Category Archives: Outdoors

The story behind Pickwick Mill

The Pickwick Mill in Pickwick, Minnesota, started in 1856 by Thomas Grant and Wilson Davis. 

The building started as a sawmill but was later converted to produce flour. It is the oldest flour mill found in Southeast Minnesota. 

The mill was a water-powered gristmill on Big Trout Creek. 

In 1917 the roof was damaged by a cyclone. When it was repaired they put a flat roof on instead of the gable roof. 

When the historical society took it over they returned the roof to the gable roof it originally had. 

The mill has several flights of stairs each with the names of people who have worked there.

Now the mill is still intact but is no longer used to make flour. It stands as a historic site and museum. 

George Johnson, of Rushford, Minnesota, visited the mill on Saturday, Oct. 5. He said he thought it was a beautiful historic place. 

Jeff Wershofen started working at the mill as a child because it was where there was adult supervision. 

Throughout the mill, there are flour bags hung. On the top floor of the mill, they have many strung together with other artifacts.

Wershofen described his experience at the mill as part of a perfect childhood. 

To find out more about Pickwick Mill and Wershofen’s experiences watch the following video.

Winona gets funky at the Levee

Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park. 

The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks. 

Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event. 

Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising. 

Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.” 

Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.  

Molly Breitlow (left) helps a couple with their salsa turns. Breitlow and her husband taught both of the lessons at Rhythm @ the River.

Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.

“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said. 

Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on. 

The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music. 

“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.” 

Golpe Tierra was the first band to perform during the night. They are from Madison Wis., and are an Afro Cuban Jazz and Salsa Band.

Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.

Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer. 

Jacob Bleess and the Need for Speed

By Zach Bailey

As he left class on a cool, Friday afternoon last fall, Jacob Bleess knew the big day was finally upon him. He dropped his backpack off at home, grabbed his gear and began getting in the zone for later that evening.

He walked past the grandstands, ready for what that night might bring him. After putting on his gear, he took a couple slow breaths, then slid his helmet on. He took one last look at the packed grandstands.

Then he ignited the engine to his racecar.

Bleess, a senior business administration major from Chatfield, Minnesota, is one of hundreds of Winona State students who would consider themselves “nontraditional student-athletes.”

A nontraditional student-athlete is a student who participates in a sport that is not university sponsored, or is not a varsity level sport, such as club sports like rugby and hockey, or, in Bleess’ case, stock car racing.

Bleess was initially introduced to the fast-paced world of racing at the age of 10, when his father first got him into go-kart racing. After two years behind the wheel of a go-kart, Bleess began feeling the urge for more power, the need for speed.

Bleess moved out of the go-kart industry and hopped behind the wheel of a full-sized “B-Modified” stock car, four years before he would be legally allowed to climb behind the wheel of a full-sized car on the road. He continued to race his B-Mod for the next four years, then moved his way up to the top stock car class in the “A-Modified” division, where he has remained since.

Stock car racing, otherwise known as dirt track racing, is similar to NASCAR racing in which a pack of cars race counterclockwise around a track. The main difference between the two is swapping out the traditional asphalt of NASCAR to a mixture of dirt and clay, as well as the various body styles and build of the cars.

Bleess can be seen weekly throughout the April-October season at local tracks such as Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin, and Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota.

A majority of his races are in the area, but it is not uncommon for Bleess to go farther south for the racing series, traveling to places such as Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, among others.

Even though a majority of the racing season takes place over the summer, the first and last couple of months do take place during the school year, which can make things difficult for Bleess.

“We go down south during the summer, but while in school we stay close to home so I can do my homework and go to class,” Bleess said. “All that fun stuff.”

Along with a few months of actual racing, the off-season can also be a busy time for Bleess, as he uses this time to swap parts on his car and make sure everything is ready to go come spring.

Though his racing schedule is more open than that of a traditional student-athlete, Bleess said there are conflicting schedules at certain times of the year.

“There are conflicts with school and racing, but school does come first,” Bleess said. “If it’s a big event, though, I go racing first, then do school work as needed.”

As a nontraditional student-athlete, there are many perks that Bleess and other athletes do not receive because their sport is not university sponsored.

Justin Loehr, the associate athletic director of the Student-Athlete Success Center, said that the main disadvantage to being a nontraditional student-athlete would be the resources the students do not have available to them.

Along with various sports scholarships, there are also other resources that nontraditional student-athletes could be missing out on, such as the Student-Athlete Success Center.

“[The Student-Athlete Success Center] helps student athletes in many ways,” Loehr said. “They hold weekly academic meetings with first-semester athletes, and athletes under the required GPA, as well as make referrals to tutoring services, access services and help with both career and major exploration.”

Along with the missing resources available, both agreed that there are other struggles to being a nontraditional student-athlete, such as professors’ reactions to missing class.

“It depends on the individual professor and how student communicates with them but being a part of a university-sponsored event helps (when missing class for a sport).”

Bleess had similar things to say about different professors’ willingness to mark him excused for missing class.

“I try not to skip class; school comes first,” Bleess said. “Some professors don’t mind (skipping class for racing), but some do.”

In the end, however, it is not all challenges.

“I don’t have weekly meetings to go to like a football player would. I mostly get to pick my own times to race and work on the car,” Bleess said. “I can do schoolwork whenever I want, and put in the amount of hours I want to put in. I can pick and choose which races to go to, and when to take a break from school to work on the car.”



Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.

Levee System Protects Winona from Flooding

The late snowfall that struck and made a temporary home in Winona earlier this year, including a large chunk of the country, is now causing what the National Weather Service is deeming record-breaking flooding.

Since the beginning of April, the Winona Daily News, via their various social media accounts, has reported more than 40 river flood warnings and that number continues to grow.

One example of severe flooding is the Levee Road on the north side of town, which is home to Winona State University’s boat, the Cal Fremling, and the dock that tethers it, as well as the Boat House restaurant situated just above the flood waters.

The raised-dock to Winona State University’s boat, the Cal Fremling, sits in the flooded Levee Road

While normally a road through which motorists can drive and pedestrians use to fish, the street is submerged underwater, with the only indication of something man-made existing underneath being light poles that rise above the water and submerged walkways.

Speaking at a flood briefing in mid-March, meteorologist Dan Luna said Minnesota is going through what is considered one of the wettest decades ever.

“We won’t be out of the woods for quite a while,” Luna said. “We have the potential for significant flooding all the way into May.”

Courtesy of the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the water elevation in Winona is expected to stay consistent through late April

Roughly a month later, Luna’s prediction appears to be becoming more true by the day.

Winona Director of Public Works Keith Nelson echoed Luna’s prediction and discussed how the city deals with flooding.

“It’s been up above 13 feet, which is the historic flood elevation, for a couple of weeks,” Nelson said. “And it’s anticipated that it will be up there for another three weeks or so.”

According to Nelson, the flooding is the worst at the Prairie Island campgrounds on the northwest edge of town.

“The whole campground is underwater,” Nelson said. “Beyond that, everything is protected by the levee, so we don’t really get any flooding in Winona itself. It all stays on the river-side of the levee …”

Nelson said there are various deterrents in place to keep the Mississippi from flooding into Winona.

“The Levee Road gets covered at nine feet,” Nelson said. “At 20 feet, there’s the concrete wall that is actually the flood-control structure.”

At 20 feet above from where the water normally sits, a wall is in place to protect the town from 24 feet of water-elevation.

Nelson said in 2001 the river elevated to 20.07 feet, suggesting the wall is more than capable of handling this type of flooding.

“The wall is designed for 22 feet of elevation and then we have two feet of free-board over and above that,” Nelson said. “Which is protection from waves, erosion, ‘oops’ factors, those kind of things … We’re right around 16 feet this year.”

Nelson said there are five flood pumps that siphon water from in town back into the river whenever it gets too high.

The levee system appears to be the main deterrent against flooding, though, which Nelson said has done well to keep the city safe from the Mississippi River.

“The levee system is 10 miles of either sand levee or concrete walls that (were) put in in the 60s and the 80s to protect the city,” Nelson said. “So the city is well-protected, but it’s by this massive flood-control project that we have to monitor and operate every year. Because of that, we don’t see any damage here.”

Nelson said without the levee system, with where the water is currently at, which is 13 feet, roughly a fourth of the community would be underwater.

With Winona free of the risk of flooding over, this doesn’t rule out occasional leakage into homes.

Nelson said a reason for this is because Winona is a sandbar.

“We’re basically in the river sitting on top of a sandbar,” Nelson said. “So the water is always creeping this direction, and it’s rising underneath us … Because of that, you’ll see water in homes.”

In an effort to remove any doubt of the precautions the city has in place to keep Winona safe from flooding, Nelson is adamant the river won’t come into town.

“It’s not an option,” Nelson said. “If it ever comes into town, that means the levee is starting to erode and break, and we can’t afford that to happen. We’d have billions of dollars of damage and people would die.”

Fast Family Fun

By Zach Bailey


Nervous energy fills my body as I wake up to the rustling of last minute packing. The worst thing that could happen is that we forget something.

My father, sister and I double- and triple-check everything, then climb in the truck and make our way out of Winona.

After an hour and a half (though it seems like an eternity), we reach the open field in Mazeppa, Minnesota, our destination. We are the first to arrive.

The time is 7:06 a.m. Mist falls upon the dew-filled grass as the sound of crickets fills the air on this early morning in May of 2009.

We unpack and change as more and more people begin to drive in to the lot. Two hours later the day begins.

My time is coming up, and I know what I must do.

I climb on the machine that will lead me to straddle the line between safety and danger, calm and fear, going through life and truly living life.

The 30-second board goes up, signaling the amount of time until the race starts as I bring life to the engine of my 65cc Kawasaki motorcycle.


Every summer thousands of youth take part in different types of motorcycle races throughout the nation. These races include everything from motocross, which involves twists, turns and jumping over obstacles, to flat track, which involves sliding into corners at speeds of 40-120 mph.

Dan Bailey, my father and a lifelong motorsports enthusiast, is a personal supporter of youth in racing.

Bailey was first introduced to motorsports at a young age but was not initially on the motorcycle side of racing.

His father worked as a radio announcer in Dubuque, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, where he began to cover events at the local county fairground dirt tracks. Through meeting people at the racetrack his father became friends with them and launched his career, which led to my father becoming involved in motorsports.

“When I was in second grade I saw a program on TV called ‘Wide World of Sports,’ where they covered a race from Millville, Minnesota, and it immediately made me think motorcycles were cool,” Bailey said. “Getting into stock car racing I became infatuated with motorsports, then in high school I saw a program on TNN called ‘Thursday Night Thunder,’ which was speedway motorcycle racing from Orange County Fairgrounds in Los Angeles. It was a cool combination of oval stock car track, but with motorcycles.”

From there, Bailey decided he one day wanted to make this a family affair.

“Then when we moved houses 13 years ago, I was looking for something we could do for fun together as a family, so I bought you the 70 [cc, child-sized motorcycle], Allie [my sister] the quad [four-wheeler], and me the 125 [cc, young adult-sized motorcycle] so we could do trail riding. Then we started getting involved in motocross racing and it exploded from there… Or, some would say, got out of control from there,” Bailey said with a laugh.


The gate drops on that cool, May morning, and I blast out of the gate.

My heart races as I follow one of my competitors down the start straight and into the first turn. All I can hear is the screaming of the small, 65cc cycles, and the continual pulsing in my eardrums caused by the mix of excitement and pure terror of what could happen.

I follow the other competitor through the twists and turns and the ups and downs of the first three laps, my eyes continually drawn to the bright orange of his rear fender. I follow close behind him at every straightaway and watch as he slowly pulls away through every turn.

A few turns before I reach the white flag (which signifies the last lap of the race), my rear tire slips out from under me. I feel myself begin to go over the handlebars, but I know that that will ruin my chances of finishing well during my first real race. With all my might I hold on and save myself from what could have been.

I regain control and race to the white flag.

One. More. Lap.


“Overall, I believe [youth in racing] is a positive thing,” Bailey said. “It broadens horizons and gives kids the chance to explore something new that is not common or typical. It’s a sport that is a little different and out on the fringe. There aren’t as many families in motorsports as in baseball or football.”

Bailey continued by saying that, along with being a different type of sport to be involved in, there were multiple other reasons as to why he brought his family into the world of motorcycle racing.

“One is it’s just fun. Second, I think it can be a true teacher for the realities of life. If you want to succeed you have to work hard at it. Just because you do it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be good or win,” Bailey said. “You have to learn about what you’re doing, learn about the motorcycle, the rules, and the concept of competition. Also, at a young age, it teaches kids good mind, hand and eye coordination. It’s kind of like playing an instrument. You have to do all these different things at the same time to successfully ride a motorcycle, and then push it to its limits.”

According to Philip Rispoli, founder of Coolskunk, which is a sports promotion organization and racing team, motorcycle racing is not a sport that kids should be thrown into nonchalantly.

“They need the right combination of parental support and the right rider attitude,” Rispoli stated in an interview with the American Motorcycle Association (AMA). “The parents must be committed to supporting the rider, and the rider needs that twinkle in the eye.”

Rispoli continued by stating that attitude is a key attribute to having a child enter the world of racing.

“If you end up with a world champion, great, but that’s not what this is about,” Rispoli stated. “We want to build a winner both on and off the track.”


I race past the white flag and grab a handful of throttle to clear one of the smaller jumps on the track, one of the few I’m not scared to do so.

Beneath me, out of the corner of my eye, I see a flash of orange off to the side of the track. By the time my tires hit the ground, the flash is already out of my memory. A passing thought which may as well stay forgotten.

Gaining more confidence with each turn, I slowly begin to race faster and jump farther. Finally, what seems like a lifetime from when the gate first dropped (even though it has been 10 minutes at most), I round the final corner and race through the checkered flag, not letting off the gas until I’m sure I’ve passed the finish line.

I ride back to the truck, climb off my metal steed, and begin to take off the seemingly hundreds of pounds of protective gear that I wear during each race.

Out of the corner of my eye I see my dad running up to me, thumbs raised and a huge grin across his face.

We high-five, hug and talk about how everything went and what I can improve for next time.

A motorcycle rides by in the background.

A flash of orange.

Memories flood back to me as I look over at my dad.

“Hey dad,” I say, simultaneously nervous and confused. “I think I passed the leader on the last lap.”


Though Bailey is a supporter of introducing people to motorcycles at a young age, he does understand that it has both its pros and cons.

“[Motorcycle racing] has similar pros to any other sport or community involvement. It encourages interaction with peers, helps people to socialize and interact with new people, as well as understand they can still be friends with people even though they might lose to them. Also, if someone becomes good at any sport, it teaches them to be gracious winners, not egotistical.” Bailey said. “On the other side, it can potentially be dangerous and it’s pretty expensive, there’s no denying that.”

As Bailey said, the one factor to keep in mind is the potential risk of having a child associated with motorcycle racing.

According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics titled, “Youth motocross racing injuries severe despite required safety gear,” 85.7 percent of patients in a 2016 study were found to have been injured during a motocross competition. The patients, averaging 14 years in age, were all wearing the required safety equipment. Of those injured, just under three-quarters had received bone fractures or dislocations, and just under one-half were given concussions.

Even with the facts, however, Bailey plans on continuing racing as long as he and his family are healthy, able and having fun.


My dad smiles and pats me on the shoulder.

“You did well during that race,” he says, a bit of sadness creeping into his eyes. “But I’m sorry, Zach-Attack, I don’t think you won that race. Don’t worry, though, winning isn’t everything. All that matters is that you had a good time.”

I shrug it off, saying that he’s probably right. It does not matter, though; it was my first race and I had a good time, so I can successfully mark this off as a good day.

We go about the rest of our day at the track, I finish off the rest of my races, then as the sun slowly begins its falling action, marking the day as early afternoon, we begin to pack up and head to the main shed for trophies.

I walk up to the lady at the window, tell her my name and what classes I raced and wait in anticipation. She tells me it will just be a minute, so I take in the scene.

Off to my right, a father yells at one of the counter workers, wondering why his son does not receive a ribbon for participating. The kid elbows his dad, trying to say that it’s fine, he does not even want one, but the father pays no attention to him.

A tap on the shoulder startles me as I’m knocked out of my daze.

The lady at the window places a large, gold trophy in front of me. Scrolled on the front, “First Place.” I look at her, then my dad in confusion.

“You passed the leader on the last lap of this race,” the lady says, looking down at the scorer’s sheet. “This means you won.”



Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.


Winona Ice Park brings climbers from across the midwest

For a region plagued by negative temperatures for nearly half the year, rock climbers in the Minnesota area needed to find some way to scratch the adrenaline-filled itch.

After multiple years on the west side of Winona, the ice park relocated next to Sugarloaf on the east side of town.

After multiple years on the west end of town, the Winona Ice Park begins its first year off the Sugarloaf Trailhead on the east end of town.

About 1.5 miles up the Sugarloaf Trailhead is a man-made wall of solid ice, spanning nearly 70 feet high and three times as wide.

Caleb Hammel, a recent Winona State University Mass Communication graduate, first climbed his way into the world of ice climbing two years ago.

Having been a rock climber for the past four years, when the city created their ice park during its first year, Hammel decided it might be fun to try.

Hammel heard of the ice wall through his work with Winona State’s Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (OERC) while he was still a student. With help from Eric Barnard, director of OERC, Hammel was introduced to the ice wall.

Though Barnard is not employed by the city, Hammel said Barnard has tried to promote things through the city.

“With him being an expert in the past, he wanted to bring students up (to the ice park),” Hammel said. “Winona State was starting to run trips up there to use a sweet resource of the city, so, as an employee, I was able to go up a lot with students and with (Barnard).”

The wall is free and open to the public for use, but visitors are on their own as far as gear needed. People scaling the wall can be seen wearing everything from the bare minimum of a belay device, helmet, ice picks and crampons (shoe spikes to dig into the ice), all the way to assorted pick cleaning gear, ice stakes and extra rope.

One climber begins his way up the ice at the Winona Ice Park.

Though the ice park may be newer to the Winona area, it is getting recognition throughout the region.

Hammel, who moved to Aspen, Colorado, after graduation, said he has heard people talking about the Winona Ice Park in his new hometown.

“All the way out here people are talking about it,” Hammel said. “People from Chicago who have heard about it travel to climb it, I can only imagine it will bring more people to town. There’s not a lot of places you can go and safely climb; it will put Winona on the map.”

Michael Sullivan, who has spent his free time for the last four years traveling across the region to different ice parks, is one of many who has made the near 3-hour drive from Madison, Wisconsin, to climb at the Winona Ice Park.

Sullivan first heard of the Winona Ice Park through a rock climbing podcast titled, “The Enormocast,” where Barnard was a guest on the show speaking about the park. As word of the park got around, a group of fellow climbers decided to make the trek to Winona.

“This park has a lot of potential,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely taller and wider as a single ice wall than anything in Wisconsin that I’ve seen.”

Sullivan said the design of the wall was one of the main drawing points of the Winona Ice Park.

“Usually you’ll see an overhanging sandstone cliff and then a frozen waterfall will come off, so it’s mostly just big columns,” Sullivan said. “They’re really cool and fun to climb on, but it’s just the one so people have to compete for it, where this is just a big sheet where people can go wherever.”

Michael Sullivan, Madison, Wisconsin, nears the top of the ice as he climbs his way up the Winona Ice Wall.

For those that have enjoyed rock climbing in the past, Hammel said it’s a great activity to try, but is not exactly like the warm-weather alternative.

“The similarities between rock and ice climbing end at belay devices, harnesses and helmets,” Hammel said. “The ice is always changing. Rock climbing routes are similar, the rock won’t fall or melt, but with ice climbing it’s different every day. Conditions change, weather makes muscles more stiff and not able to do things.”

Though it is different than the more well-known sport of rock climbing, Hammel said he would recommend ice climbing to anyone that might be interested.

“It’s a great way to both mentally and physically push yourself,” Hammel said. “If you calm down and focus its unlike any other activity out there.”

A Hike Up John A. Latsch State Park

Written and photographed by Nicole Girgen

The sky was overcast on Sunday afternoon, and a light fog started to wrap around the bluffs as I drove towards my destination for the second time this weekend.

John A. Latsch State Park sits along highway 61 on the Mississippi River, roughly 20 minutes north of Winona, Minnesota.

The site was founded in 1925 when Winona businessman, and a supporter of conservation work John A. Latsch donated 350 acres to the state of Minnesota for park use. Latsch also donated land in Whitewater State Park and Perrot Sate Park in Wisconsin.

Mounts Faith, Hope and Charity are the three bluffs included in the park, named by steamboat captains in the 1850s who used these peaks as landmarks while traversing the Mississippi.

The development of the park was slow, due to the landscape the only level ground was in small ravines which separate the three bluffs. In 1933 the Mount Charity Riverview Trail was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps and remains the only developed trail in the park to this day.

An analysis of the park in 1971 recommended the area be reclassified as a scientific and natural area, no action has been taken to reclassify the area and it remains a state park.

A parking area nestled in a small clearing opens to a small picnic area at the bottom of the bluff and a short walk leads to the trailhead.

Wood steps embedded into the hill sets the path winding through the forest and up the bluff, the half-mile trail is rated difficult by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and not even a third of the way up it was clear why.

The entire trail rests at varying stages of an incline that gradually gets steeper the higher you go, and I was already slightly out of breath.

About half way into the hike there was a break in the steady stream of cars along the highway and the entire atmosphere of the park changed, a stillness echoed over the bluff, not a single leaf rustled in the wind and no bird calls descended from the trees.

A view of the peak from a small out crop.
A view of the peak from a small out crop.

The crunch of my boots against the snow-covered steps and the dull roar of the highway was a constant reminder of human presence in those woods, but in that moment of peaceful stillness I felt truly alone.

It was over in an instant.

The low rumble of a car just rounding the corner of the next bluff broke the stillness and, shaken from my moment, I continued to climb.

When I reached the peak, a light mist began to set in, an early sign of the coming fog I could see over the panoramic view of the ice-covered Mississippi, and as much as my legs burned from the hike up it was nothing compared to how I’d feel after the trip down.

Photo from top of the trail
A panoramic view from the peak of Mount Charity.

Though the park is open all year the stairs were not cleared of snow on my trip. This was my first time on this trail in the winter and I am unsure if the trail condition is normally this way or if the recent cold snap prevent usual trail maintenance

Because of the warmer weather, melting snow and extra condensation in the air the stairs became slick and the snow covering compacted into a slippery surface.

The slipery path
The trek down should be done with caution in the winter as the melting snow creates a slick surface, making it easier to slip.

Each step was taken slowly and one at a time, foot placement was key, and I still slipped several times with one resulting in a fall. The long stretches of stairs with no railings or support also made the trip down much more difficult.

I would recommend this trail in any season, but extra precaution should be taken in the winter to avoid dangerous situations.

Winter Activities in Winona

Written and photographed by Charlie Egberg

With the winter storm that dumped approximately six inches this past weekend, many people stay indoors, especially with the frigid drop in temperature.

Middle schools, high schools, and universities closed due to the weather.

Now, when it gets to be 30 below, it is not the smartest to be outside as skin can get frostbite in a matter of minutes.

While some cover themselves with blankets when winter hits, others thrive in these winter storms and colder temperatures.

With the surrounding bluffs and trails, there are all sorts of things to do.

There are public skiing and snowshoeing trails behind St. Mary’s University and ice climbing up the bluffs, near sugar loaf rock

According to Tia Fields, president of the rock climbing club at Winona State University, even the climbers get outdoors.

“It’s actually a really fun time climbing outside,” Fields said. “Everyone expects you to have to really break up the ice with the ice axe. You’re really holding your body up on like half an inch of the blade.”

There are safety concerns when using ice climbing equipment.

“The ice axes also have to get sharpened and they become really freaky to just be holding your body up on such a sharp, basically, weapon,” Fields said.

If climbing up a wall of ice might be a little out of comfort range, ice skating, cross country skiing or even snow shoeing might be a better option.

The city of Winona has built a public ice rink in Levee Park in downtown Winona. It is a low maintenance rink, so it has been covered in snow.

There are a few ice rinks made out front of the Lake Lodge Recreation Center.

The Lake Lodge, which is open from 4-7 pm on weekdays and on weekends from 1-7 pm, is host for many winter activity needs.

For winter activities, the lodge rents ice skates, hockey sticks and snow shoes.

According to Paul Merten, a front desk worker at the lodge, this year has been “pretty consistent” with people renting out equipment.

Matthew Lenett, another desk worker at the lodge, said as long as the weather is pretty consistent, people show up. Lenett said the lodge tends to be most popular on the weekends.

Visitors can rent snow shoes for 24 hours, Lenett said, “A lot of people go to holzinger (Holzinger Lodge)” and use the trails that are behind the lodge.

Even if there is a storm every so often

There is always something to do in Winona.

Lake Park sign near lake lodge
Hockey nets on lake lodge ice rinks

Yuge Zhou: In the Shape of a City

Winona State University’s Art and Design Department hosted a video installation exhibit by Chicago based artist, Yugo Zhou, called In the Shape of a City, on Oct. 16 through Nov. 6. The exhibit featured two video pieces, Midtown Flutter and Underground Circuit, which were filmed on the streets of New York City as well as the subways.

Art Gallery Coordinator, Roger Boulay, oversaw the exhibit.

“Yugo Zhou exhibited at Winona State last year,” Boulay said. “I saw it and I loved it, and I decided to invite her to exhibit here, and she accepted.”

Boulay said it was interesting to bring two pieces that were investigating urban spaces to Winona.

“Since Winona is located in such a rural environment, to have two pieces about a big city, is a nice change of pace,” Boulay said. “It might make many of our students, many of which come from rural backgrounds, think about the city in new ways, and maybe disrupt preconceived notions about the city.”

Rachel Hollcraft, of Crookston, Minn., and a sophomore and WSU, viewed the exhibit with her classmates.

“The different people, especially in the piece on the floor, gives a sense of individuality to every person caught on tape, and in a way that makes New York City seem smaller,” Hollcraft said.

“I really appreciated the detail put into timing people with the stop light, in the piece on the wall,” Hollcraft said. “The piece on the floor was my favorite, because the amount of time put into filming, and then creating a loop of different people entering and exiting from each square is incredible, and shows the hard work of Zhou.”

Boulay said there were over 300 layer of video in Underground Circuit, and Zhou listened to entire television series during the video editing process.

Boulay said Zhou received an $800 stipend, and stayed at the WSU Alumni House during her stay in Winona.  The exhibit was supported by WSU and by a grant from the WSU Foundation.

The Shape of a City exhibit allowed viewer to interact with the pieces. Viewers could walk on Underground, if they took off their shoes. Viewers could also look behind Midtown Flutter to see how the piece was made and look at its various dimensions.

Watkins Gallery hosts six exhibits by visiting artists each year and six by current WSU students. The next exhibit called, CHASTUSHKI, by Amy Toscani, will be on display from Nov. 13 through Dec. 8.


Winona’s 10 Annual Family Art Day

Parents and children gather excitedly Saturday morning Sept. 2, 2017 at Jaycee’s Pavilion in Winona’s Lake Park for the tenth annual Family Art Day.

Sponsored by a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council this event helps introduce children to a variety of art mediums that may not be available to them otherwise.

Winona’s River Arts Alliance board runs the event with help from Winona Parks and Recreation and the Winona State University Art Department.

Aundra Arre paints on mural boards set up in Jaycee’s Pavilion for Winona’s tenth annual Family Art Day last Saturday.

With two years on the board under her belt, event coordinator Tove Wiggs said she was eager to help organize Family Art Day.

Wiggs said “Many people who volunteer are from the arts community, art supporters, a handful of WSU students and members of the River Arts Alliance board.”

“The River Arts Alliance has all sorts of different artists as members and friends of the organization,” Wiggs said.  “I just really wanted to expand into some of the forms of art that are beyond 2D and 3D; into music, movements and poetry.”

With 23 art activities, around 30 artists, live music and food from Rubio’s, the event was busy from the start, with numbers close to the 550 people who participated in 2016 according to Wiggs.

The art stations included familiar arts like water color, pottery, finger painting and beading while adding more unique art mediums like movement arts, weaving, poetry, cosmic knots and wood carving with wire.

Potter Mickey Maslowski explains how to make designs on a pot while Kara Reller and her one-year-old son, Stevie, observe.

“I had a number of people that I ran into this week that told me they were really excited,” Wiggs said. “Their kids have been looking forward to this and asking about it.”

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum has participated in this event for 10 years.

This year, the museum introduced a type of art that included a small history lesson called cyanotype.

Cyanotype is photographic printing process that uses the sun to expose a special cyan paper to produce images of objects laid on top of the paper, some artists would use this medium to document plants along the Mississippi River.

“This isn’t just for kids, parents are doing activities too,” Wiggs said. “While this is primarily for children adults have just as much fun being here and trying things out too.”

Volunteer potter Amanda Griggs shows Odin Prigge-Mavl, 5, how to raise a pot at Family Art Day on Saturday outside Jaycee’s Pavilion.

During Family Art Day families can sit down with individuals who make their living as artists and learn from them.

Artists come from surrounding communities and sometimes from outside the state.

Like Sarah Johnson from La Crosse, Wisconsin is trained as a mental therapist and practices multi-media art as her hobby. She said she often uses art to aid in therapy.

“This is the first year I have been involved in this and I think it’s awesome,” Johnson said. “I’m loving watching the families creating art together, it’s really cool and makes me really proud of Winona.”

After hearing about the event from a friend, Johnson said she decided to become one of the artist volunteers.

“It’s right up my alley, I love are and love young people and seeing their creativity, anything that builds community I support.” Johnson said.