Best Bets: Cider North at the DECC, and more

Find something to do this week in the Northland.

A light-skinned woman with long, straight brunette hair sits in a deck chair holding a can of Duluth Cider and a glass of the same.
Duluth Cider co-founder Valerie Scott appears at a Cider North launch event at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Dec. 16. The cider festival will take place Saturday.
Contributed / DECC
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DULUTH — Whether you're looking to frolic in the snow or enjoy a cool beverage on a green lawn (well, an artificial one), here are six picks for things to do in the Northland.

Cider North at the DECC

There are plenty of beer festivals in the area, but not so many cider festivals — despite the fact that Duluth alone has no fewer than two craft cideries. On Saturday, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is convening cider sippers in the Harbor Side Ballroom for a new event called Cider North. Expect a simulated springtime vibe, with artificial turf and lawn games, as you taste the wares of a dozen cider makers. Snacks for sale will include build-your-own charcuterie boards. For tickets and information, see

(In other cidery news, Wild State Cider is hosting a viewing party for the season debut of ABC's "The Bachelor" on Monday night, challenging that franchise's longstanding association with wine.)

Charlie Parr's books and blues

Hand holding book: "Last of the Better Days Ahead" by Charlie Parr. Book has plain white textured paper cover with simple printing of title and author's name. Duluth Harbor and Aerial Lift Bridge are visible in background.
Charlie Parr's debut book "Last of the Better Days Ahead," photographed at Duluth Harbor Basin in 2022.
Jay Gabler / File / Duluth News Tribune

Last year, local legend Charlie Parr published his first book: a companion to his 2021 album "Last of the Better Days Ahead." If you're a fan and haven't yet acquired a copy, Wednesday is your chance. As Parr's Cedar Lounge January residency continues, he's taking a day to sign some books as well as play music. The event runs from 7-9 p.m. at Earth Rider's Superior taproom. For information, see

The sounds of Chicago

Duluth Transit Authority logo, with stylized golden script text on a blue background with black quarter-circles at each corner.
Duluth Transit Authority logo.
Contributed / The West Theatre

Somewhat confusingly, the band named Duluth Transit Authority doesn't have anything to do with buses, despite the fact that this city loves a concert on wheels. In fact, the band's name is inspired by "Chicago Transit Authority," the 1969 debut album by the band Chicago. It's "Minnesota's largest Chicago tribute band," according to a news release from the West Theatre, where Duluth Transit Authority be performing Thursday night. Expect Chicago hits ("Saturday in the Park," anyone?) and deep cuts, with perhaps a smattering of Chicago-adjacent covers of bands like Steely Dan. For tickets and information, see


Rubber Chicken at the aquarium

Five people in clothes so loud as to be tacky cluster together on a stage, adopting various comical expressions. Man at far left is wearing an outsize costume mustache.
The artists of Rubber Chicken Theater have a lot to chew over as they look back on 2022.
Contributed / Rubber Chicken Theater

Rubber Chicken Theater's shows are always somewhat interactive, but usually that just means interaction with humans. For the next two weekends, though, the local sketch troupe will also be interacting with the various species resident at the Great Lakes Aquarium, where they're presenting their new show "Christmas Aquarium in January, or Jokin' Around in a Fishy Wonderland." The show's sketches will look back on 2022 in both local and national news, and the show's venue suggests there may be some gags that former Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson won't find amusing. For tickets and information, see

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Find something to do this week in the Northland.
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'The Boys Room' at Zeitgeist

A promotional poster for "The Boys Room," shown displayed under a NOW SHOWING label on an exterior theater wall.
A promotional poster for "The Boys Room."
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

Zeitgeist Theater is returning with a production of "The Boys Room," Joel Drake Johnson's 2011 play about two brothers who return to their childhood bedroom but soon realize they can't go back in time. "Beware the easy early laughs," wrote Variety in a review of the world premiere production. By the end, the premise is transformed "from a joke into a psychological trauma." Actors Zachary Stofer, Ellie Martin, Jody Kujawa and Reagan Kern will tackle this challenging material in a show that opens Friday and runs through Jan. 28. For tickets and information, see

Winter Frolic at Snake River

Two men and one woman, all light-skinned, stand in the snow in front of a wooded area wearing old-fashioned snowshoes. Each raises one foot to display for the camera; all are smiling widely.
Snowshoeing is part of the fun at the Snake River Fur Post Winter Frolic.
Contributed / Minnesota Historical Society

Northlanders who want to connect with our region's hard-paddling, fur-trading, antiperspirant-free past have a number of opportunities each year, few better than the Winter Frolic at Snake River Fur Post in Pine City. A reconstructed fur post and Ojibwe encampment take visitors back in time to the dawn of the 19th century, when our region was a trading hub. At Saturday afternoon's free event, expect snowshoeing, hot cocoa, educational activities, and sports including the Ojibwe snow snake game and a curling stone toss. For information, see

more by jay gabler
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During the colder months, cat naps get extended, monkeys move inside and bears take a break, but life finds a way as thick snow blankets Duluth's zoo.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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