Road Stories Blog

Community Profile: Grand Forks, North Dakota

By Stephen Manuszak

Grand Forks, North Dakota has a population of 52,000 and traces its history back to the 1800s when fur and other commodities were traded in the area. The city was officially founded in 1870 by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs. Fur trading eventually gave way to agriculture, which is still an important part of the local economy along with higher education, national defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research.

Community Profile: Northwestern Wisconsin

By Stephen Manuszak

Several communities in Northwestern Wisconsin have banded together to host the 2013–2015 season of Arts Midwest World Fest, including Rice Lake, Cumberland, Shell Lake, and Barron. These cities feature an array of unique arts and cultural activities as well as a scenic environment and burgeoning industries.

With approximately 8,400 residents, the city of Rice Lake is the largest community in Barron County and serves as a center for commerce, manufacturing, health, and educational services. Located in the beautiful Red Cedar River valley, Rice Lake boasts an abundance of lakes and trails.

A hearty “bon voyage” to Le Vent du Nord

By Emily Anderson

With their Arts Midwest World Fest tour concluded, Le Vent du Nord has returned to their homes in Québec, Canada. We’ve learned so much about Québecois culture this year, beginning with the history of French settlement of Québec and some essential background on poutine in the study guides. Le Vent du Nord proved to be a festive and easygoing ensemble—true professionals.

A fond farewell to Baladino

By Stephen Manuszak

Even before they arrived, we started learning about Baladino’s music and the country of Israel with the Arts Midwest World Fest study guides. We also interviewed Yonnie Dror to find out what he was looking forward to on his U.S. tour and how we started playing music.

Baladino in Orange City, IA

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Midwestern communities have much in common, but there are always fun surprises that make each one stand out for the Arts Midwest World Fest artists. Baladino wrapped up their spring tour in Orange City, Iowa, where they were pleasantly surprised by the old-world European charm of the coffeehouses there.

The ensemble raved about the delicious coffee and the intimate atmosphere of the venues that made their time in Orange City unique. What a wonderful place to wrap up their spring tour with Arts Midwest World Fest!

Baladino in Bemidji, MN

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Bemidji, Minnesota is a small community with a huge interest in arts and culture, and Baladino enjoyed their weeklong residency there in mid-March. Each residency with Arts Midwest World Fest is a little different, reflecting each community’s unique culture and values. In Bemidji, the band fit right in and found lots of opportunities to share their passion with music lovers of all ages.

Le Vent Du Nord in Medina, OH

By Stephen Manuszak

Le Vent Du Nord—“The North Wind”—arrived in Cleveland on the heels of a snowstorm to start their final tour as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. The group had just finished tours through Europe and Alberta, Canada, as well as Idaho and Montana, but their workshops were as energetic and joyful as ever.

Their week in Medina, Ohio, and the surrounding area started with a welcome reception that included homemade sweets, a short performance, and discussions with local residents, including the mayor of Medina.

Baladino in Grand Forks, ND

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Although Baladino’s tour with Arts Midwest World Fest has come to a close, the spirited energy they’ve brought into the communities they’ve visisted in the Midwest will remain long after the tour.

Baladino in Sisseton, SD

Baladino in concert

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Sisseton, South Dakota is a community that many visitors from other countries may not find an opportunity to visit when traveling in the United States. Earlier this month, however, Baladino spent a week performing and giving workshops in Sisseton, and the group was impressed by the rich Native American culture and strong sense of community on the Lake Traverse Dakota Indian reservation.

Baladino in Rice Lake, WI

Adults posting together in a school gymnasium

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

It seems like the members of Baladino make fast friends in every community they visit with Arts Midwest World Fest. Their week in Rice Lake, Wisconsin was no exception. Even with bone-chilling cold fronts preoccupying the region, the band’s experiences of wonder and awe at Midwestern snow and cold lightened the mood in Rice Lake, as did the playfulness and warmth of the Mediterranean melodies they shared in workshops and performances.