Friday, June 27, 2008

Loonfoot Falls Ready for River Revel

Loonfoot Falls' annual summer festival has been called a lot of things over the years, but the idea's always been the same: having fun, lionizing Loonfoot Falls, and getting together with others who love their town.

"A lot of families get together at River Revel," said event organizer and Chamber of Commerce head Sonia Johnson. "Folks come home for the celebration. for them, it's a family reunion and city-wide block party rolled into one."

Loonfoot Falls' River Revel started yesterday with the Miss Loonfoot Pageant, in which Jill Nygaard became this year's Loon Princess.

The big event tonight will be a karaoke contest at the fairgrounds.

The River Revel's Saturday night activities have followed pop culture through the years. "We used to have pie-eating contests," Johnson said. One year there was even a contest to see who could say 'River Revel' the most times without tripping. These days, it's karaoke."

One of the high points this weekend will be tomorrow's River Revel Parade down Main Street. This year's theme for the 100-unit parade is "Weekend on the Lake."

"We've usually tied the parade's theme in with the Loonfoot River," Johnson recalled. "This year, with the town growing out toward Loonfoot Lake, we decided to break new ground. It looks like we'll be seeing folks in beach gear and floats rigged out with beach lounges."

Tomorrow the River Revel wraps up with music by Høy Musikk and The Starlings, then a fireworks show will light up the fairgrounds at dusk.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Elton Baum and His "Green" Golf Cart

Elton Baum and his high-performance golf cart.

When gas went over three dollars a gallon in late 2006, Elton Baum decided to do something about it.

"I couldn't keep the price down," he said with a grin, "but I could do something about how much I used. Now, I don't go into town with the truck, unless it's for something really big."

Even a small car uses some gasoline, so Mr. Baum looked around for an alternative.

"About a year ago, I found a golf cart. Trouble was, I couldn't drive it on the roads except in daylight, and in good weather. Makes sense, but I wanted something where I wouldn't be stuck in town, or out here, if it started raining."

Elton Baum's golf cart looks about the same as it did when he got it, except for an extra bar across the back and license plates.

It's what you don't see that makes it special.

Under the seats, ten golf cart batteries take five or six hours to recharge. "Four, if I'm lucky," Elton said. He doesn't use a pedal generator to recharge his cart. "I thought about it," he said, "but … life is too short to spend that much time cycling."

A beefed-up suspension and high-performance motors boosted the golf cart's top speed to about 40 miles an hour, so Elton doesn't need a slow-moving vehicle sign. He does, though, generally wear a motorcycle helmet when he drives. It's safer, but that's not the main reason.

"It gets breezy, driving with no windshield."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Arne’s Beachfront Café

Arne's famous coffee urn

Finishing an entire cup of his World-Famous Coffee is something of an initiation ritual for newcomers to Arne’s Beachfront Café.

Arne’s coffee has been the subject of magazine articles in “Lake Country Vacationer,” “Midwest Attractions & Destinations,” and “Cardiologist’s Quarterly.” Justifiably so, because not only is Loonfoot Falls’ famous coffee remarkable for its strength and unique – even unforgettable – taste, Arne’s World-Famous Coffee is the result of happy chance followed by careful conservation.

Times were tough back in the seventies. After his Coffee Counter closed, Loonfoot Falls had only one coffee shop: a serious situation for a town that so many Norwegians called home.

Arne purchased the building that had formerly been home to Lakeview Diner, polished it up, and opened Arne’s Beachfront Café in 1975.

Somehow, between working double shifts and training a small staff, Arne didn’t get around to cleaning the coffee urn for over a month. “That was the best mistake I’ve ever made,” Arne recalls. “I knew the coffee was tasting different, but I didn’t pay any attention.”

Not until he noticed people coming in from neighboring towns, asking about his coffee.

Down in the murky depths of that urn, some Scandinavian alchemy had transformed coffee grounds into the foundation of a unique brew of coffee.

Over the years, Arne has carefully preserved the sediment in that urn. He modestly says that the only difference between his “World Famous Coffee” and what everyone else makes is that he puts twice as many grounds in as most people.

Finally, careful research at Arne’s has dispelled one local legend. Contrary to popular belief, Arne does not have a tiny crowbar under the counter, to pry customers’ fingers off the coffee cups.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sven's Bait and Sushi Suffers Setback

The only sushi bar in western Grimm County, Sven's Bait Shop and Scandinavian Sushi, closed this week, victim of street work on north 5th Avenue. "I never thought this would happen," said owner Sven Sievertsen, surveying sodden debris in his business's basement.

A backhoe clipped Sven's shop's water line late Monday afternoon, but the leak wasn't noticed until the next morning. By the time Sven went to the basement, a half-foot of water covered the floor. "I guess it’s a sort of indoor pool," Sven joked, re-stocking a display rack of lures. He pointed to where one of the bait tanks had stood.

"It could have been worse," Sven said. "I'd been hauling crates up from the basement, stacking them behind the tanks. Thought I’d get a few up, out of the water, before putting them out back to dry. The stack shifted, leaned against the 12 gallon tank, then the tank started rolling.”

The bait tank, on casters, carrying a 12-gallon load of leeches, rolled across the bait shop, through a doorway, and into the sushi bar. Then it tipped over.

There weren’t any customers there, but the health inspector came while Sven, his wife, and their oldest son were picking fifteen pounds of leeches out of the carpet.

"He closed me down, didn’t have any choice really," Sven said philosophically. "It was a new guy, and I don't think the smell helped."

Good news for anglers: The bait shop is in good shape, with a new leech tank.
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