Performances in the Park set

Performances in the Park presents Jack Franzen and the Muddy Water Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 8, in Gregory Park in Brainerd.

The band features Jack and John Franzen and Kevin Wright. Jack Franzen has been playing in the local area for 60-plus years. Jack Franzen has performed in several bands over the years including The Orbits back in the '50s, Country Souls and CNR Enterprise.

Performances in the Park presents Jack Franzen and the Muddy Water Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7, in Gregory Park in Brainerd.
Submitted Photo
Performances in the Park presents Jack Franzen and the Muddy Water Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7, in Gregory Park in Brainerd. Submitted Photo

John Franzen has been playing drums for more than 40 years. He started in high school with his brothers playing in the band Brittney Rose, went on to Silent Partner and the Muddy Water Band. John Franzen also does vocals. Wright has performed for more than 45 years in the lakes area and in Arizona for many years. Wright and his brother played in the Bobby Bare Band and Eddy Raven. He returned to the Pine River area and is doing solo performances in the area. Jack Franzen and Wright reconnected before COVID and began to perform together again. Wright plays lead and acoustic guitar, bass, drums along with vocals and harmony.

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The band will play a variety of songs.

Performances in the Park are free and open to the public. People who attend may bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the music.

Performances are a collaboration between Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department and The Center. Performances are made possible by financial support from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, Deerwood Bank and funding to honor Helen K. Mills, who is Stewart C. Mills Jr.’s mother, who used to skate around Gregory Park, and to honor Mills Jr., who loves music.

Minnesota Author Natalie Warren to appear

Minnesota author Natalie Warren will discuss her book “Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic” virtually from noon to 1 p.m. July 19, as a live event on the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library Facebook page.

While the Brainerd Public Library is now hosting in-person events, Brown Bag Lunch author visits have continued virtually.

Warren’s book tells the true story of the remarkable 85-day journey of the first two women to canoe the 2,000-mile route from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. Unrelenting winds, carnivorous polar bears, snake nests, sweltering heat and constant hunger. Following the 2,000-mile route made famous by Eric Sevareid in his 1935 classic “Canoeing with the Cree,” Warren and Ann Raiho faced unexpected trials, some harrowing, some simply odd. But for the two friends — the first women to make this expedition — there was one timeless challenge: the occasional pitfalls that test character and friendship, a news release stated. Warren’s spellbinding account retraces the women’s journey from inspiration to Arctic waters, giving readers an insider view from the practicalities of planning a three-month canoe expedition to the successful accomplishment of the adventure of a lifetime.

The book cover of Minnesota author Natalie Warren's book “Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic.” Submitted Photo
The book cover of Minnesota author Natalie Warren's book “Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic.” Submitted Photo

Warren is a Minneapolis-based author, scholar, and public speaker on environmental issues. A lifelong paddler and river lover, she canoed the length of the Mississippi River and won first place in the Yukon River Quest in the women’s voyageur division, paddling 450 miles in 53 hours. A contributing writer to outdoor publications, she has worked with Bancroft Arnesen Explore, St. Croix River Association and River Management Society, and she started a nonprofit to present urban rivers as natural, dynamic classrooms for youth.

This presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library through their volunteer and fundraising efforts. The Friends are celebrating the 22nd season of the Brown Bag Lunch Author Series with a lineup of award-winning and acclaimed Minnesota writers.

For more information, contact the library at 218-829-5574 or visit the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Friendsofthebrainerdpubliclibrary.

Josh Duffee returns for a lakeside concert

HACKENSACK — Josh Duffee and his Big Band will perform from 5-7 p.m. Saturday, July 10, for the Northwoods Arts Council’s music festival crowd in Hackensack.

This year, the world-renowned percussionist is mixing it up by bringing his 4-piece jazz quartet to the Birch Lake Park Pavilion. This outdoor concert will feature songs from the ‘20s through the ‘60s, with a few ‘80s songs thrown in just for fun.

People should bring your lawn chairs, blankets and refreshments to enjoy the music. There’s no cost to attend, but free-will donations will be accepted.

The Northwoods Arts Council has been “Bringing the Arts to Life” in the lakes area for 26 years. The council thanks the Five Wings Arts Council, Sourcewell, Hackensack Lions Club, Itasca-Mantrap Co-op and the Hackensack Lakes Area Community Foundation for their support in making the NAC’s Lakeside Concert Series a possibility.

For more information, visit the NAC’s Facebook page or northwoodsartscouncil.org.

Merrifield car show set

MERRIFIELD — The Merrifield Lions Park-Fest & Car Show will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at the Merrifield Lions Park off Crow Wing County Highway 3. The Car Show will be hosted on the baseball field of the park and registration of $10 begins at 8:30 a.m. The Car Show is free to spectators. Pulled pork and barbecue rib dinners, hot dog plates and root beer floats will be for sale throughout the day. This fundraiser is to benefit the maintenance and improvements at the Merrifield Lions Park.

Book signing set in Hackensack

HACKENSACK — Author Julie Jo Larson will sign copies of her new book, “100 Things to Do in Minnesota Northwoods Before You Die” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 10, at Hackensack City Park Sweetheart Days.

The book description states, "... up in the land where Paul Bunyan statues are big and the tall tales about him are even bigger, lie some of Minnesota’s most beautiful resort communities. This is the land of 10,000 lakes and truly untouched wilderness surrounding Bemidji, Cass Lake, and Blackduck, among others, otherwise known as Minnesota’s Northwoods."

"Though only the hearty live here year-round and the winter averse just vacation here in the summer, there’s still no shortage of activities and sights to fill your itinerary, no matter the season," the news release stated.

“We’ll entice you to try new outdoor activities, such as wading across the headwaters of the Mississippi, eat unusual foods, and sip flavorful beverages,” the release stated. “You’ll also find a plethora of things to do inside on rainy days, such as exploring the US Hockey Hall of Fame Museum. Carefully crafted itineraries and seasonal — yes, there are four seasons here — activities will provide plenty of inspiration for visitors and locals alike.”

Larson is a writer, story catcher, public speaker, and professionally trained social worker. She spent the last decade exploring the Minnesota Northwoods and writing MsStorian Adventures. She lives in rural Brainerd with her husband, family pets, and a flock of chickens. When not advising college students, she can be found on the trail with a walking stick in hand and worn mukluks on her feet.

Accordion player Nathan Neuman and his Old Time Band will kick off the Music in the Park Series in Staples at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 11.  Submitted Photo
Accordion player Nathan Neuman and his Old Time Band will kick off the Music in the Park Series in Staples at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 11. Submitted Photo

Old Time Band comes to Staples Music in the Park

STAPLES — Accordion player Nathan Neuman and his Old Time Band will kick off the Music in the Park Series in Staples at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 11.

This is the first concert in the series which will run for five Sundays. People may bring their lawn chair or blanket and can expect an entertaining night of polkas and waltzes, featuring a variety of American and European folk tunes and party favorites. The St. Cloud area band features front man Neuman on concertina and accordion. He will be joined by a drummer.

Neuman has been performing since his early teen years and since that time has developed his reputation as being St. Cloud’s polka resource. His performing experiences include dance halls, church festivals, private parties, restaurants and nursing homes.

The Music in the Park Concerts are hosted in the Northern Pacific Park and run through Aug. 8. In case of rain, the concerts will be moved to the Staples Community Center. The Music in the Park series is funded by the Staples Host Lions Club. The series is organized by the Staples Motley Area Arts Council, with the assistance of the City of Staples.

For more information on the Music in the Park series, check out staplesmotleyarts.org.

Lakes Area Music Festival seeks volunteers

The Lakes Area Music Festival is seeking volunteers, as organizers prepare for its 13th annual season that runs July 30 through Aug. 22.

More than 150 artists from the nation’s leading orchestras and opera companies will come to the Brainerd lakes area to perform 20 concerts at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Performing Arts and throughout the community.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers come together to make these efforts possible, and the festival is calling for new volunteers in key areas:

  • Housing: Hosting a musician in a home is a way to get up-close and personal with the festival’s all-star artists. Provide a bed and light breakfast for anywhere from two to 20 days, and be serenaded in your own home as musician from one of the nation’s top orchestras or opera companies practice their craft. Our volunteer housing team is available to answer your questions and ensure a good fit. All of the artists are fully vaccinated.

  • Concert operations: As the festival moves into the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts, there is more need for front of house volunteers such as ushers, merchandise managers and greeters. Volunteers will get to know the nooks and crannies of this concert hall, and get a guaranteed seat for the concert.Our front of house team provides the radical hospitality to our audience that the festival is known for.

  • Meals: Join the meal team and help feed the artists, all while getting to know them on a personal level.

There are many more ways to get involved, whether it’s helping to build an opera set or driving musicians to the lakes area from the Minneapolis airport, organization can find a task that meets The volunteers' needs and interests.

To find out more and get involved, visit lakesareamusic.org/volunteer or call 218-275-5263 (ASK LAMF).

Scott Lykins
Scott Lykins

In a news release, Scott Lykins, the festival’s artistic and executive director, said, “It has been amazing to see the friendships that this festival forms. Whether it is a musician and the hosts they have stayed with for years now, or a newcomer to the area who has found a new group of friends working the lunch line, LAMF has a knack for forging lasting relationships.”

Founded in 2009, the Lakes Area Music Festival is a 501c3 non-profit which connects the nation’s best performers and audiences through excellent classical music and inspiring education. This year, the festival season will welcome 150 artists from around the world to collaborate on chamber music, orchestral repertoire and an original opera production.

Ticket reservations are required, with a suggested donation. To reserve a seat for the season sign up for a MY.LAMF account at my.lakesareamusic.org or call 218-831-0765.

Artists begin painting in the street at 9 a.m. Friday, July 9, in front of the Cultural Center in New York Mills for the Fish House Festival. Submitted Photo
Artists begin painting in the street at 9 a.m. Friday, July 9, in front of the Cultural Center in New York Mills for the Fish House Festival. Submitted Photo

Fish House Festival set Friday

NEW YORK MILLS — The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center will host its seventh annual Fish House Festival Friday, July 9, with art, fishing, music and activities throughout the day.

Artists begin painting in the street at 9 a.m., and family activities begin at 1 p.m. in front of the Cultural Center. At 6:30 p.m., the raffle drawing and live auction of fish houses, decoys and other art created during the festival will be held in front of the Fire Hall on Centennial Ave.

The Cultural Center’s Fish House Festival is hosted in conjunction with the New York Mills Summer Celebration and the Lund Mania Fishing Tournament. The festival includes artists painting in the street, sidewalk chalk, games, free “Art in Your Park” activities for kids, youth decoy painting, the annual Decoy Show & Wildlife Art Exhibit inside the gallery, raffle and live auction and live music by the O’Neil Family Band.

The O’Neil Family Band will perform from 1-4 p.m. and has been hosting community dances, presenting concerts and performing together since the 1990s. With Tom on guitar and fiddle, Jeanne on banjo and concertina, and daughter Erin on fiddle and feet, the O'Neils' repertoire includes both traditional and original reels, jigs, waltzes, schottisches, hornpipes and songs, a news release stated. With roots in Métis, French Canadian, Scandinavian, Celtic, New England and Appalachian tunes, their music is a blend of these traditions with a style all its own. O'Neil Family Band performances frequently include demonstrations of Appalachian clogging and French-Canadian “gigue” dancing too.

Youth decoy painting begins at 1 p.m. with just 20 spots available. To register, call 218-385-3339. Cost is $5 per decoy and recommended for youth ages 10 or older or accompanied by an adult. Sponsorship support from the EOT Darkhouse Association keeps costs low. All other art activities, games, and live music are free and open to all.

The gallery will feature local and regional decoy artists in this year’s annual Decoy & Wildlife Show. Planned decoy artists this year include Brad Lange, Larry Lange and Bear Creek decoys. Photography by Brad Anderson, an avid outdoorsman who enjoys wildlife photography, also will be on display.

Admission to the gallery is always free and open to all to see.

Both fish houses — one each for raffle and auction — will be painted on the street in front of the Cultural Center on Friday by artists from around the region. Currently confirmed artists include Aryn Lill, Jacob Sazama and Kim Sazama, all of Perham; John Peeters and Noah Nofsinger, both of New York Mills; Nancy X. Valentine of Fergus Falls, Dawn Rossbach of Menahga, Cheryl Bannes of Wadena; and Mati Turonen of Vienna, Virginia.

Raffle tickets are $10 and available for purchase at the Cultural Center, F&M State Bank, Scott’s Bait & Tackle, Mills Lanes, Mills Country Market, and Cenex, and in Perham at Gene’s Sport Shop and Bongards retail store. First prize is a one-of-a-kind ice-fishing spear house, custom built by Ronn Hamm and painted by local artists; second prize is a half-day guided fishing trip with PT’s Guide Service; third prize is Lund Boat gear, including a hockey stick net, soft sided cooler, and “The Judge” ruler.

This event is made possible by a partnership with the National Fish Decoy Association and Rod Osvold; and main event sponsor, Lund Boats and PT’s Guide Service, and businesses selling raffle tickets include Bongard’s, Gene’s Sport Shop, Cenex in New York Mills, Mills Country Market, Mills Lanes, Scott’s Bait & Tackle and F&M State Bank.

For more information, call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339 or visit the center's website at kulcher.org.

Crosby artist James Bzura poses with his 5-foot wide pictorial sculpture titled "49 Hudson" portrayed the infamous Beat hipster Neal Cassady at the wheel of the iconic auto from Jack Kerouac's novel "On The Road." He was recently awarded the first-place blue ribbon at the New York Mills juried art show "the Happiness Project." Submitted Photo
Crosby artist James Bzura poses with his 5-foot wide pictorial sculpture titled "49 Hudson" portrayed the infamous Beat hipster Neal Cassady at the wheel of the iconic auto from Jack Kerouac's novel "On The Road." He was recently awarded the first-place blue ribbon at the New York Mills juried art show "the Happiness Project." Submitted Photo

Crosby artist wins first place blue ribbon

Crosby artist/musician James Bzura was recently awarded the first-place blue ribbon at the New York Mills juried art show "the Happiness Project."

His 5-foot wide pictorial sculpture titled "49 Hudson" portrayed the infamous Beat hipster Neal Cassady at the wheel of the iconic auto from Jack Kerouac's novel "On The Road," including jazz musicians playing bebop in the back seat and a miniature Merry Prankster bus "Furthur" loaded on the rear bumper. An interactive feature of the sculpture allows viewers to dial in scenes from New York City, Denver and San Francisco along the front tire, while a typewriter occupies the place of the motor, a news release stated.

Other artwork by Bzura has been on display this summer at The Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd, with a large painting of the Aitkin Fish House Parade going on view at the Friends of the Arts building at the upcoming Aitkin County Fair.

Bzura claims his motto "Any day I'm alive, the weather's fantastic" reflects the constant thrill he finds in art and music; and the pastoral landscapes of Minnesota's lake district provide an especially inspirational setting conducive to art being created. He has been serving on the Board of Directors at the Jaques Art Center in Aitkin for the past three years.

Brainerd Book Club invites people to join

The Brainerd Public Library invites the public to join the Brainerd Book Club.

The book club meets at 1 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month for one hour. The book club currently meets online via Zoom, and is welcoming new members who like to discuss a variety of books including literary novels, mysteries, as well as nonfiction titles such as memoirs and biographies. Library staff members lead the discussion and often recommend related books and other materials available through the library.

The title to be discussed July 14 is “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling follow-up to “The Underground Railroad,” Whitehead dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. The upcoming selection for August is “Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson.

The Friends of the Brainerd Public Library support this book club by providing the funds to purchase 10 copies of a title for patrons to borrow. These copies may be requested for curbside pickup appointment during the month prior to the meeting by calling the library at 218-829-5574 during business hours, or picked up during the library’s regular hours.

To get the link to join the Zoom discussion, email the library at brainerd@KRLS.org. For more information on any of the events contact the library at 218-829-5574 or visit the library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/brainerdpubliclibrary.

Crossing Arts to distribute creativity kits

The Crossing Arts Alliance will distribute its creativity kits from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 10, to anyone who wants a little bit of creative fun.

Kits will be available on tables inside of the nonprofit art gallery in downtown Brainerd. This month's kit is all about printing, featuring projects to learn about monoprinting, stamping and other creative mark-making techniques. Kits also include a coloring sheet and more and are free to the public. Kits are limited to first come, first serve.

Creativity kits are a way of engaging young artists and spreading the joy of art to the community, a news release stated.

“Our goal is to offer projects that show the many different ways of being creative, because you never know what's going to light up a kid's imagination and help their creativity bloom,” the release stated. “We offer them for free so that everyone can enjoy them, and receive the support of numerous businesses, individuals, and Crossing Arts members who believe that the arts are for everyone.”

Brought to you by Crossing Arts members and supporters and sponsored by Lakes Printing.

This event is funded, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through grants from Five Wings Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

For more information contact the Crossing Arts at 218-833-0416, info@crossingarts.org.

This illustration shows art by Carolyn Abbott's “Urban Decay III;” Nick DeVries's “Tall Green Jar" and Ellen Smith's “Eroded Boundaries.” Their work is part of an exhibition titled “Art Work(ers),” opening Friday, July 9, at The Crossing Arts Alliance. Submitted Photo
This illustration shows art by Carolyn Abbott's “Urban Decay III;” Nick DeVries's “Tall Green Jar" and Ellen Smith's “Eroded Boundaries.” Their work is part of an exhibition titled “Art Work(ers),” opening Friday, July 9, at The Crossing Arts Alliance. Submitted Photo

Crossing Arts presents its newest exhibition

The Crossing Arts Alliance presents its newest exhibition titled “Art Work(ers),” opening Friday, July 9, and running through July 31.

This exhibition features the work of Crossing Arts staff, board members and volunteers. Outside of their roles at Crossing Arts helping to support and spread the arts in our community, these individuals engage in the arts in many different ways, and this exhibition showcases that diversity. While viewing the work on display, people will see an array of skill, exploration and joy within each piece.

This exhibition is funded, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through grants from Five Wings Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

For more information contact Crossing Arts at 218-833-0416, info@crossingarts.org. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Crossing Arts is a 501c3 nonprofit located in downtown Brainerd.