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We’ve decided to use our website blog rather than wordpress, so if you’re accessing this in another way – other than through our website – just click here to access our new location.  You can continue to access this blog to see past posts, but we hope you’ll follow us to the other location for all our future happenings!  Thanks and buy local so we can thrive local!!

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Ari and I had a great time at the Festival Theatre‘s Halloween party Friday night.  They had tours of the theatre  with volunteers acting out the history of the theatre in a most ghoulish fun way.  There were wine and beer tastings, food, games, and great music (Monster Mash and Ghostbusters of course).  The party was a “fun”draiser for the theatre.

About 50% of the crowd came in costume with Ari and I doing our part to fit in.   Arianne came as an ivy (dress purchased at the theatre’s costume sale), and I came as the St. Croix Community Garden scarecrow – literally – I took her down on Thursday and put her outfit on me on Friday.  Thankfully we had a really wet October,  so I didn’t have a mildew smell.  I added some birds and butterflies to the hat to dress it up.   When I put her back in the garden in the spring her hat will look so pretty!

Ari & Julie 2009

 

There was a lot of dancing going on and since the scarecrow has been on duty 24/7 since June, she enjoyed having a night out to groove…..

Julie Hildebrand 2009 Halloween

BTW, the scarecrow is drinking a local brew 🙂

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Hot Soup Downtown

Now that it’s chilly outside,  and sometimes down right cold, a cup of soup is just what I need for lunch so I was really happy to see that Fine Acres Market, downtown St. Croix Falls, is offering fresh soup made on site using ingredients from the store – local produce when possible.

Fine Acres also has a pot full of Fair Trade coffee too, so you can grab a cup of good coffee.  There are local bread offerings, and they have a new line of granola bars that are made down the road in Minnesota.  Looks like a full meal to me!

Fine Acres Soup

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What’s Slow Food?

Maybe you’ve heard of the “slow food” movement – or maybe you haven’t?  Well, I’m going to give you a dilly of an example in just a bit.

But first, slow food, as listed on the Slow Food International website, “is to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”

But before these fast paced modern times – slow food is just what you did – especially if you lived on a farm.  So here’s my personal example of a slow food weekend…

When there’s a nip in the air my husband and I always make the classic French bean dish cassoulet.   To make the cassoulet in September off 2009 we started in the fall of 2008 when we received delivery of the lamb that my friend, Pat raised for me and the pork that my friend, Chris, raised.

In the spring I planted the Mayflower beans that I used in the dish (it’s believed that the Mayflower bean originally came with the pilgrims in 1620, but heck, if you don’t want to be that slow you can substitute northern beans).  I also used my own onions, carrots, and tomato sauce in making the dish.

For the smoked sausage we took a run over to Deutschland Meats in Lindstrom, MN.  Together, the ingredients meld together into a heavenly delicious dish.  Lest you think I’m totally over the top – I was too lazy to make the baguette – so it’s Take and Bake from Marketplace Foods.  Here’s a picture of the finished dish….

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The next day I canned my sauerkraut that had been fermenting the last several weeks.  My cabbage was a disaster this year, so I bought some huge split heads of cabbage from a local grower….

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When I was diving in the freezer, to find the meat for the cassoulet, I found a wonderful pork shoulder roast.  I tapped into my new sauerkraut reserve and made a lovely dish.

Often I like to add apples and onions to my sauerkraut, but I was in a more savory mood.  I studded the roast with garlic, and I added rosemary and juniper berries to the sauerkraut.  I served it with sage dumplings, and winter squash that I grew, and mixed in some bleu cheese and garlic spread from Eichtens.   It’s just so satisfying to make it the slow way……

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I’d love to hear some of your own favorite dishes where you did it the slow way.  Feel free to post!

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Each Autumn Fest we try to have a community art project.  This year with the help of artist, Cynthia Rintala, we had a mosaic project.  Using glass and pottery we had more than 70 people work on the project this year.  Here are some pictures to share.  We’ll try and post the final mosaic after it’s been grouted and ready for display….

Notice the drawing of the mosaic design. Huge thanks to Barb Holm (left with sunglasses) for putting alot of volunteer hours working on the mosaic as well as to Katelin Holm (far right) for coordinating the project and putting in alot of hours too.

Notice the drawing of the mosaic design. Huge thanks to Barb (left with sunglasses) for putting alot of volunteer hours working on the mosaic as well as to Katelin (far right) for coordinating the project and putting in alot of hours too.

Mosaic artist, Cynthia Rintala, trimming glass to get the right fit.

Mosaic artist, Cynthia Rintala, trimming glass to get the right fit.

We had more than 70 people help with the community mosaic

We had more than 70 people help with the community mosaic

One young helper putting finishing touches on the mosaic

One young helper putting finishing touches on the mosaic

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For the second year in a row, the community chose Wayne’s Cafe as the winner of the annual Autumn Fest Chili Contest held at the Overlook St. Croix Falls on September 27th. This year the race was tight, with fewer than ten votes separating first from last place. Over 200 members of the public came to the event for a free chili lunch and to cast their ballots.

This year’s runners up were Grecco’s on the St. Croix (Chili C), Indian Creek Orchard Winery & Grille (Chili A), and Our Place Cafe (Chili D). Each restaurant used at least three local ingredients in their chili; some of these were home-grown, and the others came from Keppers’ Produce, Hillcrest Gardens, Honey Creek Farm, Indian Creek Elk Farm, Swank’s Meats, and Tiny Planet Produce. Crystal Ball Farm Organic Dairy provided milk and ice cream, and local baker Pat Bjork prepared the corn bread.

Bobbie Babcock, owner of Wayne’s Cafe, gave sole credit for the win to Ida Loken, the cook who prepared their chili entry. “We’re really happy all Ida’s hard work paid off for the second year in a row,” she said. “I told her she might have to sit out next year to give someone else a chance!”

This year, the Chili Contest also included a farmers’ market so that people could take home some of the same produce that was used in the chili recipes. Attendees of this free event also donated over $200 in cash to programs that help fight hunger in St. Croix Falls.

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Autumn Fest 2009, September 26 and 27th was a great success.  We doubled our attendance on Saturday with a conservative estimate of 2000, and it sounded like vendors and guests were all very happy with the day.

We’ll post pictures of the events as they come in, so keep checking back.  Thank you to Gary Noren and Ann Perzyck for the pictures featured here.

We would like to take this time to thank all of the volunteers who helped to create this year’s event and all of the helpers during the weekend.  We couldn’t have done it without you – this was truly a community event!

Enjoy!

We had 5 music venues.  I have a picture of two, but I hope to share pictures of the others as they come in.

Sandy Bishop does wonderful interactive children's music

Sandy Bishop does wonderful interactive children's music

Tribal Spirit of the Sun is always a musical and visual treat

Tribal Spirit of the Sun is always a musical and visual treat

We also had a drum circle where everyone was welcome to participate.  Here is a picture of some young drummers….

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We had 38 vendors offering information and natural products…

Randy Korb, and his frogs, are always popular.  Randy introduced his new book "Blinky the Frog" at Autumn Fest.

Randy Korb, and his frogs, are always popular. Randy introduced his new book "Blinky the Frog" at Autumn Fest.

One of the tents focused on water issues including Save Ivers Mountain that had a colorful booth….

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We have about 14 published authors in the area surrounding St. Croix Falls (that I know of), and we were happy to have 5 of them at Autumn Fest…..

Local authors Kathleen Melin (L) and Rosemarie Braatz (R).  Also in attendance were Buzz Swerkstrom, Phil Peterson Sr., and Randy Korb

Local authors Kathleen Melin (L) and Rosemarie Braatz (R). Also in attendance were Buzz Swerkstrom, Phil Peterson Sr., and Randy Korb

Local foods are always a favorite at Autumn Fest…..

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The entire Overlook was a buzz – in fact the whole downtown was!  We had over 24 arts and craft vendors in the street and 38 vendors in the parking lot and grass…

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We try and do a community art project with each Autumn Fest and this year we did a mosaic.  Artist Cynthia Rintala created the image and helped the community to create a really beautiful mosaic.  VISTA Katelin and her Mom, Barb were instrumental in the project.  Hopefully someone out there has a picture of the finished mosaic?!  Here’s a picture of it in the beginning stage….

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The free horse and carriage ride from Wilson Haflingers is always a  treat…

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Autumn Fest last year was a low waste event on Sunday.  This year, with the help of volunteers, it was low waste both Saturday and Sunday.  What does “low waste” mean?  All food vendors served their food using compostable plates, cups, utinsels, and napkins.  We had 5 recycling areas, and we’re pleased to report that we only had one bag of trash per area at the end of a two day festival!   The compostables will be processed into compost – heck -maybe next year we can sell last years Autumn Fest waste as compost for your houseplants….

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One of the most oft questions when it comes to Festivals is “how was the weather?”  Well, were we lucky!  Late afternoon Friday was wet as was the whole evening (we got kind of soaked putting up the last big tent).  Saturday morning was very cloudy and somewhat foggy, but then the clouds burned off and we had a glorious Saturday.

Sunday beautiful with a breeze.  Three hours after our chili contest wrapped up howling winds brought down our tents – Autumn Fest ended in the nick of time…..

Autumn Fest

Stay tuned for more Autumn Fest pictures as they roll in!

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