Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cultural opportunities abound this weekend

by Travis Ryder

Here's a sampling of events around the region this weekend, and into next week:

Jazz vocalist Connie Evingson performs a benefit concert at the last synagogue on the Range.  She’s from Hibbing herself, and is a nationally in-demand performer.  She’ll perform tonight at the B’nai Abraham Cultural Center in Virginia along with Dave Karr, Sam and Matthew Miltich.

Central Lakes College in Brainerd has a summer theater season.  It opened up last night with “It Runs In the Family”.  Performances follow tonight through Saturday, then again Wednesday through Saturday next weekend, at 7:30 in Chalberg Theater.

Judy Garland Festival is back in Grand Rapids after a year in the Twin Cities.  Events this weekend include Grand Rapids Players’ performances of ‘Meet Me In St. Looie’, a gala dinner with Achievement Award winner Andy Williams, the Toto Too Dog Talent contest, and a meet and greet with Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini.

The weeklong Bemidji Book Festival includes a highlight address by Roxana Saberi, the journalist from Fargo who was held prisoner in Iran in 2009.  Her memoir Between Two Worlds was published by HarperCollins in 2010.  Her remarks start at 7 Friday at Bemidji High School Auditorium.

A bluegrass and old-time music festival is at the Itasca County Fairgrounds.  The music is free; there’s a nominal charge for camping on-site if that’s your thing.  That runs Friday through Sunday.

It's not just an overpriced doll and movie franchise: The American Girl Camp operated on an island in Wabana Lake in the 1930's.  Itasca County Historical Society has created an exhibit telling the story of this camp.  The grand opening is Saturday at the Old Central School.  Part of the event is a 10 a.m. trip to Wabana Lake, where participants will ride a pontoon boat to the island.  It's $10 per person to cover costs; reserve your spot by emailing

The Lake Bemidji Concert Series features cosmic acoustic act Dancing Lights starting at 7:30 Saturday at the amphitheatre at Lake Bemidji State Park.  Tony and Doyle Turner perform as part of the series Sunday at 1:30.

Swedish heritage is alive at Midsommar Fest.  Food, music, dancing, and a Maypole will all be at Library Park in Bemidji from 12:30 to 4 Sunday.

Paul Bunyan Playhouse has the opening night of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Wednesday at 8, at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.

This week in the Minnesota History Datebook:
340 years ago in Minnesota history, the part of our region that drains into Lake Superior becomes French territory. The Sieur de St. Lusson formally claims the land in a ceremony at Sault Ste. Marie, June 14, 1671.

Also this week, in 1855, the first navigation canal opens at Sault Ste. Marie, which eventually permits the mass transport of wheat, coal, and iron ore from Minnesota to points east.

June 18, 1893 The towns of Virginia, Merritt, and Mountain Iron are destroyed in a forest fire.

June 15, 1939 Crown Prince Olav of Norway dedicates Duluth's Enger Tower, which offers spectacular views of Duluth Harbor and Lake Superior. Bert Enger donated much of his estate to the city after his death in 1931.  He was a Norwegian-born businessman who ran a successful furniture store in Duluth.  The tower’s renovation was completed this year in anticipation of its rededication by Prince Olav’s son, the reigning Norwegian King Harald, this October.

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