West Central Minnesota’s Arts and Entertainment Scene Shines in 2023

From book releases to parades, the region showcases its vibrant creative spirit

The arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota has been thriving in 2023, with a range of exciting events and projects capturing the attention of residents and visitors alike. From the release of a poignant book shedding light on a tragic case to the participation of local musicians in a renowned parade, the region has demonstrated its commitment to creativity and community engagement. Additionally, significant anniversaries and community-driven initiatives have brought joy and inspiration to the area. Let’s delve into the highlights of the past year and celebrate the vibrant arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota.

Dear Jacob: A Mother’s Journey of Hope:

Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted and murdered 34 years ago, has shared her story in a new book titled “Dear Jacob: A Mother’s Journey of Hope.” Co-written with New London blogger Joy Baker, the book not only delves into the criminal case surrounding Jacob’s disappearance but also explores the profound impact it had on the Wetterling family and the state as a whole. Wetterling’s aim was to share the personal side of the story and the lessons she learned throughout her long search for her son. The book, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, was released on October 17.

Band Directors Marching Band in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:

Two music teachers, Caitlin Becks and Nichole Markworth, from west central Minnesota 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 famous parade, showcasing their talent and dedication. The band also delivered a moving performance at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, further emphasizing the power of music to unite and heal. Becks and Markworth expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn from musicians across the nation and highlighted the importance of perseverance and passion in achieving one’s dreams.

Denny Baker’s Retirement from the Kandiyohi County Fair Board:

After 50 years of dedicated service, Denny Baker retired from the Kandiyohi County Fair Board, leaving an indelible mark on the beloved summer tradition. Baker’s contributions ranged from maintaining and repairing existing buildings to constructing new barns and navigating the challenges posed by weather and attendance fluctuations. His commitment to the fair’s success and his involvement in the Minnesota State Fair Board of Managers exemplify his deep love for everything “fair.” The fairgrounds have been a hub of entertainment, showcasing grandstand performances, livestock shows, 4-H projects, carnival rides, and various competitions.

The Little Minnesota State Fair Celebrates 150 Years:

The Lac qui Parle County Fair, affectionately known as the Little Minnesota State Fair, reached a significant milestone in 2023, celebrating its 150th anniversary. Since its inception in 1873, the fair has been a cherished event, showcasing the agricultural bounty of the county and providing a platform for entertainment and community engagement. Over the years, the fair has evolved, incorporating new attractions such as carnivals, art exhibits, political speakers, and races. The fair has been a testament to the enduring spirit of the community and its commitment to celebrating its heritage.

Swift County 4-Hers’ Quilts for Veterans:

In a heartwarming initiative, members of Swift County 4-H clubs and quilt clubs came together to create 75 quilts for the first residents of the new Montevideo Veterans Home. Inspired by the desire to provide a sense of comfort and home to the veterans, the project involved meticulous planning and execution. Between 150 and 200 Swift County 4-H members participated in the quilt-making process, honoring the service and sacrifice of the veterans. The project serves as a testament to the power of community collaboration and the impact of small acts of kindness.

HarvestFest Puppet Parade in New London:

New London celebrated the autumnal equinox with a vibrant puppet parade as part of its HarvestFest festivities. The parade featured a diverse array of puppets created by professional puppet artists and community members. The puppets showcased important figures in New London’s history, celebrated nature in the region, and highlighted the significance of food and the harvest. Community puppet-making workshops brought people together to create unique and captivating puppets, with participants of all ages contributing their artistic skills. The parade was a testament to the community’s creativity and collaborative spirit.

Lee Kanten Named SMAC Prairie Disciple:

Filmmaker and musician Lee Kanten of Ortonville was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the arts in his community. The Southwest Minnesota Arts Council named Kanten the Prairie Disciple for 2023, acknowledging his involvement, volunteerism, and advocacy in the arts. Kanten’s creative spirit has benefited 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. His dedication to using his artistic talents for the betterment of others serves as an inspiration to all.

Clara City Arts and Craft Fair’s 50th Anniversary:

The Clara City Fall Arts and Craft Fair, organized by Briggs and Motley Promotions, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. The fair, led by Sherron Thein and Janine Hubbard, has become a beloved tradition, attracting over 170 different vendors and offering a wide range of unique shopping experiences. The event, which also holds a spring show in Clara City, has fostered a sense of community and family, bringing generations together to enjoy the arts and crafts on display. The anniversary marks a significant milestone for both the fair and the community of Clara City.


The arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota has flourished in 2023, with a diverse range of events and projects captivating audiences and fostering community engagement. From the release of a powerful book shedding light on a tragic case to the participation of local musicians in a renowned parade, the region has showcased its vibrant creative spirit. Significant anniversaries and community-driven initiatives have further enriched the cultural fabric of the area. As we reflect on the past year, it is evident that the arts and entertainment scene in west central Minnesota continues to inspire, uplift, and unite the community.

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