MSP Reading Time: 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die

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The bucket list, all that stuff that one should experience in life before one, well, “kicks the bucket” seem to be a pretty popular format to base local travel books around currently. Perhaps due to its slightly morbid nature, I find it a fascinating concept, having browsed through various lists before, 1000 albums, 1000 books, etc. I am a bit of a list junkie, I must admit, as I write about over on my other blog, Reading Rainstorm. It looks as though this one is only one among many books detail the essential one hundred things citizens should experience before dying (or moving?) So, of course, I was eager to check out the list of must do activities in my home metro of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and their various suburbs. All in all, I found 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die to be a pretty solid list.

While it might be a bit more of a stretch in a medium size metro area like the Twin Cities, I feel that compiler Tom Weber put together a very nice list of some of the most awesome things to do around here, including museums, annual festivals and events, famous local cuisines, and our well known performing arts venues (oh, and sports). It was quite fun going down the list with my fiancee, a transplant from California, tallying off all of the things we’ve done. Even with all of my activity in the course of writing this blog (and my 34 years in the area compared to Lindsay’s 4 years), she’s beaten me out. I’ve only accomplished 42 of the suggestions in, while she’s gotten up to 46. Almost half! I guess we locals occasionally take the wonders held in our neck of the woods for granted while people seeing them through new eyes get through more. I have certainly had a lot of fun adventures with her over the last year.

Of the ones I can check off, a few of my favorites from the blog appear in the list, though I’m definitely looking forward to getting through even more of them with my love, and there are quite a few that I have yet to experience that seem pretty interesting. Of course, as is true for any such book published two years ago, it is not quite up to date. There are a few on the list that, if you haven’t accomplished them already, will be impossible (eating at the Oak Grill at the Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis, for instance).

Of the entries that remain, though, there is plenty of exciting inspirations. I really enjoyed the lists taking advantage of the extreme seasons of the Twin Cities, not forgetting to neglect all of unique experiences to be had in the dead of winter, from ice skating to art sled racing. Over the course of the next year, I’m hoping to check off a few of the more interesting things I haven’t done yet and write about them here, one for each season.

Specifically, I’m hoping to do #27 and experience Powderhorn Park’s May Day Parade for spring, check out a free summer movie or concert in one of Minneapolis’ park (#25), finally get to #23, one of BareBone’s Outdoor Puppet pageants for Halloween, and hopefully next winter they’ll be enough snow for next year’s #31 art sled rally.

Also, regardless of season, I’m looking forward to #64, touring the Capitol with my state worker sweetheart this year, as well. In any case, we’re well set to check off half of Weber’s list in the next year.

This is a cross post with my book blog, Reading Rainstorm.

 

 

Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale

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In the weeks before the holidays, one can certainly find oneself encountering all manner of treats and goodies, whether at holiday potlucks or family cookie exchanges. It can all be a bit overwhelming, especially as one is also scrambling to find those last minute gifts, if you happen to be or know people celebrating Christmas.

Popping up across the Twin Cities in November and December are a large number of holiday craft shows, a few of which I blogged about during the last few years. This year, Lindsay and I went to the St. Paul Union Depot for it’s European Christmas Market. Due to icy wind and snow on that afternoon, though, we soon went inside the depot to check out another event; the Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale. The 4th Annual sale, it boasts drawing the top Twin Cities bakeries to peddle cookies, candy, and other sweets. There were definitely some delectable and tasty treats on sale, in particular the T-Rex Cookie Company and Heavenly Treats’ toffee. We were able to get some shopping done, too! Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’d come back- the admission fee to get in to even browse the treats ($5 with a commemorative tote) seemed a little much, especially since so many other craft and food shows are free (including the Depot’s Christmas Market, itself). Only a handful of our favorite bakeries were represented, so it was definitely lacking quite a few of the best bakeries the Twin Cities can offer, and curiously, several non-baked good merchants were also on hand, almost as if the selection criteria had little to do with merchants offering the best desserts in town. There were some music and cookery demonstrations, but nothing was happening while we were there. May be best to plan ahead before visiting events with admission fees.  

German Culture in St. Paul

It has been a busy summer, and spending all my time going on fun adventures with my beloved fellow adventurer, I have neglected updating my blog on all the exciting things we have been up to. Over the next week, I’m hoping to get things up to date and, I hope, not let it slip so much in future.

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This June was a good time to be in St. Paul if you have any interest in Germanic and German-American culture. The descendants of the largest immigrant group in Minnesota history, as well as the Austrians and Swiss, still know how to have a good time, and those interested in learning more about it or just enjoying its vaunted cultural amenities such as beer, pastries, and dour religious art had plenty of opportunity to get a taste. With Minnesota (and the rest of the country) still struggling with anxieties regarding the influx of immigrants from around the world, it is always interesting to note how similar fears and concerns were raised by Americans to groups now comfortably part of the white American mainstream, such as the Germans. The presence of such institutions and festivities show that new cultures can preserve their customs and add to the vibrancy of the region’s social fabric. Within a couple of weeks, you could experience Deutsche Tage at the Germanic-American Institute on Summit Avenue and Germanfest at the historic Schmidt Brewery on West Seventh.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

The Germanic-American Institute hosted their 2016 Deutsche Tage on the weekend of June 11th and 12th. A free event, it offers crafts, music, and other activities, though you must purchase tokens to obtain the beer and food on offer. On a lovely Saturday afternoon, the Germanic-American Institute was an ideal stroll from home, and, sipping some Paulaner beers and some chewy pretzels with cheese and mustard, we listened to the low, puffing sounds of the Oompah bands while we observed the many varieties of lederhosen donned by celebrating German-Americans. The ornate GAI building was filled with craft activities and more treats, but the real place to be was enjoying the summer weather on the Institute’s lawn. After winning another round of beers by completing a simple scavenger hunt, we went back inside the cool basement Rathskeller of GAI and watched an interesting presentation on home brewing as well.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

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The very next weekend, we went down to the sprawling complex that housed the old Schmidt Brewery, one of the large breweries founded in Minnesota by German immigrants in the nineteenth century for Germanfest. Also free to stroll, here a $7 wristband was required to purchase the alcoholic beverages. Under the inspiring stone walls of the old brewery, all sorts of vendors selling European crafts and genealogical resources. For us, the biggest attraction here was the delicious varieties of food, including delectable vegetarian spaetzle, potato pancakes, more pretzels (of course), and some wonderful parfait with rhubarb and lemon (and plenty of fluffy, rich whipped cream). Of course, there was plenty of beer on tap here, too, this time from Minnesota’s oldest surviving brewery, also founded by German immigrants, New Ulm’s Schell’s. We also attended an interesting lecture on Lutheran identity in German painting presented by a curator from the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Some very interesting discussion with a pint of froth beer!

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You should definitely check them out next year!

The Cure in St. Paul

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The Cure, from the top of the seats!

So, seminal English post-punk band, The Cure, visited the Twin Cities for the first time in twenty years as part of their North American 2016 tour last Tuesday, packing the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and Lindsay and I were there! Lindsay, a bit of a fan of the ‘80s band, picked up tickets for us and we were excited to be present! Of course, we had to be, I mean, these tickets weren’t exactly cheap, and, of course, The Cure! Growing up, I was a bit ignorant of much of popular music, but over the last few years I’ve been trying to increase my knowledge, so this was a great opportunity to see some giants play.  

This was my first real experience with a huge, arena rock show and it was quite the spectacle. Approaching the Xcel, we found ourselves swamped in a hoard of 40-something Cure fans, all clamoring to get through the metal detectors and into the stadium. Lindsay had gotten us some good seats, at least until the organizers decided to open up more of them, pushing us further away from the stage. Up there in the nosebleeds, it was like, as expressed by Lindsay, we were watching an audience watch a show! The flags of the United States and Canada hung above the space usually set aside for hockey, where instead an eager audience awaited a band from Britain. The Cure were opened by The Midnight Sad, a band from Glasgow, Scotland, whose lead singer bantered with the crowd in his Scottish brogue. After their set, the Cure came on!

Robert Smith, founding member and sole remaining original, performed plenty of Cure classics, for nearly three hours, pausing for an encore every forty-five minutes or so. The production values were quite impressive, rainbow lights and pulsing, themed images projected behind the band members as they went through their numbers. The air became thick and foggy with illicit smokes and the screams of fans who, having imbibed too much, were reliving their misspent youth. Lindsay and I realized that we were on the lower end of the average age bracket of the show. Upon the last encore, we left the Xcel along with a dazed crowd, who dispersed into the quiet, midnight streets of St. Paul, a city which had long since gone to bed.   

Grand Old Days 2016

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The crowd takes over Grand Avenue, St. Paul

Last Sunday, Lindsay introduced me to another new event right there in my new neighborhood, Grand Old Days! The first of the year’s summer street festivals in St. Paul, Grand Old Days, celebrating the neighborhoods adjacent to Grand Avenue, from Dale Street to Fairview Avenue. My first time experiencing this decades old event. While the Open Streets Minneapolis events have been drumming up interest in bringing together local businesses, institutions, and residents together in shutting down major thoroughfares for pedestrian and cyclist exploration of Twin Cities neighborhoods, across the river in St. Paul they have apparently been doing this since the 1970s!  

Although Grand Old Days includes a parade in the morning, Lindsay and I made a casual visit later in the day to check out what was going on this year. We strolled down the entire route, from Dale to Fairview and back, around six miles round trip – encountering crowds of festive people, food trucks, and local organizations along the way. There was plenty of food to keep us going; gourmet chocolate mini-doughnuts, Frio Frio ice lollies, and some of Brasa’s delicious tortilla chips and guacamole. We couldn’t pass up some of Topper’s topperstix, too, of course.

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come get your free plungers! Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

In addition to the food and drink, there were many opportunities for people watching. Along the route, we passed many other people out enjoying the beautiful weather, along with various booths for local businesses, non-profits, and assorted eccentric groups It was a bit weird to see some of the political outfits, though, in particular the rather cringe inducing National Coalition for Men harping about just how hard it is to be a man these days what with all of those false rape accusations being filed against us. Well, what can you do? Just laugh openly as you pass ‘em, I guess. The only thing more funny than them was the religious whackos taking advantage of the crowd to stand on the street corner shouting at passersby about hell and the sin of having fun, only to be mocked by a woman yelling down from her balcony. Anyway, it is amazing how many people wear t-shirts proclaiming their love of Minnesota and the various breweries that can be found here!

Speaking of that, for those looking to enjoy some libations, an $8 wristband was required, which also granted access to a series of “entertainment district” venues along the route. Of course, that cost does not include the libations! Some offered fun activities, like hammerschlagen and volunteers from the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s interactive mural made from festival goer colored panels. Of course, the centerpiece of the entertainment district  was the variety of musical acts performing throughout the day. At Axl’s Bonfire, Your Dad’s Band was there, performing nostalgic rock covers for those drinking the overpriced drinks. Down the street at Dixies on Grand, the local electronic indie band Solid Gold played a pretty appreciative crowd, with a beach ball being lobbed around.

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Solid Gold plays Grand Old Days! Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

There really is nothing more fun, I feel, then to walk carefree down the middle of a busy road. It really lets you get an even closer, more detailed view of the neighborhood.I am looking forward to checking out a few in Minneapolis later in the summer.

Festival of Nations 2016

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The crowd perusing treats at the Festival of Nations

A few weeks ago, Lindsay invited me to experience a venerable Twin Cities event I have never tried before; the Festival of Nations, the oldest multicultural festival in the entire Midwest! Held at the St. Paul RiverCentre, this was definitely a fun thing to do as late spring begins to warm up the streets of downtown St. Paul. Celebrating the role of immigrants in the community, each year focuses on a different aspect of the world cultures. The theme this year was a great one for me to start with considering my interests; Folklore and Fairytales, which are always a fascinating way to get deeper insight into the varied worldviews of nations, and how they are similar as well.  

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A bit of Slovenia (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

In the exhibition area, a multitude of countries had storytellers to introduce other people to their famous stories and legends they are known for, such as the various yokai and yurei of Japan, a Mongolian storytelling yurt, and, of course, the krampus of Austria, among many others. In addition, there were plenty of vendors selling the arts and crafts of people from around the world, including some very nice Senegalese pottery, of which Lindsay picked up a pretty blue bowl. As St. Paul continues to be a hub for new immigrants to the US, the festival was a diverse and vibrant taste of global cultures. In most cases literally, as the bulk of the festival (or at least what Lindsay and I were most drawn to) seems to be the treats and delicacies offered by the various participating cultures.

Lindsay and I arrived hungry, and we set upon the first couple of nations represented in the line of venders selling the cultural treats of each national heritage- the Dutch and the Palestinians, where we snacked on some Dutch cheeses, some sort of fig bread, and some cheap Lipton-esque tea, along with a tasty mango drink and a thick, doughy spinach pie. It became apparent that, as much as we would want to, we would not be able to taste every single country represented, it was just too much. Staring down the line of painted facades that served as storefronts for the makeshift restaurants of the festival, I was reminded of the Renaissance festival with their funny 2-D cultural monickers on each booth.

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aebleskiver and a young coconut

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

Grabbing a whole young coconut from the Cambodian booth, a delicious fry bread from the Native American, wonderful Colombian arepas, a pile of delectable Danish desserts (stroopwafels and aebleskiver), and a Turkish borek (another spinach pastry) we quickly dug into our feast. These were all great, but we were stuffed and there was still half the nations to get through, so we digested and went up to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium to watch some dance performances. We took in the national ethnic dances of the Polish, Egyptian, Tamil, and Czech and Slovak peoples performed by local dance troupes. After we’d watched enough vibrant dancing and colorful traditional garb, we headed back for some Korean dumplings and, sadly, the worst churro we’d ever had. Oh well!   

I would definitely be excited to return next year, and $11 for adults is not too bad a price! The food, of course, is not included with admission, but for the most part was not too expensive, though some were of better value than others.

Minneapolis Reading Time: Jazz Music at the St. Paul Public Library

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Rice Park’s statue of F. Scott Fitzgerald on a snowy spring day not unlike today. You know, Fitzgerald hated snow!

[Cross post with my Reading Rainstorm blog segment, Land of 10,000 Pages]

I attended a very interesting little event at the St. Paul Public Library a few weeks ago and have just gotten around to writing about it! Music of the Jazz Age was a relaxing, casual Sunday afternoon event held at the ornate Magazine Room on the third floor of the George Latimer Central Library. This was one of the first events by a new literary group in the Twin Cities, Fitzgerald in St. Paul, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating the achievements of classic American author F. Scott Fitzgerald in his hometown of St. Paul.

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George Latimer Central Library, St. Paul

This is particularly interesting to me as I prepare to move in with my sweetheart into Fitzgerald’s very own neighborhood in St. Paul! Yes, I’m crossing the river and moving into the other Twin City! As was mentioned by the librarian in the introduction to the Music of the Jazz Age program, we were walking in the footsteps of Fitzgerald in at the George Latimer Central Library, and in my own daily life too! Of note, the Magazine Room also houses the F. Scott Fitzgerald Reading Alcove. It was a superb space to listen to some of the music of his time. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald themselves coined the term “the Jazz Age,” to refer to the era they lived in, and some very talented musicians were invited to perform some examples of the jazz that inspired the moniker.

Vocalist Connie Evingson, accompanied by Dan Chouinard on piano and Chris Bates on bass, performed some elegant renditions of some popular pieces from the 1920s, including some mentioned in a few of Fitzgerald’s stories. Three O’Clock in the Morning, one of the songs sung by Evingson, was mentioned in The Great Gatsby, for instance. A few excerpts from Fitzgerald’s works were read and one felt almost as though one had gone back in time, to when you were actually allowed to smoke in the library! Although Lindsay and I were among a handful of people under age 50 in the audience, I would recommend people of all ages keeping an eye on Fitzgerald in St. Paul, which will be offering a monthly series the first Sunday of every month at FitzFirst@Four. The next one, at Common Good Books, discusses Fitzgerald’s story The Rich Boy on April 3rd at 4 pm. Similar stories appear in one of the books I mentioned in my entry My Twin Cities Reading List, The St. Paul Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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153518Next, I think I’ll be reading this book, A Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul.l Perhaps, as I walk in the footsteps of the great writer, I’ll share more of my discoveries!

 

 

 

 

 

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The party prepares to enter…

My old friend Dave married his sweetheart Rachel on Saturday, hosting their wildly successful  wedding (including a beer drinking ceremony) at the Science Museum of Minnesota. What great environs for a wedding party! The tastefully nerdy event, complete with a dinosaur theme and Star Wars music made the museum an awesome venue for the happy day.

As the best man, it was up to me to prepare something fun for the bachelor party in February. After hearing hushed tales of the challenge and excitement by other local delvers into secrets, the groomsmen and I planned the perfect outing for the guy who tormented us through many hilariously entertaining sessions of the Tomb of Horrors back in the day. We donned our Hawaiian shirts, a nod to Dave’s trademark convention uniform, and secretly charted a go at our local room escape adventure, EscapeMSP. A “real life room escape game,” EscapeMSP is among the first places offering this fun new puzzle in the Twin Cities. Within an hour, you and your team must escape the diabolical plot set up for you by solving tough puzzles and searching for clues. This makes it a great place for groups of people with a flair for the dramatic and a desire to experience some hands on adventure.

After a celebratory round of beers at St. Paul’s wonderful Flat Earth Brewery, which Dave favored even before moving to St. Paul four years ago, we drove out into the uncharted suburbs just west of Minneapolis. After a final swig of Tomatin whisky to aid our courage and wit, we found our way to a nondescript office park, where the challenge awaited us. Behind the unassuming door of an everyday office suite, we discovered a large room furnished with a massive boardroom table, from which we signed our waivers and received our mission. EscapeMSP offers several different mission themes (including one they added within the last month) – we chose the James Bomb room. Dropped into the roles of M15 agents tasked with deactivating a bomb, we joined a few other adventure seekers and entered an adjacent room to see if we had what it took to beat the puzzle. As soon as the handcuffs came out, I think we knew things had gotten serious…

It was quite the struggle! In the end, we came so close to defusing the bomb, failing to discover only one vital clue! Next time, next time! Finishing off the evening with several more stops for food, drink, and merriment, in the end, the stag night was quite a success and I think we’ll be accompanying Dave on another go at escaping the room in the not too distant future!

 

 

 

Crashed Ice St. Paul, 2016


It was a busy weekend with a lot of fun things going on, so readers can look forward to some new entries this week. 

To start us off, on Saturday Lindsay and I witnessed the craziness of Red Bull Crashed Ice, the yearly extreme sports extravaganza held under the shadow of St. Paul Cathedral. Consisting of the ice cross downhill world championships, after events in Quebec, Germany, and Finland, the icy track sprang up at the base of the cathedral and twisted down the hill towards downtown. Pretty impressive! 

While Lindsay has seen previous years, this was my first time witnessing this wild ride. While neither of us are fans of sports or sporting events, the manic nature of the sport of ice cross made it quite a spectacle. On an unseasonably spring-like late February evening, we strolled down Selby towards the cathedral as the various bars and restaurants prepared for the festivities. Local craft beers and snacks were on offer to passerbys along the street; we had some Russian style tea and Russian grog, a cinnamon-infused pear rum drink from Moscow on the Hill. Nothing like walking down the street towards a huge crowd bearing an alcoholic beverage disguised as a hot drink! (Well, it was hot).

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We arrived early to get a good spot and the Cathedral Hill neighborhood was already packed, with food trucks offering doughnuts, and plenty of free beef jerky (plus unethical sasquatch abuse) and Red Bull for sale. As the sun sank below the cathedral, the announcers crowed that we were currently standing in the best crowd in the entire world! Debatable, but the crowd was  pretty enthusustic! There was a bit of a US versus Canada vibe going on, due to the hosts, one American and one Canadian, and the fight for dominance between local St. Paulite Cameron Naasz and Canadian Scott Croxxall for the men’s title.

Plenty of Canadian flags were on display in the crowd in the slow lead up to the actual beginning of the competitions. Following from the results of the previous day’s time trials, 16 women and 64 men would compete in the years finals on the 27th. Hailing from backgrounds as diverse as hockey, speed skating, and figure skating (are there any other sports involving ice skating?), the groups were raring to tackle the track and the audience was eager to watch them try. Groups of four skaters representing a dozen or so countries launched themselves down the track, careening down the icy slopes hills, jumps, and curves and often falling over (to which the crowd would respond with gasps of awed reverence). Quite breathtaking, really. As befitting a sports event, there was plenty of drinking, screaming, and yelling in the audience and strained interviews from the athletes, but no one seemed to be taking it too seriously. This may have been the reason behind the rather unfortunate choice in musical interludes for the women’s segment, which Lindsay noted with disgust to be The Beastie Boy’s 1986 song “Girls.” Upon the return of the men, the music switched over to Metallica. Yep! 

Having seen enough crashes on ice and wintery skating action, we fought our way back through the crowd to escape, pausing to have some delicious honey hot chocolate from Mademoiselle Miel, which really helped to warm us up as the night got a little chilly. Sipping the rich, smooth, warm chocolate, we regarded the fervent shouting of some local street preachers, present to inform the crowds of people eager to watch the icy competition that they were going to hell. Another sign of spring, perhaps? In any case, it was an experience and it might be fun to see it again next year! In the end, the local hero, Cameron Naasz, prevailed, this time.

 

St. Paul Winter Carnival

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WinterSkate, Landmark Center, downtown St. Paul (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

For a few weeks in late January and early February, the dead of the Minnesota winter, St. Paul has traditionally put aside desires to stay bundled up indoors and instead head out to brave the cold and have fun. In typical St. Paul fashion, this often involves a fair amount of drinking. I speak, of course, about the St. Paul Winter Carnival, one of the world’s largest urban celebrations of the winter season. Having spent a fair bit of time in St. Paul this year with Lindsay, we were able to check out a few of the crazy events that make up the festivities of the Winter Carnival. As we enter the last week of meteorological winter, I thought I should discuss some of the adventures had this year at the Winter Carnival!

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As a child, I recall visiting downtown St. Paul with family members to view the St. Paul Winter Carnival opening parade, being vaguely disturbed by the Vulcans and awed by the transformation of Rice Park into a snow bedecked wonderland of strange, elaborate sculptures and palaces of ice. It had been a few years since I last experienced the Carnival, though, so I was excited to check out a few things with Lindsay. Sadly, I had to work during her favorite recommendation, hot chocolate and cookies at the St. Paul Hotel!

However, we were both able to attend some pretty cool events. A lot of the awesome stuff happens in Rice Park, in the heart of downtown St. Paul. Visiting one night we saw the awesomely wintery ice sculptures, only slightly damaged due to unseasonable warmth. Along with an accordion player, it made a romantic and beautiful time to visit the park. This is especially true while visiting the Wells Fargo WinterSkate, situated right under the majestic spires of the Landmark Center. They even rent skates for a few bucks.

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Ice sculptures, Rice Park (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

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An unhappy cat (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

At the St. Paul RiverCentre, we visited the Saintly City Cat Show January 23rd and watched judges choose, among the many variously amiable felines, the “very best cat.” It was always amusing to watch the judges make quick and efficient judgement of the cats, some of which seemed more tolerant of it than others. Compared to the Land O’Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show at the RiverCentre a few weeks earlier, it was pretty funny to see how little the cats have do to be deemed the “very best.” Both the cat and the dog show were good places to go if you want to watch people grooming their cute pets, though.   

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Germanic Institute, during Fasching

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A man readies himself to apply a mouse trap to his tongue…

At the Winterfest Karneval, on the night of January 30th, the Germanic-American Institute hosted an interpretation of Fasching, a German version of Mardi Gras which often happens around this time of year in Germany. I had never been to the Germanic-American Institute, so it was a perfect time to check it out! The elaborate mansion was packed full of costumed attendees sipping the heady German libations, including the perennial favorite Jagermeister and watching burlesque and sideshow carnival shows from the Dangerous Fun Show. It took some Jagermeister to watch a guy snap a mouse trap on his tongue! The Euro-style dance party in the basement was also super fun!

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Snow Sculptures, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

 

On Saturday, February 6th, there was more drinking to be had at the Minnesota

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Crowd prepares for the Beer Dabbler!

State Fairgrounds at the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival, of which I had never visited. Before the Dabbler, we stopped by the Snow Park at the Fair, where we admired the various snow sculptures produced for the snow sculpting competition, including a huge and elaborate seascape complete with whales and octopi. It reminded me of Minnesota childhood with the huge piles of snow set aside for kids to climb and shove each other down off of. By this time, we decided to follow the growing crowds to the Midway to visit the Beer Dabbler. With Lindsay as a “designated driver,” I sampled my way through dozens of breweries from across the country with the complimentary tasting glass. Along with the craft beers and ciders being offered, a wide variety of local cheeses and other snacks were also on offer. Just get ready to wait in a few lines, of course. The place was packed and tickets sold out days in advance. Watching the other festgoers bedecked in pretzels, cheese sticks, and the occasional garland of beef jerky was also quite amusing. I’ll admit, I probably had a bit more than I normally do, but it’s a little hard to keep track of it all when you are having little tastes of a whole lot of stuff!

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Lindsay samples some goat cheese at the Beer Dabbler!

All in all, there was much fun to be had at the Winter Carnival and I look forward to trying out new experiences next winter!