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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Minn. History Players' 'John Beargrease' tour at libraries

Using costume and props from the time period, John Beargrease will be brought to life by a Minnesota History Player from the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul at several Kitchigami libraries events in the coming weeks.

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Many people have heard of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. The race is named after the Ojibwe mail carrier, John Beargrease, who was born in 1858, the same year Minnesota became a state. Beargrease grew up in a wigwam on the edge of Beaver Bay, the first white settlement on the North Shore. John was the son of Moquabimetem, who also went by the name "Beargrease." His father was an Ojibwe leader who settled in the area to work in at Beaver Bay's sawmill.

The U.S. Congress ordered the beginning of mail service from Superior to Grand Portage in 1855, but service was spotty-if the lake was choppy in summer or icy in winter, the mail didn't make it through. The Beargrease family came to the rescue. First the father, then the sons picked up the job. Beargrease and his brothers began covering a regular route between Two Harbors and Grand Marais in 1879. Occasionally, they'd make the trek all the way to Grand Portage. They completed their route at least once and sometimes twice a week with a load of up to 700 pounds of personal mail, packages and newspapers. In the summer, they hiked along the shore, sailed, or rowed a boat. In the winter, they made the trek by dog sled.

Beargrease's team of four dogs could cover 30-40 miles a day. When the bells of the sled were heard in the distance, people gathered, not only to receive long-awaited news of friends and relatives but also for reports of ice conditions, snow depths and other vital information. For decades, until his death from tuberculosis in 1910, Beargrease was the link to the outside world for the citizens of the North Shore.

Beargrease's visits to Kitchigami libraries and communities are part of the Minnesota History Alive! project with funding from the State of Minnesota Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage fund. For the complete schedule of John Beargrease visits in the Kitchigami region, visit the Kitchigami Regional Library website at krls.org, click on Legacy Events.

The schedule in the Brainerd lakes area is as follows: 1 p.m. Thursday at Walker Public Library; 10 and 10:55 a.m. Friday at Class Lake Elementary; 4 p.m. Friday at Cass Lake Community Library; 2 p.m. Wednesday at Wadena City Library; 10 a.m. Jan. 21 at Excelsior Place Senior Living Center, Baxter; 1 p.m. Jan. 21 Brainerd Public Library; 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at Pequot Lakes Community Library; 2 p.m. Jan. 22 at Pine River Library at the Warehouse; 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Margaret Welch Library, Longville; and 1 p.m. Jan. 27 at Crosslake Area Library.

Nature print art at Brainerd Library

The Brainerd Library is now presenting botanical prints of Minnesota flora created by Sonja Larsen.

Larsen's work has been juried into two major nature print exhibits, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and at the Forest Lawn Museum in California. Her work has been published in several books supported by the Nature Printing Society, in "Paper Art" by Maurer-Mathison and "Natural Impressions" by Carolyn Dahl.

She recently co-authored a book called "Creating Art From Nature" which is available at www.natureprintingbook.com. With a few exceptions (bamboo in particular) her work is based on plants native to Minnesota such as ferns, spring ephemerals, Prairie Smoke, dogwood and Linden, wild raspberries. The exhibit will continue through February, during normal library hours.

Just For Kix dancers perform at Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

Brainerd Just For Kix dancers recently performed in the pre-game and half-time of the Outback Bowl game on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla. The game was between The Florida Gators and The Penn State Nittany Lions.

Brainerd dancers performed before a crowd of 63,000 plus fans at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were 23 of 215 dancers from Brainerd who performed in the pre-game and half-time shows. The pre-game show performance was a Patriotic Tribute that was performed just before the National Anthem. During the half-time show, the dancers were arranged on the field from the 35-35 yard lines and the mass band of 2,500 surrounded the dancers on the field. The Outback Bowl's 25th anniversary celebration themed show featured such numbers as "What A Feeling," "Thriller" and "Celebrate." All the dancers came to close the half-time show with an Armed Forces Salute Finale. Choreography was done by Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix.

Clough said in an e-mail, "We had an incredible group of dancers representing Brainerd this year. They had fun and were easy to work with. They joined in with dancers from 10 other states. It is something they will remember forever as there is nothing quite like this large scale performance. The most exciting thing for me personally is when the dancers get to watch their performance on the projection TV at the final banquet. They have no idea what the 'Big Picture' looks like until they see it on screen ... I feel this year's show was the best one we have put on. We used pool noodles, grave stones and poms for props and even formed a human airplane in a formation."

All dancers learned the choreography from a DVD sent to them in early December. Once they got to Florida the show was put together. They had exactly 12 hours to work on formations and polish the routines.

'Seriously Local Beer' event set Jan. 22

BAXTER - The Farm on St. Mathias and Prairie Bay are teaming up to host a "Seriously Local Beer" dinner at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Prairie Bay. The night will feature appetizers and six brews featuring the hops grown at The Farm on St. Mathias.

The 2010 Hops Harvest has been brewed into six brews including a lefse blonde, smashing pumpkin ale, English barleywine and more.

The atmosphere will be appetizers and beer samples for $20. Reservations will be taken by calling Prairie Bay at 824-6444.

Brainerd Schools' Choral Festival slated Saturday

Sixth- through 12th-graders in the Brainerd School District choir program will present a Choral Festival at 3 p.m. Saturday in the gymnasium at the Washington Educational Services Building.

Marcus Aulie, middle level choir director, said the festival is a day to celebrate all of the good and positive things happening in the choirs throughout the school district. He said it also will be an opportunity for all of the students, their families and the community to see the progression of the school district's choral program as students move from sixth through 12th grade.

The concert will feature each choir in the school district in a solo performance, and it will conclude with every choral student joining together in a mass choir to perform a song as a grand finale.

There is no admission fee for this concert.

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