Aberdeen Magazine November/December 2021

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An Artist’s Intuition Pat Casanova pursues her passion for art with watercolor and mixed media. pg. 18


Home Away From Home Forte creates opportunities for international exchange students. pg. 22

Give & Save at Montgomery’s

Celebrate the Holidays


Now through December 20, save 15% with your donation of 15 canned goods. Donations benefit the Salvation Army of Aberdeen. Shop early and get up to an additional 15% off sale prices. Doors open at 9:00 am.




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with a Dakota Broadcasting is teaming up with the Aberdeen Police Department and the Salvation Army to help out our local families during the holiday season. Due to the tough economical crisis, Dakota Broadcasting needs YOUR help to bring some holiday cheer to those in our area who need it. Visit dakotabroadcasting.com for more information or to make a donation.

Listen online at Dakotabroadcasting.com, or download the Dakota Broadcasting App.

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➼ Focusing on all things local, Hub City Radio connects Aberdeen with people, programs, and talent in the community and surrounding areas.

➼ As the 2020-21 Central Division Organization of the Year, the Wings have grown into a team that excels both on and off the ice.


➼ Try something new with these subtle spins on classic holiday pies. Recipes include pie crust, apple pie, blueberry/chokecherry pie, and pumpkin pie with shortbread crust.

Feelin’ our content? You really should subscribe ;-) Do it now at aberdeenmag.com/subscribe REGULARS 04 FROM THE EDITOR 06 WHAT’S NEW Your source for what’s happening in Aberdeen. 14 CALENDAR Never miss an event in the Hub City. 16 A GENERATION OF RESILIENCE The United Way addresses issues in Brown County and draws attention to regional programs and agencies that offer beneficial resources for the community. 44 KEEP JOY IN YOUR HOLIDAY Susan Kornder at Northeastern Mental Health Center discusses self-care tips and lists activities to help minimize stress over the holiday season.





Pat Casanova pursues her passion for art with watercolor and mixed media. pg. 18

72 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Aberdeen Magazine wants to hear from its readers! 72 THE ABERDABBER

FEATURED CONTENT 18 AN ARTIST’S INTUITION Pat Casanova has been a student of art for most of her life, exploring creativity through a variety of mediums.




An Artist’s Intuition

52 A CHRISTMAS COTTAGE Lusso Cottage, a charming Airbnb managed by Leslie and Ben Schnell, is the perfect getaway during the holiday season with Christmas decor that make every guest feel at home.


Home Away From Home

ON THE COVER ➼ Pat Casanova is a lifelong learner of art. In the cover image, the artist stands in front of a display of some of her watercolor and collage creations. She mixes her supplies to design abstract pieces, using ink, watercolor, and layering materials like tissue paper and pages from old books. Pat has considered creating more galleries like this around her house and eventually inviting guests to view her work in her home. Photo by Troy McQuillen.

Forte creates opportunities for international exchange students. pg. 22

2 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

22 A HOME AWAY FROM HOME Forte International Exchange Association partners with overseas agents to help international students experience American culture in Aberdeen. 26 GROOVE REFLEX REDUX Groove Reflex brings their talent back to Aberdeen with a reunion performance at Slackers. 28 BROTHER DENG NSU alumnus William Deng is the founder of Brother Deng, a foundation created to increase educational opportunities and health in South Sudan. 34 “WE SERVE” The Lions Club fills a niche in Aberdeen, concentrating most of its efforts on vision. See what the club has planned for the holiday season. 38 GET TO KNOW: CAMERON EICHLER Cameron Eichler at Eichler Hearing Center talks about his business in Aberdeen. 58 ABERDEEN’S UNSEEN HEROES 40 et 8 serves the community in several subtle ways, and it all started with a small branch of the American Legion. 62 ABERDEEN ROOTS: PERCY GROTE In this Aberdeen profile, learn about Percy Grote’s impact on the Moccasin Creek Country Club and Prairiewood lots. 64 ABERDEEN’S PALACE ON THE PRAIRIE The Grain Palace was built on the same corner as Malchow Plaza over 100 years ago. What caused the downfall of Aberdeen’s original gathering place?

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 FROM THE EDITOR s we approach the final months of the year and move into the holiday season, it is a great time for reflection and gratitude. In this issue, the stories reflect many organizations and service groups giving back to the community. The holidays are an important time to help others, but through my interviews, I have learned that this act of kindness is a year-round activity in Aberdeen. On behalf of Aberdeen Magazine, I want to send a special thank you to our contributors, to our advertisers, and to our readers, all of whom make this production possible. Happy holidays Aberdeen! //


VOLUME 9 • ISSUE 6 • NOV/DEC 2021 ISSN 2378-3060



Josie Clemens josie@aberdeenmag.com PUBLISHER

Troy McQuillen troy@mcquillencreative.com



ome of you may know me as that magician “Magic Mayheim,” but most of you probably know me as “that dude with the curly mustache.” But you may not know that Aberdeen has always felt like home to me. While all my friends here were eager to leave, I wanted to come back. As much as I loved MSUM, I still felt a little homesick. I did end up coming back home after two years. I got married and transferred to NSU. Needing an internship to graduate, it just made sense that I would gravitate towards Aberdeen Magazine. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing people at Aberdeen Magazine and McQuillen Creative Group. I have never written for a magazine before, and the experience I’ve gained from interning is invaluable. Thank you Aberdeen Magazine, Aberdeen Weddings, and McQuillen Creative Group for this amazing opportunity, and thank YOU, reader, for supporting your community. I just hope and pray that my writings were able to capture the spirit of Aberdeen and shine a light on those around us. //

Eliot Lucas eliot@mcquillencreative.com



Julie Lillis julie.aberdeenmag@gmail.com INTERN


Brandon Heim INTERN


 PETER CARRELS is an Aberdeen native now living in Sioux Falls. He writes magazines for the University of South Dakota and articles and essays about the environment for publishers and publications.

 ROD EVANS has spent much of his life involved with the arts—as an actor and director of community theatre, Speaker’s Bureau Scholar, One Book South Dakota discussion leader, playwright, and published author. His book, Palaces on the Prairie, received both state and national awards.

McQuillen Creative Group 423 S. Main St., Suite 1 Aberdeen SD, 57401 605.226.3481 PRINTING

Midstates Printing EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS from interested parties will be considered. Please submit to the editor at josie@aberdeenmag.com PRIVACY STATEMENT Any personal information, email addresses, or contact submitted to the editorial office or online via our Facebook page will not be sold or distributed. Aberdeen Magazine does wish to publish public comments and attitudes regarding Aberdeen, therefore written submissions and comments on our Facebook page implies permission to utilize said information in editorial content. COPYRIGHT 2021 Aberdeen Magazine is produced exclusively in Aberdeen, South Dakota. All content is copyright with all rights reserved. No content may be shared, copied, scanned, or posted online without permission. Please just ask us first. We're pretty flexible. FOLLOW US

 PATRICK GALLAGHER is a regular contributor commenting on Aberdeen’s personality, food options, and history.

 SUSAN KORNDER is the Executive Director at Northeastern Mental Health Center. NEMHC takes pride in providing comprehensive mental health and substance use treatment in our region.

Facebook @AberdeenMagazine INSTAGRAM @aberdeenmagazine

PUBLISHED BY  ANN SCOTT was born and raised in Aberdeen, and she is excited to write about what is happening around home. When she isn’t writing, she’s either reading, caring for pets, or helping children find books at the C. C. Lee library.

4 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 ANGIE CLEBERG and AARON SCHULTZ are on the executive team at the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota. The United Way is instrumental in providing support for health and human service programs in our community.




Check out our NEW website at


 C O M M U N I T Y | W H AT ’ S N E W

 Scooter’s Coffee drive-thru kiosk model is all about convenience for the customers and efficiency for the business. Photo courtesy of Scooter’s Coffee.

 The Citizens Building will be renovated to upgrade both internal and external elements of the building and create commercial and residential spaces. Photo courtesy of Spencer Sommers.

A Modern Look for a Historic Building Built in 1910, the Citizens Building was Aberdeen’s first high rise building and was a symbol for the substantial growth of the community in the early 1900s. Over the last decade, the sixstory building on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue has fallen behind in repairs. However, with the new boom in downtown Aberdeen projects, Friends & Citizens LLC is hoping to bring life back to the Citizens Building. The idea originated from student interns during CO-OP Architecture’s summer design studio program “Friends & Citizens.” The restoration project designates the first floor to commercial and retail space, and the remaining five floors will be residential levels with approximately 40 apartments including studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom layouts. To accommodate for the apartments, a complete renovation will need to take place. This involves new systems, windows, finishes, elevators, and more. The ownership group hopes to complete construction in early 2023. // —Josie Clemens  For more details about the project, call 605-262-0243 to contact Spencer Sommers at CO-OP Architecture.

Scooter’s Coffee Coming to Aberdeen Scooter’s Coffee is coming to 606 S. Washington St. with the target of opening for business in late November/early December 2021. The coffee shop is a Kiosk model—drive-thru only—to bring out maximum speed and efficiency for Scooter’s customers. The goal is to provide a location where people can quickly grab their morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up drink while they are out and about, running errands, or on their way to work. The owners of BraveHart Development—Troy Hart, Brandon Vonnahme, and David Pedelty—visited Aberdeen and instantly loved the community. All three have extensive backgrounds in management and business and currently have 23 Scooter’s Coffee franchises. Aberdeen is their first franchise in South Dakota. “My partners and I are small-town guys who love creating opportunities in the communities we serve,” David said. The menu at Scooter’s Coffee consists of items like smoothies, Cold Brew, pastries, several breakfast options, and of course, a variety of coffee beverages. With a strong focus on quality, the franchise pairs tasty food and beverages with quick drive-thru services to provide an excellent experience for all their customers. // —Josie Clemens  For more information on Scooter’s Coffee, visit their website at www.scooterscoffee.com.

6 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

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 C O M M U N I T Y | W H AT ’ S N E W  Traffic in Aberdeen’s downtown business district has been configured in a variety of ways throughout our history.

 A rendering of Kessler’s latest remodel shows some of its newest features like Caribou Coffee. Photo courtesy of Kessler’s.

Tradition of Change at Kessler’s A Kessler’s remodel is underway, as you may have noticed driving by on Sixth Avenue. The revamp will be completed in two phases. The first phase, which began in September, focuses on customercentric upgrades with an enhanced commitment to efficiency and zero wait experience for their customers. Kessler’s offered 10 full-service lanes before the remodel, and the new structure will reduce the full-service lanes to eight with the addition of nine self-checkouts. Caribou Coffee has been approved with the option of in-person orders or mobile pickups brought to the customer’s vehicle in designated spaces. Also, Phase 1 is bringing a new department offering a variety of homemade popcorn and sweets like caramel apples. The pharmacy will also expand its services with a drive-thru along with specialized compounding and point-of-care testing and immunization work. The completion of Phase 1 is projected to be in the Spring 2022. Phase 2 will introduce interior remodeling with new deli, bakery, and meat cases with general updates to lighting, floors, and fixtures. The biggest expansion involves the renovation to the Wine, Beer, and Liquor department, which will run the entire depth of the southern wall. Kessler’s continually looks to evolve, which has been a trademark of the business through generations. The store looks to the future and stays at the front of cutting edge features in the market. // —Josie Clemens  Stay up to date with the remodel on Kessler’s Facebook page: Kessler’s Food & Liquor.

8 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

A Two-Way Main Street The Aberdeen Downtown Association (ADA) has invested in a series of projects to revitalize downtown Aberdeen. The next big proposal for ADA is to convert Main Street from a one-way to a twoway street. The idea to switch back to a two-way downtown is nothing new to South Dakota and other cities across the country. “Studies show downtowns with twoway main streets are generally safer, have increased traffic counts (vehicular and pedestrian), and have higher sales and property values,” ADA President Spencer Sommers said. The first step simply involves re-striping and adding stop signs at the intersections. Replacing the stoplight on Main Street and Sixth Avenue will require more time and planning in this initial phase with implementation as early as Spring 2022. With careful development, a second phase could lead to changes to the streetscape, sidewalks, and parking layout. For the most part, input from the community for a two-way downtown in Aberdeen has been positive, and between online and in-person petitions, over 100 people support the conversion. After 43 years of one-way traffic, downtown Aberdeen may be ready for a change. // —Josie Clemens  To learn more about the two-way Main Street project and to sign the online petition, visit www.aberdeendowntown.org/two-way-main/.

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Miss Rachel is an Aberdeen native and graduate of the Johnny Cavelle and Living Art Dance Studios. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance & Choreography from Hope College in Holland, MI. For more information, call or email (605) 380 - 4739 rachelpetersondance@gmail.com BALLET | JAZZ | TAP |MODERN | POMS | CHARACTER | POINTE | IRISH

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$70 Adults; $25 Students; $145 Family/Grandparents Concerts will be held in the Johnson Fine Arts Center Harvey & Cynthia Jewett Theater at Northern State University 1200 S. Jay Street. ACCA Memberships can be purchased at Interior Design Concepts located at 21 N. Main Street or online at the ACCA website. WWW.ABERDEENCOMMUNITYCONCERTS.ORG

november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 C O M M U N I T Y | W H AT ’ S N E W

 Audumn (left) and Brian Beidler knew a few years ago that they were interested in buying Sammy’s. They admired the family who previously owned the omelette shop and wanted to continue what they built. Photo by Troy McQuillen.

 This image is an exterior rendering of the future Conklin Clinics building on Eighth Avenue Northeast. Photo courtesy of Conklin Clinics.

Big Move for Conklin Clinics In the Spring of 2022, Conklin Clinics expects to be in a new home near the intersection of Eighth Avenue Northeast and North Roosevelt Street. After five years of helping clients in their original offices, Conklin Clinics needed to expand their space to accommodate the flourishing culture of the aesthetics industry and the loyalty of their clients. “Having a larger facility affords us the ability to continue servicing our loyal clients in Aberdeen while maintaining our commitment to addressing the shortage of mental health care providers in rural and underserved areas,” Ginger Conklin, owner and operator of Conklin Clinics, said. Conklin Clinics provides traditional psychiatric care for all ages and interventional services. Trained and certified professionals also provide services such as skin care, non-invasive fat-reduction, medical weight management, IV Vitamin therapies, bio-identical hormone optimization, and much more. Under one facility, Conklin Clinics offers medical aesthetics, integrative health, and psychiatric care. The new location is a sign of significant growth and client satisfaction. // —Josie Clemens  For more information on Conklin Clinics, visit www.conklinclinics.com.

10 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Sammy’s Welcomes New Owners On Aug. 23, Audumn and Brian Beidler became the new owners of Sammy’s Omelette Shop, located at 212 S. Main St. Sammy’s was previously owned by Len and Emma Scherr for 21 years. When they decided to sell the business, Audumn and Brian were ready to take on the new responsibility. The duo were longtime customers at Sammy’s, and they plan to keep the establishment relatively similar to Len and Emma’s vision. You will always see Audumn at Sammy’s with her right hand, Rigo, both ready to help with a smile. Brian owns and operates a custom forage harvesting business and cooks at Sammy’s when an extra set of hands are needed. The one addition the owners are excited about is introducing Brian’s homemade scotcharoos to the list of treats. The regular menu has staple breakfast options along with burgers and sandwiches for people dining during lunch. And much to the customers’ delight, Sammy’s secret supreme sauce will continue with the new owners. The Beidlers’ favorite part of owning the omelette shop is their customers. Visiting with familiar faces and meeting new people is just one of the many things they love about Sammy’s. Sammy’s hours are Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday 7:00 AM - 1:00 PM, Friday 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM, and Sunday 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM. // —Josie Clemens  If you have any questions or would like to place an order, call 605-229-4753.



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 C O M M U N I T Y | W H AT ’ S N E W

Molded Fiber Glass On Aug. 5, Molded Fiber Glass sent its last set of blades out of the Aberdeen plant after 13 years of operation. The team stands in front of the last blade manufactured at this location, blade #3034. Molded Fiber Glass left the community with a $20,000 grant which will be used to construct two additional statues at the Kuhnert Arboretum. //

Golden Heart Parade, the debut story collection from Aberdeen author Joseph Holt, was released this fall. Many of the stories are set around South Dakota—including Aberdeen, Groton, and many rural roads and familiar farmlands. Carmen Maria Machado described the stories as “raw, dark, and surprisingly funny.” Joseph grew up and attended school in Aberdeen, though he now teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Golden Heart Parade is available everywhere online. //



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Aberdeen Weddings The Fall 2021 Aberdeen Weddings issue is now available. Check out our perfect planning tips, find inspiration with our unique unity stories, and feel the love with our “Just Married” features. In this issue, we offer advice on setting up your wedding registry, sit down with EventsByJen for the inside scoop on planning weddings, and share tips on how to plan the perfect backyard wedding. Grab your copy of Aberdeen Weddings today! //

12 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021


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Many downtown businesses are still serving customers. Please call to inquire, and remember to shop local whenever you can.

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Where you are always treated like family november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE





INDOOR ICE SKATING Daily through March 6 3:35 - 6:15 PM weekdays 1:15 - 3:45 PM Saturdays 6:15 - 8:45 PM Sundays Odde Ice Arena $2 adults, $1 youth  Open skate times for all ages. Skates are available on site to rent.  605-626-7015; check for cancellations during hockey season. WINGS HOME GAMES Nov. 13, 19, 26, 27 Dec. 10, 11, 31 7:15 PM Odde Ice Arena  Cheer on your Aberdeen Wings hockey team in their home match-ups this year. You can buy your tickets online. www.aberdeenwings.com MISTLETOE ON MAIN Thursdays in December 6:00 - 8:00 PM Main Street  Listen to the carolers as they walk up and down Main Street and shop all the sales in downtown businesses. Hot chocolate served at Malchow Plaza.  605-226-3441

04 05 06


 Little Texas


FALL JAZZ CONCERT Nov. 4 7:30 - 9:30 PM Harvey and Cynthia Jewett Theater, Johnson Fine Arts Center  You are invited to the Northern State University School of Fine Arts Fall Jazz Concert!  605-626-2497 CONCERT: LITTLE TEXAS Nov. 5 Doors open at 7:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Little Texas is on tour and making a stop in Aberdeen. Country fans get ready for fun-filled entertainment at the DEC. www.dakotaeventcenter.com ABERDEEN UNIVERSITYCIVIC SYMPHONY: THE EMPEROR Nov. 6 7:30 PM Harvey and Cynthia Jewett Theater, Johnson Fine Arts Center $10 adults; FREE for students  Enjoy a night of music at the Aberdeen University-Civic Symphony’s November show.  605-626-2497 THE DEC BRIDAL SHOWCASE Nov. 7 12:00 - 3:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Planning your wedding? You won’t want to miss this event. Enjoy your afternoon browsing through wedding vendors and finding inspiration for your big day. www.dakotaeventcenter.com

 Black Market Trust

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BLACK MARKET TRUST Nov. 12 7:00 PM Harvey & Cynthia Jewett Theater, Johnson Fine Arts Center $35 adults; $10 students  Listen to American pop/vocal jazz with five world class musicians. www.aberdeencommunityconcerts.org CHRISTMAS AT THE BARN Nov. 12-14 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM 1506 W. Aspen Ave., Groton  Opening weekend! Find the perfect vintage, new, or handmade holiday gift at the Front Porch 605.  605-216-4202 NORTHERN NIGHT Nov. 13 5:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Celebrate NSU’s largest fundraising event and support student scholarships. Champagne social hour begins at 5:00 PM followed by the program, live and silent auction, and entertainment at 6:00 PM.  605-626-2550 INMATE ART SHOW Mid-November - December 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM weekdays ARCC Gallery  This annual art exhibit showcases different works of art made by inmates across the state.  605-626-7081


GROOVE REFLEX Nov. 19 and 20 8:00 PM Slackers  Stop by Slackers on 319 S. Main St. to catch Groove Reflex’s reunion performance.  The Groove Reflex






 Winterfest


20 25

27 27

PANCAKE BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER Nov. 20 8:00 - 11:00 AM Aberdeen Area Senior Center $5 per person  Open to the public! Join the Aberdeen Senior Center for sausage, pancakes, juice, and coffee. All proceeds go to programs and activities at the senior center.  605-626-3330 WINTERFEST Nov. 20, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Nov. 21, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Aberdeen Civic Arena  Check items off your holiday shopping list at this festival, featuring art made by artists from the region. Enjoy entertainment and food while browsing through the various booths of handmade gifts. www.aberdeenareaartscouncil.com THE MARKET ON THE PLAZA TURKEY TROT Nov. 25 8:00 - 10:00 AM The Market on the Plaza  This family-friendly 5K run is a great way to kick off your Thanksgiving festivities. Add a little more fun with the Beer Mile and Dew Dash. Fresh baked goods and coffee available at the end of the race. www.visitaberdeensd.com/events/ SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY Nov. 27 All Day Your local stores  Shop small for the holidays and support your favorite Aberdeen businesses. Watch individual stores for their sales and promotions. LIGHT THE PLAZA Nov. 27-28 Time TBD Main Street, Downtown Aberdeen  Join in on this holiday lighting on Malchow Plaza.  605-226-3441



09 11 13

KING OF WINGS Dec. 4 2:00 - 5:00 PM Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen $15; $10 for 12 and under (includes Kids Zone)  Buy your ticket for the annual chicken wing tasting event! Each ticket enters you in for a chance to win the raffle package valued at $2,500. All proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen.  605-225-8714

Red denotes home game

Corporate game sponsorships are available now! Call Aaron Smith at 605.380.5852 to schedule your night at the Odde Ice Center! Get your tickets online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com!

CHRISTMAS WITH THE CHAMBER Dec. 9 5:15 - 9:00 PM Dakota Event Center  Join this holiday mixer hosted by Midco for great food, live and silent auctions, and live entertainment.  605-225-2860 MUSEUM HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE Dec. 11 12:00 – 4:00 PM Dacotah Prairie Museum  Stroll through Christmas Tree Lane, eat festive treats, create your own ornaments, and check out the Museum exhibits decorated for the holiday. www.visitaberdeensd.com/event/ holiday-open-house/ HOLIDAY CELEBRATION FOR YOUTH Dec. 13 6:00 - 8:00 PM Aberdeen Civic Arena $1 per person  Bring your children out for crafts, games, and more! The event is sponsored by the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department. www.aberdeen.sd.us/349/HolidayCelebration


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A U TO • H O M E • L I F E • B U S I N E S S

november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



A Generation of Resilience The United Way of Northeastern South Dakota concludes its four-part series addressing pressing issues in our region. by UNITED WAY STAFF he individuals of the greatest generation have faced several challenges during their lifespan. From World Wars to economic downturns, and now facing several waves of a worldwide pandemic. Resilience and fortitude are the hallmarks of this generation, and these characteristics are being tested like never before. Unfortunately, isolation and fear has recently plagued the senior population.


Director of the Aberdeen Area Senior Center Jackie Witlock has witnessed this firsthand. The Aberdeen Area Senior Center mission is to provide recreation, education, rehabilitation, and support services for all senior citizens and individuals with disabilities to enable them to live independent, healthy, and well-rounded lives. The senior center in conjunction with Avera St. Luke’s Hospital administers the Meals on Wheels program in our area. Avera St. Luke’s Hospital

provides special diet meals (cardiac, low sodium, diabetic, etc.) to those in the community with specific dietary needs. Meals are prepared at the hospital with the Aberdeen Area Senior Center handling administrative duties along with coordination of home delivery volunteers. “Prior to the pandemic we had an average daily attendance of 120, and we are slowly getting IT IS AMAZING back to pre-COVID HOW A PERSON numbers. Our staff of CAN CHANGE three spend a great deal JUST FROM of time checking on our THE START OF A PHONE CALL clientele, just to make CONVERSATION sure they are still doing TO THE END.” okay. A common thing – JACKIE we hear is how lonely and WITLOCK fearful they are during times of shutdown and COVID outbreaks. It is amazing how a person can change just from the start of a phone call conversation to the end,” Jackie said. Just as this generation has done before, they have found a way to persevere and move forward. New challenges brought forth new opportunities, such as learning technology platforms. Zoom calls or watching events via the internet became common practice. A new symbiotic relationship began with seniors adapting to technology and technology adapting to the needs of seniors. Most schools now have a way to watch activities virtually along with many community events such as the South Dakota Film Festival. The United Way is proud to partner with the Aberdeen Area Senior Center. The Center goes above and beyond to provide hundreds of social activities throughout the year. Jackie and her staff provide a warm enriching environment for seniors to interact, socialize, and learn about programs and services in our area. If you have not had an opportunity to see all the wonderful things happening at the Aberdeen Area Senior Center, please feel free to contact them to set up a tour by calling 605-626-3330. You will not be disappointed. //  Left image: Debra Wallace (left) and Nelda Linares get in their daily exercise with the workout equipment at the senior center. Right image: Gene Lux (left) and Henry Linares enjoy a friendly game of pool.

16 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Photos courtesy of United Way Staff

 Carolyn Nelson (center) and Ray Pomplun (far right) play bridge with friends at the Aberdeen Area Senior Center.

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An Artist’s Intuition Pat Casanova is an artist in Aberdeen who always seeks to learn more about art and develop her skills with mixed media. by JOSIE CLEMENS

n every stage of her life, Pat Casanova had a creative outlet, but only recently has she made it her goal to practice art every day. “I have always done some art in some way, shape, or form,” Pat said. The artist has lived in Aberdeen since 1970. She attended Northern State University, graduating with a bachelor ’s degree in elementary education and a minor in music. Pat started her career as a teacher for seven years before working at Mary Kay Cosmetics, where she spent the next 30 years pushing her creativity through makeup. During the pandemic, Pat needed something to fill her free time, and her search began to find an artist to help her learn new techniques and mediums of art. “I just kept researching until I found people that I liked their work, that I identified with, that I was drawn to. So then I just started purchasing supplies, and got my space all set up and just started in. A little bit every day,” Pat said. In the beginning, Pat participated in a few inperson courses to kick-start her learning. She renovated her Mary Kay office and piano room to her painting studio, filling it with her collages and other pieces. Pat also made room for her collection of supplies. She uses old pages from books, tissues, and napkins for layering, and an array of Posca Paint pens, ink, and gel pens also line her shelves. Recently, her interest is directed to one particular medium.


18 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

“Predominantly, now, most of my classes that I took are in watercolor,” Pat said. “I am very intrigued with watercolor. It’s my favorite because of the magic you can do with it, layering and splattering, just so many things. I love it!” She explained, “Water color is very transparent.” All you need is water and a brush. “You wake it up.” Some of the pieces Pat made are for sale and displayed at CJ’s Patisserie and Moxie Salon & Barbershop. In the winter of 2020, Pat was invited to exhibit seven pieces of her art in the ARCC Gallery. In some cases, she does commission work. For instance, a friend of Pat’s had a newly renovated room, and she asked Pat to design the artwork for it from pictures of the rug and furniture. “I never realized I would like abstract as much as I do. I way, way prefer abstract art over realism. I find it way more interesting and intuitive,” Pat said. In one of Pat’s classes, she took one concept from a lesson and created several pieces with the same technique. The one idea is present in

each piece, but in various forms. She simply kept recreating it and never made the same design more than once. “When I start painting, I don’t really have a goal in mind. A lot of it is intuitive. IF YOU FEEL I don’t know how I do it,” Pat THE PULL TO laughed. CREATE, BY Some of the inspiration ALL MEANS, LISTEN TO stems from the vision of YOUR HEART.” her teachers and the work – PAT they present in class, other CASANOVA designs spark from Pat’s past creations. Art is an escape for Pat, and her main purpose is to find pleasure and have fun with it. Many people in her family have a connection with art in different ways, and finding the time to explore her talent brings Pat back to her roots. “My mother was very artistic. I am the oldest of 10 children, and I think this is very important because I got a lot of it from her … but I have five sisters who are also very creative and artistic in different ways,” Pat said.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 Pat Casanova layers several mediums like ink, watercolor, and scraps of paper to create abstract designs in her art studio at home.


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Her family’s Scandinavian heritage plays a big role in a handful of her pieces. Pat has a corner in her work space dedicated to Scandinavian items and artwork. Her grandma travelled to America on a ship in 1905, and a cousin found her ticket. Pat had someone local help her recreate that boarding pass, and she formed a collage with a picture of her grandma, the ticket, and other related memorabilia. She then made 15 more for her cousins. Usually, Pat has a good sense of the direction of what to do next in her artwork, but at times, especially when Pat takes a break from creating, she finds it more difficult to generate new ideas.

“If I stop and don’t paint for several days, I have to really talk myself into starting again. It’s kind of like, once you start, you can’t stop. And I think it is really important to paint every single day because every time I paint something, I get ideas for the next thing,” Pat said. Her passion for creating watercolor paintings and other mixed media is too strong to let a little creative block stop her from doing something that she loves. Pat creates artwork that makes her feel happy, and it’s very rewarding to her when other people resonate with her work in the same way. “If you feel the pull to create, by all means, listen to your heart,” Pat said. “We have opportunities locally for classes to get you started, and with all the technology available to us today, guidance is just a click away. Build your confidence one day at a time until you discover your own style!” //  You can find Pat Casanova’s work on Facebook and Instagram at patcasanova1.

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 COMMUNITY | YOUR CITY  Heidi Morlock (bottom row, center) sits beside area directors Kerry Kline (left) and Melissa Erlenbusch (right) for Forte’s student orientation. Heidi is the regional development director of 12 states—ND, SD, MN, UT, NE, WY, MT, AR, IA, IL, OH. Photo courtesy of Heidi Morlock.

A Home Away From Home Forte offers international exchange students the opportunity to experience American culture right here in Aberdeen. by JOSIE CLEMENS

22 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

o you ever wonder how international exchange programs for high school students work? Is it as simple as purchasing a plane ticket? Unfortunately, no. There are many moving parts when it comes to being an exchange student. Forte International Exchange Association is one significant gear in the system. Forte is a national non-profit sponsoring organization that works with overseas agents to place high school exchange program participants in the United States. Local representatives and area directors within Forte are the point of contact with those agents to find host families in the region for those students. Aberdeen is just one of the many locations where international students can experience American culture in the school and community. For this school year, Forte has placed around 300 students nationwide with nine students in Aberdeen—eight at Central High School and one at Roncalli High School. Forte’s Area Director Melissa Erlenbusch plays a large role in the organization’s ability to successfully place students in the area. She takes a hands-on approach in the process from start to finish, and every student through Forte becomes family to her.


“Forte being a smaller company, smaller organization, that the student and family connections are stronger because there is that someone to work through every step with you and any problem with you,” Melissa said. Melissa has been with Forte since 2014, starting as a host family. First moving up to a local representative and then becoming IT IS A VERY t he a rea d i re c to r, REWARDING Melissa is responsible EXPERIENCE. for overseeing local AS A HOST representatives in South FAMILY, YOU LEARN A LOT Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. ABOUT THEIR “I was so impressed COUNTRY AND with how Forte runs their CUSTOMS.” business that I wanted to – KAYLENE work for the company. SAUER I wanted to help make these dreams come true, these connections made,” Melissa explained. Heidi Morlock, the regional development director of 12 states including South Dakota, has been with Forte for 10 years and feels the same way about the organization as Melissa. “The rewards are so many! Each student comes

 In 2019, Melissa Erlenbusch (second from left) took students who were in Forte’s exchange program to an escape room. Photo courtesy of Melissa Erlenbusch.

to the exchange program for different reasons. It is rewarding to help each of them accomplish the goals that they set when applying for the program,” Heidi said.

International Students

Forte offers exchange students an opportunity to be fully immersed in American culture. Participating in an exchange program is a oncein-a-lifetime experience. The process for the students to participate in the program involves patience and a mass of paperwork. First, the students apply to an organization within their own country. Once they are approved, the organization will begin the screening process with an in-home interview. This interaction is in English to check if the student’s speech is sufficient to participate in school in the United States. After this step, the months of paperwork begin. Students need recommendations from teachers, dentists, and doctors, a physical health test, government forms, application for Visa, vaccinations, transfer grades, and financial statements from the state to prove that the family can afford the program. All of the forms need to be approved before the steps to be placed with a host family begin. The average international student waits about six months before learning where they will be living

as an exchange student. The overseas agencies that the international student applies through will choose Forte to help place students with host families. Local representatives from Forte also prepare host families to make sure students have a credible and suitable home waiting for them.

A Second Home

Melissa is always looking for parents in Aberdeen and surrounding areas to become host families for exchange students. The process to be a host parent is not as complex as one might imagine. An application and background check are completed first. Once those are passed, Melissa or a local rep from Forte will come to the house for an interview and inspection. The responsibilities of the host parent are to provide a bed, dresser, and three meals a day for the exchange student. “As a host parent, there isn’t a lot of extra costs involved,” Melissa said, besides food on the table and extra time to help give rides to experiences like sporting events and meeting up with friends. Kaylene and Mark Sauer have been a host family in Aberdeen for three years. Through their experience, they have learned that the most important thing as a host parent is to provide a loving home for the teenagers and understand that these students have moved thousands of

miles away from their family. The exchange program is an amazing opportunity for both the students and host families. International students bring a new culture with a different view of the world that unlocks a new perspective for anyone who has been a host parent. “My favorite parts of hosting are learning about their culture, having the opportunity to learn a new language, meeting them at the airport, and seeing their faces light up when they come into my home,” Alemita Shelton, a local representative in Aberdeen, said. Melissa advises anyone who is curious about being a host family to start as a “welcome family,” which is the same concept but for a much shorter period. A welcome family hosts international students for four to eight weeks compared to one or two semesters. From there, the family makes the decision to stay as a host family for the student or have Forte find another family for the student. “It is a very rewarding experience. As a host family, you learn a lot about their country and customs. In turn, they learn about the U.S. and our customs in the Midwest,” Kaylene said. “We gained some new daughters, and they have gained an experience that will last a lifetime.”

A New Perspective

Aberdeen has so much to gain from Forte’s international exchange students, too. These individuals come from every part of the world. While they are here to dive into American culture, the community can learn from the students’ own cultures. Forte expands the culture in the community. For the people who might not be able to travel to different parts of the world, the exchange students can share their recipes, traditions, language, and differences. Likewise, Midwest culture offers many learning opportunities for international students. Aberdeen and surrounding communities are all great locations for students to be placed because small schools give exchange students more opportunities to meet new people and recognize familiar faces. Forte is a catalyst for all these positive experiences that help connect people from all around the world, benefiting both the student and our communities.//  If you are interested in being a host family or have questions about Forte International Exchange Association, you can call Melissa Erlenbusch at 605-460-1763 or email melissae@forteexchange.org. november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



Connect! The Forte Experience: Tess’ Story

24 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 (From left) Larry Erlenbusch, Alex Bartlett, Tess, Kincso Kapitany, and Melissa Erlenbusch celebrated their Christmas by taking family photos.

 Tess and host sister Kincso on Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona.

 Tess and her prom date Emil Ibsen are all smiles at the Plaza before the Grand March. Tess loved prom because the whole experience made her feel like she was in a movie.

“However, school was a lot of fun here in America. There were a lot of school events and there’s something for everyone to do. There are musicals, sports, show choir, and lots of other things. There’s also a huge amount of fun classes you can take like photography and food concepts,” Tess said. And as far as American food, walking tacos are a clear favorite for Tess. American candies, on the other hand, took a little more convincing for her. Twizzlers were a definite no, but she did find a few good selections in Sour Patch Kids, Airheads, and Lemonheads. The experiences and knowledge that Tess gained from being an exchange student were all life-changing, she explained, and she’ll take those memories with her as she moves on to her next adventure. //

 Twist Cone became a favorite spot for Tess and all her friends. In September, all the exchange students enjoyed a trip to the Aberdeen staple. The students include (from left) Lena Schneider, Kincso Kapitany, Evy Hertong, Tess, Denis Rodriguez, Jaume Rosello, Miso Kerekes, Gijs Smeets, and Leo Sacor.

 The cold, winter weather took Tess by surprise, but she adjusted quickly and learned the benefits of wearing layers when enjoying the snow. Tess (left) built a snowman in October with Miso Kerekes, an exchange student from Hungary.

Photos courtesy of Tess Van der Bel

➼ Tess Van der Bel was one of the 10 exchange students at Central High School for the 2020-2021 school year placed by Forte International Exchange Association. Tess left her mom, dad, older brother, and all the rainy days in the Netherlands to live 10 months as an exchange student in the United States, something she dreamed about for six years before it became a reality. Her inspiration sparked from watching American movies, wanting to experience it herself. At 16 years old, Tess turned in her application to a Dutch organization, and the in-home interview took place shortly after. In November 2019, eight months after applying, Tess was ready for her placement. She arrived in Aberdeen on Aug. 17, 2020— the night before classes started at Central. She lived with her host parents, Melissa and Larry Erlenbusch and host sister Kincso, an exchange student from Hungary. One thing that startled Tess was the landscape of the Aberdeen area. She expected mountains because of her research on Mount Rushmore, but she quickly realized her environment would be quite the opposite. Her first week in Aberdeen was overwhelming but not as big of a culture shock to Tess as she envisioned. The little differences that she noticed throughout her stay, however, were unmistakable— like the excess of butter and sugar in our foods, small talk, Midwest attire, South Dakota winters, and the sports culture of Aberdeen. The top three things that Tess enjoyed the most while living out her dream as a student in the U.S. was participating in track, going to the football games with her friends, and experiencing homecoming. “I really enjoyed going to all the sport events at Central, especially American football because it’s just something so American. … Everyone was just like in the movies, and I just loved it. You started with the national anthem, there were cheerleaders, everyone was cheering each other on, and it was just a lot of fun to watch,” Tess said. Tess’s experience in the classroom took some time to adjust to because of how different the school system is from the Netherlands.

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Groove Reflex Redux Catch the musical reunion of an Aberdeen original at Slackers. by PETER CARRELS he first time I witnessed the band called Groove Reflex was in Spring 2006 at Melgaard Park. They’d set up their equipment inside the band shell, and a sizable crowd of young people had already gathered when my wife and I arrived. There was an unmistakable anticipation among those spectators, and it caught us off guard. Frisbees flew and a few lawn chairs had been unfolded, but most in that audience stood near the stage whooping and hooting as members of the band tried to coax a tune-up into the start of their show. Our son, Zach, had only hours before informed us that he was part of a musical group, and he’d invited us to the park. We figured he’d be the drummer, and sure enough there he was, sitting behind a drum set. Around him were two guitarists and an organist. I recognized one of the kids, but not the other two. We didn’t even know the name of the band.


26 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Where their sound came from, I cannot say. But it was ambitious, and it exceeded their abilities. Never mind. The crowd enthusiastically applauded and danced. It was obvious the young musicians had been practicing and playing together. Much of their music was original and was seemingly spontaneously performed. It was a style unfamiliar to me. Jamming. Rocky. Hip-Hoppy. With modest structure. But it could find rhythm and soar. Some tunes stretched into fifteen minutes of freeform expression. It was trippy. It was triumphant. There were flashes of skill from each of the guitarists, and Zach hammered a steady percussive beat. Wait, I recognized the organist. Years before he’d played goalie on a youth soccer team that was a rival to the team my son played on. The kid goalkeeper had grown up and he now fastened a catchy lyrical backbone to the music. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I was a fan by the time they’d finished. They were unpolished, yet they gleamed. They had fun, and so did the folks gathered with them. When I learned the name of the band, I immediately loved it. I’d watched and heard a generous and genuine give and take between audience and musicians. During a pause between numbers someone on stage shouted, “We’re the groove and you’re the reflex.” From 2006 through 2008 this mainly instrumental collective performed to raucous, loyal partiers THEY WERE at festivals, parks, bars, UNPOLISHED, and other venues. Fifteen YET THEY GLEAMED. years after that Melgaard THEY HAD Park performance, most FUN, AND SO of the original group will DID THE FOLKS once again join forces to GATHERED WITH THEM.” resurrect their unique sound. On Nov. 19 and 20, their reunion performances will happen at Slackers Bar in downtown Aberdeen. I suspect their music will feel as raw and ambitious as it once did, and it will be delivered by a band of Aberdeen natives and comrades forever bound by their three-year adventure as Groove Reflex. //  Keep an eye out for concert details on the band’s Facebook page The Groove Reflex.

Photo courtesy of Peter Carrels

 Groove Reflex bandmates performing Nov. 19 and 20 include (from left) Riley O’Neill, Joel Burckhard, Zach Carrels, Brett Brewer, Nick Howell and Brandon Johnson.







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Brother Deng With sheer determination and some help from Aberdeen, William Deng created a foundation to spark positive change in South Sudan. by PATRICK GALLAGHER hen William “Willie” Deng was 14 years old, he started on the first leg of a journey that would ultimately take him from Africa to Aberdeen. “Bad things happened” during the first days of that trip, Willie said, and they impacted him. Maybe as a result—and certainly because of his infectious optimism—good things have happened since. Two decades later, after receiving two degrees from Northern State University and creating the Deng Foundation, Willie has


28 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 Willie Deng collaborates with other people from South Sudan as part of his efforts within the Brother Deng foundation. Photo courtesy of Willie Deng.

returned, semi-permanently, to his homeland— what is now South Sudan, Earth’s newest country (established 2011). He’ll return to Aberdeen occasionally, and he credits Aberdeen with helping him make a difference 8,000 miles away. Growing up, he knew only civil war. “Fighting took place in our neighborhood most of the time,” he said, “and we had to relocate for a few days or months before we returned to our home.” In 2000, during a break in the fighting, Willie decided his “dream was to get an education

and bring it back home.” So, the fourteen-yearold started walking a nearly 600-mile trip to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. He found work guarding the herd on a cattle drive but lost the job when he dozed off after two sleepless nights, and lions killed some cattle. On his own for days, he saw no humans, only lions. Fortunately, when he hid in trees at night and the lions picked up his scent, they didn’t look up and see him. Three days later, he walked into the herdsmen’s camp. Surprised he was alive, they let him stay, but he stressed, “They brought me back in to help them. They weren’t helping me.” Arriving in Khartoum after a nine-day journey and learning one of his brothers had moved to Sioux Falls prompted Willie to desire an American education, and he obtained a visa. After completing high school in Sioux Falls, he came to Aberdeen and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010 and Master’s in Banking and Finance in 2014 from NSU. “I wanted an education, and I didn’t play around,” he said. He applied his education locally to jobs that called on both his optimism and compassion, as a mentor at NSU, residential counselor at New Beginnings, and finance coordinator at Homes Are Possible, Inc., where he helped homebuyers obtain affordable housing. But his passion remained with his homeland, and in 2011, he launched the Deng Foundation to be his instrument for bringing his education home. He raised funds to purchase school uniforms, an expensive requirement for South Sudanese schools, but a first step for increasing educational opportunity. It would be the last step for a while, however. When Willie’s mother and brother died from malaria, he shifted his focus to health, reasoning “people had to be healthy to benefit from education.” Since then, the Deng Foundation has built a clinic and a water well in Willie’s hometown. Starting with events held at NSU, about a quarter of funds raised have come from Aberdeen donors. He now hopes to raise funds to sustain the clinic, so he can refocus on education. Sitting with Willie will convince you his positivity will prevail. A 2020 NSU Distinguished Alumni Awardee, Willie has many plans for his return home, including writing his memoirs. He will also add South Sudanese members to the largely Aberdeen-connected Deng Foundation board of directors. In addition, the foundation’s name is changing to Brother Deng. Suggested by his South Sudanese neighbors, it reflects how they see the optimistic man we call Willie. //

Photo by Troy McQuillen


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 COMMUNITY | SPORTS  Hugo Gustafsson (12) and Kyle Kozma connect with some fans after one of their home games at Odde Ice Arena in October.

A Look Inside:

The Aberdeen Wings The Wings organization created a culture within the community that celebrates hockey, and the new head coach plans to continue that legacy. by JOSIE CLEMENS

Building a Franchise

The 2021-22 season marks the 12th season for the Wings in NAHL. The era of junior hockey in Aberdeen all began in 2008 with an exhibition game. “I got contacted by the owner of the Bismarck team in the North American Hockey League, Tom Brigl, in ‘08. He is just always looking for partners, different towns that could support a team in the type of league we are in. He thought Aberdeen looked really, really good,” Greg Odde, owner of the Aberdeen Wings, said. The exhibition game was held at the Odde Ice Arena with another exhibition match-up in 2009.

30 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

After the second exhibition game a year later, the prospect of starting a junior hockey team grew more serious for Greg and his family. “We did some planning and ran some numbers and decided to take a chance on this, thinking that it’s got a real opportunity to succeed here. Not knowing at what level, but survive it basically,” Greg said. Greg, with the help from his wife and children, started a new franchise instead of bringing in an existing team, and the 2010-11 season was the first year that the Wings competed in the Tier II league. The rest is history. Being partners with the Aberdeen Hockey

Association in the Odde Ice Arena, Greg invested in the expansion of the building to accommodate for the Wings and to give back to the community and youth association. This expansion of the south wall included state-of-the-art locker rooms, training facilities, offices, and upperlevel luxury suites.

A Change in Leadership

Greg credits the growth of the Wings program to the high support of the community and guidance by individuals like Pete Sauer, who was the Wings’ first coach and helped Greg with the original business model and development of the franchise in the league. Since then, the Aberdeen Wings has been home to a handful of coaches and general managers who have all contributed to building the culture of the team, including Scott Langer, who led the Wings through many successes since his debut in 2016.

Photos courtesy of the Aberdeen Wings

he Aberdeen Wings were named the 2020-21 Central Division Organization of the Year after achieving major organizational and junior hockey league milestones. Being the Robertson Cup runner-up and entering this fall under new leadership, the team looks to build off last season’s success and continue to develop a positive culture—both on and off the ice.


 Anthony Messuri (23) fist bumps a young fan.

THE FAN BASE AND OWNERSHIP HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND KNOW WHAT WINGS HOCKEY IS ALL ABOUT.” – STEVE JENNINGS After Scott accepted the head coaching position with the Fargo Force in July, the Wings searched for someone to fill the seat and welcomed Steve Jennings to the head coach position. In a press release from the Aberdeen Wings in July, Steve said, “I have huge shoes to fill behind the legacy Langer created, and I’ll try to continue that. The fan base and ownership have high expectations and know what Wings hockey is all about. I’m excited to be there to continue the journey.” Steve began his coaching career in hockey after he graduated from Naval Academy. He coached the team at Navy for a season and a half before leaving for duty in the Fleet for several years. When he left active duty, he began coaching again with a club team in Pennsylvania.

 The Aberdeen Wings welcomed a new coaching staff for the 2021-22 season. Steve Jennings (top) was named head coach and brought on Zach Stepan (bottom) as the assistant coach.

When Steve moved to Texas and his son started to play hockey, that is when he met Scott. Steve has worked with him for almost 17 years since then—advancing in his experience as both a scout and a coach. When Scott was named head coach in 2016, Steve became the Wings’ Director of Player Personnel while also working as head coach for the Nashville Jr. Predators, an 18U AAA team. “My job fundamentally was not to be here in Aberdeen watching the team. My job was primarily to be out recruiting, trying to build the team for next year,” Steve explained. With his work behind the scenes as a scout and director of player personnel, Steve typically watched 500 games of hockey annually. And when he coached the 18U team, his primary purpose was to train the players to be able to november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 The Aberdeen Wings players give back to the community in many ways and are big role models for the youth in Aberdeen. One program that the players help run is the YMCA’s youth floor hockey.

compete at the junior hockey level. “I really tried to morph my style there to be more similar to what the kids will face when they play junior hockey. So, instead of focusing primarily on winning games at any cost at the Midget level, we talked about player development, getting them ready to play the right way,” Steve said. His experience in many areas of hockey from player to coach and scout to a fan in the crowd gives Steve a diverse knowledge of the game and an understanding in players’ roles, team chemistry, and the organization as a whole that he is excited to bring to the Wings as a head coach. “I think we will be similar to what people are used to, as well, in terms of high-compete and a good balance of scoring and defensive power. I think it’s going to be a good year,” Steve said. The second member of the coaching staff is the Wings’ assistant coach, Zach Stepan, who was the head coach for an NA3HL team for the last two years. “When Steve called, that was a really exciting time for me because he has been around the block,” Zach said. “He knows his stuff. Every person who has ever played for him that I know

32 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 Hugo Gustafsson autographs a program for an excited hockey fan.

has absolutely loved him and said that he’s one of the smartest people on the planet when it comes to hockey, so I am excited to learn from him in that aspect.”

More Than a Game

The roster for the 2021-22 season consists of 24 players with nine returning from last season. The Wings had an incredible year during the 2020-21 season, setting numerous records— including the NAHL records for most wins in a season (51) and most total points (103). Individually, members of the team earned high honors: Payton Matsui received the NAHL’s Forward of the Year honor and Jake Sibell was awarded the NAHL’s Most Valuable Player and Goaltender of the Year, as well as being named USA Hockey Goaltender of the Year. Beyond the record-breaking year, the Odde Ice Arena paved the way for many successful players. As of Oct. 1, 2021, the Wings have committed 81 players to DI hockey teams and 28 to DIII teams. Since its first year as a franchise, the athletes who joined the Wings family entered a program that had a strong foundation within the organization and positive relationship with the community.

“Well we started the team, and right away we knew if you were going to get to the top, you had to have the right culture,” Greg said. “... We always wanted to do things the right way.” The team looks to bring on athletes who are the best people, not just the best player. “Good people make good things happen, and we go for good people,” Greg explained. He also mentioned when you have an entire town full of people who look up to these players, they need to be model citizens. “Culture makes you win on the ice, too. It just all works together,” Greg added. And it goes all the way from the owner to the coaches to the players to their billet families—where the kids live and stay during their time on the team. “I hear more than anything, and it’s really gratifying to hear from the [former] player’s parents—even the players when they are here— that this is the best place their son has ever played,” Greg said. “We hear that all the time.”

Aberdeen Wings Community

The relationship between the players and the Wings community is something really unique at the junior hockey level, and Aberdeen is one of the few locations that has achieved that connection.

 Wings players (in jerseys from left) Will Diamond, Dominik Wasik, and Hugo Gustafsson, stay with their billet family, Terry, Andrew, and Teresa Weber, during the 2021-22 season. Photo courtesy of Teresa Weber.

“I love it,” Steve said. “It’s a good little town with quality people and people who care, which is the best thing. And you look at the ownership here and Greg and his family, and how much they care … that to me is a pure reflection of the town and the quality of the people.” The Wings rely on the community, and to show their appreciation, the organization gives back to Aberdeen in as many ways as possible, especially to the youth. “Players doing stuff in the community is huge,” Teresa Weber, a billet mom for Wings players, said. “I know kids look up to these players more than they realize. The players are like celebrities.” One of the players from last season, Clayton Cosentino, received Central Division’s Community Service Award—an award that reflects the

positive culture of the Wings as a whole. The players make a variety of contributions to the community. The team assists with the Aberdeen YMCA’s floor hockey program, reads in elementary school classrooms, rings the bells for the Salvation Army, and participates in local events that make a difference in the community. “Nico deVita and Dominik Wasik went to Andrew’s seventh-grade language arts class last year, and they all loved having the players there to read,” Teresa said. “I didn’t even have to ask. Nico and Dom volunteered and asked if they could. It was great.” The Wings hosts several events at the Odde Ice Arena during games as fundraisers for local organizations. This includes the annual Teddy Bear Toss to benefit the Yelduz Shrine and jersey

auctions with proceeds going to a specific nonprofit or charity group. This season, the Wings planned two auctions—one for the DTOM 22/0 foundation and another for Sanford Children’s Miracle Network. With fundraisers like the jersey auctions, where they earn $15,000-20,000 each event, the community becomes an integral part of the Wings’ philanthropic work. The character of the Aberdeen Wings is something that people have recognized since day one, and it’s a community effort to build the culture found within the franchise. And the support and attendance at games keeps growing. “It surpassed my expectations in spades, and I don’t take credit for that either. It’s a phenomenon, really,” Greg said. As the saying goes, it takes a village. “I would be remiss not to mention our business sponsors, too. I mean advertising, social media, commercials—we have tremendous support from the local businesses to help make this happen. It’s just unbelievable,” Greg said. Everyone is excited to see what this new season brings for the Wings. “It’s going to be really fun to be back in a community that loves their hockey,” Steve said. //  The Wings ended September with a 4-2 record and hosted the Odde Ice Arena’s season opener on Oct. 1. Wings fans can find updated stats and schedule online at www.aberdeenwings.com.

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november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



Aberdeen Lions Club reaches its 100th

year of serving the Aberdeen community. by JOSIE CLEMENS n 1921, the Aberdeen Lions Club was chartered by 42 men and became a member of the Lions Clubs International. On Oct. 8, the group celebrated its 100th year of service in Aberdeen. “We are very proud of this milestone and the Lions before us that laid the foundation, as it takes a lot of individual dedication to keep something going for that long! I also think it speaks to the validity of the Lions Clubs’ mission and the importance of a local presence,” President of the Aberdeen Lions Club Jim Kuch said. The international organization consists of 48,000 Lions Clubs worldwide, which is the largest service group in the world with 1.4 million members. “The cool thing about Lions is it’s an international supported organization, but as an independent club, we are kind of free to run our club how we see fit,” Jim said. And besides


34 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 One fundraiser that the Aberdeen Lions Club organizes is Burgers in the Park. Back row (from left): Mark Malchow, Wayne Mardian, Rich Merriman, Bob Christensen, and Marlin Hout. Front row (from left): Roland Pond, Marlys Mardian, Sari Merriman, Renea Wensmann, and Lanny Binger.

paying their annual dues to the international organization, all the donations and fundraising proceeds stay local. Jim has a passion for giving back to his community. Along with his responsibilities with the Lions, Jim is also involved in his church, co-chair for I HAVE the United Way campaign, ALWAYS and is on the advisory board BEEN A BIG of the Salvation Army. BELIEVER IN HELPING OUT, “I have always been a big AND I ALWAYS believer in helping out, and ENCOURAGE I always encourage others OTHERS TO to do it, too,” Jim said. He is DO IT, TOO.” not just another member of – JIM KUCH these various groups. Jim makes it a mission to be active and engaged in everything that he does, which brought him to his leadership role in the Aberdeen Lions Club. Every two to three years, the Lions Club raises

funds to do a large community service project that will benefit Aberdeen in some way. The project typically costs $3,000-5,000. “A few years ago, we actually needed a new camera for the eye screenings, so we purchased a camera and printer and the equipment needed to support that,” Jim explained. There are five global causes that are the focus for Lions Clubs International: vision, hunger, environment, diabetes, and childhood cancer. The Aberdeen Lions Club concentrates most of their efforts toward vision. Every year the club does 3,000 to 3,500 eye screening tests for elementary kids in Aberdeen and surrounding communities, directed by Lion John Emmet who conducts most of the screenings. They also provide eyeglass scholarships for people of any age who need financial assistance, giving up to $150 in support. The process is as simple as filling out an application on their website www.aberdeenlionsclub.org.

Photo courtesy of the Aberdeen Lions Club

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 Mayor Travis Schaunaman (center) declared Oct. 8 as Aberdeen Lions Club Day. Lion’s members pictured (from left) are John Emmet, Bob Christensen, Ward Schumacher, Roland Pond, Jim Kuch, and Katherine Grandstrand.

Aberdeen Lions Club also partners with the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SDSBVI) in several different ways such as sponsoring their back-to-school picnic and hosting a pumpkin carving party. Another large fundraiser the club does each year in August is selling Monday Night Football books, which allow participants to win prize money. The proceeds from the sale of these books helps fund service projects throughout the community. The Lions Club participates in various other sponsorships and events, depending on the needs of the community at that time.

The Season of Giving

As the holidays approach, the season of giving commences. While volunteering in the community and donating to charities is a yearround activity, people tend to be more aware of lending a helping hand during the later months of the year.

36 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

“I just think you see the need more during the holidays just because everybody is focused on it. The holidays are a rough time for people, probably more than other times of the year,” Jim explained. The Lions Club has a couple of events planned for the season. One of those includes a Christmas pizza party with the students and staff at SDSBVI. “We have pizza, and we have a choir that comes in and sings Christmas carols. Santa shows up, and then we have gift bags that we hand out to the kids. That can be a variety of things—some gift cards for food and a little present,” Jim said. An internal fundraiser for Safe Harbor is another service project that the Lions continue during the holidays. Members of the club make their own donations and also reach out to people in the community. With the money they raise, the members then shop for items like personal care products and toys for the children and deliver them to Safe Harbor. “It’s exciting to see how willing people are to help out and to give,” Jim said. “You know, just

 Lions John Emmet helping a student at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired pumpkin carving event.

that switch in mentality where most of the year you are trying to take care of your family or you’re just going through your day. … This time of year, it seems like everybody wants to help others. That’s probably the best part about it for me.” The members of the Lions volunteer for a shift as bell ringers for the Salvation Army, too. *** What started as a men’s social group grew into an international organization for both men and women of all ages. The Aberdeen Lions Club provides behindthe-scenes support to many local groups and organizations around the community, filling a niche like offering vision-care resources and hosting events for the students at SDSBVI. When asked to give advice for people looking to give back during the holidays, Jim responded, “Find a need and fill it. It doesn’t matter how much or how little, but any act of kindness is a good thing.” //

Photos courtesy of the Aberdeen Lions Club

 Lions Wayne (left) and Marlys Mardian helping at Burgers in the Park.

 (From left) Lions Mike Denault, Aberdeen Lions Club President Jim Kuch, and Elaine Scherbenski attended the Sight Van at the Brown County Fair which screened over 250 children in 2021. The Lions screen over 3,000 children annually in the region.

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Get to Know:

Cameron Eichler Eichler Hearing Center



What’s the best part about hearing aid dispensing?

By far, being a part of giving people a much better quality of life than they had before. People’s quality of life suffers, and there’s a lot of emotional pain around hearing loss. To be able to participate in reliving that, that is really cool.


 Cameron’s main motivation in his business is meaningful connection. His immense care and love for human connection is the main fire behind his business.


How does your business impact the community?

C I sponsor a lot of meals for many

communities. That’s how I built my business, by building relationships first with the community, then being involved in sponsoring different events like BMX racing, bingo, prizes, or whatever. Just to encourage people to meet together and have a little more of a reason to come out.


Why Aberdeen for your business?

My family’s here, born and raised, and it’s a good place to live. I’ve traveled to a lot of cities, but I like living here. There’s a variety of things, but probably just values as compared to other places. The pace too, [Aberdeen] is fast enough, but it’s not so fast that you can’t raise a family here.



What do you love about this community the most?

I think Aberdeen is a great place to live. It’s not the biggest community in the country, [but] there’s a lot of great stuff happening here. New things and different things, and we are growing and there’s fun and excitement and opportunity. More and more things you might find in a big city like the Market on the Plaza, they did a great job, and it’s cool!

ameron Eichler is a Christfearing and longtime South Dakotan who is the face of Eichler Hearing Center. A married man for 16 years and a father to five children, you’ve probably seen him taking a walk down Main Street with a notepad and a Bubly. Get to know a little more about Cameron and Eichler Hearing Center and his connection with Aberdeen.


38 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021


How long have you been a hearing aid dispenser, and why did you choose to be one?

I’ve been dispensing for 14 years. I was working with someone else on a sales project, and when that came to an end, this opportunity [dispensing hearing aids] came up. I didn’t have a ton of great options for an alternative, and it just seemed to work out. I tend to think and dream in the direction of whatever I’m doing, so it was just me always wondering how do we make this better and how do we keep doing it.


If you or someone you know is having difficulty hearing, the first step is to have a conversation. You can reach out to Cameron at 800-441-1431 to start that conversation about your hearing and set up an appointment. Or you can stop by Eichler Hearing Center at 517 S. Lincoln St. in Aberdeen. //

Photo by Brandon Heim



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THE ULTIMATE WORD-OF-MOUTH BUSINESS Hub City Radio is all about local people,


When I met with Hub City Radio owner Brian Lundquist for this story, he showed me a video on his phone of an Aberdeen Christian High School volleyball game. It was streaming live at that moment on his website, even though the match wasn’t being broadcast on the radio. “We do that for the grandmas and grandpas who can’t get to games,” he said. Offering a variety of locally focused programming is central to Hub City Radio’s business model. “We want to be part of the fabric of the community,” Brian noted. Employing lessons he’s learned over more than 30 years in the business, the 2021 South Dakota Broadcaster of the Year describes the relationship, “We rely on the local community, and they rely on us.”

From DJ to Owner

As in many careers, there’s some irony that Brian has ended up owning a company with 14 stations around northeastern South Dakota. To begin, the career wasn’t totally his choice. He “attended” Northern State College. “I didn’t go much,” he explained and had a “really good time.” As a result, his parents made a what-are-you-

40 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 Hub City Radio general manager and owner, Brian Lundquist, behind the scenes at their broadcast facility.

gonna-do-with-your-life visit, complete with an answer. They had enrolled him in Thief River Falls Broadcasting School because, his mom said, “You mentioned it once in high school.” So, he attended the one-year program in 1987. A year later, he was at a Volga radio station, playing records during the 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM timeslot. It was a “pretty rustic station,” he smirked. “It didn’t have a copier, so we had to retype things—and no fax machine.” His next job, in Bottineau, North Dakota, reversed his hours to 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but he soon noticed that a very small number of commercials were being played, a sign that the radio station was not doing well. When Brian’s fiancé landed a position in Aberdeen, he called KGIM’s owner many times. “When they finally had an opening, I didn’t need an interview. They told me the on-air position was mine, if I stop calling,” he laughed. So, in 1990, he came back to Aberdeen. A couple months into the job, he had an opportunity to go into sales. “I didn’t like sales,” he said, “but the ‘opportunity’ was sales or no job.” Satellite

delivery was becoming popular, allowing stations to cut DJs, so he moved to radio’s business side but sensed a disconnect with the new technology. The Ingstad family from Valley City bought KGIM and in 1998 chose Brian as general manager. While at lunch, “they told me we need to make this cash flow. I don’t remember the dollar amount, but it was a lot! Thus, I didn’t eat lunch,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what cash flow was at the time, but I achieved it.” He started with two more stations. Others would come. When the Ingstads bought more stations from Clear Channel Radio, Brian’s Berkshire Plaza offices and the Clear Channel offices in the KKAA building south of town moved into the KSDN building on South Highway 281. Despite being under one roof, the two separate sales staffs “competed with each other, both on the street and in the building. It was horrible.” He learned something about running multiple stations with more people. In 2006, Armada—a Wisconsin company— bought the stations. Brian got to name the station group Hub City Radio, which may have

Photos by Troy McQuillen

local programs, and local talent.

 David Tukesbrey is in the Point studio in the mornings on 106.7. He is also on Pheasant Country 103.7 in the afternoons and the voice of Presentation College sports.

planted an unexpected seed. “I never had a vision of owning when I started in radio, but I kept telling the owners if an opportunity came up to buy, I’d like to make an offer,” Brian said. Persistence paid off, much like when he landed his first Aberdeen job. Hub City Radio became available. “It took over nine months to put the deal together after the offer was accepted,” he said. Local investors helped him create Prairie Winds Broadcasting, which took ownership February 1, 2014. Prairie Winds continues to do business as Hub City Radio, and it recently purchased another Armada property, Big Stone Radio (which also kept its name), whose six stations serve the Britton, Milbank, Ortonville, Sisseton, Watertown, and Webster areas. Crediting former owners, Brian said he “learned how other station groups ran their stations. I made plenty of mistakes and still do, but some decisions do turn out, with good fortune.” One lesson of what not to do came from a former competitor. Clear Channel Radio, one of America’s biggest media companies at the time, seemed to fall out of touch with smaller markets like Aberdeen. “They planned to bring canned,

out-of-market programming from the Cities and Fargo,” Brian said. “I thought that was a big market idea that doesn’t work in small towns. It’s not local.” And local has become Hub City’s mantra.

The Who of Local

“That’s why we have eight stations for listeners to choose from, each with its own flavor of programming,” Brian said. “We’re expanding on what we can deliver to meet local interests. In addition to news, weather, and sports, we support our advertisers as well as local fundraisers, and more.” Hub City Radio aims to listen to its audience and put a local stamp on what they hear—and with evolving technology, what they watch and read as well. Ultimately, Brian credits Hub City Radio’s 20 employees for implementing the local focus and producing programming that responds to local interests. “We have a combined experience of nearly 300 years in radio,” he said. At the same time, he owns up to some programming miscalculations. A few years back, “I decided to change KSDN 930 to all 70s and 80s

country on a weekend,” he said. “By Monday, we received around 500 calls on ‘what happened to KSDN?!’ So we changed it back on Tuesday!”

The What of Local

Established in 1948, KSDN 930 is Hub City’s oldest continuously operating station—Brian calls it, “our heritage station.” An early Aberdeen source for rock music, KSDN was named to South Dakota’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. After some format changes over the years, it now focuses on news and talk. With several national talk shows, it may air a lot of syndicated programming, but it’s also the most local station, connecting with its audience through live, locally produced news, talk, and call-in shows. On other Hub City Radio stations, the programming may sometimes come from somewhere else, but those decisions are made locally. Still, upwards of 90% of music programming is locally produced, either live on the stations or pre-recorded by Aberdeen announcers. “I could have everything satellited in and no local guys,” Brian pointed out. “Our staff, after living in town, knows what the town wants.” november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 Jay Kleinknecht is the morning talent on Pure Country 107.1 and can also be heard on 94.1 HD2. Jay is also the voice of Wings Hockey.  Brian earned this award from the South Dakota Broadcasters Association.

42 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

way of connecting locally. Nearly 100% of Hub City’s advertising is South Dakota-based, most from the Aberdeen area. Brian described the basic equation for radio and advertisers: “They support us, and we support them.” This goes beyond just running ads. Early in the pandemic, for example, Prairie Winds Broadcasting stations launched a radiothon, selling nearly $1 million in gift cards to support local advertisers.

The How of Local

Other media platforms have become a major part of Hub City Radio’s local connections. Using their website and social media to promote programming, advertisers, and local events, they communicate with their audience by sharing information and asking locally oriented questions to get feedback—like how much rain people received. Hub City Radio also offers mobile alert services on a variety of topics, and nearly 10,000 subscribers receive text messages about news, weather, sports, school closings, and other topics. “Even if people aren’t listening to the radio,” Brian said, “we’re part of their day, through texting, social media, and so on.” They also promote businesses in the threedimensional world with their branded vehicles.

Parked at advertisers’ locations with speakers blaring broadcasts and LED displays running messages, the Hub City Radio Van and Boombox demand attention. As Brian put it, “When the Boombox is rockin’, people are talkin’.” Hub City Radio also supports local charity fundraisers. “It’s another way to be local,” Brian said. “We donate time, talent, and treasure.” He added a practical observation, “When we give locally, it returns many times over. If we can buy in town, we’ll always do it.”

The Tech of Local

Brian remembers a clever gimmick KGIM used when its 1420 AM and 106.7 FM stations aligned with each other on the dials of older model cars with push button AM/FM radios. If you switched bands, you still had a KGIM station. Fast forward, and High-Definition technology allows up to four stations on one FM channel. On an HD radio, you’ll find additional Hub City stations at 94.1, 94.5 and 107.1. “We could carry up to 20 stations with HD, but I don’t think the market is ready for that yet,” Brian said. Technology has also helped Hub City Radio do local globally. Besides audio and video web streaming, “Wherever you are, you can say ‘Alexa, play Sunny 97.7,’” Brian laughed. And, he insisted,

Photos by Troy McQuillen

Six stations focus on different genres of rock, pop, and country music, including Aberdeen’s newest stations: 94.5 The Reason (Christian rock) and 107.1 Pure Country. After music, sports arguably receive the most attention on Hub City Radio, and it’s an area where Brian confesses to another mistake— once preempting a Twins regular season game in favor of a Vikings preseason game. “We got lots of negative feedback for that one,” he said. Lesson learned. While KGIM 1420 has been an all-sports station for years, all eight stations carry sports on occasion, as they cover more than 350 area sporting events a year. “Sometimes we have colleges, high schools, and Wings hockey all on the same night,” Brian said. Most broadcasts also offer live stream video. In sports, local has gone larger, as Hub City Radio covers games for many area communities. Sports talk is a feature on KGIM 1420 (known as Fox Sports 1420), and while most is nationally syndicated, the station airs a weekday Sports Hub talk show. “We don’t pretend to know more than the national guys,” Brian explained, “but we know more about Aberdeen area sports than they do.” Advertising pays the bills, but it’s also another

 Rusty Rokit DJs the morning show on 94.1 The Rock as well as the afternoons on 106.7 Point FM.

even distant listeners like the local commercials. Yet even as radio’s competition has expanded in quantity and variety, Brian asserted, “We survived the competition from TV, cable, MTV.” He added ironically, “The first video MTV played was the Buggles’ song ‘Video Killed the Radio Star,’ but today MTV hardly plays any music.”

It’s Still Local

Returning to the local focus, “With most other advertising—like newspaper, cable, broadcast TV, or satellite radio—when listening or reading

them, it’s like you’re shopping out of town,” Brian said. Plus—as he reminded me multiple times—radio is still free, unlike its primarily subscription-based competitors. A long way from that rustic Volga station with no fax machine or copier, Brian marvels at the changes. “We’re on your phone and smart boxes. We’re more intrusive. Twenty years ago, no one outside our signal coverage could hear us. Now that’s expanded worldwide and changed how we deliver content.” But not necessarily what they deliver.

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“The music might change over time, but we’re still doing local news, weather, and so on,” he continued. “We still want to report the cancellations, water shutoffs, where the games are being played, where the potholes are.” Brian concluded, “Radio was the original and still is the word of mouth that tells people what’s going on. It’s still a people-based business. There have been changes in the technology, but it’s still about the local relationship with the community.” And that relationship is what drives Hub City Radio. //

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november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



Keep Joy in Your Holiday Plan self-care and participate in activities around the community to help alleviate stress during the upcoming season. by SUSAN KORNDER | Northeastern Mental Health Center ith the holiday season fast approaching, I think it is a good time for people to reflect on not only the gratitude we all feel during the holidays, but how to manage the feelings that may interfere in the joy holidays can bring. I consistently hear how stressful holidays can be in many ways. From planning family gatherings, meal prepping, how much money people spend, and coping with the emotions that come from interacting with other people. Keeping perspective on what is important is the first step to overcoming the stress and enjoying the holidays. There is no ideal holiday event or group of people. Not every gathering, meal, or present is ideal, and you should set a standard to not compare yourself to others. Focus on what you are grateful for and create a list of self-care activities to assist you when things do become stressful. You are worth it! You must nourish yourself and find balance to curb the increase in anxiety and depressive symptoms that may come as a result of holiday and winter stress. You may benefit from planning ahead—a game plan going into the season for self-care is important. Did you know Aberdeen and the surrounding area can provide you with many ways to take care of yourself during the holiday and contribute to your self-care? Here is a list of local ideas to help you prevent an increase in symptoms and help you find balance.


➼ Richmond and Mina have numerous hiking trails that you can use anytime. The fresh air, scenery, and activity may be a great way to get away and refresh. Take a friend, your pet, or go alone. Refer to the state park website (gfp.sd.gov) for details in finding the trails!

➼ Volunteerism is a great way to get involved and feel good! There are many options such as Salvation Army, local church meals, gift wrapping, and churches. This is the season to reflect on gratitude! Stay tuned to local radio and social media for opportunities.

➼ Take in the sights of local Christmas light decorating. Aberdeen offers a Christmas light tour of homes, or just take a drive and check out new areas of town you normally don’t frequent! The Chamber of Commerce provides a listing of homes, visit their website at aberdeen-chamber.com.

➼ Area churches also offer bake sales throughout the holiday season. Check out local listings and volunteer to bake for them or buy to enjoy!

➼ KO Lee Aberdeen Library offers a variety of activities during the winter months. Stop in and see what you can participate in or pick up a book to enjoy and feed your mind something good!

➼ Aberdeen offers outdoor skate rentals and cross-country ski rentals. The local parks such as Manor and Lincoln along with the Odde Ice Arena are options for rentals. Please refer to the Aberdeen City Parks and Recreation website (aberdeen.sd.us) for hours of operation. Whether you try these activities alone, or with a friend, you must make the effort to enhance your self-care plan. You can do that right here in your community. Who knows? You may find something new to enjoy! Don’t let this holiday season begin with stress, focus on a plan to care for yourself. And if you think you need additional guidance during the holidays, Northeastern Mental Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services to our 10-county region. We will see you regardless of ability to pay and where and when it is convenient for you. Please don’t hesitate to call if you think that professional help is needed. We can tailor what your needs are to your treatment and assist in helping you meet your vision of health and wellness. You are worth it! //  To learn more about Northeastern Mental Health Center services, visit www.nemhc.org.




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Traditional Holiday Pies… But Different

➼ Pie crust can be tricky, but we had really good luck with the recipe here from Martha.

The classics are here to stay, but try these recipes


for a subtle twist on your favorite pies.

• 3 cups all-purpose flour


MAKES 2 shells


• 1 Tbsp. sugar

’ve never been a fan of pies. I’m not sure why. Consistency, texture, and sweetness all play delicate roles in the success of a pie. Instead of copying and pasting online recipes, my wife and I experimented with a few different ones, mixing them up to our taste. To my surprise, I really liked all three of these pies. When looking for ideas, Martha Stewart is always a reliable place to start; then, Alton Brown has an interesting take on traditional recipes. We also really wanted to make a pie with chokecherries (because we had a ton) and adapted a blueberry pie recipe to make that work. Chokecherries will probably be past their season now, but we recommend using a chokecherry jam if you didn’t happen to stash any in your freezer. Cardamom is a unique ingredient in our pumpkin pie recipe. It’s different, which is why we like it. Please read the recipe in advance. Some steps require upwards of two hours of prep time, plus baking. Enjoy! //

• ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces)

46 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

• 6 Tbsp. cold vegetable shortening or lard (cut into pieces) • ½ cup ice water (add more if needed)

DIRECTIONS 1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt. Continue to pulse, adding butter and shortening, for 10 seconds or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water in a slow, steady stream just until dough holds together (you may not need all the water), no longer than 30 seconds. Do not overprocess. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your fist; if it doesn’t hold together, add more water. 2. Remove dough from processor and knead a couple times. Divide in half. Shape into disks, about one inch thick; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour or overnight.

Photos by Troy McQuillen


• 1 ¼ tsp. salt



CRUMBLE TOPPING • 1 cup flour • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon • ¼ tsp. salt • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (cut into ½-inch pieces)

• 3 ½ lbs apples (about 6 large, 3 different varieties)

Heat oven to 425°F.


Roll out one pie shell and line a glass pie pan with the crust. Layer the apples in one by one, starting on the edges and overlapping the ends slightly, working in a concentric pattern. Fill in the bottom and repeat, stacking several layers high. Add apples so the middle is a little higher than the rim. You may not fit all the apples in.


Add the reduced apple drippings to the liquid left in the large bowl (you may have to remove any extra apple slices). Mix together well, then pour over apples in pie pan.


Carefully add the frozen crumble to the top of the pie, covering as many of the apples as possible. Use your hand to prevent crumble from falling off the edge as you add it.

• ½ cup sugar (divide in half) • 3 Tbsp. flour • 2 Tbsp. apple jelly • 2 tsp. lime juice • ¼ tsp. kosher salt • ¼ tsp. black pepper


Peel and core apples. Cut into slices (¼-inch thick).


In a large bowl, toss apple slices with ¼ cup sugar. Place in colander over a bowl to catch juice. Drain, approximately 1 ½ hours.


Put drained juice in a saucepan on medium heat, cook to reduce to about 2 tablespoons or slightly more. Set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, toss the apples with remaining ¼ cup sugar, flour, jelly, lime juice, kosher salt, and black pepper.

DIRECTIONS FOR CRUMBLE TOPPING ➼ Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add butter. Work the sugar mixture into the butter with your fingers, rubbing it together until a pea-size crumble forms. You can use two knives in a scissor motion to cut into even pieces. Place into the freezer.


9. Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes. After the crumble looks brown (check after 15 minutes), lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pie for the duration of the cooking. Don’t crimp it to edge of pan, just lay it on top. 10. Remove pie from oven and cool on rack for 4 hours. Drizzle with caramel sauce if you prefer. november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



INGREDIENTS • 2 pints fresh blueberries • 1 cup chokecherry puree or jam • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice • ½ cup sugar (only use ¼ cup if using chokecherry jam) • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch • ¼ tsp. kosher salt • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (cut into pieces) • 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash • Sanding sugar

DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat oven to 425°F with center rack. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place on rack to preheat. 2. In a medium bowl, gently toss together blueberries, chokecherry puree/jam, lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, and butter. 3. Roll out pie shell and line a glass pie pan with a pie crust.

5. Bake on preheated baking sheet for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until filling is bubbling and crust is evenly browned, approximately 60 to 70 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, lay a piece of foil over the pie. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

48 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Photo by Troy McQuillen

4. Transfer blueberry mixture to prepared pie dish. Brush edges of crust with egg wash. Add top crust and crimp edges. Cut a few vent holes in top. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Our pie includes a lattice top, which was somewhat difficult for the first time. If you want to give it a try, find an online video to see how it’s done. You may need a third pie shell.

2 0 2 1 - 2 0 2 2



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• 2 oz. unsalted butter • 3 Tbsp. sugar

• *Dulce de leche (see directions below) —14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the middle.

• 1 large egg yolk

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (add more for optional garnish)

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. ground cardamom

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.

• 1 tsp. coarse salt (kosher salt)

• ¾ tsp. ground ginger

DIRECTIONS FOR SHORTBREAD CRUST ➼ Stir butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Add in yolk. Whisk in flour and salt, stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Transfer to pie pan. Using the bottom of a metal measuring cup, press dough into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish as evenly as you can. Freeze for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes, rotating half-way through. Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack

50 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

• ½ tsp. salt • 2 large eggs • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) • 1 cup evaporated milk • Whipped cream (optional garnish) *Dulce de leche: Heat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Set plate in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to pan to reach halfway up pie plate. Bake milk in middle of oven for 45 minutes. Check water level and add additional, if necessary, then continue to bake another 45 minutes or until milk is thick and brown. Remove pie plate from water bath and cool, uncovered. Use it right away while it’s warm but not hot.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Whisk in the pumpkin and spice mixture (from step 2). Gradually whisk in the evaporated milk. 4. Whisk in the dulce de leche a little at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Pour the filling into the pie shell. 5. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. The pie will be mostly set but still jiggle a bit in the center. 6. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Top with the whipped cream and dust with cinnamon, if desired. Serve, or refrigerate until needed.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

• ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

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november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE




COTTAGE Lusso Cottage is a comfy, quaint Airbnb here in Aberdeen. by TROY MCQUILLEN and LESLIE SCHNELL

52 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

➼ The house that was transformed into Lusso Cottage, owned by Ben and Leslie Schnell, was not large, so they opted for a plan that opened up the kitchen and living room. A vaulted ceiling helps the room feel more spacious when families gather. Because of the vault, the original fireplace mantle did not work, so Ben rebuilt the front of the fireplace. Grassland Granite built the bookshelves and kitchen cabinets.

november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


Airbnb and VRBO have been steadily rising in popularity as an alternative to hotels. Both are website-based systems that allow people to book accommodations virtually anywhere and in any type of privately owned place. This includes houses, basements, apartments, cabins, tents, tiny houses, and campers. And anyone can do it. If you have a space for rent, even seasonally, you can post it online and prospective lodgers can find you. Currently, Airbnb lists about 37 rentals in the Aberdeen area with several reporting decent success. So much so, that Lusso Properties here in Aberdeen renovated an entire house and made it available to rent online. Leslie and Ben Schnell of Lusso Properties develop and manage property throughout the region, including this quaint house which they call Lusso Cottage. Back in 2019, the Schnells came across this smallish house on South Second Street that needed some serious repairs. “It was going to be so much work, but we loved the property and the house,” Leslie said. After 12 months and substantial renovation work involving plumbing, electrical, HVAC, new kitchen and bath, windows, roof, siding, and landscaping, they decided to make the house an online, short-term rental/ vacation home. Since they opened Lusso Cottage in August 2020, they have booked over 289 days and have welcomed guests from all over the world. Attention to detail can be seen in the renovation all throughout the house, and Leslie continues to decorate the house seasonally. “I like the guests to be as comfortable as possible. We try to make it feel like their home away from home. Christmas decorating is the most fun. Every room gets something, even the coat closet! It is a joy to be a part of making memories in people’s lives. They come to Lusso Cottage and meet with family they have not seen, reunions, weddings, showers, and vacations as they travel through the United States. Some we only talk to online and some we have met face to face. Everyone has been wonderful, and we have been so happy with our decision to create this space for them,” Leslie said. //

54 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

➼ They wanted to keep the original wood floors, but some were so damaged they did not have enough for the entire house. Leslie tiled the kitchen and bathroom floors, so Ben could piece together the rest of the house with what was left over and then refinished them.

november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


➼ Everything that has gone into the house is there to make the guest feel welcome and at home. The Schnells considered “what would I want if I was staying here?”—from the rain shower head in the bathroom, a kitchen that is stocked with everything you need to cook, and the coffee/beverage center to the firepit with a s’mores bar available from summer through fall that turns into a hot chocolate bar in the winter. They also wanted the beds and pillows to be as comfortable as possible.

56 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

➼ “When it came to finishing the Cottage, the home was very quaint and cozy with the character we tried to keep from its original design, like the arched front door and screen door,” Leslie said.

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➼ The decor is cottage-inspired with that cozy feel. Leslie finds a lot of things local and online. The wallpaper in the foyer inspired her with the deer and squirrels. The guests love the fact that Leslie provides nuts to feed the squirrels in the backyard.

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 South Dakota’s 40 et 8 boxcar from France sits in a semienclosed structure on the state fairgrounds in Huron.

 The 40 et 8 group in Aberdeen won a national award at the 102nd Promenade Nationale for adding the highest number of new members (12) in the nation. Photo courtesy of Ron Krogman.

A veterans organization made of members from The American Legion, the 40 et 8 in Aberdeen is involved in several areas of service.


58 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Boxcar photo by Stephanie Staab

Aberdeen’s Unseen Heroes

n Dec. 21 this year, the 40 et 8 service group will be celebrating its 100th birthday. Our very own Aberdeen branch, however, recently turned 40. But in those 40 years, they have made many accomplishments in aiding the town. Established after World War I, La Societe des Quarente Hommes et Huit Chevaux—the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses—received its name from the writing on French boxcars stating that they could carry forty men or eight horses. Later, France sent 48 box cars filled with gifts in thanks for aiding them in the war. 38 of those box cars are still in existence, including South


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november/december 2021 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


60 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

 The commemorative plaque near the boxcar in Huron tells the story of the 40 et 8 boxcars from France.

Connect! ➼ The idea for 40 et 8 surfaced in 1920, initiated by founder Joseph W. Breen in Philadelphia. The purpose was to create an honor society for The American Legion that gave soldiers, sailors, and Marines who shared wartime experiences an opportunity to have fun. The national constitution was adopted in 1921 along with the establishment of national headquarters in Seattle. The honor society grew into a service group that focused on several causes including child welfare, nurses’ training, and youth sports. Membership into 40 et 8 is by invitation only to honorably discharged veterans and serving members of the United States Armed Forces.

Photos by Stephanie Staab

Dakota’s very own that can be seen on display at the state fairgrounds in Huron. Formerly an extension of the American Legion, the 40 et 8 are officially their own independent organization. Today, though, the 40 et 8 has shifted its expertise from train cars to helping locals in need. According to Ron Krogman, Grande Chef de Gare of Aberdeen, they have three main focuses—nursing, child welfare, and house fire relief. In the past two years, Ron said that they have donated $12,000 in scholarships and grants to Presentation College. For students to benefit from these gifts, the only requirement is to be enrolled in a nursing program. Child welfare is another cause of the 40 et 8. Each year, they organize a Christmas party for the residents at the New Beginnings Center. Gifts, games, and food are staples at the event, provided thanks to their fundraising throughout the year. “The best part is the banana splits,” Ron said. Another lesser-known effort from the 40 et 8 occurs after house fires. “Our goal is to get brand new clothing to children in house fires within 48 hours,” Ron said. “We can get other donations to them, but it’s nice for kids to have something new for themselves after they’ve lost everything.” The 40 et 8 also help with various other veterans' causes in Aberdeen, such as Aberdeen Area Veterans, Inc. Currently, they are working to raise money to build a dedicated building where all veterans organizations in the area can meet and host events in town. In addition to their acts of charity, the 40 et 8 elects a law officer of the year, hero of the year, and one of their own, a voyageur of the year. Those elected are then sent on to state level. “All in all, we’re a low visibility group that does a hell of a lot,” Ron said. //

TWO VACCINES IN ONE VISIT Getting vaccinated is your best defense against the flu and COVID-19. It’s time to help protect you and your loved ones from illness. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone 12 years and older who has not received it yet.

Call (605) 226-5500 to schedule your appointment at Sanford Aberdeen Clinic. 277-397-268 9/21


Aberdeen Roots:

Percy Grote Percy Grote played a significant role in the development of Moccasin Creek Country Club and the Prairiewood lots. by BRANDON HEIM

62 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

hen you look out at the beautiful green hills that is the Moccasin Creek Country Club golf course, could you believe that it grew from a small patch of grass? Could you believe the reason the beautiful Prairiewood lots and the golf course were made possible was by the commitment of one man and many kind residents and golfers? Everything you see today stands on the dedication of those people. Percy Grote (96) is a builder of planes, fisherman, and most importantly, an avid golfer. His mind says he’s 18, but his body says he’s 118. That doesn’t stop him from playing a few holes with friends and taking challenging shots. The Moccasin Creek Country Club golf course has its roots in the Aberdeen Country Club where the people were split between two parties—the ones who wanted the club to stay in Aberdeen and those who wanted to move. Percy came onto the scene just after the country club voted to make a new golf course, hired John and Bill Maddox to do the construction, and started talking about selling lots to fund the project. Percy recalled being at a party that was thrown for John and Bill Maddox. “I got to talkin’ with him [John] and he said, ‘We gotta go out there tomorrow, out to this place and walk through it. We’d like you to come with us!’” Percy obliged and didn’t really think too much of it until his friend Earl Haar informed him that he needed to buy a ticket as soon as possible. “You got to put in $1,000, and that gives you a number. That’s the number of a lot you’ll be able to pick. 88 was my number,” Percy said. Many people wanted a lot alongside the golf course, Percy included. So, he decided to trade down for a lower number closer to the golf course. Dean Shortridge who had number 16 helped Percy trade down to the number one pick—for $200 of course. After the golf course was finished around 1973, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) came out and inspected the course. They were incredibly impressed that the course was so nice that they could host tournaments there. They even asked Percy to be the honorary coach of Northern State University’s team. “I got to mingle with all of these guys from all over … sit in their tables and … just go off and talk!” Percy said.


Photo courtesy of Brandon Heim

 Percy won this trophy in the 1960 tournament at the Moccasin Creek golf course. He keeps it in plain view on top of a cabinet in his home.

 A candid moment of Percy getting ready to spend some time at the golf course.

In 1976 the course ran into trouble when a severe drought came over Aberdeen. Grote recalled only getting seven inches of rain that entire year. The managers of the course were running out of money because people did not want to play on the course, which made it hard to pay the bills. And with the people who did play, all the golf carts driving over the course eventually burned the grass down to practically dirt. The course was in dire need of water. Next spring, Percy’s good friend from his bank—First National Bank (now Wells Fargo)— asked him to attend a meeting with the association of the golf course and four bank presidents. The association of the Aberdeen Country Club went bankrupt and the bank had plans to build I ALWAYS a subdivision for housing THOUGHT IT’S in the area. They asked THE MOST BEAUTIFUL Percy what he thought they GOLF COURSE should do about the course. IN SOUTH “Well, we’ve been waiting DAKOTA.” for years and years to have – PERCY a really good golf course GROTE in Aberdeen. I would sure hate to see it not be a golf course,” Percy said in the meeting. The bank then proposed giving Percy $30,000 to manage and build up the golf course for a year. “The budget for the golf course is normally about $85,000. I didn’t think there’s any way to do that because the golf course has no grass. And, they took a culture of the greens, and they said it won’t grow back!” Percy said. Percy reluctantly went along with it. He contracted Conrad Bakken from Mitchell as a greenskeeper. The equipment was poor, and there was no money for upkeep, but Percy remained optimistic. “We’re gonna fertilize them

[the greens], and we’re gonna water even though they look dead. Do that for about two or three weeks, and just by chance, maybe it’ll be worth the effort,” Percy said. After two weeks, to everyone’s surprise, green started to spring up. Despite the victories, there was still lots of work to be done. Percy took spraying weeds into his own hands. Percy ended up quitting golf for a year so he could maintain the golf course. He’d go from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day for work. Percy didn’t take any days off either, not even on holidays or weekends. After that year, the golf course came back even better than before because Percy and his crew cleaned out all the shelterbelts, took out trees, and planted grass. Not to mention all the love, support, and help he had from the Prairiewood neighbors and other golfers. He called Conrad and asked him to put in all the pins and fill all the holes. Conrad was shocked and asked why. “I’m gonna play. I’m gonna play it tomorrow morning,” Percy told Conrad. “I went out, hit a couple of practice balls ... They weren’t good … but I went out anyway and started playing, and people would come out their backdoors and cheer.” It was just Percy playing that day, and the first time anyone had played it since he remodeled it. Today, Percy doesn't golf there anymore since he golfs with his friends at another location. He did all that work with no pay. Percy’s only motivation was his love and passion for golf. Once it was finished, he felt like his work was done. “I always thought it’s the most beautiful golf course in South Dakota,” Percy said. “I still think that there are a heck of a nice bunch of people out there. They got beautiful yards that blend with the golf course, and that makes it a beautiful place.” //

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Restrictions apply. Discounts may vary. Not available in all states. See your agent for details. Insurance is underwritten by Farmers Insurance Exchange and other affiliated insurance companies. Visit farmers.com for a complete listing of companies. Not all insurers are authorized to provide insurance in all states. Coverage is not available in all states. Life Insurance issued by Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, 3120 139th Ave. SE, Ste. 300, Bellevue, WA 98005.

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64 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE november/december 2021

Illustration by Troy McQuillen

The 1893 Grain Palace Exposition ended on a sour note. A wedding was billed as the final event, but the unfortunate groom was left at the altar.

All historic photos provided by Dacotah Prairie Museum


welve years have quickly flown by since my book, Palaces on the Prairie, was published by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies (now North Dakota State University Press). The Aberdeen Grain Palace was featured in the book, and since 2009, several people have written various accounts of our palace. When I was asked to write this article, I decided to approach the subject from a slightly different angle—namely, what can we learn from our ancestors’ efforts, and can their successes and failures provide valuable lessons for today’s city leaders? Some people may have been surprised by the fact that Aberdeen’s palace didn’t even make the book’s front cover. That honor went to Mitchell’s Corn Palace—not the current one, but the first of three, which I consider the quintessential example of what a fairytale building should be. If we’re going to be honest, we have to admit that Aberdeen’s Grain Palace was rather plain by comparison. Was that by design? Not at all. The design was stunningly beautiful, and architect E.W. Van Meter did his best to capture the essence of the handsome Main Building at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition of 1876. Women were tasked with decorating the interior of the Aberdeen Grain Palace, and they met or exceeded all expectations. Men were expected to ornately decorate the exterior, and they failed miserably. They only managed to put a strip of grass across the facade, which a local newspaper proclaimed had “enough grain decorations to indicate its character.” Right. The women were led by the Misses Purvis of Minneapolis, both of whom were hired for their decorating skills. Perhaps that gave the women

 A view from the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street looks south at the Grain Palace. Community events attracted hundreds and included visits by Teddy Roosevelt and Presidents McKinley and Taft.

a distinct advantage over the men, who were left to sort things out on their own. To be fair, many men did help with the actual construction, and luckily, D.M. Birdseye, a carpenter from Ipswich, was hired to oversee the process. Otherwise, the 60-foot center tower might have been a wobbly, ten-foot cone without a peak. Even so, the building was only “practically completed” in time for the opening ceremonies. A quick coat of white paint was splashed over the outside with the feeble explanation that the architect intended the building “to resemble the World’s Fair buildings in color.”

The World’s Fair in question was Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and its buildings were referred to as “The White City.” That event had something else in common with Aberdeen’s celebration—it was supposed to have been held in 1892, as it was intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America, regardless of the fact that Columbus didn’t actually discover America. Several Aberdeen families traveled to Chicago for the Exposition, which ran from May 1 through Oct. 31, and some of them were naively optimistic enough to expect Chicagoans to return the favor by

 Artist conception of Aberdeen’s Grain Palace. Execution fell quite short.

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Admission to the 1893 Exposition was 50 cents but was reduced to 25 cents for “Woman’s Day.”

attending Aberdeen’s “Inter-State Grain Palace Exposition and Harvest Festival,” scheduled for Sept. 11-23. The Aberdeen Daily News went so far as to claim that thousands would come west from the World’s Fair. The primary organizers of the Grain Palace were perhaps guilty of naivety in other areas as well. The reason “Inter-State” was added to the exposition’s official name was because Aberdeen organizers invited four nearby counties—Edmunds, McPherson, Campbell, and Walworth—to become partners in the local endeavor. They were urged to voice their support, contribute displays, and donate a significant amount of money. Campbell and Walworth counties were perhaps too far west to be closely involved with Aberdeen’s exposition, but McPherson County might have been a close partner if Aberdeen had been willing to call their expo building a wheat palace. Eureka, near the western edge of McPherson County, billed itself as the “Wheat Capital of the World” in 1892 and could have benefited from the added publicity. Even though I could find no specific evidence to support my opinion, reading between the lines leads me to believe that Aberdonians didn’t want Eureka to get quite that much attention, and therefore opted for “Grain Palace” instead of “Wheat Palace.” Edmunds County was quite eager to participate, largely because of Ipswich’s mover and shaker, Joseph Parmley, who was quick to throw his support behind nearly any project that would benefit the area. He attended many organizational meetings and was primarily responsible for the Edmunds County display that captured first prize at the festival. However, his enthusiasm for Aberdeen dwindled rapidly when the Grain Palace Association failed to pay Edmunds County its $300 prize money.

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 It was estimated that President William McKinley drew a crowd of over 20,000 people to Aberdeen (population 5,000) when he spoke at the Grain Palace in 1899.

The first “moving picture” in Aberdeen was shown at the Grain Palace in 1897.

In 1897, an automobile arrived on the local train so it could be put on display at the Grain Palace. As the car-the only one in town-was being driven down Main Street, it crashed into a traveling salesman from New York. Luckily, the car and the salesman escaped relatively unscathed.

 This is about the only picture that exists of the inside of the Grain Palace. The women of Aberdeen were responsible for decorating it for events.

Didn’t anybody advise the association against burning bridges? Well, yes, the editor of Ipswich’s local newspaper did, and he got right to the point: “If Aberdeen ever expects to have another interstate grain palace she is making a serious mistake in attempting to repudiate lawful debts at this time.” Since there was no boasting of profits garnered from the 1893 Exposition, coffers were probably dry. So, why did Aberdeen build a palace in the first place? The simple answer—because Mitchell did. Why did Mitchell build a palace? The equally simple answer—because Plankinton did.


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When Plankinton built South Dakota’s first “palace” in 1891, it is quite possible that leaders from both Mitchell and Aberdeen scoffed at Plankinton’s audacity and wondered why Plankinton’s 600 citizens thought they could tackle such an undertaking when much larger Sioux City threw in the towel after herculean efforts to achieve financial success during the previous five years. Plankinton’s Grain Palace, though modest in nature, gained enough positive press that at least a few Mitchell businessmen were embarrassed by the thought of being upstaged by a much smaller town. They quickly began organizing the 1892 Corn Palace, and that got Aberdeen’s attention enough for a local newspaper editor to call on Aberdonians to build a palace of their own. Mitchell’s residents quickly kicked into high gear, but Aberdeen’s didn’t. It took another year for Aberdeen to even get out of low gear. (Actually, the first car didn’t appear in Aberdeen until 1900—a Winton—and it likely had only one forward gear.) Other South Dakota towns—such as Ipswich, Gregory, Timber Lake, Rapid City, and St. Francis—waited until the early 1900s to stake their claims. Four of those towns abandoned their efforts after the first year, but Ipswich kept decorating a railroad car as their Corn Palace from 1909 into the 1920s.

The main attraction at the 1899 Grain Palace Exposition was Doc Carver’s diving horses. Cupid, the crowd favorite, turned a mid-air somersault after leaping from the diving platform.

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 While this building never really lived up to the artist’s vision, Aberdeen's Grain Palace needed to be finished and opened for the season. This 1893 view shows the building under construction exactly where Malchows Furniture would later be located. It is now the site of Malchow Plaza. The Grain Palace burned to the ground in 1902 and was never replaced.

Aberdeen struggled financially through nine years of yearly harvest festivals until the palace burned in 1902. Only Mitchell’s Corn Palace has survived, but not without struggles of its own. Their 1892 and 1893 expositions managed to turn a small profit, but then, except for occasional weddings or other private events, the building basically sat idle for the next six years. Cities in other states—Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas, for example—jumped on the Sioux City Corn Palace bandwagon before South Dakota towns did. Each of the communities found something different to promote, ranging from corn and wheat, to alfalfa, flax, blue grass, cotton, sugar, coal, gold, and even ice! Dissimilar as they may have been, they all had one thing in common—they struggled to be profitable on their own. What was the problem? Most community activities relied heavily on volunteers, and the larger the project, the more volunteers were required. Massive projects, such as Corn Palace Expositions, demanded so much commitment that even the most dedicated citizens suffered from burnout. In addition, visitors did not want to see the same thing year after year, so events needed to be in a constant state of reinvention. Even highly paid professionals found that to be a daunting task, so it was no wonder the various palaces found survival nearly impossible. Even today, many Mitchell residents question whether their Corn Palace is worth the financial commitment required for the building’s upkeep, but city leaders have determined that the attraction draws an adequate number of visitors to provide a positive business climate throughout the city. We might be tempted to call businessmen in the early 1900s short-sighted for

not considering residual benefits of a palace, but then again, there wasn’t the ease of travel a hundred years ago that there is today; therefore, tourists weren’t as likely to stop by for a visit while passing through. The Aberdeen Grain Palace was not a smashing success, which was evidenced by the fact that it was not rebuilt after the fire. Nor did it turn Aberdeen into the next Chicago, as some boasted it would. However, does that mean it wasn’t worth the effort? What does it take to consider a grain palace successful? One measure of success perhaps lies in the fact that when Aberdonians talk about the city’s history, the first thing that often comes to mind is the Grain Palace, even though no one alive today saw it or experienced the thrills provided by the yearly expositions. It still seems to be a source of pride, so what does that tell us? Does it hint that perhaps early businessmen and leaders were more forward-thinking than they’re given credit for? Does it indicate that a second palace should’ve been built, one that was perhaps more awe-inspiring? Or does it tell us the palace would have been successful if women had been given more opportunities to hold city offices and managerial positions within companies? Is the idea of a grain palace or some other type of spectacular structure outdated, or is this a case where the wheel could actually be reinvented? In 2003, I thought a model of the 1893 Grain Palace would be an excellent promotional tool, so I contacted Tom and Mark Malchow about the idea because the original palace was built on what would later become the Malchow Furniture Main Street site. They liked the idea and offered to help finance it. I then contacted Campbell’s Town & Country and

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 In 2003, author Rod Evans conceived of the idea to build a scale model of the Grain Palace and photographed it near its original location. Sponsors of the project included (from left) Dale Locken, (SD Wheat Growers/Agtegra), Mark Malchow, Tom Malchow, Richard Biegler, and Matt Biegler of Biegler Construction.

South Dakota Wheat Growers (now Agtegra) about helping, and they agreed. Lastly, I visited with contractors Richard and Matt Biegler, who happened to be building a house across the street from us. The Bieglers thought building the model Grain Palace would be loads of fun, and they offered to construct it at no charge. The large, beautiful model fit perfectly on my 18-foot trailer, and it was such a crowdpleaser that adults would wave as I drove by, and kids—cheering and grinning from ear to ear—would follow me down the streets on their bicycles. Crowds gathered around it when I put it on display at the former Oz & Dakota Heritage Festival, and more recently it has garnered attention at the Centennial Village during the Brown County Fair. The question is, would a new, large-scale Grain Palace have the same appeal? In my opinion, the main reason the original palaces faced insurmountable financial obstacles was because they were built with only one purpose in mind—to promote an annual festival. The buildings’ finances were dependent on one or two weeks of large crowds, good weather, available entertainment, and no unpleasant surprises.

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At about the time the Grain Palace model was built, several Aberdeen citizens gathered to discuss the possibility of building a multipurpose palace. Those in attendance were very much in favor of the project, and the Aberdeen American News publisher at the time, Adrian Pratt, wrote an editorial to show his support. Unfortunately, people who could actually steer such a project to reality stayed in the background, and the idea remained just that. Even though a new Grain Palace was not to be, Aberdeen can still be proud of Storybook Land with its castle, along with its many other enticing attractions. Think of the possibilities if the area could only be covered with a dome— retractable, of course! And what was once the original gathering place, the corner where the Grain Palace once stood is now Malchow Plaza, a space growing in popularity in Aberdeen. We can also be proud of the Downtown Aberdeen Revitalization Team (DART) and the work they’re doing to save the city’s Main Street heritage. My hat is off to Rod Fouberg, Rod Tobin, Tom Hurlbert, Heath Johnson, and others. I just wish they also had a beautiful Grain Palace to preserve. //

Summary of Rod Evans’ book, Palaces on the Prairie: From the 1880s to the 1930s, at least 34 “prairie palaces” of one sort or another sprang up in at least 24 towns across the Midwest. Their themes ranged in scope from grasses to grains to minerals, but all sought the same goal— attention! Evan’s book attempts to tackle many unanswered questions surrounding the success and failures of each palace and community.  You can buy his book online at https://bit.ly/3lxxxTc


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