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Weekly Wave: Soaking up a special Duluth evening

Duluth has many faces, personalities and definitions, but this was as quintessential a “Duluth evening” as I can recall experiencing.

Rick Lubbers is the executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune.
Rick Lubbers
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DULUTH — Tourists and residents alike often talk about experiencing something in Duluth that isn’t necessarily replicated elsewhere.

We talk about having a “Duluth moment” or witnessing something “that is so Duluth” as if they could be copyrighted and marketed by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.

But those events happen from time to time, and should be savored when they do.

A thousand or so Duluthians, tourists and others soaked up a special “Duluth evening” Wednesday night at Glensheen’s latest installment of Concerts on the Pier.

Attracted by the lake, food trucks, music and buoyed by near-perfect late-summer weather, attendees either arrived by land or lake, as folks powering kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, small boats and even innertubes made up the audience for St. Paul indie jazz pop fusion quintet JoJo Green performing on the pier.

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Landlubbers enjoyed frequenting the food trucks and conversing with family and friends as pre-concert music from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire kept the beat and set the mood. They kept the food servers busy during the show, too.

Innumerable dragonflies joined in, darting up, down and around the Glensheen grounds. Looking up at those dragonflies revealed a thin thumbnail of the moon fully in its waxing crescent stage.

As if on cue, the 1000-foot American Integrity sails past the scene. How “Duluth” is that?

Nearly all of us have an attraction to Lake Superior, and that pull is even more powerful when combined with an intoxicating mixture of music, food, weather and conversation.

It was a night made special by the sum of its amazing parts.

Duluth has many faces, personalities and definitions, but this was as quintessential a “Duluth evening” as I can recall in 25 years of calling the Twin Ports home.

I hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend, and that you, too, can experience some perfect Duluth summer moments while the season lingers.

Here are some DNT highlights from the past week:

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Unsolved aviation mystery

Bratlie flight path.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

It’s been a little over 10 years since the disappearance of Michael Bratlie and his two-engine plane, and authorities are no closer to solving the mystery that developed immediately after the plane disappeared from radar while flying along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

DNT reporter Jimmy Lovrien revisited this mystery recently, turning over the few clues available, poring over past News Tribune articles and talking with one of the people at the center of the search mission: retired Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson.

“We couldn’t find any debris. We were looking for oil slicks and debris fields and pieces of plane along the shoreline and all that,” Johnson told Lovrien. “And we never were able to come up with stuff that was related to the plane.”

You can learn more about the disappearance of Bratlie and his plane here.

Happy birthday, Station 11

historic neighborhood fire station
Duluth Fire Department Engine 11 leaves Fire Station #11 on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, responding to a call from a fire alarm in the Woodland neighborhood of Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

I always enjoyed field trips as a kid. They were an opportunity to get out of the classroom and meet interesting people and see interesting places. (Though the bar is admittedly low when your age still hasn’t reached double digits.)

But with apologies to the dairy farms, police departments and post offices that we visited in our youth, fire stations always topped my list. How could they not, with their shiny fire poles, bright red fire engines, fancy firefighting equipment and maybe even a Dalmatian or two? Plus, I always thought it was cool that the firefighters lived there while working their long shifts.

So, 40-plus years later, a recent DNT story on the 100th birthday of Duluth Fire Station 11 by reporter Teri Cadeau caught my eye.

Quick question: Are you allowed to have burning candles on a firehouse birthday cake? OK, so maybe 100 candles all lit at once would constitute a true fire hazard.

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Cadeau and DNT photographer Clint Austin visited the still-functioning firehouse in the Woodland neighborhood of Duluth and learned about its history and the role it plays in the Duluth Fire Department now.

You can tour the old fire station with Cadeau and Austin here.

No word, though, on whether the old firehouse has a resident Dalmatian.

Fair foods sampler

Pickle pizza being served.
Rick's Pickle Pizza being served at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday, August 25, 2022.
Wyatt Buckner / Duluth News Tribune

Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer and the close of the Minnesota State Fair. So, if you’re still hoping to attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together this year, you only have about four days to do it.

The greatest incentive for attending, of course, is the food. “Weekly Wave” wrote an ode to fair food delicacies last week, but DNT arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler actually sampled several of the new food options being consumed at the state fair. (Sometimes journalism really has tasty perks.)

From pickle pizza and cheese curd tacos to a gray duck sundae to something called the Poultrygeist, Gabler bravely sampled everything the creative chefs at the fair threw at him.

Gabler’s descriptions of that fine fair food sampling — plus digital producer Wyatt Buckner’s photos and videos — should drive you out from your couch or easychair and straight to the fairgrounds. If not, you can still live vicariously. That pickle pizza won’t taste the same from home, but with careful reading and a strong imagination, you can fool your taste buds into thinking you are actually eating it.

Catch a wave

Here are a few more stories from the past week I thought you may enjoy:

Editor's note: Weekly Wave is a newsletter that I publish every Friday morning. Please consider subscribing — it's free — and hits your inbox just once a week. You can sign up here.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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