggy. Looking across the landscape might make lawmakers change Minnesota’s nickname to the Land of One Million Lakes. MM

MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 25


Clockwise from top, Dave Powers, Lucas Barbknect, Parker Kerslake and Caleb Strege play a game of Dungeons and Dragons at the Dork Den. Powers, who was the dungeon master, explains the situation that the players are in while Barbknecht takes a picture of information important to the game on his phone.

In defense of the

DORK arts … D&D, comic books, cosplay — however you get your geek on is just fine

“T

By Diana Rojo-Garcia | Photos by Jackson Forderer

he first thing I ask people: Do you want to destroy stuff, heal stuff or do magic stuff?” Dave Powers, tonight’s Dungeon Master at The Dork Den asks me. “Oh, definitely magic stuff,” I reply. To be completely honest, I don’t really know what I want to do. The concept of the fantastical role-playing game that is Dungeons & Dragons was entirely foreign to me. I’ve heard of people hosting D&D campaigns at their homes to play with friends. But the closest encounter I’ve actually had to the game has been watching the kids on “Stranger Things” play in their basement. And even then, the game seemed intimidating. All those rules. All that drama. Powers had templates of different characters that 26 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

would assist me throughout the game. It includes what the character can do in regards to skills, the strength of their power and other neat stuff. I chose a druid, a wood elf. “What’s the name of your character?” Powers asks. Oh God, I’m suppose to come up with a name? “Uh … Woody,” I say hesitantly. “Woody the wood elf? That’s just about right,” Powers replies. During this campaign I’m playing with Lucas Barbknect, Parker Kerslake and Caleb Strege — the more experienced players who would help me through my first adventure into the fantasy world of Melbourne. After a quick power course on rules of the game and the roles of the seven dice, we begin ...


Top left: A 20-sided die of Dave Powers, who was the dungeon master for a game of Dungeon and Dragons at the Dork Den. Bottom left: Dave Powers writes down the names of players during a game of Dungeons and Dragons played at the Dork Den. Right: Lucas Barbknecht appears amused by the colorful storytelling being told by the dungeon master Dave Powers during a game of Dungeons and Dragons at the Dork Den.

Richard Rieke’s comic collection has grown in the last decade to nearly 900 comic books, all sorted in a short box. It was almost a natural path for Rieke to begin collecting comic books. His dad owned a bookstore in New Ulm where the 24-year-old grew up. In addition to owning a bookstore where Rieke had unlimited access to comics and books, Rieke’s dad was also comic book collector. Since second grade, Rieke began picking up comic books on his own. Well, he didn’t actually begin purchasing comics with his own hard-earned money until seventh grade. But he recalls gravitating toward the art-filled books starting with Marvel Comics since about 2002, especially with the relaunched anime-esque cartoon “Teen Titans” on Cartoon Network. But what really made Rieke start seriously collecting comic books? “I think the thing that initially grabbed me is that it’s an industry that’s been going on since the 30s,” he said. “There’s a whole backstory to these universes, like history going back decades. I just found it really interesting to see these worlds evolve.” This influence of comics even has Rieke interested in one day writing his own comics. He says he’ll need to find an artist first, but the dream is still there for the creative writing graduate from Minnesota State University. Some of his collection includes the “Star Wars” series

Comcitcor colle

(he confesses he has yet to actually finish the collection). He recently also began collecting trades of a ‘90s series from DC Comics called “Char Man.” However, Rieke also collects newer comics and picks up new issues normally every Wednesday at Double Play near the River Hills Mall. “I’ll just, while we’re looking through, see if anything catches my eye and check it out,” he said. Typically, a comic can costs between $3-4 but can easily be more expensive for special releases, such as anniversary comics. For those interested in beginning their own collection, Rieke suggests just picking something up. A lot of comics can actually be found online, too, at little to no cost. Some people get intimidated by picking up a series in the middle, feeling like they’ve missed out on important plot points. But online comic websites allow readers to get caught up. And sometimes, publishers like DC Comics will re-release famous comic book series. And by the way, comic books aren’t limited to stories involving superheroes. You can find comics in many genres, even romance. As for Rieke and his comic book dream, he said he hopes to create a futuristic new world like the ones he’s read about over his time collecting comics. “I would love to have other people have that kind of enjoyment reading something,” he said. nnnn As we’re travelling through the town, we come across of our first mission; a poster had been given to us with the names of people in the town. Our task is to locate them and determine their purpose for being here. MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 27


“I need you to find out who everyone is on that list,” says Powers in his Dungeon Master personae, Lt. Liza Tarheels. “and if they’ve done anything illegal.” We begin in the Central Plaza where we encounter a crowd protesting and singing. Powers narrates, “So the lady in the front: She sees you approaching and she looks back to her group and waves them out. But then she steps away and comes over, and she’s just looking at you.” “Hello,” Parker Kerslake takes on his character to begin the dialogue. “Hello,” Powers replies as Maria Salvador, the approaching woman. We learn she’s an ambassador. As Kerlsake speaks with “her” about why she’s there to protest, a panther approaches. Then a bear. And two apes. They’ve got us surrounded in the Central Plaza. Honestly, at this point I was lost, both as Woody and as a player. But playing intern to Caleb Strege, and being guided through by Powers, I was given the opportunity to move. As an elf, I have two options: I can throw fire or poison. Also, I can only move seven spaces. Powers points to various places on the map in an effort to explain the scenario to me. “Okay, so you’re here,” he says, pointing. “And there’s a couple of apes here. OK? There’s a bear here. Then there’s the guy up here. OK?” He advises that, if I have something to shoot with, I should go ahead and do that. Which I do. I also apparently get unlimited striking powers with my fire and poison. But the poison only shoots up to 10 feet, Lucas reminds Power. So I chose the flame. Nada. The other guys start taking shots at the apes and the panthers and the thing that was hanging above us. A full battle scene takes over my imagination with wizards and a warlock (and a little help from a wood elf) by the panther. This game is a lot harder than I thought it’d be, but I was determined to kill something for our campaign.

said, ‘You know what character you look like? Sailor Mars,’” she recalls. Marie had grown up watching the anime every day. “And he was like, ‘You look just like her!’” So, as a present, a friend gave her a Sailor Mars cosplay costume, and she headed off to her first convention in Detroit nearly a decade ago. At her first convention, Marie remembers the atmosphere as almost intoxicating. All kinds of people gathered in one space at a hotel to dress up as their favorite characters. She checked out different merchandise from various “nerdy” vendors and listened in on various expert panels (including one that featured the voice actor of the character Light from “Death Note.”) Even though she’s attended 50 or 60 conventions, she says she gets that same feeling each time she goes. She’s been to conventions as close as Minneapolis and as far away as the San Diego. Right now, Marie has a closet full of more than 30 costumes. Before she thinned things out, she’d amassed nearly 60. Some of her favorites include Baroness from “G.I. Joe,” Superwoman (the Gal Gadot version) and one of her most intricate costumes — 30 pieces — Devil Mercy from the Blizzard video game “Overwatch.” “I have giant horns with that, a big staff, giant wings that light up … I have to be built into that costume,” she said. With such an intricate costume, she says, she needs help putting it on. Some costumes can take from one hour to three hours to put together including the wig, make-up and assembly. Others, however, can be fairly quick, such as her Velma costume from the “Scooby-Doo” cartoon series. Some of her costumes are purchased, but Marie also makes some of her own costumes, including the the Devil Mercy costume. One of her favorite things about conventions and cosplay is the pure imagination involved. “It’s just so much fun to be able to be another character for a day. And part of it is just the reaction of the people around you. I was dressed as Wonder Woman, and a little girl runs up to me. She must have been like 3 years old, just screaming, and she ran over and attached herself to my leg,” she said. “Just the kids’ reactions — especially when you’re dressed like one of their heroes — is probably one of the best things ever.”

“I think the thing that initially grab bed me is that it’s an industry that’s been going on since the 30 s,” he said.

Cosplay Casey Marie of Mankato began modeling right after high school in 2008. It wasn’t until two years later, while in college in South Dakota, that she began playing around with more “nerdy” things. Her college friends introduced her to computer games, Dungeons & Dragons, anime and, of course, cosplay (the art of creating and modeling costumes from comic books, cartoons, video games or any other fictional universe). Her friend actually mentioned to Marie that she looked fairly similar to a character from the anime cartoon, “Sailor Moon.” “He had seen some of my modeling work and he 28 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

nnnn We’re still in the Central Plaza, still corned by the two apes, the panther and the monster above. Wizards and warlocks are maneuvering carefully to destroy the enemies. Woody’s still observing the experts during the battle. Eventually, it was my move again to attempt to help my companions. Before coming to the Dork Den to play Dungeons &


Dragons, I’d spent the whole day conducting interviews, meeting deadlines (albeit late… but they were met), planning out the rest of the week of more interviews and appointments and dealing with bills and all the other things adults deal with. But at this moment, while we were fighting these apes and monsters and panthers, all I was focused on was killing something to help out my friends in this journey through the Central Plaza. “Can I move here?” I asked Powers. He suggests another position, a safer spot away from the enemies but close enough to hit an ape. And I was determined to kill it. I chose the poison and aimed it at the ape. I roll the die to take my chances on getting a kill. This has to work. He’s attacking my companions! And I’ll be darned ... I killed the ape. For a second — for the first time in maybe weeks — I felt like I’d accomplished something. It was almost as if, by squashing the ape, I’d squashed the deadlines, the bills piling up, the meetings and the endless thoughts of anxiety. All thanks to a small taste of playing D&D. I have more apes in my life to kill, and I think another round of D&D is in my future. MM

Photo by Pat Christman MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 29


Angie Barnes cleans houses for a living. She’s got plenty of great tips to get you going on your spring cleaning this year.

Time to

come clean It’s springtime, which means we’re all needing a little motivation and advice about spring cleaning Story by Diana Rojo-Garcia | Photos by Pat Christman

W

e’re officially a couple weeks into spring. The birds will hopefully be back soon singing songs into the early morning, the trees will soon start budding and daylight is lasting a little longer for us to enjoy those springtime activities — playing outside with your kids at Sibley Park, maybe planning a garden. Whatever it is, we’re all excited to be outside after the seemingly never-ending winter. There’s one thing, though, that needs to be done before you can really enjoy the outdoors: You gotta clean your indoors.

30 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Let’s be real, folks — there’s probably a pile of bills and paper sitting on your desk that you’ve been meaning to organize for the last five months. The TV room somehow gathered another pile of random magazines and books. And there’s that cobweb in the corner of your bedroom you’ve stared at until you fell asleep, contemplating whether or not you’ve already swallowed the spider in the middle of the night. Spring cleaning, if not all house chores, is something most of us dread. In fact, according to a survey done two years ago by Ketchum Global Research &


Analytics, more than half of the respondents said they find it difficult to summon motivation to actually start spring cleaning. About six percent said they “dreaded” the annual cleaning project. Even a seasoned pro like Angie Barnes, a Mankato and selfemployed housekeeper for 25 years, said it can be a challenge. “I get overwhelmed with clutter, and if you have kids and are living with people, it’s a consistent thing,” she said. Accumulated clutter is an annoyance that can be solved easily over time with a routine and finding “homes” for things. Have a defined space to put your mail, for example, or your shoes or other knick knacks. Getting motivated to do certain tasks, even easy ones, can be difficult. Barnes says some of that stems from being overwhelmed with too many cleaning tasks that need to be tackled. Instead of focusing on all the things that need to be done, she recommends focusing on one immediate thing, such as organizing or clearing out a certain room. “Then maybe take a break and relax,” she says. Cleaning also doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. Vinegar works wonders, especially on shower fixtures, and you can basically just leave something sitting in vinegar overnight which will do all the hard work for you. “Leave vinegar sit, or you could remove fixtures and let them sit in there, and it will eat away at the lime and mineral deposit build up,” she said. “It’s a lot simpler than people realize.” (Fun fact: The combination of dish soap and vinegar can remove grease.) Another suggestion from Barnes on simple ways to get started cleaning: Rotate what gets cleaned. Maybe one day of the week is dedicated to vacuuming, another to detailing the bathroom, another to cleaning the kitchen. It serves the purpose of keeping a simple routine and it will also prevent the room from gathering a mess over time. This should alleviate some of the overwhelming feelings you’ll get when cleaning your home. Here are some more tips provided by Shelly Young, owner of Southern MN Cleaning Services, which started up March of 2018:

Mankato Magazine: What is something most people overlook when cleaning their homes? Shelly Young: Ceiling Fans! I think people often forget about them and they are a main thing that spreads dust around. MM: What is the best way to start spring cleaning? SY: Making a list of what you need to accomplish. Ask for help. Cleaning your own home is so much more difficult than cleaning someone else’s. It’s so easy to get distracted with daily life. MM: Should spring cleaning be held off primarily just for spring? How can people get a headstart? SY: I don’t think it needs to be held

off for spring — if it’s dirty, clean it. However, windows have to wait until warmer weather. MM: For people who might be overwhelmed with all their clutter, what do you suggest they do to alleviate some of that stress and anxiety? SY: Make a list and ask for help. I have had so many clients say they were so embarrassed to ask for help or hire a housekeeper, but once they did they were grateful. I even had a couple tell me we saved their marriage. We are so busy in life today that the house is the area that gets neglected. MM: In your opinion, what room/s should people try to keep decluttered and clean and why? MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 31


SY: The room that you relax in. Relaxation is important, so if that room is clean it will help with motivation and allow you to relax instead of worry. MM: What is your favorite cleaning product and why? SY: I am a huge fan of Windex Multi Surface. It smells great and can be used everywhere. MM: On Pinterest, you see many homemade cleaning products. Do these work? SY: I have used some. I am a big fan of vinegar. If you have the time to make cleaning products that is amazing! More power to you!

MM: Is there anything else you think that we should know or you would like to add? SY: Happy spring, everyone! I know it has been a long winter and we are all looking forward to the warm air and clean smells! If you want help don’t be afraid to ask, that’s what we are here for. Our mission is to help families with the cleaning so you can have more time with your family. MM

MM: Spring cleaning isn’t just for homes, but also work spaces, offices or studios. What are some good steps to start clearing out these spaces? SY: Organization of desk, drawers or any space that collects clutter is a great first step. Everyone feels great when they finish cleaning out clutter.

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DAY TRIP DESTINATIONS: Saint Paul Art Crawl By James Figy

The Saint Paul Art Crawl takes place at galleries, studios, breweries and other spaces across Minnesota’s capital city. (Photo by Isaac Fromm)

Saint Paul Art Crawl is a weekend-long masterpiece M ost well-known pieces of art — from Michelangelo’s sculptures to Georgia O’Keefe’s landscapes — are the work of just one artist. But each year, hundreds of Minnesota artists have a hand in creating one extensive masterpiece. The Saint Paul Art Crawl provides an opportunity to browse through and buy work from contemporary artists at galleries across the state’s capital city for one weekend. This year’s event will include work from more than 350 artists who work in 17 different mediums, according to Brenda Brousseau, director of the Art Crawl. Visitors will be able to see everything from paintings and photographs to blown glass and textiles to wood carving and sculpture. Artists that are not based in St. Paul can still participate at one of the many local galleries or other public spaces within city limits. These typically include the Midway Triangle Building, Carleton Artist

34 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Lofts, Schmidt Artist Lofts, Northern Warehouse, Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and area breweries. Because the Saint Paul Art Crawl is not a juried event, many artists are able to participate. “Not being juried lets the Art Crawl be more inclusive. We have artists that have been a part of the Art Crawl since its beginning, and we have new artists that want to test the waters,” Brousseau said. “Visitors appreciate the wide range of art that is shown.” To help keep track of all there is to see, a new online directory and calendar will be available for this year’s event. Attendees will also be able to find most activities and galleries in the printed guides available at Art Crawl sites. “The Event Guide includes a map of all locations, and it has a schedule of performances, artist talks, demos and other featured events. Visitors can pick these up for free


Matthew GG Holm shows artwork in his studio at the Midway Triangle Building. (Photo by Isaac Fromm) at any of the Art Crawl locations, along with the gorgeous catalog that has images and listings of the artists,” Brousseau said. A recent addition to the Art Crawl is free walking tours of two districts, Raymond Station and W 7th St. Attendees simply need to register online ahead of time, according to Brousseau. “These tours are led by a local comedy group, Fearless Comedy Productions. Tour guides give history of the area and buildings. They talk about how to get the most out of your visits to artist studios, what questions are good and what questions don’t go over so well, all with a bit of humor,” she said. Although the Art Crawl first took place in 1991, its history dates back to 1977 when a handful of local artists founded the St. Paul Art Collective. The event has grown over the years in both the number of artists that participate and the number of locations. “At the Art Crawl’s inception, it was mainly focused in the Lowertown District,” she said. “In recent years, it has expanded into all of St. Paul. There are 11 districts this season, with 41 locations.”

“Saint Ruth” by Jill Whitney Birk was a runner up of the catalog cover contest. (Courtesy of Saint Paul Art Crawl) The Art Crawl gathers many artists in the same spaces for one weekend, but it isn’t the only time when Minnesotans can interact with the local arts scene. Brousseau recommends that when attendees find an artist whose work they admire, they can show support in many ways besides buying paintings, pottery or other work. Attendees should take the opportunity to sign

up for the artist’s mailing lists, take contact cards and follow them on social media. Above all, it’s important to engage with local artists, according to Brousseau. This is just as true when the artists are showing work at the Art Crawl as when they are hosting a gallery opening at the 410 Project, Emy Frentz Arts Guild Gallery or other art space in the Minnesota River Valley. “These artists that you will visit are your neighbors. They are a part of the community,” Brousseau said. “Having a strong arts scene is good for the well-being of a community, both culturally and commercially.”

IF YOU GO:

SAINT PAUL ART CRAWL Where: Multiple galleries, studios, breweries and other spaces across St. Paul When: 6-10 p.m., April 26; 12-8 p.m., April 27; 12-5 p.m. April 28 Admission: FREE

Visit saintpaulartcrawl.org for more information MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 35


Wine & Beer

wines

By Leigh Pomeroy

drink it!

Don’t save it,

S S • F R A SS S O •N F

g g

southern mn style

R T S O N A oo often I’ve heard stories of people amassing wine cellars, both modest and extensive, and then just sitting on bottles until they are long past their prime. This was evidenced to me recently when I was visiting a younger brother in California who has a good-sized wine cooler. Whenever I’m there he asks me to look through it and pick out something to drink. Inevitably I find several bottles I know are no good anymore. Among the older bottles I found in my January visit was a 1989 Chateau de Pommard, a red Burgundy from a highly regarded estate. Apparently he had brought it back from a trip to France in the 1990s. Current vintages, if you can find them, can sell for $100 and up. This one, however, was shot. It was the color of weak coffee, had a musty nose and had lost all its fruit — a classic example of a wine gone over the hill. So how can you avoid the same mistake my brother and countless others regularly commit? First of all, you need to know which wines benefit from aging and which do not. Generally, whites should be consumed within five years of their vintage, some even less. There are a few exceptions, like French white Burgundy, Sauternes and Barsac, late harvest Riesling from Alsace and tête de cuvée vintage Champagne. German spätlese, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese and icewein all improve with age, with some lasting as much as a half-century. And Hungarian Tokaji Aszu, made from

dried grapes, can be exceedingly long-lived. Some reds age well but not all. For instance, Beaujolais Nouveau should be consumed within months of the vintage. French reds that do improve with age include Bordeaux, Rhônes (particularly Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie), and Grand Cru and Premier Cru Burgundies. From Italy, the wines from Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Amarone della Valpolicella and a handful of others all benefit from extended bottle age, though many are now drinking younger than they used to due to changes in wine drinker demands. And many of the better Spanish reds from Toro, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat often need time to reach their peak. Some wines from the New World improve with age too, including Cabernets, Syrahs and Shirazes from California, Washington and Australia. Pinot Noir lovers claim their favorite wine benefits from aging, but this is only true if it comes from select California and Oregon vineyards and its finest producers. In the past, Zinfandel aficionados argued that their beloved red is ageable due to its massive alcohol, but what they forgot is that natural acidity plays a greater role in wine longevity. Young alcohol-and-fruit bombs, whether they be Zin, Cab, Shiraz, Pinot, Malbec or something else, too often become flabby hasbeens within ten years of age. That said, ageability is highly dependent on the source of the wine and its transport and storage conditions. The closer you buy the wine to its source — the best being the winery — the better the chance is that the wine has been properly handled prior to arriving in your hands. If your penchant is for imported bottles, only buy from a reputable retailer who has sourced

E E

36 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the wine from an equally reputable importer. Wine past its prime takes up way too much space on wine shelves. A smart wine retailer will discount wines he or she feels are beyond their prime. A retailer who doesn’t know or care just lets them sit there — caveat emptor! As baby boomers age, another problem with too-old wine has emerged: Wine collectors are finding that (a) they are not alcoholinvincible and (b) they now possess far more wine they can possibly drink before they move on to the great wine cellar in the sky. While formerly they could plough through several bottles of Cabernet with friends or family in a night, they L now realize their bodies will only allow a few glasses before they L progress to open rebellion. We are honor While wine collectors may want Voted Mankato M to pass on great bottles to their We are hono progeny, not all sons and daughters are interested in receiving them. Voted Mankato M We are honored! Since 1896, Bleth They may not have the proper Voted Mankato #1 Law with Firm space to store them givenMagazine’s their community commitment.We We areor honored! transient lifestyles, they don’t Since 1896, Bleth best i have the same passion for Magazine’s wine us Voted Mankato #1law Lawfirm Firm community with Since 1896, Gage & Krause has acknowledgment as their parents, or —Blethen, horror of commitment.We horrors —community they are not imbibers. with an unwavering focus us best law firmo I have acommitment.We cousin1896, whose husband always put our clients Since Blethen, Gage & Krause has acknowledgmen had a great-uncle who passed on us best law firm inan Mankato.Thank you community with unwavering focus leaving a substantial and valuable acknowledgment.We are put proud be a always ourtoclients wine cellar.commitment.We Since the man never us best law firm in Mankato.Thank you married, the beneficiaries were the acknowledgment.We are proud to be a man’s nieces and nephews — all militant teetotalers. What happened to the wine is that, aside from about a half-dozen bottles that my cousin’s husband managed to save, the beneficiaries poured the whole lot down the drain, not wanting themselves or even a nonprofit to benefit from their sale. And you thought you were crazy with your wine obsession!

Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover.


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BEER

By Bert Mattson

Lager days ahead

T

he Germans named a style of beer after the month of March, Märzen. This is because it’s traditionally brewed in March but “lagered” until late summer, served at Octoberfest. Lagering is a process of cold storage. Fewer solids dissolve in a cooled liquid, in this case “wort.” Also, the chemical reactions that manifest beer occur more slowly in the cold. I was taught in culinary school that ale is top fermented and lager bottom fermented, referring to the type of yeast used and its tolerances and behavior. There’s a little more to it. “Attenuation” is the measure of sugar converted into alcohol by yeast. Lager yeast (bottom fermenting), Saccharomyces uvarum, ferment throughout the liquid then settle to the bottom. This yeast ferments more slowly and less completely than it’s top fermenting counterpart, keeps functioning in cool temperatures and has lower alcohol tolerance. In concert with slow attenuation this means increased clarification, fuller body, fewer ester flavors — maybe a little less inclined to mask any flaws. On the flip side of all the crazy stuff going into ales in recent years, lagers have been cropping up in more prominent roles in some brewers’ repertoires. This rise of lager may be attributed to brewers’ personal tastes, or that the process poses a challenge. Whichever, I’ve found the resurgence — I ’ m uncomfortable calling lager a trend — refreshing. Lager can be divided into pale lager, amber lager, dark lager, and bock.

The division hardly ends there. These branch further into substyles such as pilsner, märzen, dunkel, and heller bock, respectively. It’s broad. In any case, we’d be remiss to discuss lager without mention of Schell’s Brewery’s rich history of releasing fine examples across the spectrum. Also, on past pages we’ve noted Mankato Brewery’s deft raising of Kato Lager (Munich Helles) from the proverbial ashes. Of course Summit Keller Pils is a perennial contender. Some other interesting breweries have entered the fray. Fair State Brewing Co-op made noise with Keller Kazbek on the lines last fall, and their German-style Pils has been killing it in cans. If you’re anything like my wife, whose palate for Pilsner was corrupted by a pallid sip stolen from her father when she was young, Fair State offers a fair chance at reconciliation. Fair State Pils with smoked salmon poses a killer picnic. Crispness offsets the oily fish. The dry pilsner contrasts the sweet, smoky flakes. Malt mingles with smoke and compliments a cracker or crouton. Ample carbonation cleans the palate. One hop, one malt, and lager yeast renders surprising complexity in this pilsner, making this feel more main event than an ad hoc nosh. Utepils Brewing’s Springbok is also out in cans. Maibock or Heller Bock is a substyle of bock, paler and more assertively hopped, to bridge the gap between the bocks of winter (often keeping intact the alcohol intensity) and summer brews. Thank you, Utepils. Big malt. More bitterness than bock but subdued. Fresh, and some crispness on the finish. It’s a wonderfully food friendly beer. Days are getting lager.

Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner. bertsbackburner.com

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THAT’S LIFE By Nell Musolf

Bailey I

did it because I was bored. And curious. And all alone. A recipe for mischief if ever there was one. No one was home to hear me call the psychic who was guesting on a local talk show. No one would ever know I called — unless someone I knew was listening to the same radio station, something I definitely didn’t want to happen. For the record, I’m a relatively nice, middle-aged woman who doesn’t believe in horoscopes or Tarot cards or the luck of double rainbows. But I’d always been curious about psychics. Did they really have the ability to see into other people’s futures or was it all a load of crap? I never found out because in addition to being superstition free, I’m also incredibly tight-fisted. But calling Psychic Suzanne wouldn’t cost me a penny. Besides, I’d probably never get through to the program. “Hello,” the radio show host said, “you’re live with Psychic Suzanne. What’s your name?” Panicking I lied and gave a fake name. “Ann.” “Hi, Ann. Say hello to Psychic Suzanne.” “Hi,” I said. “Hello, ‘Ann.’” Psychic Suzanne’s gravelly voice put invisible quotation marks around my phony name. I was impressed. Score one in her favor. “Ann, let’s have Psychic Suzanne do a short reading for you,” the host suggested. “Great,” I responded. “I sense water,” Psychic Suzanne said. “You’re having plumbing issues, aren’t you?” 40 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“No,” I said. “Are you sure? I’m seeing a lot of water around you.” “Nope. No plumbing issues.” A few seconds of silence followed. “I see your daughter following you around your house. She’s very pretty and has big green eyes. Keep an eye on her. She can get into trouble if you don’t watch her closely.” What a waste of time. “I don’t have a daughter,” I informed Psychic Suzanne. “Yes, you do. I definitely see you with a daughter,” she insisted. “I have two sons.” “Then you’re going to have a daughter someday.” In addition to being psychic, Suzanne was also stubborn. “I don’t think so.” It was none of Suzanne’s business but I knew that, thanks to my husband’s vasectomy, there was no way we’d be adding another child to our family. Suzanne and I argued a bit more before ending our deservedly free session. When my husband and sons returned home I was tempted to tell them what I’d done but I bit my tongue. Since Psychic Suzanne hadn’t gotten a single thing right in her predictions, what was the point in sharing? “Hey, there’s no water pressure,” my husband said later that evening, kicking off what turned out to be an entire un-fun week of, yes, plumbing issues. Again I considered telling him what Psychic Suzanne said and again I decided against it. It was just a coincidence. Nothing more.


But every so often over the next 20 years I wondered about that daughter I was supposedly going to raise. My best friend, Mary, who did know about my one and only call to a psychic, had a thought, one obviously inspired by too many hours spent in front of soap operas. “Maybe Mark had a baby with someone else and she’s going to appear on your doorsteps.” Thankfully, that never happened and eventually I decided Psychic Suzanne wasn’t so psychic after all. True, she got the plumbing thing right but there was no way I was going to raise a daughter. And then along came Bailey. Bailey was beautiful with big green eyes, a powerful jaw, and white fur. She was my oldest son’s dog, bought with his girlfriend and the apple of Joe’s eye. Then Joe and his girlfriend broke up and instead of having a custody battle over a baby, they had one over Bailey, a battle Joe won around the same time he started a new job with incredibly long hours. All of the sudden we had another dog living with us because that’s what parents do — watch the grandkids. Or granddog in our case. Bailey took to joining me in the kitchen while I prepared meals, her large green eyes focused on me as I stood at the stove. She also liked watching me put on makeup and fix my hair. Soon I found myself talking to her as if she were a gal pal. I liked having another girl in the house, even one who occasionally got into the garbage and never met a squirrel she didn’t want to kill. “She’s the girl Psychic Suzanne told you about,” Mary said when she learned Bailey was living with us. “She has green eyes and you have to watch her all the time. Do you mind raising a dog instead of a daughter or granddaughter?” I thought about Bailey and what she was most likely doing at that particular moment. Sleeping or getting into trouble or waiting for me to get home so we could start dinner. I may not be a grandmother yet but I’m okay with that. I’ve got Bailey. “I don’t mind at all,” I told Mary.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 41


GARDEN CHAT By Jean Lundquist

Ready for RADISHES!

I

These little gems have more variety than you’d think

am itching to get into the garden and play in the dirt. April makes me giddy with thoughts of gardening. I always feel this way before the heat, humidity and mosquitoes set in and take a little of the giddiness out of me. I intend to plant the first seeds in the garden this month. Packets of seeds like radishes always say, “Sow as soon as the soil can be worked.” This year, I’m going to do it. My garden has been under black tarps all winter, so the soil should be warmed enough for the frost to be out. With luck, I’ll be eating radishes by May. I bought some Black Spanish Radish seeds from an Internet “friend,” and am anxious to try them. I’ve never eaten a black radish, so I don’t know how hot to expect it to be. From information I have found online, though, about the only way to eat a black Spanish radish is to peel it, slice it, salt it and rinse it. Apparently, some folks also soak it in cream for a bit to tame the flavor. This sounds like one wild radish! I can’t wait to give it a try. 42 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Although radishes are one of the most rewarding crops to grow, if only because they are ready so early, and take only a month (or less) to mature, they are not without problems. I’ve experienced most of the problems getting radishes to create a good bulb. You can learn from my mistakes. (You’re welcome.) When you plant your radishes, don’t add nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen helps many things in the garden produce better crops, but excessive nitrogen on radishes has the opposite effect. They will grow beautiful leafy tops, but no bulb. It’s easy to plant radish seeds too close together. If you plant in rows, plant them two inches apart. If you can’t do that, you need to be willing to thin them to that spacing. I always have a hard time thinning plantings. I worry I will pull the healthiest one, and the plant that remains will be weak, so I tend to leave them all. For a long while, I thought they would just push each other out of the way if they were too close, but radishes aren’t like that. I like to think of them as polite little


Minnesota plants, saying, “No, I don’t need all this space. You take it.” Then they all just put down roots but never grow into a chunky little bulb. If radish seeds are planted too late, meaning when it’s too warm, they won’t grow bulbs. Radishes are cool-weather crops, and need to be planted early There are varieties that are warm weather lovers, and need to be planted when the soil and the air is warmer. The later season radishes are also wonderful, and usually very pretty. One of my favorite warmseason radishes is the Watermelon Radish. It’s interior is a beautiful watermelon color, and the bulb is large enough that one slice fits neatly on a sandwich. These have a lot of crunch, but no heat. Check your packet, and follow directions on when to plant. Then make sure your soil is loose enough to allow a root crop to thrive. Eight inches should do it. Sometimes radishes will still develop bulbs, even if too warm, but they will likely crack and develop a bitter taste. Radishes need at least six hours of sunlight each day. Make sure they are not in shade more than that. So if you need to make your own mistakes to learn, feel free to do so, and disregard this information. However, even mistakes have silver linings sometimes. If you have big, leafy radish tops, try a few of the younger, more tender leaves in your salad. I don’t care for them, but you might. My silver lining is that I let the radishes go to seed. The little seed pods, when young, are delicious sprinkled on salads. If they get too old, they become stringy and tough, but when pulled from the tips of the stems, they are tender and tasty. They are especially good if you like radish flavor, but not the heat. You can even buy radish seeds bred to bolt to seed right away, and not develop bulbs. These are called “Rat-tail Radishes.” I find that name unappealing, though, and always opt for a variety that will provide bulbs, and when I make mistakes or leave them into the ground too long, provide the tasty seed pods. Let the pods mature to the tough, stringy stage, and save some seeds to try again next year. Jean Lundquist is a Master Gardener who lives near Good Thunder. gardenchatkato@gmail.com

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Mankato | Amboy | Vernon Center | cimankato.com MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 43


YOUR STYLE By Jessica Server

It’s Cool to

Care

I

love April — not only because (barring last year’s blizzard) the first signs of spring trickle in, but also because it’s Earth Day. This overlooked holiday may seem like it’s for kids and patchouli-wearing hippies, but the truth is that “green” lifestyles are stylish. Just open any social media platform and see for yourself. These days, it’s cool to care. But where to start? Over the past year, I’ve made it my mission to reduce my household’s plastic waste. Scientists agree that simply creating more “biodegradable” disposables won’t solve the issue: we live in a throwaway culture. Only by changing our addiction to single-use items can we begin to stem the tide of plastic pollution that’s fast becoming the environmental issue of the next generation. However you feel about climate change or polar bears, plastic waste is a very real, visible problem that threatens the world’s ecosystems and poses human health threats. My anti-plastic campaign came about partially because I hate waste in all its forms, partially because I like weird projects, like learning to make my own toothpaste (hint: it’s easy!), and partially because I hope my new baby can one day swim in the ocean without brushing up against plastic bottles and debris. Perfection is not the goal; in fact, striving for it could discourage even the most well-meaning among us. However, I have managed to make a number of very easy shifts that make my everyday life a little less wasteful. 44 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

One of my favorites is my “go kit” that I always carry in my bag. It mitigates the unexpected: an unplanned coffee run, lunch on the go, or popping by a store unexpected. It enables me to avoid plastic “conveniences”—cups, cutlery, straws, and the like—on a daily basis. What’s in my kit? A small reusable water bottle (this one is petite and weighs almost nothing); a lightweight reusable bag (I have

one of these in each of my purses or backpacks); a mesh produce bag; a set of silverware (I use metal, but some folks love bamboo); a metal straw (many municipalities and countries have begun banning straws. You can also simply ask for “no straw” at restaurants and coffee shops); and a bandana (in place of a napkin or paper towel). All of it fits nicely into a little canvas bag that I stow in my purse, or it can fit in the glove compartment of a car.


If you do only one thing this Earth Day, try to say “no” to something plastic in your life. Plastic bags are easily exchanged for reusable ones. Plastic straws are easily forgone or swapped for the (chic, if I do say so myself) metal or paper options. April’s crocuses and sunshine remind us that to enjoy the flowers, fresh air, and rivers, we must all be willing to do a little more to keep them clean. It’s stylish to care. If you’re feeling inspired, here are some more involved switches you can make. I’m not sponsored by these companies or blogs, they’re just simple ways I’ve helped my family reduce waste. And (BONUS!), most save you money in the long run. • Safety Razor: This is one of my favorite switches! These metal razors last a lifetime. Plus, 100 blades cost less than $10 on Amazon! Plastic razors are expensive, end up as waste, and don’t look nearly as nice in the bathroom. I like the Merkur longhandled variety. • Reusable coffee mug: I’m partial to Klean Kanteen insulated mugs, which you can use for both hot and cold, but there are hundreds of options out there. • Reusable Food Wrap: This takes the place of plastic wrap in the kitchen. There are a bunch of brands out there. I like Bee’s Wrap on Amazon. • Go Mesh: Get a set of reusable mesh bags for produce. There are tons on Amazon. I bought a set years ago and use them constantly. • Bamboo toothbrushes: This is an easy one! When it’s time to swap out your toothbrush (every 3 months, say dentists), pick bamboo. BONUS: In spring, you can use old brushes (without the heads) as garden markers. Try a Brush with Bamboo set on Amazon. • Switch to bar soaps and shampoo bars instead of liquid (the pump parts are NEVER recycled). Or take it a step further and look up how to make your own bath scrubs and beauty products. • Compost: Mankato has a great municipal composting program. Check out Mankato Zero Waste. Jessica Server is a writer who teaches at Minnesota State University. She lives in Mankato with her husband.

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LocaLLy & famiLy owned since 1974 MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 45

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Please Vote B-Dubs

Best of Mankato

COMING ATTRACTIONS: APRIL Mankato — 7:30 p.m. reading, Centennial 5 Red Rocks presents: Jon Wayne Student Union, Room 245, MSU — free and

and The Pain with Indubious 8 p.m. — Red Rocks — 12 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $10 — redrocksmankato. ticketleap.com.

5-7, 12-13

Bethany Lutheran College presents: “Letters to Anne of Green Gables,” 7:30 p.m. — Ylvisaker Fine Arts Center — BLC — Mankato — $$ — theater.blc.edu.

7

Mankato Area International Festival 11 a.m.-3 p.m. — Centennial Student Union — MSU — free and open to the public — facebook.com/events/1030221573836654

10

Good Thunder Reading Series: Lidia Yuknavitch 7 p.m. workshop — Arts Center of St. Peter — 315 S. Minnesota Ave. — St. Peter — free and open to public — gt.mnsu.edu.

11

Good Thunder Reading Series: Lidia Yuknavitch 10 a.m. workshop, Emy Frentz Gallery, 523 S. Second St., Mankato — 3 p.m. craft talk, First Congregational UCC, 150 Stadium Court,

1 7 11 P r e m i e r D r i v e Mankato, MN 56001 (507) 720-6053 info@cabinetlab.net 46 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

open to public, gt.mnsu.edu.

11-13, 18-20

MSU Theatre presents: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. (April 20) — Ted Paul Theatre — MSU — $22 regular, $19 discount and $15 for MSU students — mnsu.edu/theatre.

12

Verizon Center presents: Billy Currington 7:30 p.m. — Grand Hall — Verizon Center — Mankato — $32.75 reserved riser; $39.75 reserved riser; $39.75 general admission floor; $49.75 reserved riser; $49.75 VIP pit — verizoncentermn.com.

13

Kato Ballroom presents: Arch Allies 8:15 p.m. — Kato Ballroom — 200 Chestnut St. — Mankato — $50 VIP tickets, $12 general admission (advance) or $15 at the door — katoballroom.com.


18

Verizon Center presents; Halestorm with Palaye Royale, Beasto Blanco 7:30 p.m. — Grand Hall — Verizon Center — Mankato — $39.50 general admission — verizoncentermn.com.

24-27

MSU Theatre presents: “Brainpeople” 7:30 p.m.— Ted Paul Theatre — MSU — $10 regular, $9 discount and $8 for MSU students — mnsu.edu/theatre.

27

Mankato Riverblenders Barbershop Chorus present Music the Final Frontier: Voyage of the Starship Harmonize 3 p.m. at Crossview Covenant Church, 2000 Howard Drive North Mankato — 7:30 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott, 903 Raintree Road, Mankato — afternoon show are $15 at door or $13 in advance, students $5 — tickets for separate dinner show are $40, both shows cost $50 — singmankato.com.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • APRIL 2019 • 47


FROM THIS VALLEY By Pete Steiner

Dewey Mettler: Great Human, Great Player “He’d take me underneath, and just jam it!” — Dewey Mettler, on guarding the great Elgin Baylor

W

ith the Final Four descending on Minneapolis, I wanted to sit down and chat with Mankato basketball legend, Duane Mettler. “Dewey,” as most call him, turns 85 soon. You’ll still find him in the top row of Bresnan Arena at most Maverick basketball games. He’s been a prodigious fund-raiser and loyal fan of the program ever since he set an all-time scoring record there in the 1950’s. At 6-feet4-inches tall, Mettler could play inside or outside with his nifty array of jumpers and hook shots. He once told a Free Press reporter his favorite shot was “any shot that goes IN!” Entering the military after college, Dewey continued playing buckets. His team won the Fourth Army Division tourney in 1958. That summer, he was offered a tryout with the Minneapolis Lakers. It was four years after their last championship and two years before the move to L.A. Training camp at Gustavus found Dewey going head to head with the NBA’s #1 draft choice, Elgin Baylor, often called the first player to play “above the rim.” Baylor would go on to win Rookie of the Year, and eventually be named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest. “He was a heckuva good person,” Dewey smiles. “He liked to take me inside and dunk!” Once or twice, “the ball [ripped through and] bounced off my head!” Mettler didn’t make the team in 1958, but the Lakers were still interested and wanted him to sign a contract. In those days, though, even Wilt Chamberlain was only making a five-figure salary, and amateur teams like the Denver Truckers offered top-notch competition AND a full-time job. Dewey opted to remain an amateur. There was another factor, too: “I was in love!” He wanted to come back and marry lovely Audrey Haefner — they’d been dating since his senior year at Loyola High School. In 1959, Dewey signed a contract to teach and coach at Mapleton. nnnn Even many unaware of Mettler’s basketball prowess remember him as their Driver’s Education instructor. After his stint at Mapleton, he joined District 77, eventually becoming Director of Driver Ed, teaching as many as 600 kids in a summer. The first car he used for instruction was “a 1956 straight-stick Ford with no A/C.” There were probably more harrowing moments in Driver Ed than ever on a basketball court — kids with “a lead foot that no one else would ride with,” ending up in a ditch on a missed turn. Still, Dewey continued as a driving instructor until he was 80. 48 • APRIL 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Another passion was training and evaluating sports officials. He himself refereed games for nearly 60 years while becoming regional coordinator for the MN State High School League for basketball, observing referees during games, and evaluating and assigning officials for the state tournament. He’s proud of the many local refs he helped to reach the college level. nnnn Dewey was actually cut from the Loyola squad as a freshman. But the big kid who grew up on a farm north of Mankato had learned the value of hard work by milking his own cows twice a day. That winter, he cleared an asphalt court and went out by himself to practice shooting and ball-handling, jumping rope, even studying dance to improve his footwork. For the next three seasons, he starred at Loyola. Moving on to then-Mankato Teacher’s College, he never had a losing season. His coach called him “a dream, constantly trying to improve.” He was so good that following his sophomore season, the Gophers tried to get him to transfer, but he turned them down. nnnn “Great guy!” That’s the typical response when you bring up Mettler’s name to anyone who knows him. He’s also very spiritual, a longtime altar server at St. Peter and Paul’s church. But you did not want to rile him on the court. The story goes that Mettler, playing for Dunlop Meats after he returned to Mankato for good, had teamed up with some other local legends, including Dave Dunlop and John Schultz, to form one of the best amateur teams in the state (they won a national Jaycees Rec Tourney in 1965). In a game against some former Gophers, the guys from the big city began trash-talking the Mankato squad. Schultz, the 6-6 jumping jack who ended up breaking Mettler’s scoring records at MTC, was expected to get the opening tip. As the ball was tossed, Mettler streaked toward his own basket, caught the tip in mid-air, took a couple steps and jammed it. End of Gopher trash-talk. nnnn Humble. Kind. Giving. Pick your adjective to describe Dewey Mettler. And oh, he sure could play! Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.


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