February flotsam and jetsam

Today, a look at a few items from this past week at Minot Daily News.

Initiatives underway

It’s only a week old, but the expansion of our Meet the Artist feature is already attracting responses. In case you missed the announcement a week ago, we are now featuring artists of all stripes in our Thursday Arts section – visual artists (still), musicians, actors … you name it. We’re happy to say we have heard from a few people and anticipate more. If you paint, dance, direct, write, etc., email me and let’s get your story in the hands of people in the region! Note: this is not a competition. It’s just a simple process. MDN wants all of our artistically talented residents to have their moment in the sunshine!

Additionally, we are now soliciting handcraft artisans for a similar feature now in Saturday’s #Living section. Check out each of the sections. Email me for the Arts page at msasser@minotdailynews.com. Email Eloise Ogden for the #Living feature at eogden@minotdailynews.com.

Still, where is the food? For a year, in our Food section we have asked readers to share their favorite recipes, family food traditions and culinary cultural traditions. Well, we’ve been underwhelmed with responses even though our hope is to highlight home cooks and regional specialties. This strikes me as unusual because I hear two things about our Food section overall. One is from people who like trying new things and appreciate recipes from our host of food columnists. Secondly, I hear from people who claim to like less “fussy” cooking and prefer regional home cooking. Yet, neither the former nor the latter have written in much with their recipes. We’d still like you to share your kitchen creations, so I hope to hear from you!

No lack of chili recipes

Last week was the third annual Chili Bowl and I was honored to be on the panel of media judges. Besides having a nice evening with some media colleagues, there was also plenty of delicious chili to go around. For the record, Burdick Job Corps won the critic’s choice award, while Charlie’s Main Street Cafe took home best chili for the second straight year. That’s right, the culinary students at Burdick Job Corps put together a chili that was simply stunning! What a talented group of youngsters this must be! Attendance at the event at the lovely Sleep Inn was good, spirits were high, every single competitor was in the race with their takes on the cold weather classic, which were distinct and delicious. Most importantly, the terrific event benefited Independence Inc., a good cause if there ever was one. Independence Inc. is a resource center for independent living. They are a private, nonprofit corporation that provides services to maximize the independence of individuals with disabilities. The event’s success demonstrates how our community supports goodwill causes – and good chili. Congratulations to organizers, competitors, guests, a fun-loving panel of judges, and to Minot booster extraordinaire Miranda Schuler, who took good care of the judges. (As an aside, if you haven’t tried the fried jalapeno slices from Magic City Hoagies, you should! I am told they can put them on any sandwich and they are an epiphany.)

Celebrity rodents

If you missed Kim Fundingsland’s amusing pondering “No groundhog for Minot” Friday, pick the issue back up or check it out online. Kim – awarded in 2017 by the North Dakota Newspaper Association for a humor column – takes on Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day and suggested that we in Minot need our own psychic rodent. The only problem? Our region doesn’t have any! We have prairie dogs, but there is not a Prairie Dog Day and it isn’t the same critter anyway. Well Kim heard from readers who agreed that the community needs to find, support and create a whole new celebration around a local groundhog – or at least that it’s good in theory.

“While it does smack a bit of animal (or even people) cruelty – dragging a sleeping victim out of his quiet, warm, cozy den into the frigid Minot air (without so much as a hot cup of coffee), into the chaotic cacophony of a horde of raucous revelers creating an unconscionable amount of noise not conducive to a gentle awakening – the idea has some merit,” wrote Frances.

“Merit for what good purpose sadly escapes me.”

“However, should you carry on with this Quixotic quest for more Minot magic, we wish you full speed ahead. And if you are the courageous one destined to brave the claws and teeth of a grumpy rodent, underwhelmed at the prospect of immense popularity at the expense of a good winter’s sleep, we advise thick leather gloves – and remind you to make sure your shots are all up to date.”

“Yes! Bring on Magic City Melvin!” argued email writer Deb. “We do indeed have woodchucks in this area, at Long Lake for certain. I have seen them a couple of times there.

“I’d be in the crowd with a cup of hot coffee in hand, ready to welcome this little furry prognosticator! What fun to have our own local weather hero! ND residents certainly know the realities of winter here, but we are also an optimistic population that can look at the hopeful side (no matter how misguided), whether he sees his shadow or not!”

There are worse causes. If anyone has an idea how to get the needed support for our good friends at Roosevelt Park Zoo to adopt an honest-to-goodness groundhog around which we can launch a new holiday, drop Kim a line at kfundingsland@minotdailynews.com.