Star News » Arts & Entertainment The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:54:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Animals is theme of new exhibit at Arts Alliance Sat, 11 Oct 2014 08:13:49 +0000 "Run Like the Wind" by Jeff Jungbluth

“Run Like the Wind” by Jeff Jungbluth

Animals are the theme of the current All Media exhibit at Elk River Area Arts Alliance (609 Main) through Nov. 1. Shown are “Run Like the Wind,” an oil by Jeff Jungbluth, and “The Foxy Four,” a watercolor by Mae Spencer. Other participating artists are Sara Hartman, Chris Wilson, Linda Croteau, Nancy Gongoll, Mary L. Olson, Joan Ruprecht, Jean Orr, Patricia Roles, Aaron DuRose, Katherine Lichy, Joy Reichel, Mary Zillman, Kate Hansen, Nancy Houghtelin, Bruce Strand and Judy Syring. A reception for the public to meet the artists will be held Saturday, Oct. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m., with refreshments available.

"The Foxy 4" by Mae Spencer

“The Foxy 4″ by Mae Spencer

"African Lion" by Sara Hartman

“African Lion” by Sara Hartman

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Zimmerman retiree’s debut novel is Vietnam war tale Sat, 11 Oct 2014 08:10:22 +0000 by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

Harry Simpson, a retiree living in Zimmerman, has published a Vietnam war novel called “I Must Survive.”

Simpson, 72, who didn’t go to Vietnam himself but served stateside from 1964-66 after being drafted, penned a 200-page saga of a patrol boat soldier stranded miles from his base after his crew was killed, battling starvation, fear and loneliness, and hearkening to childhood in the Great Plains in the 1950s to keep his sanity as best he can.

“The Vietnam portion is based on a true story of a friend who doesn’t talk about his experience so I had to invent,” said Simpson. “To ensure I was accurate, I researched and used two veterans as consultants, a retired Green Beret who served five tours of duty and a veteran of the Brown Water Navy.”

Harry Simpson and friend relax at home.

Harry Simpson and friend relax at home.

The book, available in soft-cover and electronic formats through Tate, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, was written with long-ago friends in mind.

“For me, one horrible experience were all the 17- and 18-year-olds in my basic training unit that were gung-ho to get into action,” said Simpson.  “Part of my reason for writing the book was for all the people I did know that went over there.”

Simpson used his formative years in Colorado as a basis for the main character, Brad Howard.

His career as a financial officer brought him to Minnesota. He also lived in Wisconsin and Florida before moving to Zimmerman last year to be near family. This is his debut novel, written after he retired.

Here’s one excerpt:

I frantically look around. At the front of the boat I see both Jimmy’s and Tim’s motionless bodies slumped over their guns. Blood is splattered all around them. Lt. Gaston’s bullet-riddled body is flopped over the starboard side of the PBR, his blood painting a red squiggly line in the muddy river. We’ve been in many firefights, but none have chewed the boat up like this; it looks like a giant stone grinder has tried to shred it. The diesel engines are dead also. The incoming rounds have slackened; however, we’re still taking hits, basically standing still in the water. It’s just a matter of minutes before the enemy comes downriver enough to resume their full attack.

Another excerpt:

I quickly found out I was not equipped for this hike. I didn’t have a compass and quickly became lost. It’s been a horrible three days. Not only am I haunted by flashbacks of the slaughter of my friends as well as fear of bumping into the enemy, but I’m also really hungry. Sam would say that my belly-button has met my backbone. The only food I had when we were ambushed was the four very soggy nut bars, but those were gone by yesterday. Today I have been trying to talk myself into eating some of the grubs or large beetles that I see all over. During survival training, the instructors told us that insects, especially grubs and worms, are good protein.

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Trendy & Thrifty Halloween Costumes Start at Goodwill Fri, 10 Oct 2014 16:00:46 +0000 Download coupon for 50% off one item
– then head to your favorite Goodwill store and brew up an awesome costume for less.


By Sarah Carlson
Editor, Real Housewives of Minnesota

Every year, I tell myself that I’m going to top last year’s Halloween costumes. I aim to be craftier, trendier – and most importantly, thriftier. For all the above, the easy solution is Goodwill. I find some awesome costumes there year after year, without breaking the bank. But what kinds of things will I be on the lookout for this year? I did a little research and then headed to my local Goodwill to work my magic. Here’s what you need to know.


More Halloween Parties This Year

Halloween is on Friday this year. So, you can definitely expect to be invited to more Halloween parties, which also means you’ll be costume hunting for adults! It’s best to think ahead about costume ideas, because you don’t want to wait until the last minute and end up dressing as a zombie bride, again…

Costume and Party Trends

What’s is on trend this year? Glad you asked! Experts say this is the year for masquerades, which you can easily prepare for with masks, beautiful gowns, and stunning updos. Also expect to see lots of characters from Frozen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Game of Thrones and other popular movies and TV shows. Don’t forget superheroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman, Batman – the list goes on and on. Clever, timely costumes like Grumpy Cat and Ice Bucket Challenge are always fresh, too.

When in doubt, a trendy celebrity is always fun and easy to mimic. Just flip through your latest copy of People magazine for some clever ideas, and then go on a thrift hunt for pieces that tie it all together!

Walking through Goodwill, I found several great ideas. We’re talking masks, wigs, face paint, and accessories along with versatile basics like suits, dresses, flannel shirts and solid color separates that work in countless costumes.

I decided on Theresa Caputo from the popular TV show, Long Island Medium. It was easy – I just had to thrift for high heels, tight dress and some long fake fingernails. From there the rest was easy; high hair and a fake tan! Spirits are telling me it’s going to be a hit this Halloween!

Tutorials, Lists & Sweepstakes – Oh My!

If you’re ever short on ideas, or if you need a little extra help, the Goodwill website is a great resource. It has dozens of costume images with shopping lists; makeup tutorials for witch, zombie and vampire faces; and even some fun nail art ideas for fans of the Goodwill  Halloween TV commercial. You can even enter to win a $500 VISA cash card in the annual Goodwill Halloween sweepstakes.

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‘Paint the Farm’ art sale, and Prairie Sugar Days, this weekend at Kelley Farm Fri, 03 Oct 2014 02:42:59 +0000 Kelley Farm painting by Joan Ruprecht

Kelley Farm painting by Joan Ruprecht

The sixth annual Paint the Farm fundraising art show and sale, with local artists capturing local history on the 1860’s Oliver Kelley Farm, will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Proceeds will go to Friends of the Kelley Farm. This event is held in conjunction with Prairie Sugar Days on the farm, three miles west of Elk River on Highway 10. A reception for the artists will be held Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. This year’s artists are Mark Haglund, Linda Croteau, Mary Olson, Marilyn Schroeder and Joan Rupprecht.

Kelley Farm painting by Linda Croteau

Kelley Farm painting by Linda Croteau

Kelley Farm painting by Mark Haglund

Kelley Farm painting by Mark Haglund

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Fiber arts exhibit on display at Alliance; reception Saturday Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:07:33 +0000 Hat and boots by Dawn Bandeski.

Hat and slippers by Dawn Bendiske


The annual all-fiber exhibit at the Elk River Area Arts Alliance is on display Sept. 10 through Oct. 4. The gallery at 609 Main St. is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A reception for the public to meet the artists will be held today (Saturday) from 1-4 p.m., including a fashion show at 3 p.m.

One of the featured artists is Dawn Bendiske, of Anoka, who is also a writer and publisher of articles about fiber arts topics though Wildwood Press, which she founded in 2009.

Also showing their fiber works at the gallery are Judy Wood of Elk River, Lynne Joyce, Chris Wilson, Sylvia Dudycha of Elk River, Kathryn Graftsgaard of Anoka, Jerry Allan Swenson of Zimmerman, Marilyn Moore of Cedar, Linda Johaneson of Delano, and Winnie Johnson of Elk River.

Quilt by Judy Wood

Quilt by Judy Wood

Quilty by Lynne Jacob

Quilty by Lynne Joyce

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State fair: Donais earns crocheting blue ribbons for ‘secret garden’ hat, and gloves Sat, 06 Sep 2014 19:56:33 +0000 by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

Zimmerman housewife Rechelle Donais wasn’t able to attend the state fair this year, but two of her creations did, and both earned blue ribbons.

Donais crocheted a cap she calls “Secret Garden,” decorated with tiger lilies, a butterfly, a stick bug and a snail. She used Kool-Aid to dye the yarn.

Katey Donais models her mother's prize-winning hat. (Photo by Rechelle Donais)

Katey Donais models her mother’s prize-winning hat. (Photo by Rechelle Donais)

“I was inspired by the wildflowers and tiger lilies growing on the side of the road by my house in Zimmerman,” Donais said. “And of course my kids love to find bugs, so I added a few of those in there too!”

Rechelle Donais

Rechelle Donais

A pair of mittens she crocheted also earned a blue ribbon, giving Donais two straight years of success at the fair. She captured a first, second and two fourth places last year.

“But I was sick this year and wasn’t able to go,” Donais said, adding that her daughter, Katey, who’s modeling the hat in the photo, also came down with the same respiratory ailment.

“We just stayed in bed. But a lot of friends and family went and told me about it.”

Donais has been crocheting for just under five years, and finally “got the nerve” to start entering things at fairs two years ago. She’s also done well at Sherburne County Fair.

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State fair: Wimperis 60th anniversary woodcarving earns blue ribbon Sat, 06 Sep 2014 19:50:37 +0000 Don and Von Wimperis, with pal Maggie here in their back yard flower garden, celebrated their 60th this year and Don made a woodcarving for the occasion. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Don and Von Wimperis, with pal Maggie here in their back yard flower garden, celebrated their 60th this year and Don made a woodcarving for the occasion. (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

Don Wimperis has been carving wood since ninth grade, always looking for new subjects.

This year the 82-year-old Elk River retiree used a personal milestone as an inspiration.

“We had our 60th anniversary this year,” Wimperis said, “so I made this: It says ‘Don and Von, 60 Years.’ ”

Don's 6oth anniversary wood-carving.

Don’s 6oth anniversary wood-carving.

This basswood oval piece earned him a Minnesota State Fair blue ribbon in Chip Carving, Work of Senior Citizens.

Actually he’s been winning state fair prizes for several years and got a second blue ribbon this year in the open division for another piece.

Don's other 2014 prize-winning entrant.

Don’s other 2014 prize-winning entrant.

After learning the craft at Minneapolis Vocational School at age 14, he never saw any reason to stop, nor to change his tool of preference. He has used a single-edged razor all these years, while most carvers go with hobby or utility knives.

“I buy them in packs of a hundred,” he said.

Wimperis, who worked in the cement business in house construction, has a second passion in retirement that he shares with his wife. The front and back yards of their Elk River home are generously decorated with flowers they’ve grown.

He said he wishes they still taught carving in schools. “You can’t have razors in school now, you know,” he said.

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A look back at Riverfront Concert Series 2014 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 05:15:05 +0000 Big Lake teenager Brooke Lynn performed on the Riverfront stage. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Big Lake teenager Brooke Lynn brought her country sound on the Riverfront stage. (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

This being the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ historic Ed Sullivan Show appearance that changed pop music forever, the Elk River Park and Rec staff made sure to include some Fab Four music in the Riverfront Concert Series.

“Beatles music was big this year,” said Steve Benoit of Park and Rec, hearkening to other tributes including a three-hour CBS prime time event earlier this summer.

So it was that Hard Day’s Night wound up closing the 10-week run of the eighth summer of free Thursday night concerts, on Aug. 21. Unfortunately, the threat of rain forced the concert indoors at Elk River Arena, where crowds are usually small. However, for the Beatles music, a robust crowd of almost 900 turned out for the finale.

“That’s the most we’ve ever had indoors,” said Benoit.

The Fabulous Armadillos made their first Riverfront appearance and drew a record turnout of about 2,500. (Photo by Tonya Love)

The Fabulous Armadillos made their first Riverfront appearance and drew a record turnout of about 2,500. (Photo by Tonya Love)

The 2014 series also included the Fabulous Armadillos drawing the biggest draw ever at the the Riverfront stage. An estimated 2,500 people crammed the downtown park to hear the St. Cloud group’s classic 60’s to 80’s rock on July 31 in their first appearance here, breaking the record set last year by Elvis impersonator Chris Olson, who always packs them in.

“We had received a lot of requests for Fabulous Armadillos, and we did some research on them, too, so we knew they are a very good group,” said Benoit. “They can draw 5,000 at bigger venues.”

Pamela McNeill of Fabulous Armadillos.

Pamela McNeill of Fabulous Armadillos.

Five of the ten acts this year made their first appearance here. The others were Brooke Lynn (country), Pop Rocks (dance party rock), Six Appeal (a Cappella vocals) and Socaholix (Reggae/Caribbean).

(Hard Day’s Night was last here in 2009 but Rubber Soul has made two appearances to give locals their Beatles fix.)

The Shane Martin Band (Shane is at left) was one of two local acts on the card this summer. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The Shane Martin Band (Shane is at left) was one of two local acts on the card this summer. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Brooke Lynn (real name Brooke Maruska) is a 2014 Big Lake graduate and college freshman who co-writes her own songs and has released a CD. She was accompanied by the band “2 Mile Final.”

“It was special to have Brooke here, being a local girl, and how talented she is, and knowing how far she might go in country music,” said Benoit.

The staff enjoys trying to give people something new and did a lot of that this year as the five first-time acts were the most since the first couple years. Crowds also seemed to enjoy the new experiences of the Pop Rocks party vibe and the Soxaholix pulsating island rhythms.

There were two local acts this year, the other being Shane Martin, country rocker from Elk River, and his band, who drew a nice crowd as usual on July 17. Martin has been on the Riverfront card twice before.

Other always-popular draws who appear every other year were Rockin’ Hollywoods (classic rock), Church of Cash (the Man in Black tribute) and Arch Allies (Journey, Styx, REO tribute).
Michael Hecker of Park and Rec heads the staff that puts together the concert lineup. Hecker had previous experience in lining up entertainment in his previous post in Ohio.

“Success is measured in the interest the concerts receive, and in bringing a lot of different genre’s into Elk River. I think we had that,” said Hecker, noting that total attendance was close but not quite a record.

One resource the staff utilizes is an afternoon of auditions hosted by Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) for bands who’d like to be included. Tonya Love of the Elk River staff attended this year and made recommendations.

Thursday night weather was quite pleasant most evenings this summer, which helps draw bigger crowds. Only twice were they moved indoors; the other was for Six Appeal on June 19.

The Bank of Elk River has sponsored the Riverfront Concert Series all eight years.

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North Suburban Concert Band invites musicians to join Tue, 26 Aug 2014 04:44:27 +0000 The North Suburban Concert Band, a non-audition community group, will start meeting every Monday evening on Sept. 8 at Coon Rapids Middle School, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“We are looking for new members,” stated Eric Hagen, a board member for the band, in a press release.

The conductor is John Rosner, director of instrumental music at Elk River High School.

John Rosner

John Rosner

The NSCB schedule includes the Fall Concert on Oct. 27 at Elk River High School, the Christmas Concert on Dec. 13-14 at Andover High School, the Cathedral Concert on March 1 at Meadow Creek Church, and the Pops Concert on May 3 at an Andover location to be determined.

The band also performs weekly concerts from Memorial Day to July 4, at Andover, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove, Mounds View and Ramsey.

The band is planning a two-week trip to Ireland during the summer of 2016, Hagen added.

Season membership fee is $35. While there are no auditions, some instrumental musical background is necessary.
Interested persons can join at any point in the season if unable to join this fall.

The school where they practice is located at 11600 Raven St NW in Coon Rapids.

For more information, visit or Facebook: North Suburban Concert Band (NSCB)

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Elk River author Yelle’s 3rd book ‘Taking Angels’ is dark fantasy tale Tue, 26 Aug 2014 04:39:42 +0000 by Urmila Ramakrishnan, Isanti County News

Craig Yelle mingles enticing plots with fantasy and the supernatural.

The Elk River resident is a seasoned fantasy fiction author. He wrote his first novel back in the ‘90s. “Reclaiming Ter Chadain” combines sorceresses with an epic tale of royalty, and the story continues in the second book of the series, “Black Stones of Ter Chadain.”

But it’s Yelle’s novel, “Taking Angels,” that hosts his favorite character, Kendal. The story takes an ethereal twist on addiction, following immortals called “eternals.” These characters, including Kendal, have special powers to take away mortals’ guardian angels, which guide them to the after life when they die. Kendal — the antagonist of the story — is addicted to pulling these guardian angels out of humans, essentially killing them.

Craig Yelle

Craig Yelle

“He’s kind of one of those what-you-see-is-what-you-get characters,” Yelle said. “He has no apologies for it, but yet he doesn’t necessarily like what he is doing. I liked writing him because he was kind of snarky.”

Yelle developed Kendal based on his own obsessions.

“I tried to think of my addiction,” Yelle said. “I love chocolate, so I tried to intensify it. From what I know about addiction, it was fun to develop him in a way that made him not all-bad. He can evolve, but addiction is pulling him back from things.”

Yelle weaves fantasy into stories that could do just as well on their own, he said. With “Taking Angels,” the story mixes love with addiction and murder.

“A lot of people spend too much time on the supernatural, and get lost in the plot,” Yelle said. “ I like to think that I write good stories, and the supernatural just enhances the plot but doesn’t carry it.”

If Yelle took out all the supernatural elements in “Taking Angels,” Kendel would still be a serial killer, stated Yelle.

“There’s still a plot there,” Yelle added.

He’s already well on his way to continuing the series and other fiction works.

“With series writing, you get inside the characters’ heads,” Yelle said. “You can just kind of pick up where you left off. It’s like visiting old friends.”

Ter Chadain’s third installment will be available for readers in the fall.

Yelle will also be releasing a young adult urban fantasy e-book in the near future. It follows genetically-modified teenagers generated by the CIA after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. The teens are forced to serve as spies in Northern Minnesota when they turn 16.

For more information, visit

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