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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- Monday, April 22. Brainerd Public Library 4pm-5pm – We’ll start off with an event close to our hearts. Our very own Michelle H. will be at the Brainerd Public Library to talk about the Earth’s most valuable resource: water.
- Monday, April 22. Leech Lake Earth Day ’19 Noon-4pm – At the Boys & Girls Club of Leech Lake, the US Forestry Service, RREAL, Leech Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Solid Waste, Leech Lake Fish & Wildlife and many more will be hosting a fun event geared towards encouraging everyone to “Get Outside!”
- Friday, April 19-Saturday April 20. Run Earth Day Running Events – All Weekend – If you’re down by St. Cloud this weekend and are looking to enjoy the great outdoors AND like to run, take part in the Run Earth Day event. With a variety of races and expos, you’ll be able to find something to enjoy.
In 1969, Americans were preoccupied with the divisive Vietnam War. But another battle was occurring on the home front, with rivers and lakes polluted, cities like Los Angeles blanketed in smog, and litter a common sight everywhere.
US Senator Gaylord Nelson was instrumental in the creation of Earth Day.
Meanwhile Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson had witnessed the effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Nelson, a Democrat, decided a “national teach-in” about the environment was in order, and he asked Pete McCloskey, a northern California Republican, to serve as co-chair. Groups representing causes including oil spill prevention, air pollution, toxic dumps, wilderness destruction and endangered species began to realize they were all part of a greater movement.
Happy Dancing Turtle is fortunate to be located in the middle of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Actually, it’s 11,842 lakes, but who’s counting. A person can hardly drive a mile down the road without passing a lake, pond, river, or stream, often seeing one or the other on both sides of the road. With such an abundance of water around us, it can be easy to take it for granted, which is exactly the reason we make it a point to include lessons on water in all of our youth educational programs.
Starting with our youngest learners, preschoolers at Tiny Turtles learn that around 60% of their bodies are composed of water, which always blows their minds! From there, they brainstorm the different ways that not only people but plants and animals as well, use water. Finally, we discuss different ways that we can use less water, not letting the water run while brushing your teeth being the easiest for them to relate to!
Tiny Turtles seeing how much of their body is made of water.
Second graders in area schools get a water lesson as well, when Happy Dancing Turtle staff visit their classrooms to teach them about the water cycle and all of the different places on Earth that water is found. One of the kids’ favorite facts every time is that (for all practical purposes) there is the same amount of water on Earth now as there was millions of years ago and that the water they drank after gym just might be the same water that a dinosaur drank!
We’ve gotten through the “most wonderful time of the year” and now the cold realities of living in Minnesota are starting to set in, again. Instead of curling up in your favorite blanket and hugging your cup of warm cider (which is something you can do after!), we recommend some of the more adventurous OUTDOOR activities that are available in Minnesota.
Following the old Scandinavian saying, “There’s is no such thing as cold weather, only inadequate clothing,” we can surmise that there are some people who might take this saying to the extreme, even in the coldest of weather. However, for those that are just looking to get their feet wet (figuratively, of course, because wet feet in the cold winter is just crazy), here are a few ideas to get you started:
For a Date Night
Look, nothing can beat dinner and a movie for the traditional way to treat your significant other, but we live in Minnesota. We can do that anywhere. If you’re looking for something to do with your sweetie for Valentine’s Day, here are a couple ideas:
1) Snowshoe by Candlelight – February 22 – Nothing is more romantic than huffing around in your snowshoes. Taking the front 9holes of The Legacy golf course, Cragun’s is lighting up a mile long loop from 5-8pm. With a halfway pit stop offering hot chocolate & cider, and a bonfire at the end of the trail with cookies, this looks to be a really fun way to spend time with your sweetie. Plus, the event goes to support Habitat for Humanity.
2) Snowshoe Class at the Northland Arboretum – If you’re looking for more of an outdoor date, that the entire family can enjoy, the Northland Arb is holding snowshoe classes on Saturday, February 23 at 9:30am.