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Tuesday, August 12, 2014


As the summer days get warmer, Minnesotans, like so many other folks across the country, can be found taking refuge at cabins and cottages along the many beautiful lakes and rivers.  Not being connected to a cabin myself, I took my refuge last week at the American Swedish Institute’s Cocktails At The Cabin evening.

Cocktails At The Cabin was part of the ASI’s summer series Cocktails At The Castle.  For this wonderful summer evening the Turnblad Mansion was turned into the Turnblad “Cabin”, with activities and shows that furthered the theme.

This fishing boat was built by at-risk youth in an Urban Boatbuilders program.

Chiseling demonstrations . . .

. . . as they make an oar for the cabin.

I got to try my hand at wood planing, using two different types of planes.

Visitors had the opportunity help build boat oars for the cabin with Urban Boatbuilders, an amazing organization that partners with agencies, to work with at-risk teens to promote positive youth development and teach leadership skills through boat building.  Over the years this program has produced over 200 boats and has worked with more than 3000 youth.  The boats are top notch, and this program is stellar.

Professional lumberjacks entertained us . . .

 . . . while demonstrating their tools and skills.

My friend Tavis entered the log rolling contest.

Guests were also treated to a Lumberjack show, as two professional lumberjacks competed against each other while showing us the various saws used in the trade. They ended their show with a log rolling competition, and afterward, guests were able to compete in a log rolling contests to win amazing weekend getaways.  My friend Tavis tried his hand . . . er, feet at log rolling, but, alas, he didn’t win.

The lights came up on the musicians who entertained us outside.

Saunas were available on the grounds.

The s'mores ice cream cones were my favorite!

Live music outside serenaded guests as some took advantage of the TönöSauna saunas, provided by Future North, while a DJ sponsored by The Current, a local radio station, kept people dancing inside. 

And speaking of inside, there was even more fun happening inside the Visitor’s Center and the mansion.  The thing I found the most fun to watch was the Loon Calling competition.  I was amazed at how good some of the attendees were.  They obviously had had some practice.  Loon calling, however, wasn’t our forte, so we tried our hand at some simple knot weaving, while weavers from the Weavers Guild of Minnesota demonstrated their craft. 

The loon calling contest was fun to watch and listen to.

The "deer" and horse went head-to-head in the hallway.

Cabin selfies? Mais oui!

Finally it was time to move into the “cabin”, where actors from Nimbus Theater entertained us in the mansion’s two story Entrance Hall, while we “hiked” the trails through the mansion’s several floors on a scavenger hunt, again competing for wonderful prizes.

FIKA, the ASI’s restaurant, provide food for us to purchase that furthered the theme of the evening.  I had the fish and chips, and they were delicious.  However, my favorite food item of the evening was the ice cream.  Vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream was scooped into cones, then topped with a dollop of marshmallow cream, which was then lightly melted and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  It was the perfect s’mores treat for the Cabin.

Thor and his hammer protected us throughout the evening . . .

. . . while the Norwegian flag watched over us.

A look outside from an upstairs window, showed that log rolling 
was still going on in full force.

The Castle by night.

As with all of the American Swedish Institute’s Cocktails At The Castle events, this evening was filled with music, entertainment, activities and food, and was once again the perfect way to spend a summer night!

***Leave me a message below and tell me about your favorite 
     cabin experiences.

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