Entertainment Briefs - Nov. 28

? Author to sign books in Nisswa NISSWA -- Author Candace Simar will appear from 2-4 p.m. Friday at Turtle Town Books and Gifts in Nisswa. Simar is an award-winning historical fiction author of the Abercrombie Trail Series, published this year by...

■ Author to sign books in Nisswa

NISSWA - Author Candace Simar will appear from 2-4 p.m. Friday at Turtle Town Books and Gifts in Nisswa.

Simar is an award-winning historical fiction author of the Abercrombie Trail Series, published this year by Five Star Cengage in a hard cover and large print version. The Abercrombie Trail Series, recounts the story of Scandinavian immigrants during the 1862 Sioux Uprising.

The series originally published by North Star Press of St. Cloud includes “Abercrombie Trail” (2009), “Pomme de Terre” (2010), “Birdie” (2011) and “Blooming Prairie” (2012). “Birdie” received the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. and was a 2013 Spur Award finalist.

“Simar’s descriptions of the natural world are beautiful. Her characters are drawn with subtlety and depth. There are unforgettable death scenes and tender weddings. This is a story of the bonds of family and friendship, of perseverance and love. These are rare books, powerful and true,” Nancy Plain, award winning author and Spur award judge, said.


Simar spent eight years researching and writing her four novels set during the time of the Civil War and the 1862 Sioux Uprising. She conducted much of her research at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul and smaller regional museums where she read diaries, newspapers, letters and army reports.

While the history is real, she borrows freely from her own family history to create fictional characters. Born the granddaughter of Scandinavian immigrants, Simar nurtures a passion to document the difficulties of early Minnesota settlers in a realistic manner.

Her latest release, “Farm Girls” (RiverPlace Press 2013), was co-written with her sister Angela F. Foster. “If you learned to swear in Norwegian or shared a two-holer outhouse with your cousin, you’ll enjoy the poetry and prose of these sisters. From memories of Norwegian ancestors and growing up on a dairy farm to dreams of Oprah’s couch and rapping with Eminem, Farm Girls will take you back to the days of rural schools, moon light, star light, hope to see a ghost tonight and the auction of the family farm.”

■ Audition set for ‘The Spitfire Grill’

PEQUOT LAKES - Auditions for “The Spitfire Grill” will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10-11 in the Pequot Lakes High School Theater. This is a winter musical production of the Pequot Lakes Community Theater.

Rehearsals for the production will start in January of 2014. The show has an adult cast. It is a bountiful show with beautiful music, an engrossing, dramatic comedy story and terrific roles for singer-actors.

“The Spitfire Grill,” that received the Richard Rodgers Production Award, had a lengthy run off-Broadway and was produced by theaters all over the country.

Michael Sander, director of the Pequot Lakes Community Theater production, is looking forward to working with the company to develop the complex characters. The show is set in a rural Midwestern restaurant where three women, all with troubled lives, come together to give each other strength and find a brighter future.


Following is a short description of the characters:

• Percy Talbott: Youngest of the women, early 20s, recently released from prison, with a southern Appalachian background, sad and defiant, looking for a new beginning.

• Hannah Ferguson: The oldest, late middle age, tough-skinned and flinty with a short, no-nonsense manner bordering on the bitter, concealing her suppressed warmth and tenderness.

• Shelby Thorpe: Between the other two in age, soft-faced and shy, almost ethereal, running from an abusive relationship. Something of a wounded bird.

• Caleb Thorpe: Shelby’s husband, some 10 years older than his wife, out-of-work foreman of the stone quarry, a frustrated working man clinging to the past.

• Sheriff Joe Sutter: Young small town policeman with an appealing intensity and a restless nature. His age will depend on the actress cast as Percy.

• Effy Krayneck: Postmistress and busybody, a woman with narrow eyes and a sour tongue.

• The Visitor: A man in his mid 40s. A mysterious figure who never speaks or sings, but must have a powerful physical presence.


During auditions, be prepared to sing as vocal skills will be important for this show. Prepare a song and bring the music with you. If you have no music vocal director Lauren Nickisch and music director Renee Anderson will find a way to uncover your vocal gifts. You will be asked to read from the script. There will be no dance audition for this show. If you have friends who you think are suited to the show, urge them to attend the auditions.

For more information call the Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-568-9200.

■ December Author Talk with Joe Plut

CROSBY - The Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library (JFHML) in Crosby is featuring “Author Talk” with Joe Plut, a dear friend and colleague of the late well-loved American novelist Jon Hassler, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in the large meeting room at the library.

Plut will discuss “Simon’s Night,” originally published in 1979 and re-released on Nov. 5 by Nodin Press, is ageless and timely.

“The themes are more relevant today than ever before, and this new edition is further enhanced by the inclusion of Hassler’s own ‘My Simon’s Night Journal,’ which offers insights into the author’s thought processes during the novel’s long gestation period,” said Nodin Press.

Plut, who is known for his hugs and his intense knowledge of all things Hassler, interviewed the author over many years and the compilations of the interviews were published in “Conversations with Jon Hassler” by Nodin Press in 2010.

The library will have copies of books available for purchase. Books are also available on


This program, sponsored by the JFHML Friends Foundation, is free and open to the public.

■ Cultural Thursday: Spain

Central Lakes College (CLC) next Cultural Thursday will be held at noon Dec. 5 in the Chalberg Theater at CLC in Brainerd.

The topic will be Spain and presented by Jan Kurtz, Spanish and Latin American studies instructor. Kurtz will start with a brief background orientation presented to her before her first trip to Seville, Spain.

“I was a junior at Hamline University and reasoned that study abroad was imperative to my future in teaching Spanish and learning that culture. I do have one regret, I should have signed up for a year, not just a semester.”

Her program included living with a family and studying at the Universidad de Sevilla, the “old tobacco factory” of the Opera “Carmen” fame. In the years that followed, Kurtz would return to Spain, visiting new locations and revisiting her friends.

This presentation will be based from Madrid and Valencia, with emphasis on combining historical data, everyday life and traveling, not just to a country, but into its culture.

“Travel is about relating. Relate to the past, its influence and trends as a foundation for the relationships you make and nurture over a lifetime,” Kurtz said.


Cultural Thursdays are the first Thursday of the month, are free and open to the public.

■ Exhibit ‘VIVID’ opens Dec. 7

Kathleen Thorson, an 18-year-old artist, will have her second solo exhibition titled “VIVID” from Dec. 7 through January of 2014 at the Evelyn Matthies’ Porthole Gallery in Brainerd. 

An artist reception will be held from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 7.

Thorson will show 33 watercolor and/or acrylic paintings. The work will be for viewing and purchase along with original cards and prints. While traveling as a student ambassador in People to People organization she was inspired to paint her largest canvas of the Li River. Her subject matter includes landscapes, animals and still-life.

The title “VIVID” indicates the exciting interpretations found in the original paintings. Also, considerable thought was given to selecting the wood to be used in making the frames. 

Thorson enjoys many different arts including painting, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments.  She currently is the principle French Horn player in the Brainerd High School (BHS) Wind Symphony; is the band’s vice president; and she sings alto in the BHS A Capella Choir. 

“Ever since I was little, I loved to draw and paint, and when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was always an artist,” said Thorson.


The exhibit can be viewed during the opening reception Dec. 7 and through January during regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with numerous job titles since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently as Digital Editor. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work these 30+ years. I was present and worked on the our web page when our original website first went live on April 26, 1994.
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