Best Bets: Duluth Dylan Fest and more

Find something to do this week in the Northland.

Black paint silhouette of face with short hair, looking to the right against a plywood background.
A Dylanesque silhouette is seen painted on boards protecting the Duluth Armory on May 9.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — With Memorial Day coming up and temperatures topping 70, it's starting to feel like summer. Go out and party like it!

Duluth Dylan Fest

It's been a long time coming, but Duluth has finally become a regular destination for many of America's biggest fans of the singer-songwriter born here in 1941. The annual Duluth Dylan Fest celebrates Bob's birthday with events including a front porch party at the Central Hillside house where Dylan first lived. That's on Wednesday, May 24, but events run for a full eight days — from Saturday, May 20, through Sunday, May 28. Most of the concerts and lectures take place in Duluth, but there will be a detour to Hibbing on Sunday, May 21. For information, see

Members Only
Four Minnesota writers collaborated with a British author to pen a volume that dives into the details regarding Dylan's Duluth childhood, Hibbing youth and Minneapolis sojourn.

The Muppet Movie

Theatrical release poster for "The Muppet Movie" features illustration of many Muppets packed into a convertible car, with Miss Piggy and Kermit swooning above.
Theatrical release poster for "The Muppet Movie" (1979).
Contributed / ITC Entertainment

"If you can figure out how they were able to show us Kermit pedaling across the screen, you are less a romantic than I am," wrote Roger Ebert in his review of "The Muppet Movie" (1979). "I prefer to believe he did it himself." Directed by James Frawley, "The Muppet Movie" definitively proved that Jim Henson's madcap puppets could hold their own on the big screen.

Seven feature films would follow, and while all (especially 1992's "The Muppets Christmas Carol") have their partisans, there's nothing quite like the ineffable charm of the original. The songs, by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher, are irresistible — especially the tender ballad that actually holds a candle to the Northland's own Judy Garland in the department of songs about rainbows.


Zeitgeist is screening "The Muppet Movie" on Wednesday at 7 p.m.; for tickets and information, see

Martin Sexton

West Theatre is seen from street view on bright, sunny day with green stucco exterior and vertical marquee reading "WEST." "Minions 2" is playing.
The West Theatre, in Duluth's Spirit Valley neighborhood, is seen on July 7, 2022.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

Singer-songwriter Martin Sexton is from Syracuse, New York, but the Gopher State has a special place in his discography. "Diner," his best-known song (you might have heard it on the show "Scrubs"), begins with the lyrics, "You might have seen one out in Minnesota." You can roll past your favorite local greasy spoon and pay your respects before pulling up to the West Theatre for Sexton's 7:30 show.

Reviewing a recent show Sexton co-headlined with KT Tunstall in Pennsylvania, Jay S. Jacobs wrote that the artist "luxuriated through a nice cross-section of his songbook, warbling (and as he pointed out, periodically yodeling) through the likes of 'There Go I,' 'Diggin’ Me,' 'Freedom of the Road,' 'Happy' and 'Virginia.'" For tickets and information, see

William Kent Krueger

Book cover: "Fox Creek" by William Kent Krueger, with text overlaid on orange-tinged image of wooded wetlands.
"Fox Creek" is the 19th novel in William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series.
Contributed / Atria Books

Talking Volumes is the signature literary series from MPR News and host Kerri Miller. Most of the events take place at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, where recently Miller has chatted with Karen Armstrong, Celest Ng, Dani Shapiro and Ross Gay. This spring, Talking Volumes is hitting the road: a May 6 event in Rochester featured Drew Brockington, and on Thursday the series lands at the College of St. Scholastica. Author William Kent Krueger — who lives in St. Paul but writes about Minnesota's north woods — will join Miller at Mitchell Auditorium to discuss his Cork O'Connor series and other topics. For tickets and information, see

Birchbark and Cattails

Painting of birch tree trunks in front of multicolored background evoking sunset or sunrise.
"Wiigwaas - Birches No. 1," a painting by Kent Estey.
Contributed / AICHO

AICHO is hosting a new art exhibit that "celebrates the multiplicity of gifts nature gives." Ramona Morrow, a Lac Courte Oreilles tribal member and descendant of Yankton Sioux, will be displaying a range of pieces including dolls, florals, beadwork and pictorials. An artist and educator, Morrow has taught at venues including the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

Kent Estey, of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, is a painter who's recently been incorporating metals like copper. His work on display at AICHO is inspired by his longtime home in northwestern Minnesota. “I've learned to listen and trust that inner voice that says, ‘this needs to be painted,’” said Estey in a statement. "This piece of sky, this peace of the forest, and this light on the water need to be remembered and honored."

For more information about the exhibit and a Friday reception, see

Railroad Museum anniversary exhibit

A black steam locomotive is seen behind a sign reading "TRACK 7" and a gold medallion banner with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum 50th anniversary logo.
50th anniversary signage is seen at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the museum is unveiling a special exhibit celebrating its five decades of sharing and preserving the region's transportation history. The exhibit will officially open at a Friday night members' event, after which all museum visitors will be able to step into the gallery car to see what the curators have put together. For more information, see


Members Only
Fifty years ago Sunday, Duluth broke ground for the construction of a permanent train museum at the former Union Depot.

This article was updated at 11:02 a.m. May 15 to remove a mention of the Sunshine Cafe, which closed. It was originally posted at 6 a.m. May 15. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 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; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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