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Cows and Contentment: A look at what’s been happening lately around Northfield

Bluegrass barn dance party.

Yes, there is a barn dancing venue in Northfield! Even with the Battle of the Bands raging at the Grand and Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin at the Cave, at least a half-dozen carloads of Carleton students trekked to the Spring Brook Stable off of highway 19 for the first barn dance of the spring. Carls were a presence on both the dance floor and on the stage, where both of the evening’s bands featured Carleton musicians.

The main event was Northfield band Last Known Whereabouts, which includes Carleton senior Aaron Cross on fiddle. The group plays mostly bluegrass tunes with a few audience favorites like “My Girl” (sung by Cross), and The Faces’ “Ooh la la.”

The all-Carl sextet Back Porch Collective opened the night. The recently-formed sextet consists of Nicky Bloom, Blake Hanson, Ben Haynor, Jane Stitt, James Sheridan and Callie Millington. The group can be seen on the Bald Spot on nice days.

The dance is the second hosted by Michael Daly, a Northfield native who prepared the upper floor of his barn for dancing space last fall. He says that he began hosting these dances as a way to preserve the old style of dairy barn that is disappearing in South-Western Minnesota. Daly is not in the dairy business, but boards 15 horses in the bottom floor of the barn.

Daly has planned another dance with the same bands on May 16th. That concert will benefit Smile Train, an international charity that funds surgeries to repair cleft palettes.

Underage drinking party?

An exceptionally long list of juvenile drug and alcohol citations on South Water Street near Erbert and Gerbert’s mark last week’s Northfield Police report. The March 8th entry lists nineteen young people (mostly under-age) cited with various marijuana, alcohol and tobacco charges.

The news coincides with the third-anniversary of the ZAP (Zero Alcohol Providers) program that began with funding from the Minnesota Institute for Public Heath. In an editorial for the Northfield News on Wednesday, Northfield Police Chief Mark Taylor wrote that while the program has used its original grant, it continues to operate with local funding. The program maintains its original strategy of treating underage drinking parties as crime scenes rather than as nuisances or noise violations.

A lot of talk about a tree.

A 100-year-old Burr Oak across Highway 3 from Target generated a considerable debate when local blogger Griff Wigely posted the City of Northfield’s plans for the tree on his website Locally Grown Northfield.

Passed at Monday’s Council Meeting, the City’s plans for the tree are part of the Bridgewater Commons development, which will zone the land for retail, restaurant or office space. The routine document that passed on Monday outlines the drainage, lighting, and curb improvements that the land’s developer will have to make.

Weagly’s blog digs far into the document point to a paragraph that calls for the protection of the tree during at least the infrastructure improvements. According to the polemic response to the news, these protections are either criminally insufficient or wildly unnecessary. Like so many internet conversations, the argument unexpectedly found its way to the subject of abortion.

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