- [Announcer] Funding for Off 90 is provided in part by: the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.
(loon calls) (light music) (bright music) - Cruising your way next Off 90.
Kicksledding in Austin, a colorful artist from Winona, and a fine dining institution in Mantorville.
It's all coming up on your next stop Off 90.
(upbeat music) Hi, I'm Barbara Keith, thanks for joining me on this trip Off 90.
If you like winter in Minnesota, you might have tried cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating.
Another way to enjoy the outdoors is a throwback to another era, kicksledding.
We pay a visit to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin to find out more.
(soft music) - Hi, I'm Steve Enstad, president of the Sons of Norway Lodge in Austin, Minnesota.
We're here because we've started a kicksled program in Austin working with the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.
Kicksleds were originally used in the Scandinavian countries, going back to at least 1870, according to historical records, but we believe there were a lot of primitive forms of kicksleds used way before then.
They were a method of transportation that people used to go to their everyday activities.
- It's a method of kind of transportation on the snow.
When the snow is deep, it's easier to cross the snow on what is essentially a miniature dog sled that you don't need a dog to pull on, you just use your feet and you you kick to propel yourselves.
- You know, it has the two runners and then a handlebar.
Using the handlebar to move the kicksled, and then in order to move it forward, you would put one foot on one runner and then kick backwards with the other foot.
The kicksleds have a place where either you can put cargo or another person, on the larger kicksleds, so they're adaptable, and they also can be handicapped accessible.
- It is a tool for the winter.
I could see people, you know, using one of these to get out to your ice house to do some ice fishing and carry a bucket of fish back to your shack, to clean and eat.
These things would be great for hauling Firewood in the winter.
And we're interested in seeing how we can utilize them to help kids with disabilities actually get out on the trails and participate in some of our programming too.
So there's a lot of potential uses for these kicksleds.
- Our kicksleds come from Scandia Kicksled in Houston, Minnesota.
They import these from Norway.
Of course, that's probably one of the first Norwegian settlements in Minnesota in the Spring Grove area.
The Hormel Nature Center is such a gem in our midst and we wanted to use this because it was just a natural for us.
We've got such a facility in our area for Austin and the surrounding community that we just thought we have to get people out here with another recreational alternative.
And the kicksleds just fit into that really well.
And Austin itself has a really diverse population and we felt that it's an opportunity to get more people involved.
And of course that's what we want to get everybody out here.
Kicksleds can be used by a large age group.
- Well, the kicksleds, the cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, they're great winter outdoor activities.
In Minnesota, we have really long winters.
It's great to have different opportunities to get outside and still explore nature.
There's still a lot to see, there's a lot to experience.
And so these tools are just great tools for getting out.
It's great for exercise, it's great for mental health.
All of these opportunities are just great ways to kind of get out, enjoy nature, enjoy Minnesota in the winter, even though it can feel like it drags on.
But when we do have snow, it's nice to take advantage of it, for sure.
Come to our programs, try out these opportunities, try skiing, try snowshoeing, try kicksledding when those opportunities present themselves and utilize your stuff and we'll realize that we need to do more of these things.
(child giggling) (upbeat music) - Artist Sarah Johnson of Winona loves color.
She's surrounded by color.
As Winona's creative laureate, she uses color in public art to create a sense of community.
Hundreds of people have come out to work with her.
- I would declare myself a community engaged artist first and what that means to me is using art as a medium for social change.
Whatever that medium, and whatever that social change might be, for me, it's creating healthier, more resilient, more connected communities, more equitable communities.
And the primary medium that I've been using is actually paint, painting murals.
And that's probably my first love, even though I really consider myself a multimedia artist.
The creative laureate position is a shift from originally was a poet laureate for many years and the Fine Arts Commission of Winona decided they wanted to try to expand that knowing that we have artists of all different mediums, crafts in this area.
And so they really wanted that position to be an open position, a three-year position for a creative of some sort to lift up the arts.
For me, that presented a beautiful opportunity to start doing more public art.
So I am a huge fan of, now here this is where my mental health person comes in and social justice person is really strong believer in creating intentional, vibrant and welcoming communities.
And so my big idea was, oh, great, we'll start doing some murals and some community engaged art and then the world shut down.
And so that first year really was me refiguring and thinking, okay, public art is even more important now in this time of social isolation and our mental health is going to take a hit across the globe.
Color has always been fuel for me, but particularly that first almost year and a half of the pandemic, I was home alone in this space.
At that point, I was like, I need to have color on every, I had a lot of color already, but I need it on every surface I can see.
And at this point I'm committing to dressing like an adult toddler.
I don't care.
I need all of the coloring patterns.
That first year of the pandemic as I was doing these little public art projects with doing doors that were just kind of surprises, people said, "I never noticed this space before" because why would you have, right?
And so now adding a little bit of color or a message there adds that little brightness and that surprise that can, I don't know, just create more of a sense of community.
It was a very interesting and strange experience painting alone downtown a big message on bright colors, "Glad you are here" when nobody was there.
But my thought was really, especially with that first message, somebody who needed to see that or hear that was gonna see it at some point.
It really became important to me to be doing art intentionally with people who needed to be heard.
And so in late summer/fall of 2020 I was able to partner with Our Voices.
That kicked off really a whole series that I'm calling The Fabric of Winona and a whole series of opportunities continuing to partner with Our Voices on all kinds of art.
The Joy Labs is the dream.
The dream being, I've always wanted to really connect my love of creativity and art with my love of service.
Really, I would say the creative laureate position gave me an opportunity to, you know, I need to dedicate more time and energy to this because I have this position and I wanna model these things.
And it really gave me the opportunity to go, yeah, this could be more than a hobby.
This could be more than crammed in the evenings and weekends.
This is something I could do.
And so in November of 2021, I left my full-time position at a community-based organization and launched The Joy Labs.
It's an LLC, I call it The Joy Labs because there's no recipe for like, okay, if I do this, this, and this, now I have joy in my life permanently.
Life is such a dynamic process and we go through difficult times, we go through wonderful times, everything in between.
And sometimes what works doesn't work in other times.
And so to me, The Joy Labs are about the importance of playing and experimenting to find what works for each of us.
It's been just an incredible evolution of how working with community members to co-design a piece of artwork.
Meaning I may have like here's a very loose structure of what this piece could be.
It's a mural of this size.
What are the themes that we wanna have?
What are the colors, the images, how do we wanna work together on this?
And then to see it through co-design, co-create process, and then see what it looks like at the end.
And it's a million times better than what I could imagine as a single brain.
For example, at the East End Rec, we're painting murals on the wall and we have different colored panels throughout the space.
And the overall theme is resilience but then the youth get to decide on the blue what theme do we wanna have?
They decided they wanted to have an underwater scene and we were thinking go with the flow.
How does this fit with resilience?
But it allows them to be really creative in a theme within a theme.
Winona Color Project was that 2020 project of just getting some vibrancy, getting some welcoming messages out into community during that time of social isolation.
Fabric of Winona is kind of Winona Color Project on steroids.
It's the community-engaged piece.
How do we lift up unheard or underheard stories in our community?
And so that first part of that, the first three panels are a triptych that are now installed on the exterior of the Winona History Center.
And we're a co-creation and co-collaboration with Project Fine which is an organization that provides all kinds of great support and leadership opportunities for refugees and immigrants.
We kicked that event off at September's Welcome Week in 2021 and had hundreds of community members come and join us and paint.
Humans are actually, we're wired for connection which is hard to remember in this world and time where we are really disconnected in a lot of ways, but humans are born for connection.
And so when you extend an invitation, more often than not, people are pretty delighted.
And that's been my experience over and over again.
I did a recent project, co-creation, co-collaboration with Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center here in Winona.
Just really kind of pulling out from them who is Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center?
What does it mean to serve the community?
How do you do that?
What represents you?
And we came up with this beautiful design and I was basically in residence for a week and a half drawing it and then beginning to fill in and the team members were invited to help paint.
They're like a little whisper at the door.
And I'd see there's two or three team members.
"Oh no, we're just, we're just looking, we're just, yeah we're not artists, we're just looking to see."
And I said, "You're welcome to come, come" They don't have to be an artist.
I can just, you could paint a polka dot on this petal.
You could do whatever you want.
And by the end of the week I had 20 people plus painting and like, and being surprised at their own creativity and looking back and saying, "I didn't know I could, I kinda like this."
Yeah, that's art.
You don't have to know what you're doing.
I believe we all have a role in creating the communities that we want and deserve.
And my role happens to be that of a weaver and a storyteller, an amplifier through creativity.
And I think my mental health background helps me do that in ways that are unique and extremely gratifying for me as a human.
I really mean it when I say I'm living the dream of being able to have an impact on community in ways that feel good and are accessible to community members.
And I just want everybody to come play.
Come on, let's play.
We can do this.
This is within our reach.
(upbeat music) - The Hubbell House supper club in Mantorville started before the Civil War as a stagecoach stop.
Generations of families have taken it upon themselves to keep the restaurant going.
It still thrives today.
Let's pull up a chair and get a taste of history and fine dining in rural Minnesota.
(light jazzy piano music) - [Joe] Hubbell House is a supper club.
We are trying to go at the fine dining experience.
- Been here since 1854, been in the same building since 1856.
Started as a stagecoach stop back then.
At that point, everyone thought that St. Peter was gonna be the capital of Minnesota.
Obviously it ended up being St. Paul, but at that point, Mantorville was kind of a good stopping point in between La Crosse, Winona, and St. Peter.
- The founder was John Hubbell and that is his last name.
1854 was a two-story log stone structure and that actually burnt down and was rebuilt into the three-story limestone structure in 1856, which is what still stands today.
In 1957, the second addition was added on.
In 1946 is when the Pappas family took over.
But prior to that it was my great-grandfather Walter Stussy, who had actually bought the building during the Great Depression.
He would just use the rooms upstairs to house his quarry workers and to give them a job and then a place to live.
At one point the Hubbell House was a bottle club.
I mean that was after prohibition.
Hubbell House is made out of limestone and that comes from the quarry that is less than a mile away, that is a limestone quarry and that my great-grandfather owned.
During the Great Depression, they were gonna tear the Hubbell House down and he wanted to preserve it and also just found a way to make a dual purpose out of it by housing his quarry workers upstairs.
The Hubbell Room is the original dining room.
That was what was built in 1856 technically.
(light jazzy piano music continues) And then attached to that is the Wine Room, also known as the old lobby.
That is where people entered up until was about the '80s, I believe, the current lobby was added on.
So a lot of people have fond memories.
And then we have the Chaufolias Room, also known as our small private room.
That was the original kitchen in 1946 when my grandfather opened the restaurant up.
Now it's a private dining room that can fit up to 16 people and named after Gus Chafoulias, longtime family friend of the Powers family and the Pappas family.
Then we have the Horace Greeley Room.
- To dedicate a room to the Pappas family, we actually changed that name to the Pappas Room.
You know, they've been here for so many years that they deserve a room here.
(light jazzy piano music continues) - The third addition was the Senator Alexander Ramsey Room which is also known maybe as more of our main dining room.
And then was added on our Stage Coach Bar.
And then the Stage Coach Party Room.
Walter and Esther Stussy originally purchased the Hubbell House building during the Great Depression.
Across from them we have Michael and Mary Pappas.
Michael came from Greece.
We have the big mural of all the famous Minnesotans,.
some have ate here, some have not.
We have our big mural in the Pappas room of a replica of kind of what the Hubbell House would've looked like back in the 1800s of the stage coach days.
- Alaina really operates the restaurant.
You know, she gets all the credit for what we do here.
She's been running it for years and she knows it inside out.
She knows the people of the Mantorville cast and the whole area here.
Phenomenal to work with her.
- We are so happy that Alaina stayed with us.
She is just a great asset to our team.
She knows everything about the Hubbell House.
- I was literally brought home from the hospital here.
My parents were living upstairs.
I've spent many holidays growing up here.
Got to play hide and seek and was married here.
And we're always welcoming, everyone's always welcomed and invited.
From what I'm told, I feel like we're very Greek.
(giggles) - The whole house is absolutely just loved by the people that we see here.
You know, coming every night, virtually every day, I hear from somebody that, you know, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 years ago, they had their first date here.
They had their wedding dinner here, they had their grooms dinner.
Here I have people that say we've come here every year for the last 40 years to celebrate our anniversary.
That's a very common thing.
- Don came to us and he was looking for somebody to keep the legacy alive and he put all of his eggs in our basket.
He thought the Powers family was the family to keep the legacy of the Hubbell House going.
And you know, after some talk with the family, we were on board, the rich tradition here.
We love quality food, quality service.
And they had all that.
I call it a little facelift.
We didn't do much, honestly.
The bar just needed new woodwork.
And then all of the change is in the kitchen, new equipment, new floors, new walls, that was 95% of the change of the Hubbell House.
Everything else was kept the same.
- I don't know that there could be another family that could step into those shoes and take that over.
- You know, the Pappas legacy was strong and it's a lot to live up to.
And the Powers family, what they're doing is incredible.
Everything they've done we stand behind, all the renovations, those things needed to be done.
We're an old restaurant.
They say, why didn't they let the daughter have it?
Or you know, they just took it away from her.
No, they didn't.
I made the decision with my dad.
We just realized it's what was best for the restaurant and the community.
The Hubbell House means a lot to Mantorville and we want it to go on forever.
It's been common efforts to definitely maintain the Hubbell House and the town of Mantorville together.
There's a great group of people with the Mantorville Restoration Association that just wanna make sure that Mantorville and the Hubbell House live on forever.
And they really wanna bring that history to everyone.
- Not only are they great for the history of Mantorville but they really drive the Mantorville economy.
Just a great place to come and have a nice, relaxed dinner, meet with some friends.
Everything isn't gonna be as fast paced as maybe the rest of the world is, it's a nice place to step back a little bit and just enjoy some time with family and friends and good food.
- The big thing about the Hubbell House too is quality.
And we're not gonna bring in something that isn't quality.
- We've reached the end of this tour.
Thanks for riding along.
See you next time Off 90.
(bright music) (bright music continues) (bright music continues) (upbeat music) (light music) - [Announcer] Funding for Off 90 is provided in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the citizens of Minnesota.