Celebrating Arts and Entertainment in West Central Minnesota: From Books to Parades

A look at the vibrant arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota throughout 2023

In the ever-evolving arts and entertainment scene of west central Minnesota, 2023 proved to be a year filled with creativity, inspiration, and celebration. From the release of a poignant book shedding light on a tragic crime to the participation of local musicians in the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the region showcased its diverse talents and rich cultural heritage. Additionally, long-standing traditions such as county fairs and craft shows reached significant milestones, further cementing their importance in the community. Let’s delve into the highlights of these events and explore the impact they had on the residents of west central Minnesota.

Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker Illuminate Jacob’s Story

In a deeply moving collaboration, Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling, who was tragically abducted and murdered 34 years ago, joined forces with New London blogger Joy Baker to write “Dear Jacob: A Mother’s Journey of Hope.” Published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, the book not only delves into the criminal case surrounding Jacob’s disappearance but also sheds light on the profound impact it had on the Wetterling family and the state as a whole. Through this heartfelt memoir, Wetterling and Baker aim to share personal insights and lessons learned, emphasizing the importance of child safety.

West Central Minnesota Musicians Shine at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Two music teachers from west central Minnesota, Caitlin Becks and Nichole Markworth, had the honor of participating in the Band Directors Marching Band during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Alongside 400 fellow band and music teachers, they marched and played in the renowned parade, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of millions. The band also delivered a moving performance at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, showcasing the power of music to heal and unite.

Denny Baker’s Farewell to the Kandiyohi County Fair

After dedicating 50 years of his life to the Kandiyohi County Fair, Denny Baker, a beloved figure in the community, decided to retire in 2023. Baker’s tenure on the fair board, including 15 years as president, and his involvement with the Minnesota State Fair Board of Managers have shaped the fair into the beloved summer tradition it is today. From overseeing the maintenance and construction of buildings to organizing grandstand entertainment and livestock shows, Baker’s contributions have left an indelible mark on the fair’s legacy.

Lac qui Parle County Fair Celebrates 150 Years

The Lac qui Parle County Fair, affectionately known as the Little Minnesota State Fair, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2023. Since its inception in 1873, the fair has been a cherished event, showcasing the agricultural bounty of the county and providing entertainment for fairgoers of all ages. Throughout its rich history, the fair has evolved, introducing new attractions such as carnivals, art exhibits, and car races, while remaining true to its roots and emphasizing the importance of community and celebration.

Swift County 4-Hers Honor Veterans with Quilts

In a heartwarming display of gratitude and craftsmanship, members of Swift County 4-H clubs and quilt clubs came together to create 75 quilts for veterans residing in the new Montevideo Veterans Home. Inspired by World War II veteran George Kluver, who dedicated his later years to quilting for fellow veterans, Bonnie Kluver spearheaded the project to provide a sense of comfort and home to the veterans in their new residence. The quilt project served as a testament to the power of community and the enduring spirit of service.

New London Celebrates with HarvestFest Puppet Parade

New London embraced the spirit of autumn in 2023 with the HarvestFest puppet parade. This vibrant event featured puppets created by professional puppet artists and community members, showcasing the unique aspects of the New London area. From important figures in the town’s history to nature and the bountiful harvest, the puppets paraded through the streets, captivating the imaginations of all who witnessed the spectacle. The parade highlighted the community’s creativity and the power of art to bring people together.

Lee Kanten Named SMAC Prairie Disciple

Filmmaker and musician Lee Kanten of Ortonville received recognition from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC) as the Prairie Disciple of 2023. Kanten’s artistic endeavors have had a profound impact on his community, as he has used his skills in film production and music to support various organizations and individuals. From creating films for the Big Stone Health Care Foundation to performing at nursing homes and volunteering with the disabled community, Kanten’s dedication to the arts has brought joy and inspiration to many.

Clara City Arts and Craft Fair Celebrates 50 Years

The Clara City Fall Arts and Craft Fair, organized by Briggs and Motley Promotions, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. Generations of shoppers have flocked to this beloved event, which offers a unique shopping experience with over 170 vendors. The fair, led by the mother-daughter team of Sherron Thein and Janine Hubbard, has become a cherished tradition, fostering a sense of community and family among vendors, shoppers, and the town of Clara City.


The arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota thrived in 2023, with a myriad of events and projects that showcased the region’s creativity and community spirit. From the heartfelt memoir of Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker to the participation of local musicians in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, these endeavors brought joy, inspiration, and unity to the residents. Long-standing traditions, such as county fairs and craft shows, also reached significant milestones, underscoring their importance in preserving cultural heritage. As the region continues to foster artistic expression and celebrate its vibrant community, the future of arts and entertainment in west central Minnesota looks promising and full of possibilities.

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