Page 1

OUR STORY The Road to

Vol. 1, Issue 1 • • $3.95

Highlighting communities that have become part of OUR STORY...small-town living at its best!

THE WOMEN OF SWEET SWINE COUNTY! OUR STORY’s hit TV show! They’re sassy, fashionable and outspoken!

Our Reporters dish up

Points Of Interest from OUR STORY Country! Join our explorers:




The Cocklebur Morning Show

Split Hoof Tonight

weeds out the big stories!

OUR STORY's Answer to Late-Night TV!


Yea, yea, yea. We know…we know. We should do this, we should that. So if you think you know better, send us an email. We’ll probably look at it. We might publish it, we might not. But keep it pithy. We’ve got a lot to do. If you feel you must, you’ll find our email address on Good luck!

Dear OUR STORY PRODUCTIONS: By now, you might be getting a little tired of me emailing you all the time with my comments about OUR STORY stuff. You have received those emails, right? You’ve said on your website that you’re now coming out with the new magazine, “The Road to OUR STORY.” I’m presuming you’ll be having a Letter to the Editor section in the magazine, and I just want to let you know that you can feel free to publish any of the emails I’ve sent you. When I was looking back through them, I thought emails #46 and #67 were especially good. But this one will probably be pretty good, too. Anyway, I was just thinking…. In my last email I told you how I really like the changes you’ve been making on your website at In fact, sometimes even I am amazed at how incredibly informative and creative your website is, and that’s a big compliment coming from a person like me who knows a lot about these things. You make it so easy to click on a tab on the homepage so you can quickly find what you want to see, and I especially like the way I can re-watch all the programs I’ve seen on TV because they pop right up the minute I log on. I really like those tabs for “HOME,”

“VIDEO” (that let’s you watch every show you’ve ever produced!), “MAGAZINE” (where we’ll be able to read “The Road to OUR STORY” magazine online), “EVENTS” (for everything that’s happening at OUR STORY STUDIOS and elsewhere in OUR STORY Country), “BLOGS” (one of my favorites!), “STORE” (where I bought that great OUR STORY teeshirt) and “CONTACT” (it gave me your email address, thank heavens!). I mean, I am really IMPRESSED with your website! The newest thing is, I see now you have descriptions about all the towns you feature on OUR STORY. I think there are about 50 of them. Heck, you even tell the history of lots of those towns. There are so many other good things I’d like to tell you about your website, but I’m going to wait until my next email because my brother is waiting in the car to go into Swine Lake for some groceries, and I’ve got the list. Oh, that reminds me, the whole gist of this email was supposed to be about how I want you to write more about the towns that are actually in Sweet Swine County where I live. You know, more about places like Swine Lake, Cow Pie Ridge, Corn Row and Split Hoof. We’ve got a great life here in Sweet Swine County, and I don’t ever want you to forget that! Until my next email, I remain Daly E. Mailer, Jr. • • • • • • • • • •

The GARN Difference ®

Proven technology


GARN® Wood Heating Systems GARN® line of Wood Fired Hydronic Heating System uses wood as a viable, clean and effective renewable, carbon neutral heating source reducing your dependency on fossil fuels. GARN® has been manufacturing high efficiency wood burners for more than 30 years. GARN® systems are unrivaled in efficiency, safety, ease of operation , maintenance and longevity. GARN® WHS Wood Fired Hydronic Heater burns 40% to 60% less wood than typical outdoor wood burners providing heat for residential, detached garages, commercial and small industrial buildings.

Ken Oaks | Oaks Sales Inc. | 218-963-4303 office | 218-820-4815 cell | E-mail 1


table f

It means what’s all in this magazine! Giddy-up!!

CONTENTS Page 28-29 Discover their secrets to success and being fashion mavens! Do they really get along when they aren’t filming?


Featured Stories

And Even More!

18 Bobby Ray's Weekend Adventures 32 In the Passenger's Seat 33 Earl Steps Out 37 Ladies, are you listening? 54 Memoirs of a Librarian 55 Cookin' it up with Betty 56 Hidden Away...Not Forgotten

8 Cocklebur Reports

6 Publisher’s Letter 16 As the Corn Grows

Spomer Classics & Museum and Big Honza

28 Meet the Women!

Stylish! Sassy! Smart! How do they do it? Secrets Revealed!

Meet Urban Katie The Tale of Cousin John

44 Split Hoof Ramblings

Windom's Riverfest and Eyota's Treefrog Treasures

50 The Sweet Swine Women Talk About...

Marquetry and Lights & Beyond 3

s! Visit u

RELUCTANT PUBLISHER: Jeff Rouse OUR STORY Studios Fairmont, MN 56031 Tel: 507.236.5607 Web:

City Spotlights


10 Blue Earth “The Earth So Rich The City Grows”


12 Adrian “All Is Fine in Adrian”


14 Downtown Fairmont “The City of Lakes”


20 St. James “Small-Town Living, Big-Time Opportunity”

COOL CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Thomas Dodge Sarah Morphew Wanda Nelson Chip Pearson

22 Trimont “A Neat Place to Live” 24 Madelia “Pride of the Prairie”

COPY-CAT CHIEFS: Shelley Abitz Samantha Lund-Hillmer Wanda Nelson Bryan Peterson

26 Winnebago “Small Town, Big Heart” 30 Truman “A Great Place to Call Home”

POOFREADERS: Samanta Land-Hillmor Bryon Pederson Jaff Roose

34 Windom “The Town of the Riverfest”


38 Welcome “A Friendly Place” 40 Slayton “A Community of Ambitions in Action”


42 Fairmont “The City of Lakes”


46 Lake Benton “Original Wind-Power Capital of the Midwest”

CONTRIBUTING STYLE MAVENS: Prairie Ann Nicole Hilton Paris Richie

48 Lakefield “You'll Love It in Lakefield”

PERFECT PRINTER: John C. Draper, Publisher Pipestone Publishing Co. and Page 1 Printers

52 Luverne “The Best of Yesterday and Today”




"Remember, it's not just the past but the present that becomes OUR STORY!"

Dear Readers: Welcome to the first issue of OUR STORY Productions’ new magazine, The Road to OUR STORY. If you haven’t yet seen OUR STORY’s TV programming being broadcast throughout OUR STORY Country on public-access cable TV channels (in 80 towns in Minnesota and Iowa) or looked at our website at, we’re here to tell you that you’ve been missing out on the quirky lives of all the amazing characters who reside in Sweet Swine County! Yes, although it is a fictional place, Sweet Swine County is, however, certainly real in the minds of the fictional people who live there! The rural towns and cities nestled on the prairie and in river valleys of the Upper Midwest are rich with interesting history and a unique way of life. Perhaps some would say that this way of life is dying. Instead, we at OUR STORY Productions believe that our rural way of life is merely changing—progressively adapting to our contemporary world while retaining the wonderful flavor of a time that hearkens back to the cotton-candy days of the County Fair, Main Street parades, summertime festivals, service-oriented small businesses, and the goodness of hard-working people who are expressive in their spiritual faith and supportive community spirit. It is OUR STORY Productions’ mission to continue reporting on these wonderful traditions, and the people and businesses that perpetuate them,

with our TV and Internet programming and now through the print media with this magazine. In The Road to OUR STORY’s premiere issue, you’ll not only read about many of the TV programs produced by OUR STORY Productions—and get to know our zany cast of characters who blur the line between fantasy and reality while living in Sweet Swine County—but also learn about the real people, businesses, and cultural and recreational life found in the communities where we broadcast. We hope you enjoy this issue of The Road to OUR STORY and continue to watch for upcoming issues that you may pick up at your local businesses, hotels, and Chamber of Commerce offices. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions, too! Reach us through our website, again, at www. And now, put on your specs, and sit back and relax while you journey with us on The Road to OUR STORY!

Jeff Rouse Executive Producer Our Story Productions



Spomer Classics & Museum Marv Spomer started selling cars in 1963. In the mid 1980s, his wife Jeanine suggested that he take up her antiquing hobby. That hobby turned into Spomer Classics & Museum when it opened in an old auto dealership building in Worthington, Minnesota in 2004. The museum houses a collection of unusual or collector cars, including muscle cars, convertibles, and Corvettes. You will also find automobile memorabilia such as peddle cars, clocks, marketing materials and mannequins dressed in period attire. Spomer Classics & Museum also specializes in automotive signage. The first small sign Marv bought was a 1920s Ethyl Gas sign made of porcelain. The first large signs Marv bought were the “Cadillac” and “OK USED CARS” signs displayed in the museum's front area. Part of Marv’s Coca-Cola sign collection originally came from his father’s old gas station. Today, Spomer Classics & Museum has over 400 porcelain and neon signs from all over the country. Porcelain signs are no longer made, but remain brilliant over many years. Some of the signs are duplicates, but

many are one-of-a-kind. Three signs were used as movie props in Hollywood, and some signs are still in original shipping crates. Many of the older signs have been completely refurbished at the museum with new paint, wiring and neon. Marv encourages anyone interested in a tour of the museum to stop by. Spomer Classics & Museum is located at 322 Oxford Street in Worthington, Minnesota and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Give Marv a head's-up before you visit so he can greet you. Call toll-free: 866-450-6366. Check out Marv’s website at:


Just when you thought you’d gotten the cockleburs outta your overalls, they’re now on TV! That’s right, The Cocklebur Morning Show, filmed at OUR STORY Studios in Fairmont, MN is one weed you won’t want to pull! It’s a hit in Sweet Swine County. So watch it grow with hosts Bobby Ray and Sally Sue while they deliver a mix of news, entertainment and information about towns throughout OUR STORY Country. Below are two of the guests who appeared on The Cocklebur Morning Show. To view the video broadcasts or find any of the guests who have appeared on The Cocklebur Morning Show, go to



John Grimm is a retired Air Force and airline pilot who moved to Montgomery, Minnesota several years ago. John has developed an incredible tour that showcases this small Czech community of 3,200. His tour begins at Hilltop Hall, a turn-of-the-century concert hall. It took John ten years to restore the building to its former glory. Tourists are entertained by local, piano-playing, 15-year-old resident Jessie Beulke and the McCrady family playing their string instruments while John serenades with his own songs. Visitors learn about the history of the town of Montgomery and the legendary character, Big Honza Giganticzech.

Next stop: Big Honza’s Museum of Unnatural History! Dr. Monty Gomery (portrayed by John) is the curator of the museum and the world’s foremost authority on Big Honza artifacts. Dr. Gomery holds a Ph.D. from ISU (Promulgator of Honzonian Data from Imaginary State University). Big Honza Giganticzech is believed to be the first immigrant from the old country to Montgomery. It is said that Big Honza was bigger, stronger, wiser, and better looking than Paul Bunyan. Some of the artifacts found in Big Honza’s Museum include: a two-person alarm clock, an airplane designed by Big Honza, a steam-driven toothbrush, and a sweater knit from Big Honza’s navel lint. John is also a singer/songwriter who has composed over 100 songs and written theatrical musicals, including “Destination Montgomery.” John’s latest play is entitled, “It’s About Us.” His special hobby is tending to his "private zoo" that includes five goats, a pot-bellied pig, two miniature horses, two miniature donkeys, three llamas, and…a partridge in a pear tree! Big Honza is online! Go to to learn more about Big Honzaland, tours, the museum and the town of Montgomery. 9

OUR STORY’s super-sleuth, Johnny Happening, is on a case to sniff out the greatest communities and downtown areas in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. His amazing detective work always digs up incredible results. A case in point is the town below. Johnny, we love ya for this discovery! To see the video broadcast about this town or any of our “Streets of Minnesota” video broadcasts, go to

elcome to Blue Earth, Minnesota, a beautiful, quaint community nestled in the Blue Earth River Valley. Founded in 1856, Blue Earth gets its name from the Blue Earth River that circles the town. The river was given the Indian Name “Mahkota,” meaning Blue Earth, because of the blue-gray clay found high in the riverbanks. Strategically located at the intersection of Interstate 90 and Highway 169 in south-central Minnesota, (the actual mid-point of the United States) Blue Earth celebrates its rich history with several museums and historical buildings. The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church still houses Minnesota’s first stained glass window. Blue Earth is also the home of the original “Chocolate Dream” ice-cream treat, known today as the “Eskimo Pie.” Overlooking the north edge of town, the world’s largest statue of the Jolly Green Giant stands at a whopping 55-1/2 feet tall. Blue Earth is the county seat of Faribault County where the Ag Society holds its incredible County Fair each year. Blue Earth offers various forms of recreation throughout the year. Visitors enjoy the beauty of nature in Blue Earth's numerous parks, trails and camping sites. Many annual events spotlight the talents of area crafters and artists with craft shows, a community theatre and concert association. Stellar educational opportunities, a wonderful library, state-of-the-art health care and numerous business and industry opportunities make this community an incredible place to live!


For additional information about Blue Earth, contact the Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau at 507-526-2916 or check their website at


OUR STORY’s program hosts, Lars and Inga, are “directionally challenged” vacationers traveling all over OUR STORY Country—getting lost every time they’re on the road! In spite of being “Lost in Minnesota,” by using their trusty travel guides they still manage to discover all kinds of great information about the intriguing towns they happen across. Below is another town of interest they found. To see the video broadcast of this “Lost in Minnesota” episode, or any of Lars and Inga’s other adventures, go to


"All Is Fine in Adrian"


Trivia Question #1 Where is OUR STORY Studios located?

drian is a small but progressive community located in the western portion of in Nobles County in southwestern Minnesota. The City was established in 1876 as an expansion of the St. Paul-Dakota Railroad and was named in honor of Adrian Iselin, the mother of one of the railroad company's directors.

The first correct emailed answer wins a celebrity-autographed copy of The Road to OUR STORY.

Over the years, Adrian has built and maintained a solid, primarily agriculturally related economic base. Adrian has over 80 businesses that support local employment. The City is administered by a council consisting of five council persons and a presiding mayor. Various city departments and appointed boards assist the City Council in delivering services to the community. In addition to the City's efforts there are numerous clubs, organizations, churches, a golf course, professionally designed 18-hole Disc Golf Course, tennis courts and the educational Prairie Grass Learning Center. Visit Adrian's RV Park–one of the largest in Southwestern Minnesota! And don't forget to have a fabulous time at Adrian's annual "Christmas in July" celebration!


Mrs. Tipton is always happy to read aloud the history reports written by her students—they’re the smartest kids around! No red knuckles from “ruler-smacks” in her classroom! Only shiny red apples are handed out when Mrs. Tipton shares the facts her smartas-whip students wrote in their reports about Minnesota and Iowa towns! To watch the video broadcasts of "Inside Mrs. Tipton’s Classroom," go to

Downtown Fairmont, Minnesota is a wonderful mix of yesterday’s historic splendor and today’s modern businesses. The famous Chubb House was built in 1867 and is the oldest brick house still standing in Fairmont. The Red Rock Center for the Arts was constructed in 1898 of Sioux quartzite block. The Fairmont Opera House was built in 1901 and is a unique building which has enriched

Historic Places in 1977. The Old Post Office was built in 1926 with donated money from local businesses at a cost of $50,000. The Martin County Historical Society and Pioneer Museum's exciting exhibits fill twelve rooms with treasures from yesteryear. Fairmont's downtown also is the headquarters of OUR STORY Productions—housed in the OUR STORY Studios building that was formerly

the architectural, cultural, and commercial life of the region for over 100 years. The Martin County Courthouse was built in 1906 on the hill above Lake Sisseton, and was placed on the National Register of

the extraordinary turn-of-the-century Oddfellows Lodge. Stroll the beautiful Downtown Plaza to find unique specialty shops, restaurants and service


organizations. Enjoy “Fridays in the Park” all summer long, access scenic trails around the lakes on the City's Trail System, take part in the Interlaken Days Festival and see Fairmont Glow with Christmas lights–yes, Fairmont has it all! For more information on Downtown Fairmont, Minnesota, visit the City of Fairmont website at


Urban Katie played by Kati Powell Urban Katie is the second child of James and Alma Olson. James was very close to his older sister, Ella. His children spent most of their summers at her farm in Sweet Swine County while James and Alma safaried in Africa, explored the rain forests in South America and continent-hopped–thanks to the fortune they made in gravel and granite. The character of Urban Katie has had many romantic relationships, but always puts work before her personal life. Urban Katie was frightened by a remarkably mean clown when she was a little girl. To this day, she can’t stand white face paint or red rubber noses. Elephants

also make her uneasy ever since that big one escaped while she was at the Zoo with Grandpa Axel. They had to jump out of its path as it charged through the gate. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Urban Katie was in a five-year relationship with Brandon Garrett, a soughtafter Elvis Presley impersonator and star of stage, screen and television. Wedding bells rang at Brandon and Urban Katie's marriage, but went silent three months later during their divorce. Brandon couldn’t deal with Urban Katie's decision to move to rural Minnesota. Presumably, Brandon's wildly successful career as an Elvis impersonator would have been greatly diminished had he gone with her.

Urban Katie is a prolific writer and is, for the most part, respected by the other residents of Sweet Swine County.

Kati Powell (Urban Katie Olson, Natasha Cherchankov, Lady Dot) enjoyed her early years on the East Coast. Her family moved west to California when she was nine, and the Los Angeles area was her home for nearly 40 years. In 2006, Kati began visiting southern Minnesota a few times each year (in all seasons!), and decided to make Minnesota her home state in September 2008. From 1976 to 1993, Kati devoted time to learning about performing on stage and before a camera -- and played a variety of characters on stage and in film and television. In the 1990s, she returned to college with strong interest in religious studies and the humanities, and wrote 600 pages of fiction and non-fiction, along with two screenplays–one, a tragicomedy about media and culture, and the other, an adaptation of an epic novel. Kati has developed a line of greeting cards entitled, "The Signs Are Everywhere," and is currently a top-rated eBay Power Seller. Her online store, First Class Secondhand, features an inventory of vintage fine jewelry. 16

Having joined OUR STORY’s roster of programs in the summer of 2008, the zany soap opera AS THE CORN GROWS depicts the story of a big-city girl (Urban Katie) who leaves behind her city life to move to Southern Minnesota after inheriting a farm from her Aunt Ella. Executive Producer Jeff Rouse says, “To the best of our knowledge, AS THE CORN GROWS is the first TV soap opera about rural Minnesota life. The show gives viewers a tongue-in-cheek look at life inside Sweet Swine County with a lovable cast of characters who bring new meaning to the word, ‘corny’!”  In this issue of The Road to OUR STORY, we’re happy to introduce you to some of the citizens of Sweet Swine County who appear on AS THE CORN GROWS!  All episodes are easily viewed at! 

Cousin John played by Mark Anderson

over 2000 acres of farmland and the Pluck-a-Cluck chicken business.

Cousin John is the only son of Rupert and Mary Olson. He has four older sisters who never married and live together in the same house. They run a consignment shop on Main Street.

Cousin John sticks his nose into everybody's business in Sweet Swine County. He's the most eligible bachelor in town, but hasn't had time for romance until recently when he set his sights on his step-Aunt Minnie (Aunt Ella’s much younger, prettier step-sister). Hmmm. Is Cousin John just using Aunt Minnie in a romantic way for other purposes?

Cousin John's father Rupert lost his farm to his sister, poor judgment and an ill-tempered herd of camels. However, he went on to build a hugely successful chicken business that funded his reacquisition of more farmland. Rupert never got his sister, Ella, to sell the original farm back to him. On his death bed, Rupert made his son promise to get that farm back! Cousin John had the business acumen to parlay his father’s fortune into buying a bank, a radio station,

Cousin John can’t stand camels (obviously!), clowns (because of a run-in he and his father had with a car full of clowns), or spiders ("They're ugly, disgusting and they bite you for no good reason!"). Although most comfortable in his jeans and suspenders, Cousin John

cleans up well for the boardroom or an evening out. He's a hard worker and good with money, but loses focus when it comes to getting back the family farm. Cousin John loves his antique tractor collection, old episodes of Gunsmoke, and coconut-cream pie.

Mark Anderson plays the character Cousin John and his identical triplet brothers, Boris and Daniel. Mark is a Fairmont, Minnesota native who returned home after 30 years of working in the automobile industry in many places across the country. After attending a class reunion in Minnesota, Mark and his wife Dianna decided they wanted to move back here to live. They sold their home in Southern California, and moved back to Mark's roots with their flock of pet birds. Mark is Parts and Service Director for Hawkins Chevrolet-Cadillac in Fairmont. He enjoys golfing, spending time with family and friends, and “parrot wrangling.” He is actively involved with the Martin County Sheriff’s Posse, Fairmont Civic Summer Theater Board, and the Fairmont Dollars for Scholars Board. 17

On each episode of The Cocklebur Morning Show, history buff, Bobby Ray, shares with viewers the interesting discoveries he’s made over the weekend when traveling throughout OUR STORY Country. That Bobby Ray is always on the go! He sure does have the knack for finding incredible stories, like the one below! To watch any video broadcasts of Bobby Ray’s Weekend Adventures, go to

I recently visited the town of Fulda, Minnesota. Wow! What a great place rich with interesting history! Situated on the north end of beautiful Seven Mile Lake in Murray County, the city of Fulda was founded in 1881 along the Milwaukee Road primarily by German settlers who named the community for Fulda in Hesse, Germany. Fulda's residents inherited a strong work ethic from their ancestry: “Our people believe in the hometown idea of working together, helping each other and getting involved in their community.”

I was really impressed by the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Monument that had been erected in 1895 and dedicated on Memorial Day in 1896. The monument depicts “The Old Soldier, the Man in Blue”—standing proudly in the Prairie Hill Cemetery a mile north of Fulda. A Civil War cannon guards Fulda’s town park and was purchased for $155 on June 25, 1892. Fulda honors its veterans at the Veteran’s Memorial Park with a walkway set with inscribed pavers listing the names and service dates

of those who proudly served their country. One of Fulda’s premier attractions is the annual Wood Duck Festival that is held in June, and includes a parade, carnival attractions, and musical and talent performances in the park. Fulda is still predominantly an agricultural community today, and a fascinating place to visit!

Fulda! 18


105 West 1st St. • Fairmont, MN


Colonel von Bragger loves to review his journal and reread the entries he’s written about his worldly travels, including those within OUR STORY Country. Below he shares about one of the interesting boroughs he’s discovered. To see him talk about others, click on

St. James is a proud community of 5,000 people and is the county seat of Watonwan County. This charming community, located in south-central Minnesota, is surrounded by beautiful farmland and open spaces. Early settlers describe the area as "fine rolling prairie, diversified and enriched by beautiful lakes of pure water." The town is nestled next to St. James Lake, which offers pier fishing and a four-mile paved bike and walking trail. Beautiful Memorial Park also skirts the lake and has playgrounds, picnic shelters, a skateboard park, and a band shell. St. James also has an outdoor-pool complex that includes a lap pool, splash pool and 150-foot water slide. Visitors enjoy this community's natural beauty, friendly people, specialty shopping, and amenities. The City has excellent medical services, housing, schools, churches, and more. St. James has recently finished an expansion of its industrial park. Make St. James your home today!


For more information on St. James: Area Chamber of Commerce: 507-375-3333 Chamber website: Email: Economic Development Authority: 507-375-3241


OUR STORY’s super-sleuth, Johnny Happening, is on a case to sniff out the greatest communities and downtown areas in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. His amazing detective work always digs up incredible results. A case in point is the town below. Johnny, we love ya for this discovery! To see the video broadcast about this town or any of our “Streets of Minnesota” video broadcasts, go to

You’ll certainly want to stop and have a look around the quaint town of Trimont, Minnesota while driving through it on Highway 4, just seven miles north of Interstate 90 in Martin County. Officially established in 1959, Trimont is actually the result of the consolidation of the twin villages of Triumph and Monterey— two different towns that had been platted by competing railroads in the late 1800s. This gives Trimont the unique characteristic of having two separate Main Street business districts that are on the same street,

yet placed about a half-mile apart. Nearby are the scenic Big Twin and Cedar lakes which provide recreational opportunities for those who enjoy fishing, swimming, and camping. Both are very popular attractions for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. In 1988, Trimont Schools consolidated with neighboring Sherburn and Welcome to form the Martin County West School District that offers fine educational programming for the area’s students. Trimont celebrates in July with a well-known festival called “The Chocolate Festival”—featuring live entertainment, a parade, community church services, and an array of food. The area surround-


ing Trimont has a well-developed wind-energy production industry—rotating windmills stand like giant sentries guarding the rich farmland. Trimont’s residents are proud to call their town “A Neat Place to Live” and pride themselves on their summertime “Sundaes in the Park” concerts, as well as the town’s clean, friendly, and peaceful ambience.

Trivia Question #2

What is the first business that OUR STORY's Betty Thompson (star of "Cookin' it up with Betty") stepped into when she visited Henderson, Minnesota?

For more information about Trimont, contact City Hall at 507-639-2060 or visit their website

The first correct emailed answer wins a celebrity-autographed copy of The Road to OUR STORY.


When Professor J. Von Tron's time machine continues to malfunction, she accidentally stays in the here-and-now while journeying to towns and communities throughout OUR STORY Country. But that’s OK. The Professor finds out that all of these towns are making interesting history right now, just like they did in the past and will in the future. Read about the Professor’s latest time machine breakdown below. And watch all the other places she’s visited on



Trivia Question #5 Name the three women on OUR STORY's "The Women of Sweet Swine County."

M I N N E S O T A The Pride of the Prairie

The first correct emailed answer wins a celebrity-autographed copy of The Road to OUR STORY.

Madelia, Minnesota, the Pride of the Prairie, was established in 1857. Home to 2,100 people, Madelia is a city rich in history. It is also the former site of Fort Cox, which was constructed in 1862 during the Sioux Indian uprising. Today the community of Madelia has many fine parks, schools, churches, clubs and organizations as well as historical places of interest, including the Warren Truss Bridge, believed to be the oldest of this type of bridge in the state. Each year the city of Madelia hosts several community activities. One of these events is the reenactment of the capture of the Younger Brothers, members of the Jesse James gang, with a robbery, shoot-out, and return of the posse into town. The Watonwan County Historical Center is located in Madelia and contains a cabin and a covered wagon dating back to 1857, as well as artifacts, books, papers, and pictures that share the history of the early pioneers in this area. Contact the Madelia Chamber of Commerce for more information. Call: 507-642-8822 Toll Free: 1-888-941-7283 E-mail: Web:


You’ll get more than a good trim in Barber Roy’s Barber Shop— you’ll get informed! Barber Roy is the “King of Juicy Tidbits” when it comes to knowing everything that’s going on throughout OUR STORY Country! Read the latest clippings from the man who knows it all! All of Barber Roy’s episodes may be viewed at

Winnebago Winnebago is a thriving Southern Minnesota community of about 1,400 residents located about 28 miles south of Mankato on Highway 169. Winnebago boasts a flourishing Main Street and is home to many businesses, industries and professional service providers, including an assisted-living healthcare center. Visitors will enjoy seeing the library, museum,

parks, swimming pool and much more. Stop at City Hall for your copy of Winnebago’s Visitor’s Guide that features information about the 29 historic homes gracing the town’s streets. And don’t miss Winnebago’s annual Moto Fest held each first full weekend in August! Winnebago certainly is a small town with big heart!



What happens when three sassy, smart and extremely fashionable women take the prairie by storm? Whoa!! The hit show “The Women of Sweet Swine County” is born! Featuring “small-town stories with big-town attitude,” The Women of Sweet Swine County airs on Our Story Television once a month. In a few short months it has become the number one talk show on Our Story Television aired throughout Our Story Country! Check out the website: Now, just who are these women everyone is talking about? Well are you in for a treat! We have the details. We have the gossip and behind-the-scenes stories! Considering herself to be a younger version of Barbara Walters, reporter and fashionista wannabe Prairie Ann has always longed to be in the spotlight. She cut her reporting chops at KLUK TV & Radio and as a part-time reporter for the Daily Boar Newspaper. Prairie Ann would love to be the one breaking the “next biggest story,” but found herself making headlines last fall when the tell-all book, Not So Sweet: When the Claws Come Out was released. As usual, Prairie Ann bounced back and is now, according to her, the number-one host on the number-one daytime talk show. Draped in head-to-toe fringe, Prairie Ann believes she is not only the most sought-after TV host, but also the go-to girl for “haute couture” fashion.... that is until she met Paris and Nicole. Paris Richie holds a Masters Degree in International Business...and on some days, Prairie Ann’s hand. Paris is the easy-going, girl-next-door talk show host who just wants to make everybody happy. She likes to appease Prairie Ann’s dreams of becoming a fashion designer and will often wear Prairie’s fashion “concoctions” (think fuzzy vest) on the show. Paris enjoys a challenge and has taken it upon herself to educate Prairie Ann on the various towns outside of Sweet Swine County as well as on the ins and outs of high fashion. Growing up as an only child, Paris has tried to form a sisterly bond with Nicole (see below), but it just isn’t working out. Although they both enjoy clubbing, fashion shows and chocolate, Nicole wants nothing to do with Paris outside of the talk show and their boutiques. Much to Bobby Ray’s disappointment, Paris makes frequent trips to California where her rocker-biker boyfriend lives. Nicole Hilton...where to start! Nicole was kicked out of charm school at age 13. She wandered from school to school not really impressing anyone with her acerbic tongue and holier-than-thou attitude. Nothing was, or is, ever good enough for Nicole: no school, no man, not even her name. Born Nicole Charo La Quinta, Nicole changed her name to “Nicole Hilton” as soon as she turned 18 because she thought it sounded classier and that it would get her a shot at fame. One day, Prairie Ann saw Nicole wandering around a cornfield in Sweet Swine County, making crop circles and wearing a fabulous DVF wrap dress. Prairie Ann took pity on this “exotic creature” and decided to take Nicole under her wing. Since then, Nicole has been skating by on her “plastic” looks (she’s admitted to having "work done") and her Vogue-ish fashion sense, which is actually quite refreshing in a town of cowboy boots, fringe and prairie skirts. When “The Women of Sweet Swine County” was pitched to KLUK TV, Prairie Ann immediately thought Nicole would be a good fit for the show.





Pa ri

s Before each show life backstage is usually a madhouse. Prairie Ann can be found in front of the full-length mirror trying on various hats and jackets while waiting for her bedazzler to heat up. Nicole spends two hours in front of the make-up mirror putting on her face and doing her hair. That leaves poor Paris to use her compact to get herself ready. Although they all choose their outfits the night before, Paris always seems to be missing a key piece of clothing right before the show airs. Prairie Ann always comes to the rescue offering Paris one of her newly designed pieces. Paris has no choice but to accept! We all know how Nicole wants to embarrass Paris and take all the glory for being the most stylish host. And there's even more intrigue. Nicole tricks Prairie Ann with fake rehearsal-cancellation memos–so Prairie Ann doesn't show up prepared for the shoot. Nicole also sinks her claws into the other two hosts by calling them names, stealing their questions, and trying to dim their spotlight. Somehow our three hosts make the show work. Proof: Emails and phone calls are pouring in every day! Everyone in Sweet Swine County and beyond is talking about this show. When asked to choose their three favorite guests, the ladies resoundingly agree that ALL the guests have been fab-u-lous.

Nic ole

BREAKING NEWS! It has recently become known that these three women are only actors playing talk show hosts! In reality, the three "hosts" of "The Women of Sweet Swine County" are played by Denise Rouse (Prairie Ann), Samantha Lund-Hillmer (Paris) and Leonor May (Nicole)! Who would have thought it?! In real life these women operate the Giddy Up Boutique next door to Our Story Studios and invite you to come in to see "a round up of clothing...with a past." Leave it to these smart fashionistas to use showbiz to promote their business. Undoubtedly everything they touch turns to gold–Oscar gold.

See and click on "The Women of Sweet Swine County."


Spottingham, England's one and only Lady Dot has traveled the entire world and is convinced that, by far, the most interesting stories and exciting communities are in OUR STORY Country! You are “spot on,” Lady Dot! Here is a story about one of the towns Lady Dot would have “tea for two” in any day of the week! Follow Lady Dot wherever she travels at

he lovely village of Truman is located on the north-central edge of Martin County in Westford Township, Minnesota. The first settlement in the township was established in 1857 along Elm Creek. In 1862, many of the settlements in the area were burned during an Indian uprising, but many residents soon returned to rebuild their homes and farms. In 1878, an east-west railroad was

built crossing the county, and settlers once again flowed into the region, reclaiming the abandoned farms and planting new fields across the vast prairies. Another rush of settlement occurred with the opening of the north-south railroad in 1899. The city of Truman was born at this time when that railroad was built to connect Fairmont with Madelia.  Today, Truman continues to change and adapt itself for the future by offering many activities and services that make it “A Great Place to Call Home.” It is becoming an antiquing destination point for discerning buyers with three interesting antique shops lining


Main Street. The town’s annual “Truman Days” event with its city-wide garage sales, parade and street dance has become a summertime magnet for area. Truman has a community swimming pool, camping area, beautiful town park for picnicking, and in the winter the town operates an ice-skating rink. Yet, as always, Truman’s real wealth lies in the energy, tenacity, and vision of its residents. Born of the railroad and raised on the farms, Truman continues to reach toward the future as a community of caring, supportive neighbors–a rural survivor.


Drive around in OUR STORY’s official automobile with a motorist who has a keen eye for finding hitchhikers and other folks with the most fascinating stories! When you take a spin down the road with this driver, you’re bound to discover more interesting stories and places than you could ever imagine! Watch all of the In The Passenger’s Seat “road shows” at

ne of OUR STORY’s motoring mavens recently was driving through St. James, Minnesota and saw Lori Nussbaum, Executive Director of the St. James Chamber of Commerce, on the sidewalk. Our driver asked her to hop in the car for a spin around town to point out all its great features—there certainly was a lot to learn! With a population of 4,695, Saint James is the county seat of Watonwan County. The City benefits from close-by access to major transportation routes: I-90 and Highway 60. St. James has a rich history. The City was founded and created by the expansion of the railroad in the late 1800s. Many well-known people called St. James their home including former Minnesota Governor Hammond, and the Reverend and Mrs. Theodore Mondale (Walter Mondale's grandparents). St. James is famous for its hanging baskets of flowers that beautifully line the streets during the summer. Two lakes, one near downtown and the other just outside of town, may be viewed from the well-developed walking paths that meander through the town’s parks. The Chamber of Commerce supplies visitors with a trail map describing the birds, wildlife and nature found in the area. St. James has many exciting community events throughout the year that include “Hot Dog Days,” the city-wide garage sale held in May, the annual Watonwan County Fair, the Watonwan “Relay for Life,” and the Winter Carnival in December. Celebrated in June, “Railroad Days” is the perhaps the largest annual event and among many other fun activities it features “The Taste of St. James,” where local restaurants and caterers offer samples from their menus. Visit the St. James Chamber of Commerce website at You’ll certainly find out why St. James’ motto, “Small-Town Living, Big-Time Opportunity,” rings so true! 32

On each episode of Split Hoof Tonight, Earl, who has never left Sweet Swine County, shares with us his plans to "step out" and discover life—way beyond his comfort zone. And Earl does just that! Read here about one of many discoveries Earl has made. It sure seems comfortable to us!! All of Earl’s video reports are viewable at

All you avid hunters–find guns and gun supplies here! They'll process your wild game, too! id you know that the largest gun shop in Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota is located in Lincoln County Minnesota? Kjergaard Sports is nestled just outside Lake Benton, Minnesota. Open the doors and what do you see? Guns, guns and more guns! Proprietor Steve Kjergaard has over 3,000 guns in stock, but this is more than a gun shop–it’s a shooting sports store. Steve also carries ammunition, optics, reloading supplies and accessories. He can show the avid hunter anything he might need to put a nice trophy on the wall. If you can’t get to Kjergaard Sports in Lake Benton real soon, you can visit their great website to look at what stock they carry: Once a hunter gets a deer, he needs a place to process the meat. It’s getting harder and harder to find someone who processes wild game. But at Egan’s Market in Adrian (Nobles County) you can get all your wild game processed. For thirty years, and through three generations, Egan’s Market has processed just about every type of meat, bird or wild game you can think of. And they NEVER batch-process. In other words, you get back the meat you bring in! They take the extra time to double-wrap all their meats, except deer, which they vacuumpack. To find out more about the services offered by Egan’s Market in Adrian, contact them at 507-483-2024. 33

And once again Spottingham, England's one and only Lady Dot has traveled the entire world and is convinced that, by far, the most interesting stories and exciting communities are in OUR STORY Country! You are “spot on,” Lady Dot! Here is a story about one of the towns Lady Dot would have “tea for two” in any day of the week! Follow Lady Dot wherever she travels at

indom, Minnesota, population 4,490, is the county seat of Cottonwood County. Originally platted in 1871 by a division of the Sioux City and St. Paul Railroad, it was laid out with a center square surrounded by businesses. Windom’s historic 1903 courthouse still sits prominently on the center square of the town. The town was named for the Honorable William Windom, who served a total of 33 years as a representative, a senator and as Secretary of Treasury. As the county seat, Windom is the hub of the region. This growing, lively community has a diverse economy including agriculture, manufacturing, technology, medical, and adult-care facilities. Windom also offers excellent public services, activities and events. Its 50,000-square-foot multipurpose arena includes two indoor ice areas for hockey, figure skating and ice shows, broomball and open skating,

plus facilities for racquetball, wallyball, basketball, an indoor batting cage and a golf driving range. The arena is also used for horse shows, auto shows, auctions and special county fair events. The Senior Center is located in the Community Center building that also features rental facilities for up to 600 people.


A progressive community, Windom offers a variety of educational opportunities–Head Start and preschool through senior high, with 96% of Windom graduates proudly continuing with post-secondary studies. The City of Windom operates 14 parks that encompass 124 acres. These parks include playgrounds, three softball/youth baseball fields, a baseball field, a soccer/flag football field, a skateboard park, 1.35 miles of walking trails, a swimming pool, camping along the Des Moines River, and great fishing yearround at area lakes. Windom also holds an exciting annual summer festival called Riverfest during the second weekend of June.

For additional information contact the Windom Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors and Convention Bureau at 800-7-WINDOM or their website


Available for all occasions: bachelorette parties, birthdays, fund raisers

& other events Bringing belly dance Southern Minnesota: American Tribal Style (ATS), Tribal Fusion, Wild Wings, Cabaret, Sword, Egyptian & Skirt



Each episode of “The Women of Sweet Swine County� has our colorful hostesses reading a fan letter that oozes with great gossip about an interesting place somewhere in OUR STORY Country. Right here, you can read one for yourself! For more video broadcasts of "Ladies Are You Listening?," see

reen Giant Memorabilia Museum is located in Blue Earth, Minnesota and exhibits premiums, toys, and marketing materials from the Green Giant Company. The Green Giant logo is one of the top ten most recognized advertising icons in the world. Former Green Giant employee Lowell Steen began collecting company memorabilia in 1986 and has pieces dating back to the 1920s. In 2005, Steen approached the City of Blue Earth and the Chamber of Commerce about building a museum to house his collection so that others could enjoy viewing it. On July 10, 2009, the new museum opened to the public. The museum exhibits Green Giant items including kites, aprons, T-shirts, toys, coasters, rings, magnets and a multitude of other items. There is a large mural painted by Barb Pearson and a replica, in miniature, of the old packing facility that was made by another local resident, Gordy Miller.

fire hall in order to include pieces of old machinery used in the canning process. You, too, will be singing "Ho-hoho! Green Giant!" as you leave the museum!

Located adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce office, the museum occupies two stalls of the old four-stall fire hall. Eventually, the museum will expand to entirely fill the old

Green Giant

Museum 113 S. Nicollet Street Blue Earth, MN


Norma the Waitress loves to pour you a cup of coffee while talking about the latest great little town she and Chef Randy have visited somewhere in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. If you’re lucky, you might even get to take a sip in-between all the banter. She’s one gal who likes to chew the fat! Waitress Norma and Chef Randy have something fascinating for you to read right here! Watch more of "Just Ask Norma the Waitress" at

station, railroad depots, a saloon, a hotel, a hospital, and several homes built by early settlers. Be sure to visit Welcome's town square and view their unique 1914 water fountain, built to supply water for people and horses.

ou're always welcome in Welcome, Minnesota! With a population a smidgen over 700, the Village of Welcome, geographically located in the center of Martin County, was incorporated in 1890. Originally known as Lily Creek for the creek that still flows to the north, the name was later changed to Welcome in honor of Alfred M. Welcome, an Englishman who homesteaded in Manyaska Township after the Civil War.

Welcome also looks to the future. A new ethanol plant was built just outside of town and began production in 2009. The plant was designed to be among the most environmentally friendly facilities in the industry. In 1988, to ensure quality education for the community, Welcome combined with nearby Sherburn and Trimont schools to form the Martin County West School District.

Welcome residents are very proud of their history, with a thriving Historical Society and Museum. Located in a former church in the middle of town, the museum offers many opportunities to learn more about the community and its past. Pick up a copy of the walking-tour map and learn about an early radio

The town of Welcome welcomes you to their community and hopes you’ll make them your destination for a day or a lifetime.


Welcome Historical Society The Welcome Historical Society is located in the old Methodist Church building which was built in 1893. The museum opened its doors July 20, 1990. The museum exhibits a 1920s-1930s kitchen, an old-fashioned bedroom, a replica of the Welcome Hotel in 1920 (that includes original chairs, a cash register and guest book from the hotel), period clothing for men, women and military personnel, Welcome school mementos, as well other fascinating items. The Historical Society also offers a walking tour of Welcome that highlights 15 buildings or locations in town that have historical significance. The Welcome Historical Museum is open April through September on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or by appointment. Contact Marsha Williams at 507-236-2034 to set an appointment or make a donation.

For more information on Welcome contact City Hall at 507-728-8740 or check out OUR STORY's program about Welcome at


Yes, she's back again! Spottingham, England's one and only Lady Dot has traveled the entire world and is convinced that, by far, the most interesting stories and exciting communities are in OUR STORY Country! You are “spot on,” Lady Dot! Here is a story about one of the towns Lady Dot would have “tea for two” in any day of the week! Follow Lady Dot wherever she travels at

layton, Minnesota is the county seat of Murray County. Also known as the “Hub City” of southwest Minnesota, Slayton is located at the junction of US Highway #59 and State Highway #30. Situated just six miles from Lake Shetek, Slayton offers numerous recreational opportunities. Within its county parks are tennis and basketball courts, softball and baseball fields, picnic areas, playground equipment, and an outdoor-swimming complex called Slaytona Beach West. During the summer, Slayton's community band gives free performances in the Gullord Park band shell. Slayton also hosts the Murray County Fair each summer. Visit Slayton's phenomenal Murray County Historical Museum or the Dinehart-Holt House to relive a bit of the historical charm of the community. Attend the "Days of ’87 Celebration" that honors the founding of the town and at the same time check out Slayton's thriving business district.


For additional information about Slayton, please contact the Slayton Area Chamber of Commerce. tel: 507-836-6902 web:

Slayton has a full-service hospital, a medical clinic, long-term care facility, a public library, volunteer fire department, airport and is a hub for public transportation throughout the county. Slayton invites you to become part of their familyoriented community for a day, a week, or a lifetime.


Barber Roy is back again to give you a great trim in Barber Roy’s Barber Shop where you’ll get all the town news! Barber Roy is the “King of Juicy Tidbits” when it comes to knowing everything that’s going on throughout OUR STORY Country! Read the latest clippings from the man who knows it all! All of Barber Roy’s episodes may be viewed at

Fairmont, Minnesota, known as the “City of Lakes,” is built around a chain of five interconnecting lakes. Two of the lakes are named after the first settlers to the area, E. Banks Hall and William H. Budd. Recreational activities abound in Fairmont and include swimming, pleasure boating, water skiing, canoeing, fishing, hiking, golfing and wildlife observation. Fairmont’s scenic park system is comprised of nearly 400 acres of playgrounds, athletic fields, flower gardens and disc golf. Fairmont has several sports associations including the Youth Hockey Association and Soccer Association. Throughout the year, Fairmont hosts several events, including Fairmont Raceways (from April through September,) the Borderline Cruisers Classic Car Show in June, the Summer Fun Festival (Interlaken Heritage Days), 4th-ofJuly fireworks, the Power Boat Celebration in August, Bo’s Show N’ Shine in August and Fairmont Glows in November. As the county seat of Martin County, Fairmont hosts the annual Martin County Fair.


Fairmont has excellent early childhood education, public schools, two private schools, and a post-secondary educational campus and healthcare that features the Fairmont Medical Center – Mayo Health System. Fairmont's unsurpassed beauty and fascinating history makes it "southern Minnesota's best-kept secret." For additional information about this community, contact City Hall at 507-238-9461 or check out their website at


Windom riverfest Windom, a lively, growing city, is the county seat of Cottonwood County. Windom's historic courthouse square is the focal point for a variety of successful retail businesses. Each year Windom's residents are pleased to welcome visitors to their Riverfest Celebration the second weekend in June. This summer’s Riverfest was themed, “Fired Up in 2010” to honor the 125th anniversary of Windom’s volunteer fire department. The Grande Parade featured Windom's fire department as well as neighboring towns' fire departments and equipment.

On the Friday night of the celebration, a large fireworks display illuminated the night sky. The kids had a Soap Box Derby, a fishing contest, a concert, a pedal-tractor pull and a Remote-Controlled Model Airplane Float. Throughout the weekend there were numerous athletic events including a 5K run/walk, a one-mile run/walk and lots of tournaments including tennis, men’s slow-pitch softball, soccer, volleyball, and disc golf. There was even a cribbage tournament for the not-so-athletic. One of the more popular annual activities was the turtle race.

Riverfest attendees enjoyed the large craft and collectibles show in the courthouse square, the Karz ‘n Trux Shine & Show Classic, the Vehicle and Antique Tractor show, the swap meet, Riverfest Idol Talent Contest, and free concerts. The Sons of Norway catered a smorgasbord and the community hosted a pancake breakfast. 44

For more information about Windom's Riverfest contact the Windom Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-7-WINDOM or check their website at Watch OUR STORY's program about the Riverfest at

OUR STORY’s late-night talk show, “Split Hoof Tonight,” is filmed at OUR STORY Studios in Fairmont, Minnesota in front of a discerning, yet agreeable studio audience (and maybe one or two mice—the studios are in an historic 1890s building!). Hosted by Cousin John and his incomparable sidekick, Earl Silo, a roster of star guests from all around OUR STORY Country make appearances that you won’t want to miss! Heeeeeere’s Cousin John! For a hoof-splittin’ time make sure you watch all the episodes at

Shannon Reuss was recently a guest on Split Hoof Tonight and told us about her business in Eyota, Minnesota called Treefrog Treasures, which distributes toy soldiers and military miniatures. Originally started as an eBay business, Shannon decided to open a store called Treefrog Treasures to market her huge collection of toy soldiers and military miniatures made of hand-painted metal. Shannon also sells other miniature pieces such as grass, trees, vehicles, animals, buildings, artillery, scenic backdrops and water effects. These pieces are used to create dioramas and are manufactured all over the world, in places like England, Argentina and Hong Kong. Shannon’s customers are from around the world and are generally people who love history. Many may have a family member who lived during a particular war or they may just have an interest in a particular period of time. Some use “war-gaming miniatures” for role-playing games, with hundreds of miniatures for each game. Shannon has had to learn a lot about history in order to communicate well with her customers. Her United States clients favor Civil War-period miniatures while people outside the U.S. are the biggest buyers of World War II miniature memorabilia. Treefrog Treasures carries miniatures from the time of the French Foreign Legion, Delhi Durbar, Napoleonic Wars, ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages.

To learn more about Treefrog Treasures, check out Shannon’s website at or see the OUR STORY website at


And for her last appearance in this issue Spottingham, England's one and only Lady Dot has traveled the entire world and is convinced that, by far, the most interesting stories and exciting communities are in OUR STORY Country! You are “spot on,” Lady Dot! Here is a story about one of the towns Lady Dot would have “tea for two” in any day of the week! Follow Lady Dot wherever she travels at

Scenic Lake Benton is small, with only about 700 residents. But the beauty of the surrounding countryside, and the pleasant atmosphere of the community, has everyone calling it the “Four Season Funland.” This tiny town offers an incredible number of activities.

estled in the valley of the Buffalo Ridge, Lake Benton and surrounding Lincoln County, Minnesota have some of the highest-elevation land in Minnesota. Lake Benton is close to the Buffalo Ridge, the drainage divide between the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. Lake Benton is known as the “Original Windpower Capital of the Midwest.” More than 450 wind turbines grace the skyline along the Buffalo Ridge in Lincoln County.

For recreation, Lake Benton lake is the sixth largest lake in southern Minnesota, encompassing 2,875 acres. The lake is popular with fishermen, boaters, skiers and anyone who enjoys the peacefulness of sandy beaches, blue skies, fresh air and sunshine. The Holein-the-Mountain Prairie, an 1100-acre wildlife preserve south of Lake Benton,


is owned by The Nature Conservancy. County Parks with camping facilities are located to the northeast, northwest and on the western edge of Lake Benton.

Trivia Question #3 In what town is the store "Treefrog Treasures" located?

Lake Benton's historic 1896 Opera House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and still offers varied programs March through mid-December. A thriving Historical Society operates a museum opened in 1996. “The Heritage and Windpower Learning Center of Southwestern Minnesota is also an extremely interesting place to visit.”

The first correct emailed answer wins a celebrity-autographed copy of The Road to OUR STORY.

Lake Benton is a tremendous small town because of its great schools, a wonderful library, numerous civic and service and faith organizations, volunteer fire and first-responder departments, annual community celebrations, dining, lodging and specialty shops. Lake Benton is truly a great place to visit, to live and to work.


Oh, the mystery of it all! What face fronts the back of this mysterious man announcing into a microphone? Who is this oddly old-styled Hollywood broadcaster who seems to have all the dirt about all the people and places throughout OUR STORY Country, before any of the “rags� have even broken the story? The man Behind the Mic gives us a taste right here of his indelible reportage style. For more, go to

Founded in 1879 when the railroad was completed to that point, the town of Lakefield in Jackson County lies near Heron Lake which got its name from the vast colonies of nesting black-crowned night herons that its first visitors found here over a century ago. Indeed, the 228-acre Kilen Woods State Park just northeast of Lakefield is a bird-watching paradise with over 226 bird species inhabiting the area. Lakefield has three city parks sprinkled throughout the town with playground equipment, a shelter house, skateboard facilities, softball and baseball diamonds, a tennis court and a sand volleyball court. Lakefield's wonderful aquatic center offers four water slides, waterspouts and a zero-depth pool for little ones. Lakefield's residents are proud of their strong business community and invite visitors to enjoy one of their annual celebrations which include Summerfest in June, the Pork Chop Open golf outing in July and their Holiday Fest in November. Volunteer fire and emergency crews, plus dedicated city employees, help keep this town safe and running smoothly.


Trivia Question #4 How many character-roles does OUR STORY's actress, Kati Powell, portray on the soap "As The Corn Grows?" The first correct emailed answer wins a celebrity-autographed copy of The Road to OUR STORY.

For additional information about Lakefield or to speak with their economic coordinator, contact City Hall at 507-662-5457 or check their website at




im Steichen practices a wood-working craft called “marquetry” that dates back to ancient Egyptian times. He uses different types of wood veneer and creates amazing decorative designs, patterns or pictures. Jim, a resident of Slayton, Minnesota, discovered the art of marquetry in 1995. He bought several books on the subject and taught himself this old-world art form. Jim’s designs are influenced by Japanese wood-block prints, and Egyptian and Aztec art. He likes to make his pictures look more three-dimensional by singeing the edges of the wood veneers in hot sand to darken the wood and give the impression of shadows as well as using the wood grain to provide additional depth and dimension. Jim's designs may be patterns obtained from books but are also images from his life experiences–like the drawing of a cat done by his daughter or from the design on a building's facade. If Jim were to work continuously, it would take about three, eight-hour days just to cut the pieces for an 8”-by10” marquetry picture. Gluing and finishing with steel wool, varnish and waxes add considerably to the length of time it will take to create these one-of-a-kind treasures. Some pieces contain abalone shell or mother of pearl, which are difficult to cut with a knife, adding even more completion time to one of these works of art. Although Jim has done some commission work for

others, most of his pieces are gifts for family members and friends. He created a jewelry box for his daughter using a pattern from an art-deco design book. The jewelry box designed for his wife features images of Cleopatra and the Egyptian goddess Isis. Jim researched the meaning of hieroglyphics to write a personal message to her on the jewelry box. Slayton is lucky to have such a talented resident!


Small-Town Stories with Big-Town Attitude! OUR STORY Productions premiered “The Women of Sweet Swine County”—filmed at OUR STORY Studios in Fairmont, MN—in the summer of 2009. Television hasn’t been the same since! Hosted by three sassy ladies from Sweet Swine County, this full-of-fun daytime talk show jiggles with the latest and greatest news about the people, places and events found all over OUR STORY Country. You want style? These brazen ladies fling it at you! You want gossip? Well, giddy-up, can we talk?! To wet your whistle, take a look below at two of the guests who have appeared on the show. Come on, you KNOW you want more of The Women of Sweet Swine County—do it at!



because, as Ade said, “Once I hand-paint a piece of furniture it becomes ‘Uniquely Yours.’” In 2009, Ade and Jim purchased a lighting business and have combined it with Uniquely Yours and named it Lights & Beyond. The store provides countless lighting options for your home and continues to feature Ade’s hand-painted furniture as well. Ade’s educational background in art is reflected in her intuitive design ability in choosing color schemes, interior decorating, and room-staging services for clients who require everything for their redecorating/ remodeling needs.

de Miller's incredible talent for painting was inherited from her father. He painted on canvas, walls and other surfaces for many years. Ade initially painted murals, but according her, “I no longer wanted to stand on ladders to complete my projects.” And now she doesn't have to. Instead, Tracy, Minnesota's talented resident now custom-paints on furniture and accessories. Ade told us that people supply her with wallpaper, fabric, a pillow, a plate, or other items and she will paint furniture to coordinate with those accessories. She has painted dressers with zebras or other animals for children, along with more grown-up themes for adults. Seven years ago Ade and her husband Jim opened a business in downtown Tracy called Uniquely Yours

To contact Jim and Ade Miller email To find out more about the City of Tracy:


Guess what lovely charmers from the South have moved to Sweet Swine County—The Savannah Sisters! Indeed, they gave up their southern plantation home to join the pillars of Midwest society right here on a farm in OUR STORY Country. Join the “sistahs” as they go sneakin’ around to daintily whiff out the excitement in the mighty-fine towns of the area. A taste of their expert reporting is below. Why, I declare! You can even watch them on!

Located in the cornerstone of the state, Rock County, Luverne is a thriving community offering the sights and sounds of Minnesota's prairie-land life. In 1867, while the first mail route was being mapped by Philo Hawes from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to Yankton, South Dakota, a stable large enough to hold six horses was built on the site where Luverne's present-day Public Works Department building rests. Hawes named the site, Luverne, after his daughter. On October 2, 1876, the first passenger train arrived in the village of Luverne and, shortly afterwards, brought visitors to see what later became known as Blue Mounds State Park— named after a 100-foot-tall linear cliff of Precambrian Sioux Quartzite bedrock which, although pink in color, is said to have appeared bluish in the distance to early settlers. Today, Luverne offers visitors a chance to reconnect to the times of the early settlers and the history of the great bison—the animal that once roamed freely upon Minnesota's prairies—at Prairie Heights Bison Ranch. Whether you enjoy the cultural experience of live theatre at the historic Palace Theatre or meandering through specialty stores, Luverne has sites of interest for everyone! Contact the Luverne Chamber of Commerce toll free at 888-283-4061, or visit their website at



Author, Caroline the Librarian, is tirelessly doing research for her new book "Memoirs of A Librarian" by visiting libraries all around OUR STORY Country. She has “shushed” her way through some towering rows of books to discover a treasure trove of information in beautiful OUR STORY-area libraries like the one she talks about below. Make sure all of you bookworms watch every episode of Caroline the Librarians show at!

he Fairmont City Library, established in October 1879, once had the distinction of being the second oldest municipally owned library in Minnesota. Now called the Martin County Library when a new facility was built in 1968 the interior houses several great reading areas, 17 public-access computers and additional resources are supplied by the Traverse des Sioux Library system. The Martin County Library is used by over 21,000 county residents for its collection of over 88,000 pieces of literature. The library has print materials, audio books in CD and cassette, music CDs, videos and DVDs, and downloadable audio books called E-Audio. There are many programs offered at the library including a children’s summer reading program, an adult winter reading program, seasonal story times for children, free movie screenings, and computer classes.

Library Hours: Mon, Wed & Thurs: 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Tues: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Fri & Sat: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Contact Info: Call: 507-238-4207 Visit: 110 North Park Street, Fairmont, MN Web: 54

Culinary expert and, dare we say, “wine aficionado beyond belief,” Betty Thompson, always is preparing some tantalizing dish for us on her show, “Cookin’ it up with Betty.” In the midst of cooking, our dear ol’ Betty does have the habit of getting distracted, though. She just has too many memories of the great restaurants she’s enjoyed around OUR STORY Country. One of these days, we’re hoping Betty actually finishes showing us how she makes her delicacies—from beginning to end. Stay tuned. In the meantime, read below about what Betty found so tantalizing recently. Betty would love you to tipple through her video episodes at

ell, all you food lovers, here I am back in the kitchen again! I was gonna show you how to make a Sweet Swine Corn Souffle but, you know I was just thinking I was in this great little town of Henderson, Minnesota, and I've just gotta tell you about it. Did you know that Joseph Renshaw Brown, born in 1805, founded Henderson? I didn't, but I do now. And that's not all. Here's what else I found out. J. R. Brown came to Minnesota in 1820, at age 15, as a drummer boy in Colonel Leavenworth’s military regiment. The Colonel’s duty was to build the future Fort St. Anthony (now called Fort Snelling).

monument. Then I waddled over to the Henderson Community Building and noticed it had been built in 1879 and served as the Sibley County Courthouse until 1915. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Brown was a pioneer fur trader, businessman, journalist, interpreter for the Traverse des Sioux treaty (signed in 1851), and an Indian Agent from 1857-1861. Brown served in both legislative houses, playing a major role in legislation that created the Minnesota territory. He also founded Dakota (now called Stillwater). And now you can figure out why we have Brown County and Browns Valley, Minnesota, too!

Oh, dear there's not enough room left here to give you my Sweet Swine Corn Souffle recipe. I guess I'll have to wait until the next issue. So until next time here's to "Cookin' it up with moi!"

Oh gettin' back to food, my first stop in Henderson was at Toody’s Sweet Treats, a classic soda fountain shoppe. I sat right down and wondered, "Hmmm. A malt, soda or a phosphate?" After I satisfied my sweet-tooth hankerings, then I meandered over to The Hog Wild Saloon & Eatery to look at their yummy menu. Of course I had to order something. To work off the calories, I walked to Brown Cemetery to look at the old tombstones and the J. R. Brown 55

OUR STORY’s roving-reporter extraordinaire, Clarice Plow, is always finding out about the most interesting people, places and events throughout OUR STORY Country. We love our Clarice for giving us the report below! You will, too! Watch all of Clarice’s segments on

ou couldn’t find a more charming getaway spot than at The Cosgrove House Bed & Breakfast in Le Sueur, Minnesota! Originally built in 1893 by Carsin Nesbit Cosgrove—or “C.N.” as he was called by the locals—the lovingly restored house now features individually themed guest rooms that reflect the grand history of an earlier era. C.N. was the founder of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company that became the famed Green Giant Company. At five-feet, three-inches tall, C.N. was known as the “little giant.” While building this house for his wife, Elizabeth, and their four children, C.N. had all the decorative brick fireplace mantles throughout the house built lower than usual so that he would look taller when leaning against them. After Elizabeth’s death in the 1930s, the home was converted into a boarding house that C.N. used whenever he would return to the area. Marilyn Webb and her late husband, Wayne, acquired the home in 1997 and interestingly renovated it into a bed and breakfast with rooms that include names like the Green Giant Room, the Bridal Suite, and the Elizabeth Room. A beautiful upstairs sitting area complements the features of this charming home that was added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Cosgrove House Bed & Breakfast 228 South Second Street Le Sueur, Minnesota 56058 507-665-2500


ou are now departing the world of Sweet Swine County where fantasy and reality collide on The Road to OUR STORY— Small-town living at its best! “Remember it’s not just the past but the present that becomes OUR STORY!”

The Road to Our Story  
The Road to Our Story  

Vol. 1, Issue 1