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Sharing stories of people
who chose Bemidji
as their town

Crazy like a fox- Forestedge Winery

Posted: June 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Surrounding area: Laporte | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

To make award winning wine everyone knows that you first start with grapes. Preferably grapes raised under the sun in the Napa Valley of California.  To think of doing anything else would be crazy….right?


 Photo from HERE

What if someone decided to use rhubarb grown in the cold Spring frost of Minnesota?
Surely they would be considered crazy.

Well, John Wildmo along with Paul and Sharon Shuster were just crazy enough to attempt such a venture.  In 2000 they opened their winery outside of Bemidji in Laporte, MN
Eleven years later they are producing 7 “fruit wines” and winning more awards then they are able to display.  One might say now that they were crazy like a fox.

Producing 5000 bottles in the first year they found themselves in an interesting predicament;
they ran out of wine.
Since then they have become the 6th largest winery (out of 32) in the state of Minnesota.
Starting out with a 24×40 building they found the need to quickly upgrade and expand.
It became evident that using barrels was not going to work to meet the production demands.

Adding  thirteen 600 gallon Italian stainless steel tanks was a huge leap of faith.
However, they soon found themselves ordering even more tanks calling for further expansions.
Things have run mostly by hand-
bottling, labeling, corking.
At one point they were hand bottling and casing up to 300 bottles an hour .
In 2009 they purchased a bottler allowing them to produce up to 125-150 cases a day,
(even now I noticed on their wine list that they are out of two varieties,
a nice problem to have I am sure)

Now selling:
Black Current
Early Season White Cranberry
Headwaters Classic Red Wine
Plum Wine
Summer Blush

Providing a grape-less wine has been their ticket. When I asked the guys  what they liked best about their experience they summed it up quickly:

  • We were successful
  • We did what we set out to do
  • We enjoy what we do

I must say that being at the winery and having a wine maker teach me HOW to drink wine, this non-wine drinker had her first sip of  wine that she enjoyed (white cranberry).

In a  Year:
5 tons of sugar
10,000 lbs of rhubarb from their own 2 acres
2000 lbs of strawberries
30,000 bottles of wine produced and sold
all with 3 employees.

Forestedge Winery is the perfect example of Minnesota determination mixed with local talent to bring us a hometown, award winning wine for our enjoyment.

More photographs can be found HERE

Located:  From Bemidji- Take US Hwy 71 S to Kabekona.  Take MN Hwy 200 E until the junction of MN Hwy 64. Turn right and take 64 south. Forestedge Winery is situated on the right side of the road.

Forestedge’s Website can be found HERE
Open:  May through December
six days a week and closed on Mondays
Tuesday- Saturday 10-5:30, Sunday 12-5

Winery Photographs by: Jon Heller
Story by: Julie Saari

Four Way Stops-we have a few

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Downtown, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Downtown Bemidji is full of four way stops. Not just one or two, rather many many.  With this being said, it has always surprised me that people do not seem to know the rules for approaching a four way stop. Drivers hesitate or give up the right of way, while others charge ahead out of turn without care for the rules or safety. When you add pedestrians into the mix, you may as well forget about the rules, and just insert confusion instead.

When my husband and I moved here in the Summer of 1997, the four way stops were one of the first things I noticed.  Have I mentioned that there’s many many of them? After seeing how many I would be dealing with on a daily basis, I quickly opted to review the four way stop rules.  Since I seem to be in the minority here, I will take the time to post the four way stop rules here (summary version)

Writing note: I was going to post this last week.  I started reviewing the rules and was looking for a summary to post through the DMV site etc.  One of the first things I came across was this comedic version.  I have not been able to get that version out of my head, nor can I personally write anything quite as good.  So I have decided to post Jim Loy ‘s version and then link the DMV / MN driving rules.  Keep reading-it’s so funny because it is so true.

Four-Way Stops (Simplified)

Copyright 1996, Jim Loy

The four-way stop is a drivers’ IQ test, that many drivers fail. It would seem to be a maneuver of approximately Blue-Angel caliber. But, it is really very simple, if you follow these few rules.

Case I – one car

You are the only one at the intersection. This is the simplest case. First you stop [complete stop (in or out of the cross-walk), rolling stop, 25 mph stop, etc.], then you have only five options:

1. Go.
2. Hesitate, then go.
3. Wait for 3 more cars to come along.
4. Wait for 2 more cars.
5. Wait for 1 more car.

A true Driver (with a capital “D”, master of four-way stops) would choose option #3. After all, they do call this a four-way stop. Most drivers modify option #3 by adding a time limit, like 30 seconds: “Wait for 3 cars or 30 seconds, whichever comes first.” This 30-second wait has degenerated into option #2, “Hesitate, then go.”

Case II – 2 cars

There are a few permutations here:

1. You got there first. See below, “Complication #3, who got there first?” In this situation, just go, unless you are a disgustingly polite driver (Complication #1).

2. He or she is on your right and you’re turning right. Go.

3. He or she is on your right and you’re not turning right. Wait.

4. He or she is straight ahead; and he or she is going straight or turning right; and you’re going straight or turning right. Go.

5. He or she is straight ahead and he or she is turning left or you’re turning left. Wait.

6. He or she is on your left and he or she is turning right. Go.

7. He or she is on your left and he or she is not turning right. Wait.

Case III – 3 cars

If it’s your turn, go. If not, try to imagine what can go wrong if you do go, and then go if you didn’t just imagine your own death. Actually, this case is a simplification of case IV – 4 cars.

Case IV – 4 cars

There are hundreds of permutations here. But, actually, it’s pretty simple. Go it it’s your turn, or if you’re turning right and nobody else is headed for that lane.

Complication #1 – the disgustingly polite driver

A disgustingly polite driver will wait for you even though you both know that it is his or her turn to go. I can imagine him or her stopping for a child, and waving the child into the path of a speeding semi. Such politeness confuses any driving situation. It can hopelessly muddle a four-way stop situation, unless you follow this advice: Flip him or her the appropriate salute, and go.

Complication #2 – which way will they turn?

Cases II through IV depend upon which way the other drivers are turning. Their turn signals may offer a clue:

1. Some people do not signaling
2. Some people will turn the same way that they are signaling
3. Some people will not turn the same way that they are signaling

There are six principles which will help you sort these out:

1. You can legally assume that people will turn the same way that they are signaling, or that they are not turning when they are not signaling.

2. You can legally ram them if they are lying.

3. No witness will stick around to back up your story about whether or not anybody signaled.

4. Drivers (capital “D”) do not signal.

5. drivers (small “d”) do not signal.

6. All other drivers signal.

Complication #3 – who got there first?

“Who” got there first, “what” got there second, “I don’t know” got there third. Sorry, that was merely an allusion. In theory, a four-way stop is simple. The cars stopped in a certain order, and they go in the same order. In reality:

1. Some people don’t exactly stop. So, when did they arrive at the four-way stop?

2. Some people stop one or two car-lengths behind the stop sign. When did they arrive at the four-way stop?

3. Sometimes two cars really do stop simultaneously.

4. Driver A thinks that driver B got there first, and driver B thinks that driver A got there first. This is a simplification of the next situation.

5. Driver A thinks that driver B got there first. Driver B thinks that driver C got there first. And driver C thinks that driver A got there first. From experience, I would say that this, along with various 4-car permutations, is a very common situation.

6. At least one driver has no clue. This has probably happened before he reached the four-way stop.

So, when there’s doubt about who got there first, who should go first? Here’s a handy rule: “I go first, you go second, everyone else hesitates.” My car is the one with the dents in each door.

Complication #4 – pedestrians

Any of the above situations can be further complicated by the intrusion of any number of pedestrians. You won’t see them lining up and going one at a time. They just keep walking right on through the intersection, dodging cars. While pedestrians slow down the normal clockwork of the four-way stop, they also introduce a logical puzzle to the situation. If you are about to go, and a pedestrian walks in front of you, how does that affect the order of who goes when? Do you get to go first once the pedestrian is out of your way? Should all the other cars wait for you? Or, have you lost your place and must wait for 3 more cars to go. This guideline should help: “If you have to wait for a pedestrian, you are now a time-bomb waiting to go off. To minimize the loss of life, you should be allowed to go first.”

Complication #5 – the four-way stop starburst maneuver

This is when all four cars go at once. All four cars stop, nearly touching, nose to fender. And, nobody can go forward. The driver who backs up loses all respect from his or her family. Besides, the next four cars have gone forward by now. So no one can back up, if he or she wanted to. The four-way stop has now achieved critical mass. The only solution is for one car to be removed, sideways, by a fork-lift. I’m sorry to say that I’ve never seen this done. I understand this is very popular in Europe, at all kinds of intersections.

Four-way stop theory

Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity says, among other things, that two observers, travelling at different speeds, cannot agree on when something happened. In fact observer A may say that event X occurred before event Y, while observer B may say that event Y happened first. And both observers are right. This leads to the “four-way stop paradox.”

A theory that seems to have even more to say about four-way stops is Natural Selection.

Dear Bemidji drivers, it is time to figure this out.  You deal with these signs daily if you are downtown.  Denial is only getting people frustrated at you.  I know the reason you sit and wait for the other person to go (even though you clearly are in the right of way) it is because you don’t know the rules!  Well I have cleared that up for you now.  Proceed (now that you know how).

What the MN Drivers Manual states:

Right of Way and Yielding:
Right-of-way and yielding laws help traffic flow smoothly and safely.
They are based on courtesy and common sense. Violation of these
laws is a leading cause of traffic crashes.

• When two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, and
there is no traffic light or signal, the driver of the vehicle on the
left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
• When two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time,
and all-way stop signs or flashing red traffic lights control
the intersection, the driver on the left must yield right of way
to the driver on the right.
• A driver who wishes to make a left turn must yield to vehicles
approaching from the opposite direction when these vehicles are
in the intersection or are near enough to pose the risk of a crash.
• When a green arrow signal indicates that a vehicle may enter an
intersection to make a left turn, the driver must yield to other
vehicles or pedestrians already within the intersection. After
yielding, the driver may continue in the direction of the arrow.
• When two vehicles approach an uncontrolled “T” intersection, the
driver of the vehicle that is turning must yield to all cross traffic.
• When approaching a public road from a private road or driveway,
you must stop and yield to pedestrians and traffic.
• Drivers in the right lane of traffic must yield right of way to transit
and metro mobility buses attempting to merge from a bus stop
or shoulder.
• When a funeral procession identifies itself through use of headlights
or hazard warning lights, you must yield to the entire procession.

To review all of your driving rules and regulations you can find the manual HERE

It happened at the Sanford Center

Posted: April 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bemidji Regional Event Center opened their doors November 17, 2010 with their first show Larry the Cable Guy, followed by Sesame Street Live and then onto Hockey and other events.  Here are some photos of a few events I personally attended at the center. The next promoted event is Styx live in concert on May 28, 2011.

Blake Shelton Concert
January 29, 2011

Bud Light Bull Riding Challenge
April 1&2 2011

April 4, 2011

Bemidji Jaycees Home Sport and Travel Show
The Weekend of April 8,9,10 2011

More Information on the Sanford Center Can Be Found Here

Click Here to Link to Sanford Center Website

All Photographs Property of Julie Saari and This is my town: Bemidji ©

What is your favorite thing about Bemidji in the Summer?

Posted: July 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Chase Wroe

“Late night bike rides with good folks!”

Ashleigh Buck

“Biking around the lake”

Deacon Brandt

“Taking a walk in the country”

Stephen Bucher & Kendra Washington

“Going on walks”

Mike Mohler

“Warm Weather”

Sarah & Finny Karl

“Riding bike with Finn”

“Eating strawberries and
raspberries and blackberries
from Grandpa’s house.”

Elly, Sanya, & Maryn Swanson

“Going to the lake”

From the Facebook Page:

(I copied and pasted)

Melany L. Graham-Rundell

Melany L. Graham-Rundell

camping with family.

Deborah A Davis

Deborah A Davis

I love the water. The lakes MOVE in the summer. We are surrounded by kinetic waters. In winter it seems still as tombstones. Give me whitecaps and dancing waves.

Melissa Daigle Briggs

Melissa Daigle Briggs

Can’t wait to see how people manage to narrow it down! There are so many great things about summer in Bemidji.

Gary Lamon

Gary Lamon

Campfires and fishing.

Wendy Kloeppner

Wendy Kloeppner

Bingo at the Jaycees Waterfront Carnival! What a blast!

Nichole Lord- Powers

Nichole Lord- Powers

Water Carnival, Parade, Fireworks!!! Bemidji is the best place to be to celebrate the 4th!!

Melissa Daigle Briggs

Melissa Daigle Briggs

‎”the sounds.” wind in leaves. lapping waves. loons. thunder. a fishing line hitting the water. frogs. crackling camp fires. unseen people’s voices while boating.

Heather Sande

Heather Sande

The Beauty. Very proud to live here in beautiful Bemidji, Minnesota!

Sandi Erickson

Sandi Erickson

I no longer live close to Bemidji but being raised there I sure miss the fair and Water Carnival and really miss the friendly people. I do get chances to visit as some of my family are still there.

Rebecca Diffley

Rebecca Diffley

Waking up to the smell of fresh cut hay in the morning, as my dad would be cutting the field south of our house.
Maarit Miller

Maarit Miller

Sitting on the end of the dock, listening to waves hit the shore.

Katherine Jones

Katherine Jones

it’s all about the water: waves lapping at the shore. walking on the beach. watching my kiddos swim.

Deborah Brouse Brown

Deborah Brouse Brown

Visiting my Auntie Marion!

Barbara Tetreau Grotting

Barbara Tetreau Grotting

Water – the sound of waves hitting the shore.

Laura Peters Mumm

Laura Peters Mumm

I love the BSU campus in the summer (and other seasons)… quiet now, but a “home” of sorts for me. I also love coming back to visit and staying at the B & B Villa Calma! Going there in Aug.!! Can’t wait…

Matthew Breuer

Matthew Breuer

Fishing… is there anything else?
Please remember to leave a comment.
What is your favorite thing about Bemidji in the Summer?

Allan H. (Fargnot)

Posted: July 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mississippi River, Southwest of Bemidji | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

photography by Julie Saari

Allan Habedank
Coffee Pot Landing
Mississippi River

How can a person explain Allan?  First you start by calling him Fargnot. Second you accept that Uncle Bill Fargnot is indeed his uncle (although he truly is a fictional character, I think.  Having heard enough about his Uncle Bill Fargnot I have started to think of this character as a real man.)  You learn what a fabulous story teller Fargnot is.  You quickly learn that  he cares for his wife and family immensely.  Finally, you know he is always open for an adventure.  He is a teacher of Mathematics (and wisdom) at Cass Lake High School, though I first met Fargnot through geocaching.

A note about the photo shoot- Standing knee deep in the Mississippi River at Coffeepot Landing I tried to keep my balance as the current swept by me moving rocks that knocked against my feet.  The sky opened up and the rain poured down.  Allan’s smile got bigger as he stated the weather could not be any better for pictures of him, pouring rain was perfect.  If you look carefully you will see the rain drops on the river and even some in the air.

It is my true honor to introduce you to Allan H
(aka Fargnot):

This part of my story begins in Flint Michigan where at the age of fifteen I worked for my father selling Christmas trees in the front yard of our home on Miller Road, our location was good and business was steady. On Christmas Eve we sold the last tree we would ever sell from our lot as my father announced we were moving to Minnesota to chase after another one of his dreams, we did this every couple of years. He thought we were trading the retail end of the pine tree business for a chance at early retirement. He had purchased a piece of land where we could build a plantation a couple of miles north of a town called Bemidji. I was destined to become a tree farmer.

I made myself believe that it was fate that brought me to Bemidji and it was my lot in life to chase after distant shores. The land we had purchased was a cedar swamp and cedar Christmas trees never really caught on. We were good dream hatchers, but weren’t very good dream catchers. After a while you get used to disappointment, I learned to live with the angry insects and unbearable cold by numbing myself with a good dose of depression. All of that has changed now that I realize the role defining moments have had in directing my life. These days the prayer in my heart is that my children will find a place like Bemidji to raise their dreams.

Everyone starts life with a defining moment which comes from God. He gives us a place from which to start our journey and a time to travel.  To some, place is more important as it determines the direction that gives form to our lives.  To others, time is the stronger gift that gives us those precious moments to fulfill our destiny.  These gifts are given to outfit us for the adventures that lie ahead and are meant to help us find our way back to Him.  It is a sacrifice on His part to be parted from those whom He loves, so he has given us a time to return and a place to remember lest we forget. In His infinite wisdom, He realized I would need a little extra help along the way.  Four defining moments in the form of pine trees, faith, education and rivers were placed upon my path to help me find my way home.

In the Northwood’s there is a saying “It’s all about the trees” and in my case that was the truth. It was the trees that brought my family to a land where I would meet my eternal companion.  Soon after we arrived in Bemidji, I was standing at the bus stop right after the first snowfall when off in the distance I could see the neighbor girl walking along the edge of our swamp headed in my direction.  Her beauty took my breath away. It was sometime later that I regained my senses and all I remember is looking out the window of the bus watching flowers sprout out of her snowy footprints. After many years of getting to know one another, I chose her for my wife and she chose me for her husband. I gave her my undying devotion and in return she gave me a family with five children which we will forever cherish.

Time was good to us, but over the years I could feel the gift of place pulling us apart. During the first years of our marriage I often thought about moving back home to Michigan, I had my father’s disease. One day I came home, sold it and packed up the U-haul. We were headed for the Promised Land where I could be king. One of my wife’s favorite sayings is “my husband is the head of the family, but I am the neck which makes the head turn”. So she quickly turned my head back towards her land and a westbound U-haul was soon parked in our Michigan driveway. At first it would seem that we had made no gains, but during our short stay in Michigan we had another defining moment as we found our faith and became Mormons, it was after all the Promised Land.

I have often thought that a happy wife was in my best interests and being in Bemidji certainly accomplished that. We built a log cabin and started our family. Back to basics was the theme of those years. We raised goats, had a midwife deliver the children, took baths in the lake, and lived the poor man’s dream. At times it was wonderful, at times it was a nightmare, but another defining moment soon put another U-haul in our Bemidji driveway. This time we were headed for Brigham Young University in Utah and an education were I was destined to become a mathematics teacher.

Five years, a few more kids, and the realization that we were both strangers in the desert helped us understand how important place was to us. We tried her place, then my place, and then another place and finally it all came together….Our hearts had become one and we realized we could be happy in any place as long as we were together and it was our place. In the end it wasn’t the trees, the seasons, or employment that helped us choose Bemidji in which to build our life.  Simply put it was the river that was the deciding factor in our decision to call this place home.  I remember talking to my Uncle Bill Fargnot (a world renowned geocacher) and will never forget the “Bill talk” he gave us. He said “Some people live east of the Mississippi and some live west of the Mississippi, but very few have an opportunity to live north of this mighty river”. For some unknown reason this connected with our spirits. When we feel disconnected, we load up the canoe and head for Itasca to make the sixty mile pilgrimage to our home for the past twenty-five years, Bemidji.

written by Allan Habedank

View the rest of Allan’s photo shoot HERE

pics by Julie Saari

Geocaching site can be found HERE

Angela A.

Posted: July 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Lake Bemidji State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Photography by Julie Saari
Angela A.
Bemidji State Park
June 2010

Here name is not Ashley, nor is it Elizabeth, but her sense of humor is such that she can laugh at you when you mix her name up not once, but  yes, twice.  That is what I did to Angela (her name is Angela).  When I first started reading Angela’s story I thought she had gotten it all wrong.  Surely she did not understand the concept behind this project.  That is, until I reached the last paragraph, and then I got it.  She did understand and she made me remember that not everyone ends up here on good terms.  But, Angela also proves that you can make the most of what life gives you, and do it with a smile.

Say hello to Ashley

(her name is Ashley)

My move back to Bemidji was not the smoothest of transitions. Ultimately I had to pack and move 9 years of my life in a trailer, and drive 5 hours “back home”. My uncle and a friend of his had agreed to help me move. However, part way into the journey home, a flat tire happened on the trailer, at night, in a remote village in Wisconsin. Since it was a Saturday night, this town (if you could call it that), had only one place to buy a tire, and yes, they were closed; we were staying the night. The next day, after spending a pretty sum on two new trailer tires, I was optimistic, we were ready to roll and on our way.  Three or maybe it was 4 hours later….we finally reached our destination; my apartment. It was a decent little apartment, just on the end of town in Nymore. However, as we were moving in, I made a sad discovery; my couch did not fit through the door, and it wouldn’t. I would have nothing to sit on.  However, the piece de’resistance to this glorious day was when I was outside just ready to bring in some boxes when I heard this magnificent crash and shatter! If one can hesitantly hurry…I did so. I was afraid to know what had happened.  There stood the helper, my uncle’s friend, over my living room window. Disbelief was the first reaction.  How exactly does one large window, fall out of the wall? Well, it just falls out, when you try to open it, apparently. As the evening came to a close, I remember one of my friends saying to me, as I sat on the front steps, “You’re going to cry aren’t you?” I said quite certainly “no”, though I knew it wouldn’t be long before that happened. I had no place to sit in my apartment, and no window, so I said “We’re going out”.

In 2003, I wasn’t coming back to Bemidji at the happiest time in my life, I sort of felt as though I was coming back with my tail between my legs looking for a place to hide. Making the decision to come back to Bemidji wasn’t easy. After all, I was leaving great friends. When one moves back home after life changing events, they don’t have big “welcome home” parties for these types of occasions.  What do you put on the banner and balloons? “Happy Divorce”, “Way to go!” What I did know, was that I needed to move on, and “start over”. At least that’s the way I was trying to see it; starting over. For me, starting over meant, Bemidji.

I was born in Bemidji, in 1974.  I went to JW Smith Elementary, graduated from BHS, and went to Bemidji State University, before transferring to UW Stevens Point.  I lived in various parts of Wisconsin for nearly 9 years.  Now, I have been back in Bemidji for 7 years, I honestly didn’t know that would happen. It has now been the longest I have lived in one place since initially leaving!  Why do I stay?  Family and friends; it is home.  You don’t move back to Bemidji for its fashion, or its wealth…there isn’t a lot of that here.  I stay because of its isolation, and its opportunity.

Being back in Bemidji, has allowed for me to discover who I am and what I want from my life.  It and the people, my friends and my family did welcome me back home after all those years, not with a big party, but with a quite hug that said “welcome home”.

written by Angela Anderson

View Angela’s photo shoot here

pics by Julie Saari

Melissa B.

Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: East of Bemidji | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Melissa B.
Stump Lake
East of Bemidji

Laid back yet determined.  An eye for the unseen. Melissa creates art out of the every day beauty around us.  A mom who found herself after raising her family.  I had a great time at Melissa’s house on Stump Lake.  The fortune of nature was with us as the lake was calm and peaceful that day and the wildlife made an appearance.  Getting to watch a simple picture turn into a piece of artwork was inspiring.

Can I introduce you to Melissa?

I was not born or raised here in the literal sense.  I found Bemidji in 2006 and knew the moment I stepped off the plane that this was HOME.

My journey began the summer of 2006 in Owosso, Michigan where I lived for ten years with my husband and six children.  Don’t be too impressed, I didn’t give birth to them all, we are a meshed family, but a family all the same and I love them all as if they were my own.  Most of our family vacations were long weekends to the upper peninsula of Michigan.  The only place I found solace.  My heart was heavy on the trip back and my husband and I fantasized about moving to the U.P. buying a tiny cabin on a lake surrounded by forest.  It was not practical and selfish for us to consider uprooting our children from the only home they could remember, so we patiently waited.  The summer of 2006 marked the milestone of all children graduating from high school.  It was time – our time!  I was on the search for a job in the north, what I thought would be the U.P. of Michigan.

Fortunately a fairy godmother found me, and of course as fairy godmothers are, much wiser than I am, took pity upon me, and paved the way for my journey home.  I had three job offers in northern Minnesota and no prospects in the U.P.  My husband and I decided why not investigate.  The first company did not offer enough salary so I turned it down.  The second offer was from Arctic Cat.  Thief River just did not feel like home.  The third offer from a company not far from Bemidji seemed just right.  (I know – too Goldilocks – sorry)  I flew into Bemidji airport for my interview and immediately sighed and said…..HOME!  I rushed to the interview, accepted their offer, rushed back home to tell my husband that I have found our paradise.  Much more beautiful than what we imagined.  Two weeks later I was in a manic dash to pack and start my first day of work.  In keeping with my Goldilocks theme, there was a bear involved (or if you choose a Big Bad Wolf both villains are appropriate) and just over a year after my first day I left the company.  Once again my fairy godmother stepped in.  This, like other fairy tales has a touch of irony.  The company that offered me a job when I thought no one ever would (long story and too negative to elaborate) happened to be the first offer I turned down, Nortech Systems.  Forgive me for not noticing what this company had to offer, I had yet to learn that what seems like a frog is truly a prince! (Yes again with the fairy tale theme!)

The past three and half years in this little piece of heaven have been the most inspiring time of my life.  I have grown as an artist, mother, wife and person.  I am no longer that tightly wound woman that was ready to stress out about any issue, frazzled to the point where getting out of bed took all the energy I could muster.  I turned from a puppet to a real girl! (Yes now a Pinocchio theme) Life here in Bemidji has taught me to slow down, take in the magnificent landscape and wildlife, breathe in all the beauty and diversity that Bemidji and life has to offer.  So, in essence, I was RE-BORN and raised in Bemidji.

My artistic outlet has been landscape and wildlife photography.  I was only inspired to take photos when I was in the Upper Peninsula, which was only one maybe two times a year for long weekends.  Now I find it hard not to photograph, document, and share the beauty that envelops me, much of it in my backyard on Stump Lake.  Yes I got my cabin on a lake surrounded by forest!  Hmmmm… I love drinking my coffee on my deck at sunrise listening to the loons, chickadees and that friendly call of the Phoebe – PHEEBEEE, PHEEBEE.  The various woodpeckers lend their percussions on the pines and a determined little sapsucker has taken up the cymbals by drumming on the metal around my chimney all the while the wind whispers through the pines.  I am hypnotized into complete bliss.  And NO, this is not in cartoon format with the birds landing on my shoulder and I am singing back at them this is no fairy tale – it is my fantastic life! I can’t image life could be more incredible.

I suppose you wonder if I miss my children.  Well they never gave me the chance.  Five out of six of my kids have moved to Bemidji, or very close to Bemidji.   They love the area just as much as my husband and I do.  What can I say; they inherited their good taste from me!

I have just recently found a new fairy godmother that has encouraged, supported and help make my dream of sharing my art with the world come to fruition.  Christina Thorne at Bad Cat Creations is kindly showcasing my photography.  It is not the average photograph.  I create kaleidoscopes from my photos.  It is my interpretation of the wonders of nature.  I have been on a marathon of creativity and Bemidji is my muse!

And I live happily ever after!

written by Melissa Burness

Click here to view a slide show of Melissa’s photo shoot

Melissa’s FB page is HERE

Her Etsy page is HERE

Beavers Hit The Streets

Posted: June 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

The sculpture painting project was made possible by a grant Catie Belleveau wrote to the George W. Neilson foundation. They funded our purchase of the 10 beaver blanks that local two dimensional artists have enhanced with their unique painting styles. These sculptures will reside on the Sculpture Walk for a year and be auctioned next spring to the highest bidding individual or business who will have them grace their locations. The proceeds will be used to enhance the Sculpture Walk and 30% of the auction price will be paid to the artist who painted the beaver.

The image of the beaver was chosen by a community survey that was promoted through local media and the artist were selected by committee judging. The blanks were created by a company in Chicago called Cow Painters. We originally ordered 10 blanks but because of a delay of shipment they sent us a extra blank as a consolation. Nine beavers will be installed throughout Bemidji today with the tenth beaver coming soon, being delayed because of a death in the artists family. We have not yet determined the fate of the 11th blank beaver.

We would like to thank our down town business sponsors, The Sculpture Walk Committee, participating artists and George W. Neilson whom we are dedicating this years Sculpture Walk to – because of his foresight and philanthropy in enhancing the lives of the people in our community for many years.

Facilitation and installation are being preformed by Mitch Blessing and Al Belleveau.


Information provided by Al Belleveau

Hello, my name is Crinkle.

Linda Brown

N 47° 28.301’ , W094° 53. 024 (City Hall)

I got that name because I spend a lot of time in the water and I get all crinkly. My best friend is Walter a Koi Fish who lives at The Wild Hare. I am enjoying summer in Bemidji after being rescued from the Evil Chain Smoking Beaver Trapper who resides 2

nd and Minnesota. While enjoying my new found freedom I have been able to check things out around here and there is a lovely tree that I am chomping at the bit for. I really want to go gnaw on it and use its parts in a dam I have been working on. This tree is located by River Wood Bank. There is yet another tree I have been eyeing on the corner of 4th and Minnesota but I don’t thing I can reach it. I hope you will enjoy spending time with me and all the others on Bemidji’s Sculpture walk.

Days End

MaryTherese Peterson 

N 47° 28.236’ , W094° 52. 955 (3rd and Minnesota)

As the sunsets in our beautiful land,

where the Mississippi is born,

the beaver stands

as the sad clown who sees

suffering at the hands of the humans

as their needs to consume

swirls in the red sea at the end of this river

May all life forms find protection

let the Earth heal and grow!

“Home Sweet Home”

Kathy Gustafson

N 47° 28.228’ , W094° 52. 890 (3rd and Beltrami)

This sculpture was painted to draw attention to the beavers, which are the original community builders. They create the pond where they can live, build a lodge, and raise their young, and at the same time, create a place where other animals can live and flourish as well. In my work we see them sharing their living space with several fish, a turtle, and a dragonfly. It also has several aspen leaves, which represent the beaver’s favorite food (a quickly renewed resource), and petroglyph images which represent the long history of association between these animals and humans. “Busy as a beaver” has become a cliché phrase, but in regards to the beaver, it is completely true!

“Wildlife Painting”

Alice Blessing

N 47° 28.227’ , W094° 52. 865 (3rd and Beltrami Ave.)

This lake scene was painted by Alice Blessing using her fingers instead of paintbrushes. The resulting marks manifest in a surprising style that resembles pointillism and the impressionistic works of Claude Monet. The artist hopes that this colorful work reminds you to protect our lakes and wildlife: Don’t pollute! Don’t poach!


Jason Elliott Clark

N  47° 28.239’, W094° 52.792 (3rd and Bemidji Ave)

Using an x-ray style I have chosen to represent both the interior and exterior aspects on this beaver form, illustrating anatomical features ranging from bones, tendons, muscles, and nerves to unborn kits and even dietary contents within the stomach. These features are represented through the use of a bold formline and stylized or symbolic markings.


Deborah A Davis

N 47°28.290’,W094° 52.880 (4th and Beltrami)

Gaea means Mother Earth and God is Gracious

That the fertile earth itself is female, nurturing mankind is a belief that crosses culture, time and borders. Gaea means Mother Earth. It also means “God is Gracious,” and is one of the 52 feminine aspects of God in the Christian Bible. Gaea in mythology was a female Titan. If we could embrace the strength of womaness, celebrate it, we would become the people we are meant to be: nurturing, loving, whole.

on a side note: While painting this, the gulf oil disaster occurred… and I couldn’t help thinking, if we could incorporate this… become less gluttoness and more sacrificial, the world would be more like the home it is meant to be for us and our children.

Hug, the History Beaver

Terry Honstead

N 47° 28.162’ , W094° 52. 973 (2nd and Minnesota)

Hug, the beaver got his name from my 2 year old grandson. Hug is covered with the history of Bemidji. The information from old photos of residents, old newspaper clippings, and a written history was found on the internet. Hug is painted green for Bemidji State University, as they are green beavers. I painted pictures on him that remind me of this area. I chose a fish, an eagle, a deer and two trees. To me, they symbolize Bemidji, and the surrounding area. You can see these things from a distance. When you get closer, you can read some of the history. Up by the top of his head it tells about the post office and how Bemidji was mistakenly named “Bermidji” when the post office first opened. It was quite a lot of time and red tape to get the name corrected. On Hug’s foot are listed the mayors of Bemidji, and the dates that they served. There are many other facts to discover as you look closely at the surface. Sadly, some of the history was lost when the symbols of the area came into being. But, sad as that may be, Hug still contains many mysteries to uncover.

River Home

Paula J. Swenson

N 47° 28.425’ , W094° 52. 887 (by Courthouse)

The river and ponds where beavers make their homes inspired “River Home”. The riverbanks are lined with rocks, shrubs and small trees with larger trees in the background. Among the inhabitants of the woods are deer, bear and coyotes. The stars in the sky, the northern lights and the shoreline are reflected in the water where small mouth bass, blue gills and muskies swim. (I know bluegills are not brown and bass are not yellow but that’s how I am.) A spiny soft shelled turtle basks on a sandbar in the river.

Visitors are welcome to visit my studio by appointment. Appointments can often be arranged on short notice. Please call Paula at 218-751-6767

“Happy Trails”

Tim Nelsen

N 47° 28.364’ , W094° 52. 864 (5th and Beltrami)

I wanted to design something that was totally fun, with bright colors and original characters I developed that would appeal to kids. I have two young girls at home, so they had a great time watching the beaver (we named him Ed) become this big art piece. I even used some of their toys in the design and let them do some painting, so they thought that was pretty awesome.

My youngest girl liked the beaver so much that she sat on his tail and ate her cereal in the morning for a few days. Overall it was a great project to be involved with, and became something my whole family enjoyed. I hope the community enjoys the painted beaver sculptures as much as I did being a part of the experience.

I have provided the information, locations, and small photo collages of each beaver sculpture.  I intentionally did not post large pictures of each one, these photos are only to serve as a teaser.  I do hope that you will take the time to enjoy each sculpture up close and take in the true beauty, talent, and creativity in person.  If you look carefully at the art work it is easy to forget that such beauty is placed on the shape of a beaver.  A project like this just adds to my appreciation of this town and it’s artist population.  It is just another facet that makes this my town.

(Please leave a comment in the box below to show the artists your appreciation. Thank you.)

Julie Saari

A special thank you to Janet Rith-Najarain for providing the waypoints.

Mackenzie L.

Posted: June 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Photography by Julie Saari
Mackenzie L
Harmony Co-op Dairy Cooler
April 2010

One person’s life affecting many.  That is how I describe Mackenzie.  As she hands over your double shot/soy/two pump/vanilla latte and the Uptown scone that could make or break the rest of your day; she is having an impact on your morning and hence your life.  A smile, a kind word, remembering it is your big day, asking about an update on your last conversation, and making sure you get that specialty cheese you need for your party, one person’s life can affect many.  How has Mackenzie affected your life?  I know she has made me smile often.

Meet Mackenzie:

I came here for the college; I stayed for the community. I arrived in Bemidji in the fall of 1999 in order to study Mass Communications at BSU. As I met friends and relationships evolved I tacked on studies in Art and Art History. I started working at Harmony Co-op in 2001 as an evening cashier. I fell hopelessly in love with the Co-op and all the people in it. And then I fell in love with a co-worker. Jeff, the Produce Department and a steamy summer were the fertilizers that helped my roots grow. So when the dairy manager at the time left, non-related and unaccomplished degree be damned, I stayed and started my humble beginnings as the “dairy queen”. Since I had worked at BSU as the Touche Gallerie director and assorted Art History assistant positions I was collecting paychecks from multiple jobs.

My time at BSU ran out, Harmony was a steady deal but I needed something else. So a few months after Moni & Reed opened up the Wild Hare Bistro I popped in to say that I should probably just turn up to do dishes when they were busy and maybe it would be neat if they hired me. My profession as a “professional” cook had begun. My employment there has taken me great lengths in my cooking skills, on cheese adventures to Wisconsin, catering gigs, true friendships and burns and cuts. I still do the dishes…and now I have been there for four years.

I’ve been at the Co-op for eight. Anyone reading this who knows me most likely met me while I was at work. That is what I do. I work for me, I work for my husband (Jeff) but I work for you Bemidji. I love to make you coffee and muffins. I want to hear about that cheese you had at a friend’s house while you were on vacation. I need to know how your son is doing in school. I want to see your art show. I’d love to meet your parents when they come to town for your graduation.

The deal that Bemidji and I have worked out is that we are fiercely loyal and take care of each other’s needs. I live to serve and Bemidji serves this need for me.

Written by: Mackenzie Lindahl

Click here to view a slide show of Mackenzie’s photo shoots

pics by Julie Saari

Harmony Co-op’s web site  HERE

Wild Hare’s web site HERE

What is your favorite thing about Bemidji?

Posted: June 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments »

A Picture Post

Tom Kusler

Retiring Principal
Lincoln School

Greg Gasman

Harmony Food

Mitch Rautio

Keg and Cork

Madden Coghlan

Summer Resident
Camp Thunderbird Counselor

Paul Oddi

Summer Resident
Camp Thunderbird Counselor


Dog on the street

Erin Connelly

Book World

Janel Hart

Chocolates Plus

Julie Bowman


Kitura Main and Peg Nygaard

Science Center

Joe Banta

Kitchigami Regional Library

Ashley Bommer


Thank you so much for all the people who participated this week.  I had so much fun doing this little on the street survey.  Let me know what you think in the comment box below.  Maybe I could do more?

Julie Saari