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Best Bets: Duluth celebrates Independent Bookstore Day

Find something to do in the Northland this weekend.

Local chalk artist unveils first public mural at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth.
Zenith Bookstore, which is celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 30, sports a fanciful mural created earlier this year by Duluth artist Annmarie Geniusz.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
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Independent Bookstore Day

Independent bookstores, which thrive on in-person browsing and recommendations, struggled through pandemic shutdowns — but loyal customers stood by their favorites, and this year indies across the country are ready to celebrate on Independent Bookstore Day. On Saturday, events in Duluth include "giveaways, special deals, Zenith cupcakes and more" at Zenith Bookstore, which will also host signings by local authors Emily Vikre ("Family Camp Cookbook") and Linda LeGarde Grover ("Gichigami Hearts: Stories and Histories from Misaabekong"). The Bookstore at Fitger's will have balloons and book bingo, plus appearances by author Rob Jung ("The Sower") and Susan C. Richards ("Dead Write"), and a writing workshop led by Grover. Back Forty Books in Two Harbors and two Bayfield booksellers are also getting in on the fun. For information, see

Duluth Junk Hunt

Vintage wooden sales were among the offerings at the second biannual Duluth Junk Hunt, held downtown in 2012. The event has grown considerably, and now takes place at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

"Rusty, chippy, vintage goodness!" No, that's not a description of a veteran singer-songwriter playing Homegrown, it's a description of what you can expect from the vendors filling the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the biannual Duluth Junk Hunt. Now celebrating 10 junky years, the Duluth Junk Hunt promises over 100 booths slinging "vintage finds and repurposed treasures," plus a farmers market with flowers and treats. (Don't worry, the treats are fresh.) When the Duluth Junk Hunt launched in 2012, founder Emily Broman told the News Tribune the event was aimed at shoppers who eschew the generic: "Instead of going to a department store, you can take something antique or vintage and have something with more character to it." For more information, see

Remembering 9/11

A man, a woman, and two children look at a map of Afghanistan in a museum exhibit.
A family learns about the United States military involvement in Afghanistan in the exhibit "Resolute: MN Stories of 9/11 and the War." The exhibit, seen here at its inaugural installation in St. Paul, will be in Duluth from April 29 through May 1.
Contributed / Minnesota Military and Veterans Museum

It's nearly impossible to overstate the impact of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on our nation's history. Nearly 3,000 died in the attacks, and tens of thousands more were directly affected — not to mention the military personnel, contractors and others who participated in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars stemming from the attacks. "Resolute: MN Stories of 9/11 and the War" is an exhibit that views the attacks and their aftermath through the eyes of the Minnesotans who had personal experiences with the attacks and ensuing conflicts. The free exhibit will be on display at the Depot's Great Hall in Duluth from Friday through Sunday, with an opening ceremony Thursday at 5 p.m. For details, see

The Garden reimagined

Glen's Neighbor performs Tuesday at Grandma's Sports Garden during Canal Park Night of the Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth. Clint Austin /
Glen's Neighbor performed at the venue then known as Grandma's Sports Garden during the Homegrown Music Festival in 2019.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Many Duluthians, past and present, have memories of raucous times at Grandma's Sports Garden. The Canal Park venue was a major nightlife spot until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020. Now, the venue is reopening — but not as a nightclub. Still under Grandma's ownership, it's becoming The Garden Wedding and Event Center, advertised as "Duluth’s newest venue for everything from weddings, receptions, class reunions, to trade shows, business meetings, and fundraisers." If you want to take a peek inside the reimagined space, you can do so on Wednesday afternoon: The Garden is opening its doors to the public from 3-5 p.m., with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. For event details, see

DSSO sings it out

DSSO rehearsal
Members of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra rehearse in 2017 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

For their concert programmed under the theme "To Sing," the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra aren't holding back on the hits. Saturday's concert at the DECC will include Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" (from "Carmina Burana") and George Frideric Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus (from "Messiah"). The show's centerpiece, though, is the "Negro Folk Symphony" by William Dawson, a Black composer whose work inspired a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall when Leopold Stokowski (later of "Fantasia" fame) led the Philadelphia Orchestra in the work's 1934 premiere. The concert will close the DSSO's 2021-22 season at Symphony Hall; they've just announced a new blockbuster season that will open Sept. 24. For information and tickets, see


North by North: Take one

A man and a woman in medieval costumes whisper conspiritorially.
"Glob Lessons," screening at the North by North International Film Festival, is a feature about two performers who tour children's shows across the Upper Midwest.
Contributed / Dean Peterson

There's a new film festival in town: the North by North International Film Festival, spotlighting independent voices from Duluth, the Upper Midwest and beyond. Zeitgeist is presenting and hosting the festival, which opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday with a mix of over 80 films including features and shorts — with many of the filmmakers present to participate in Q&A sessions after the screenings. Highlights include opening night film "Bad Axe," about a family restaurant in the turbulent time of 2020; Minnesota-made films including road trip comedy "Glob Lessons" and horror movie "Beyond the North Woods"; and "Freshwater," a documentary about Lake Superior's North Shore. See for details and ticketing information.

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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