Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
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Like any mostly-outdoor festival held during the oft-frozen peak of a Minnesota winter, Detroit Lakes' Polar Fest has had its weather-related challenges over the past couple of decades. This year, however, Mother Nature smiled upon the community's celebration of all things winter, with nary a snowflake or subzero temperature reading in sight through its 12-day run. "The weather was finally in our favor for pretty much everything," said Amy Stoller Stearns, a longtime member of the Polar Fest planning committee.
Gary Thompson has been pulling pieces of history out of Becker County's lakes and rivers for going on half a century now. "This will be my 50th year," says Thompson, owner and proprietor of Detroit Lakes' Tri-State Diving. "I started diving in 1967... I paid for my first set of scuba gear out of my high school graduation money."
When a person goes out for a morning hike, a snowshoe or ski trek, or a leisurely afternoon walk along the trails of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, it's a rare thing to spot wildlife of the four-legged, furry variety. "Unlike birds, which are relatively easy to see (during the day), mammals are largely nocturnal," explains Dr. Steven Dahlberg, a science and math instructor at White Earth Tribal & Community College, who teaches a naturalist training program as part of WETCC's environmental sciences curriculum (which he helped to develop).
The Minnesota Humanities Center is bringing the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, "Water/Ways," to Detroit Lakes this week, as the final stop on the exhibit's Minnesota tour. "The grand opening is Saturday, Feb. 25," says Becky Mitchell, executive director of the Becker County Historical Society & Museum, which will be housing the exhibit. "The 10 a.m. opening ceremonies are open to the public, and there will be a sneak peek for museum members from 9 to 10 a.m."
The Detroit Lakes City Council proved that citizen input can make a difference at its Tuesday night meeting, as not just one, but two items on the agenda were shot down by opposition from local residents — although it may only be a temporary delay in one instance. By a 6-1 vote, action was tabled on a resolution authorizing Mayor Matt Brenk and City Administrator Kelcey Klemm to seek special legislation from the Minnesota State Legislature to implement a local option sales tax.
It may have started as a joke, but the women of Grace Lutheran Church have turned their winter supper into a Detroit Lakes tradition that spans more than a decade. When Ruby Kiihn, then president of the Grace Lutheran Church Women, first proposed that the group host a Cabin Fever Supper back in 2007, it was done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. "I said it as a joke," Kiihn recalled. "But the others all thought it was a good idea."
Though the Dakota Access Pipeline has been dominating regional news headlines for several months now, there is another oil project on the horizon that could have much bigger implications for northern Minnesota: Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline. Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, the $7.5 billion Line 3 is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1,000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wis. — right through northern Minnesota.
Do you love that old time rock 'n' roll? Does it make you reminisce about the days of old? Then you might want to head on over to the Detroit Lakes Public Library this Monday, Feb. 13, for a free presentation by Minnesota author Rick Shefchik. Shefchik is the author of "Everybody's Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock 'n' Roll in Minnesota," and his 7 p.m. talk will be all about the Minnesota-grown bands and songs that made it big during that era.
Though the first weekend of Polar Fest 2017 is already in full swing, there's still time to sign up for — or make a pledge to — the 21st Annual Polar Fest Plunge, which is set for 1 p.m. this coming Saturday, Feb. 18 in Detroit Lakes. "If you go to our website, www.bgcdl.org , there's a link to our Polar Fest Plunge toolkit," says Pat Petermann, executive director of the Detroit Lakes Boys & Girls Club, which is the beneficiary of the annual community fundraiser. The downloadable kit includes frequently asked questions, a list of fundraising incentives and more.
"It's a long way from Nashville," says country singer Zach Stone of Mahnomen's Shooting Star Casino, Hotel & Event Center, where he will be playing for three consecutive nights this Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 9-11. But Stone is happy to be back in the northern part of the country again. "We've played there (at Shooting Star) twice before and they really like us there," he added. "I've been doing shows since I was 12 years old — it's been a lifelong dream, for sure."