A 2019 Minnesota Summer Festival Highlight

Minnesota has a wide heritage that is as eclectic as it is unique. For those of you that have grown up in rural Minnesota, you understand that the summertime is a time to work hard and make hay while the sun shines.

We’ve got to cram all our summer fun in three months, so there is significant overlap on weekends, but there is definitely no shortage of things to do during the warm months.

We love to celebrate our heritage with festivals and get-togethers that range from New Ulm’s Oktoberfest to American Indian powwows.

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Let’s be honest, garlic’s a pretty weak reason to host a festival, but Hutchinson holds it’s event with gusto, and it’s only getting bigger!

However, there’s really no good list of how many events Minnesota hosts. There’s not a “definitive” list, but some range them between 600 and 1,500 block parties, powwows, concerts, annual town get-togethers, historical reenactments,  and not to mention the the larger events like the State Fair, the Renaissance Festival, and We Fest (the largest camping & country concert in the US).

And it’s not only for the lutefisk and mashed potatoes that people put these things together. There’s big money to be made! According to an article by Andy Greder and Ann Harrington, a significant portion of the $10 billion spent by travelers in Minnesota are dedicated to attending the myriad festivals across the state.

 

You see, Minnesotans love a good get together! There hardly needs to be a reason. However, here are a few of the festivals that might prove to be worth the visit:

Agate Days – Moose Lake – July 13-14
Festival of the Voyageur – Pine City – September 21-22
MN Garlic Festival – Hutchinson – August 10
Potato Days- Barnesville – August 23-24
Bean-Hole Days – Pequot Lakes – July 16-17
King Turkey Days – Worthington – Sept 13-14
Corn Capital Days – Olivia – July 22-28
Dam Festival – Little Falls – June 14-15
Summerfest – Pine River – July 24-28

Getting Your Bike Road Worthy

You’ve been riding your trusty rusty two-wheeler for a month or so now, and you’re looking at your garage thinking, “maybe it’s time to bring out the ‘good’ bike”. But, how do you make sure your good bike is ready for summer riding? Here’s a few quick tasks that’ll make sure your jewel is trail-worthy.

Clean Up Your Bike:

A clean bike extends the life of all the other components, just like a clean car lasts longer. Use a basic biodegradable cleaner like “Simple Green” and take a towel and toothbrush to clean everything from handlebars to back tires. Make sure to use as little water as possible to help avoid rusting. Also, don’t forget to get under the seat!

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Get Your Trek On!

Each year, Happy Dancing Turtle offers camping trips for girls and boys in 2nd-8th grade through our Turtle Treks program. These camping trips provide youth with a chance to visit parks across the state. In the past, campers have canoed the lake at Bemidji State Park, explored the falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park, hiked the trails at Itasca State Park and learned how to set up camp and build a fire at Forbes Park right here in Pine River.

 

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Mental Health in Rural Agricultural Communities

People who have chosen to work in the farming and ranching communities have a persona of being solitary, private folk. Stoic would be an appropriate definition, working from the wee early hours until sundown, with tradition and pure grit their only tools.

However, several independent developments are culminating together to create a perfect storm making life increasingly more difficult for farmers.

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Aging Producers

The median age of the US farmer is now 55, with fewer people willing to take on family run ranches or agricultural businesses. This forces growers to continue to run their productions longer until they are forced to sell family land, or maybe the operation entirely.

Fluctuating Prices

Additionally, prices for commodities are fewer than they’ve been in years, adding to the stress many farmers face. Milk prices are far below the cost of production. Dairy farmers are getting around $15 per hundred pounds of milk, but “hundredweight” cost approximately $22-$25 to produce. This negative cashflow is so abundant that dairy cooperative Agri-Mark recently sent out suicide hotline numbers along with the milk checks out of concern for the safety of it’s producers.

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Time in Nature Important for Kids’ Mental Health

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Happy Dancing Turtle has long been an advocate of all people, especially children, getting outside. The mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of time spent outdoors are particularly important to children as they develop, as the impacts are long-lasting and far-reaching. With May being Mental Health Awareness month, it made sense to write about the many benefits to be found by spending time in nature. Then we realized, we’ve already done that. More than once! So, we have compiled links to our past blogs as well as those to other organizations that have written on the topic to make it a one stop shop for all things related to the benefits of the outdoors! Continue reading

Exploring The Relationship between Food and Mental Health

It’s 3:30 in the afternoon and you’re getting a bit antsy. Nothing’s going right and you’ve still got a few hours of work before you can head home. You may snip at a co-worker and they’ll notice that you’re getting a little “hangry,” the perfect storm where your mental state is dictated by low blood sugar.

We’ve all been there. It’s nothing a little snack and a walk around the office can’t fix. Just eat this candy bar and you’ll be fine.

That isn’t what I’m talking about.

Some people say, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee! I need my caffeine.”

That, also, isn’t what I’m talking about.

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I’m talking about a direct correlation between mental illness and diet. I wanted to explore research that may have real implications about mental health, namely the long term effects that nutrients have on mental illness.

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Mental Health Awareness Month

Written by Allison Rian

What is resilience? The process of adapting well to changes and/or stressors. Environments can be resilient, communities can be resilient, companies, families, and people can be resilient. “May is Mental Health Month” struck a chord with us. Happy Dancing Turtle promotes resilient living, and we want to acknowledge resiliency in all aspects of the human experience.

The nonprofit Mental Health America has been officially promoting “May is Mental Health Month” since 1949. Their mission statement starts: “Our work is driven by our commitment to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness….” One cannot have wellness without mental wellness. Individuals who are “well” are more resilient, and they bring that into their families, workplaces, and communities.

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Screen-Free Week 2019

Although I’m a winter lover myself, I also enjoy spring. One of my favorite parts of spring is the returned enthusiasm others have for spending time outside. Unlike in the depths of winter, when I have a hard time finding friends to volunteer to do outdoor activities with me, the warm sunshine of spring calls to folks to break away from their phones, computers, TVs, tablets, and other screens and reconnect with the elements of the outdoors.

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood puts on one of our favorite spring challenges to help encourage folks to spend time disconnected from devices – Screen-Free Week! As their website states, “Screen-Free Week is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.” From April 29th to May 5th, millions of people from around the world will join the challenge to unplug and leave their devices behind as they reconnect with friends and family, favorite pastimes, and the great outdoors.

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Local(ish) Earth Day Events

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This year’s Earth Day falls on a Monday (this April 22, to be specific). Taking the time off to properly celebrate our communal home may be difficult because of that. However, with the Easter weekend taking place directly before Earth Day, finding the time may be easier. In fact, many of the events celebrating Earth Day will be held during this upcoming weekend.

So, if you’re out of ideas for things to do for Earth Day, here are a few highlights to give you a head start.

Local Events:

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