Veggies tell their tales in talent show
Still time to vote for Crow Wing County veggie of the year
BRAINERD — They danced, talked recipes as well as trivia, and told what may be described as dad jokes — all during a talent show promoting vegetables.
In front of an often cheering crowd, on what could be described as a picture perfect summer day Thursday, Aug. 4, at the Crow Wing County Fair, five vegetable entries vied for the popular vote to be named Crow Wing County Vegetable of the Year.
The veggie talent show on the Mills Stage was part of the One Vegetable One Community effort, which is designed to unite the community by encouraging gardeners to plant, grow, cook, and/or share a single vegetable. In the running this year — cabbage, broccoli, green bean, pea and squash.
“They’ll try to convince you why they should win,” said Farmer Dan Hegstad, who presided over the event, as he told the crowd they could mingle with the veggies and take selfies after the show. “They seem to be very adamant that each one is the best veggie.”
Carrying a golf club and sporting an unlikely and luxuriously long mullet, Adam Kronstedt, Crow Wing County chief deputy, brought life to the cabbage. Kronstedt juggled golf balls, showed off dance moves, extolled the benefits of coleslaw from one of the world’s oldest vegetables and carried a sign saying, “Give cabbage a chance.” Kronstedt may have had a secret weapon with a youthful cheering section in the crowd chanting in favor of cabbage.
Broccoli Derek Owen, who works at the Northen Pacific Center in public relations and sales, brought a high energy punk rocker vibe to the vegetable he noted has the added benefit of looking like a tree. Owen, strumming an inflatable guitar, also touted broccoli’s high fiber and provided a recipe for a broccoli salad, but the biggest reaction from the crowd may have been when he noted broccoli goes well with cheese while a cohort sprayed him with silly string as a cheese stand-in.
“Pour some cheese on me, in the name of love, pour some cheese on me,” Owen sang.
When the green bean’s biggest fan jumped on the stage complete with sandwich board extoling her chosen vegetable, a deputy obligingly chased the fan from the area as part of the skit.
The green bean herself, Kara Terry, Crow Wing County Community Services director, noted there are dilly beans, the famed green bean casserole, and garlic sauteed beans. For favorite physical activity move, Terry drew applause from the crowd as she used an upturned skateboard for a barre exercise and she connected with kids by giving out items from a fanny pack.
Pea Jessica Gangl, Brainerd Public Schools Foundaton executive director, brought dance moves and a jump rope for favorite physical activity to her pea performance. She pointed to the versatility of the pea as well as its standing in literature with a very sensitive princess. Her sign stated, “Don’t worry, pea happy.”
“Peas can stand alone,” Gangl said, noting they are worth a trip to the garden alone without the need for anything to add to them with snap peas as a snack by themselves.
Brainerd Family YMCA CEO Shane Riffle’s heightened energy added to his squash persona, complete with green hair and fancy foot moves with a soccer ball.
“What do you get when an elephant stomps through your garden — squash,” Riffle said.
In addition, he threw out beach balls to the large crowd and noted the many forms of squash in the garden, including a spaghetti variety — with a reminder it doesn’t taste like pasta.
The humor, energy and fun thrown into the talent show drew attention to healthy eating. The aim of One Vegetable One Community is to have the vegetable of the year “growing in kitchen gardens, community and school gardens, containers on front porches, in front of businesses, faith-based organizations, and government buildings.”
Starting community conversations about growing food, nutrition, how to prepare it, cook and store it, is all part of supporting the goal of healthier food choices. The effort is a partnership with Crow Wing Energized — a grassroots effort to promote a healthy community started with Essentia Health and Crow Wing County, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and University of Minnesota Extension Service.
People can vote for their favorite vegetable at the Crow Wing Energized Crow Wing County Fair booth and online .
After the talent show, the vegetables took photos with audience members and sought votes.
“It was fun,” Owen said of participating. “It was a blast.”
Owen said it was a way to make vegetables fun for kids, especially.
“It was super fun,” Gangl said, commending Crow Wing Energized for coming up with a creative way to reach children and “make vegetables cool again.”
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.