January 28, 2010

From the Star Tribune by way of Kimmy!

Artist hopes a pierogi will rise in Northeast
ABBY SIMONS, Star Tribune

Artist Jeff Lohaus chewed on a few ideas before settling on a project that would honor both his northeast Minneapolis neighborhood's East European heritage and the diversity of its latest immigrants.

He came up with this: a majestic, 17-foot pedestal of bronze and brick, placed on the corner of Central and Lowry Avenues and topped by ... drumroll, please ... a pierogi.

A pierogi pierced by a fork, lest someone think it's some kind of mollusk up there.

It's still just an idea -- Lohaus has raised only a fraction of the $100,000 needed to create the pierogi -- but he and neighborhood leaders who enthusiastically embraced his vision ask that you bear with them while they explain the rationale behind their towering "Pierogi Project."

The pierogi is a hollow, unleavened dumpling that can be stuffed with cabbage, sauerkraut, meat, cheese, even fruit. It was all the rage in Poland, the Slavic countries and other homelands of the northeast neighborhood's first immigrants.

It remains a popular food among residents of such heritage, including Lohaus, whose maternal grandparents are from Poland.

But how would paying homage to the pierogi honor the neighborhood's newest immigrants, from places such as Mexico and Asia? Lohaus says the answer is simple: Filled and cooked pockets of dough are a nearly universal food. Mexicans call them empanadas. Tibetans call them momo. Nestlé calls them Hot Pockets.

The statue would celebrate this universality with an inscription: "Northeast Culture World Culture," and a list of pierogi-like foods, from the British pasty to the Chinese jiaozi (better known here as the potsticker).

"It's not just about one culture; it's about the whole changing demographic of northeast Minneapolis," said Lohaus, 53, an Omaha native who has lived in Minneapolis 11 years, six in Northeast. "It seems like a piece that will touch a lot of people."

He hopes to raise enough money to have the statue in place by spring or summer.

The project began to germinate in February 2008, when Lohaus won a $1,000 research grant from St. Paul-based nonprofit Forecast PublicArt. After settling on the pierogi idea, constructing models and even traveling to Poland for research, he unveiled the design at the Twin Cities Polish Festival last August.

"The whimsical nature of it really struck me," said Melinda Childs, grant manager for the nonprofit, who lives four blocks from the proposed site. "If I wouldn't have seen the design, it would be harder to imagine. It's definitely funny, but the more you think about it and let it sink in, it is appropriate for Northeast in kind of a strange way."

It also might serve as a symbol of revitalization for a corner that could use some, said John Vaughn, executive director of the Northeast Community Development Corp.

"When the pierogi came along, it was like 'Ahhhh,'" said Vaughn, invoking the sound of a choir of angels singing as clouds part.

Joe Hatch-Surisook, who with his wife owns Sen Yai Sen Lek, a Thai restaurant across the street from the site, said that though he hasn't given the Pierogi Project much thought, he supports it.

"I think it's a good thing, harkening back to what I understand Central Avenue used to be like, in terms of Eastern European culture," he said. "It's nice to recognize how it's changed today."

It may come as a surprise that the towering pierogi wouldn't be the world's first. The village of Glendon, in Alberta, has "The World's Largest Pyrogy," also fork-pierced, in Pyrogy Park.

May 2, 2007

Babe to Undergo Surgery!


BEMIDJI — Even Babe the Blue Ox needs a little TLC once in a while.

The statue of Paul Bunyan's companion will be undergoing internal surgery to repair its ribs and spine.

Workers plan to build a support structure around the ox, and then they'll elevate it so they can install a new foundation and work on the inside.

Babe's feet are currently on four different foundations, which caused the front and back legs to slip in different directions. Now, the feet will be put on a single slab.

The repairs are estimated to take about three weeks.

June 26, 2006

The Catsup Bottle Sommerfest is coming July 9th!!

Here's more info received from Mike Gassmann, "The Big Tomato":
More fun than a barrel of pickles

There will be a big "57" on the birthday cake, but it won't be saying "57 Varieties"... it'll be celebrating 57 years of roadside America!

It's the 8th annual WORLD'S LARGEST CATSUP BOTTLE SUMMERFEST BIRTHDAY PARTY on Sunday, July 9, 2006 on Main Street in downtown Collinsville, Illinois. The landmark catsup bottle water tower turns 57 years old.

OFFICIAL UPDATE: Wienermobile will host the Oscar Mayer "Sing The Jingle, Be A Star" contest! The crew from the Wienermobile will be video taping kids of all ages (that means grown-ups, too) singing the classic "Oscar Mayer Wiener" song and the "B-O-L-O-G-N-A" song. The video performances will be posted on SingTheJingle.com, where America will vote for the winner. You could be picked for a 2007 Oscar Mayer TV commercial!

CONFIRMED APPEARANCES: St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders, Ronald McDonald, and World's Largest Things Traveling Museum.

ALSO FEATURING: Trailnet's Big Bottle Bicycle Ride, Tangy Catsup Taste Test, free Birthday Cake, and the Little Princess Tomato & Sir Catsup Contest.

Good times will include the hula hoop competition, musical chairs, water balloon toss, and our own special version of Spin the Bottle. This totally kitschy, family-oriented and kid-friendly street festival comes complete with classic car show, food, crafts, and live music.

The fest runs from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For more details and a complete schedule of events log on to www.CATSUPBOTTLE.com.

June 9, 2006

A New Big Thing

Eagle-eye Kim spotted this in the Startribune. A new BIG thing in the Twin Cities :

Stillwater's new park: Like a great, big bear hug for kids

Darlene Prois, Star Tribune

Tom Armstrong won't say exactly how much he and his wife, Sherry, have spent on Stillwater's enchanting new Teddy Bear Park, but it's millions.

"It was pretty expensive," admits Armstrong. "But if the kids like it, it's a good investment."

Odds are excellent that the Armstrongs' donation to the city's children will pay off. Big time.

The park is filled with workers now, scurrying to put on the finishing touches before next week's opening. But it's not unusual to see kids peering through the Victorian-style fencing surrounding the park, hoping to get a peek at the treasures inside.

Wedged into a cozy 1-acre space overlooking river bluffs and church spires, the park has a smiling 22-ton granite momma bear and her cub to greet guests. They're surrounded by a playground of Stillwater-themed delights.

The theme includes a climb-aboard train, a gigantic climbing tree, a colorful paddleboat and even a replica of a historic lift-bridge.

The park is the Armstrongs' gift to their beloved city. There is only one stipulation:

"They have to keep it as a park and in good condition," said Armstrong, who officially handed the park over to the city on Tuesday. Built into the project are revenue-creating features that will help the city maintain the park, including a restored 120-year-old barn that offers rentable meeting spaces with catering kitchens.

Said Stillwater Mayor Jay Kimball: "It is absolutely the most exciting and adorable park you've ever been in. If you have small children, the ooh-ahhs that come out of their mouth will rival the ooh-ahhs at Disney World."

March 11, 2006

From my old haunts in North Saint Paul, Minnesota:

Giant snowman to drift away from Hwy. 36

With construction looming on Hwy. 36 through North St. Paul, the big question is:

With construction looming on Hwy. 36 through North St. Paul, the big question is:
What will happen to the giant snowman?

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is planning to rebuild the highway next year in North St. Paul and Maplewood, and the snowman is right in the middle of the construction zone, at Margaret Street near the highway, where a bridge will be built.

When the work begins, the smiling steel-and-stucco figure with black top hat and buttons -- all 44 feet of him -- must be moved.

But if you ask Mayor Bill Sandberg where, he says: "We don't know. Want to be on the committee?"

Although there was controversy when the snowman was built in 1974 -- some considered it a dorky-looking eyesore -- it has become a symbol of North St. Paul and is pictured on its street signs.

"About 95 percent of the people really like it," Sandberg said. "But every once in a while you'll find a curmudgeon who doesn't."

An old cannon in a city park directly across the highway aims right at the snowman. "People laugh about that," Sandberg said.

The snowman was moved once before, in the late 1980s, from a parking lot near the main drag to its present perch.

"We had to saw the head off, so it would fit on two flatbed trucks," Sandberg said. "People lined the streets to watch the move, but little kids had tears: 'Where's his head?' We told them, 'Don't worry, it's on the next truck.' "

February 28, 2006

An adjustment to Paul Bunyan in Bemidji according to the Star Tribune


Bemidji plans Bunyan-size Olympic fete

How big was it for Bemidji, Minn., that five fellows from northern Minnesota won an Olympic medal in curling?
It was Bunyanesque.

In a celebration March 12, the city will honor the hometown curlers by adding a 2.5-foot replica of their bronze medal to the Paul Bunyan statue by Lake Bemidji.

"Paul was a curler," Mayor Richard Lehmann said.

And Babe the Blue Ox?

"Babe was a sweep -- a natural, with that tail."

Paul's statue already has a curling cap "like the ones our guys wore," said Teresa Vincent, a city employee. There's a 25-foot broom, too, and someone is turning an old propane tank into a curling stone.

Elaine Hoffman, a Bemidji State administrator, said the medal replica is being produced in industrial technology departments at Bemidji colleges. It will be of lighter materials "but will look like bronze, an exact copy except jumbo," and it will hang on Paul for three weeks before going to the Bemidji Curling Club.

The Olympians -- Pete Fenson, Scott Baird and Joe Polo of Bemidji and John Shuster and Shawn Rojeski from the Chisholm area -- were to return Monday night. The party in two weeks "will be a pretty substantial celebration," Lehmann said. "For us, this is like winning the World Series."

September 14, 2005

The BG/BS site is slated to play a small role in the documentary film, "Twine". We were contacted by the people producing this film after the one of the main volunteers at the Twin Ball museum in Darwin, Minnesota mentioned us during his interview. Apparently the big girls made quite the impression! "Twine" should be released sometime in early to mid 2006. We'll let you know if we made the final cut or not.