A nearly 500-mile ride on horseback from Winona to Duluth that began on Monday is not a race or an ironman competition or a sightseeing trip.
It is a journey for kids.
Funds collected and awareness raised through the trip will benefit Camp Amanda, a free grief camp for children from the ages of 6 through 18. It is a goal that Art Dingmann of Annandale and Jerry Brown of Ingomar, Montana, feel is well worth their effort.
Dingmann, a Camp Amanda board member and the owner of Dingmann Funeral Care of Annandale, Maple Lake and Kimball; and Brown, a former Camp Amanda board member; started their journey on April 9 in Winona and will keep riding until they reach the end of their 470-mile horseback ride in Duluth on May 3. The two had planned an even longer ride from Montana to Minnesota, but changed their plans to maximize state-wide exposure for Camp Amanda.
Spring open burning restrictions in most of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota went into effect on April 2, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The purpose of the fire restrictions is to reduce personal property damage resulting from wildfires caused by debris burning.
The counties affected by the April 2 fire restrictions are all counties from northern Minnesota south to Ramsey, Hennepin and Washington counties, except the counties of Koochiching, Lake, Cook, Lake of the Woods, Polk west of County Road 6, St. Louis north of County Road 16, Beltrami north of Highway 1, and Roseau east of Highway 310 south to Highway 89. Restrictions are expected to begin on April 9 or later for the remaining counties listed above.
There will be plenty to see and do at St. Timothy's "Viva Las Vegas" Dinner/Auction on Saturday, April 14, at the Maple Lake VFW. The big event will feature a Vegas-style dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. that includes carved Beef Au Jus or jumbo shrimp. The Silent Auction is set to run from 5 to 8 p.m. and the Live Auction, conducted by Frank Sullivan, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dinner tickets are available at Security State Bank, St. Timothy's Parish office or St. Timothy's School office and tickets will also be available at the door.
This year's fund-raising goal to benefit St. Timothy's School is $78,000 and money raised above that amount goes to new projects which last year included new doors, hallway flooring and chairs for the school building.
Two local business owners, Tricia Manuel and Darrell Jensen, began an adventure months apart, but finished on the same stage in a Las Vegas casino just a few weeks ago.
Tricia Manuel, owner of The Costume Shoppe and Priscilla Mooseburger Originals, began nearly a year ago when she started planning the 2007 Mooseburger's Great Clown Adventure. As the driving force behind this annual convention, plans for next year begin at the end of the current year's event. Negotiations typically begin with the hotel, and in Las Vegas, a clown convention and Circus Circus go hand-in-hand.
"Circus Circus is one of the last family-friendly casinos in town," said Manuel. "They have the necessary stages already set up, and it's not unusual to see clowns in make-up walking through the casino."
In an effort to raise awareness and funding for Camp Amanda-Minnesota, The Minnesota Foundation for Children (MFC) will be embarking on a 450 mile tour of Minnesota - on horseback.
Foundation members, Art Dingmann and Jerry Brown, both avid horsemen, will ride horseback from Winona, MN through Rochester, Owatonna, Mankato, Glencoe, Cokato, Annandale, St. Cloud, Brainerd, Carlton, and finally finish their month-long trek in Duluth. The journey will begin April 9, and finish on approximately May 3, depending upon weather conditions.
"I'm very excited to make this journey in honor of Camp Amanda-Minnesota and the wonderful work that is done to help children move through the grief process in a safe and nurturing environment," said Art Dingmann of Dingmann Funeral Care in Annandale. "We hope that Minnesotans will be encouraged by our efforts to learn more about the work of Camp Amanda and donate generously."
Helen Doherty, current commander of the Maple Lake VFW, and Don Clapp, veteran 4-H leader and livestock coach, are the winners of this year's Minneapolis Aquatennial Association Commodore's Awards for volunteer service.
The two honorees, who count volunteer time in decades rather than days or years, were both surprised and pleased that the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce selected them for this honor from nominations made by the Maple Lake community.
Doherty, who celebrated her 92nd birthday on Valentine's Day, has lived in Maple Lake all her life and has been involved in one volunteer effort or another for most of it.
"Volunteering is just what you do," said Doherty. "Everybody does something, right?"
More information appears in this week's issue of the Messenger.
Four young women from Wright County were crowned on Saturday night as 2007-2008 Dairy Princesses at the Wright County Dairy Association Banquet and Coronation at Annandale High School.
Crowned from Maple Lake was Meghan Pawelk, the daughter of Dan and Michele Pawelk, who is a senior at Maple Lake High School. Two years ago, the Pawelk family was selected as the Wright County Farm Family of the Year. And placing the crown on Pawelk's head was 2006-2007 Dairy Princess Jessica Gapinski, the daughter of Dale and Linda Gapinski of Maple Lake.
Joining Pawelk on the new court were Andrea Neumann, the daughter of Bob and Jean Neumann of Annandale, Bridget Boehlke, the daughter of Eugene and Rita Boehlke of Waverly and Kelsey Kolles, the daughter of Mark and JoAnn Kolles of Otsego.
Friday night's second annual Irish Gala was a fine beginning to the 30th St. Patrick's Day Festival on Saturday and the evening ended as a celebration honoring Security State Bank of Maple Lake.
Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the event was an opportunity to bid on Business Baskets in the silent auction, view photos of past festivals, meet the Miss Maple Lake candidates, honor past royalty, Commodore's Award winners and Grand Marshals and applaud those members of the community who were recipients of this year's awards.
Superintendent Mark Redemske emceed the event, introducing the past St. Pat's honorees in attendance. Mayor Mike Messina introduced the 2007 Parade Grand Marshal, Carol Wurm, citing her years of service to the Maple Lake community and her 45 years of service at Security State Bank.
Maple Lake High School senior Sarah Latour, daughter of Robert and Carol Latour, was crowned on Saturday evening as the 2007-2008 Miss Maple Lake. Joining her on the new royal court are Princess Kaylie Hudek, Princess Shelly Neidenfeur and Miss Congeniality Elizabeth Yager.
The coronation was the final event of the record-setting 30th St. Patrick's Day Festival. More photos on the day's activities appear on pages 6-7 and page 14 of the March 21 issue of the Messenger.
St. Patrick's Irish eyes were smiling on Maple Lake Saturday as the city experienced the largest and most successful festival in its 30- year history.
Sunny, spring-like weather set the stage for exceptional attendance for the day's events. Starting early were the record 200+ participants in the Irish Scamper and 45 crafters offering their wares at the annual Craft Sale in the elementary school gym. Following on the heels of these events was the 30th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, with attendance estimated at over 6,000.