History of Brewing in Minnesota

Join us at the Milaca Community Library on Wednesday, October 25 at 6:30 pm as Minnesota author Doug Hoverson stops by to talk about his book, The Land of Amber Waters that chronicles Minnesota’s rich brewing history.

The ECRL Reads program taking place in East Central Regional Library’s six counties through November 16 includes programming based on the book, Ice-Out by Minnesota author Mary Casanova. Ice-Out takes place in 1920s Minnesota during the “great experiment” known as Prohibition and the banning of alcohol. Mr. Hoverson’s visit is part of the ECRL Reads series of programs about the 1920s era.

Learn about the early days from the first illegal brewer at Fort Snelling to the nearly 300 breweries in existence today. The history of brewing in Minnesota is as much a colorful and interesting part of the Prohibition era as today’s brewery scene. The search for the perfect combination of barley, yeast, water and hops made Minnesota one of the few states known for a rich history of brewing beer.  Perhaps one of the most famous incidents related to brewing in Minnesota and the Prohibition was the kidnapping in St. Paul of William Hamm Jr., the president of Hamm’s Brewing Co.  He was grabbed by the Barker-Karpis gang while walking home on his lunch break.  The ransom of $100,000 was dropped on the side of the road outside Pine City.

The first brewery began in 1849 in Minnesota and the state’s beer industry grew from small-town breweries to the larger companies of days gone by including Hamms, Grain Belt and Surly to a new wave of breweries such as Summit, Surly and Lake Superior Brewing Co. Today brewpubs have popped up and are supplied by microbreweries and home brewers from your local neighborhoods.

The program is sponsored by East Central Regional Library and the Milaca Community Library and is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald Revealed

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul on September 24, 1896. He spent his formative years and early adult life in Minnesota. Although he considered himself a failure, Fitzgerald became one of the most popular writers of the 1920s and is probably best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. The novel deals with issues of decadence and excess and is widely interpreted as a cautionary tale. Much of his notoriety was his relationship with his “muse”, his wife, Zelda. Fitzgerald and Zelda became well-known figures in St. Paul society in the early 1920s for the parties held at their White Bear Lake cottage with friends, newspaper reporters and fans.

Join us at the Chisago Lakes Area Library on Tuesday, October 24 for “The Life and Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald” presented by staff from the Minnesota Historical Society. Come dressed in period attire (or not) and enter the world of the speakeasy as the Friends of the Chisago Lakes Area Library create the atmosphere of the Roaring 20s and serve refreshments starting at 6:00 pm.

Then at 6:30 pm join us as Minnesota Historical Society staff inform us about Fitzgerald’s early years, his relationship with his wife, Zelda and the impact of St. Paul on his stories and novels and his connections to the James J. Hill family and other prominent people of the time.There is still time to join the ECRL Reads program which runs till Thursday, November 16.

We must not forget the contributions to literature during the 1920s including great authors such as Ernest Hemmingway, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes and of course, Minnesota’s own, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The first ever ECRL Reads is taking place in East Central Regional Library’s six counties and are encouraging everyone to read the same book, Ice-Out by Minnesota author Mary Casanova. Ice-Out takes place in 1920s Minnesota during F. Scott Fitzgerald’s early years and the “great experiment” known as Prohibition.

The program is sponsored by East Central Regional Library and the Chisago Lake Area Library in partnership with the Friends of the Chisago Lakes Area Library. All programs are funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.


What’s it Worth with Mark Moran

Have you ever wondered the worth of that prized possession you keep in your display case or jewelry box? Or how about a coveted piece of fine art, old toy or sports memorabilia?

Now you can find out.

The East Central Regional Library presents author and appraiser Mark Moran and his traveling antique appraisal program at select branch locations this month. Moran, who has appeared on the PBS program, Antiques Roadshow, will evaluate your item and help you learn more about its history.

Here is the schedule:

  • Monday, Oct. 23, 5-8 p.m., Cambridge Public Library
  • Thursday, Oct. 26, 5-8 p.m., Mora Public Library
  • Saturday, Oct. 28, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Princeton Area Library
  • Thursday, Nov. 2, 5-8 p.m., North Branch Area Library

One item per household may be appraised. Acceptable items include fine art, furniture, ceramics, glassware, vintage photographs, advertising, folk art, assorted toys, metalware, clocks, costume jewelry, musical instruments, books and sports memorabilia.

Excluded items include all weapons, including swords and knives (folding knives with advertising accepted); traps, like leg-hold; Nazi memorabilia; coins and paper money; fine jewelry, including precious gems; and Beanie Babies.

Registration for appraisals is required. You can only register by calling 763-392-0657.  Please leave only ONE message and do not call your local ECRL branch.  They cannot register you for the program.  Someone will get back to you as soon as possible.  Additional guests who would just like to listen and observe are welcome.

Opinions of value are informal and may not be used for insurance or charitable donation, which requires a certified appraisal. This is not a certified appraisal.

This project is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.


ECRL Reads – September 15 thru November 16

Many communities throughout Minnesota and the U.S. host community wide read programs with everyone reading the same book.  If this can work for communities, why not try it for an entire region?  Hence, the idea for a region-wide read program for the East Central Regional Library system was conceived.

Supported with Legacy funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund, a library legacy sub-committee was formed to pick a title and plan events and programs for the first ever ECRL Reads Program.  Instead of only one community reading the same book, everyone in our region of six counties including Aitkin, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine will be reading the same book.  This will include all our 14 branches (Aitkin, Cambridge, Hinckley, Chisago Lakes, McGregor, Milaca, Mille Lacs (isle), Mora, North Branch, Pine City, Princeton, Rush City, Sandstone, Wyoming and our eight Outreach locations.

The ECRL Reads program’s goal is to encourage community members throughout our six counties to come together through the reading and discussion of a common book and to strengthen the region while supporting literacy.  After several book suggestions and discussions, the committee chose the book Ice-Out by MN author Mary Casanova to be our 2017 ECRL Reads title.  The ECRL Reads event will run from September 15 thru November 16 and includes numerous programs and events based on the life and culture of 1920s Minnesota.

Ice-Out is the story about nineteen-year-old Owen Jensen who has big dreams growing up in tiny Ranier, Minn., near the Canadian border. He wants to open the town’s first Studebaker dealership, support his mom and younger siblings after the death of his father and win the hand of his girlfriend, Sadie Rose. But in the lawless 1920s, few paths are open to young men in his town, other than farming, fishing and bootlegging.  Readers will be rooting for Owen to find a path forward at a time when the police were sometimes as dangerous as the criminals they chased down.  Inspired by real events in early 1920s Minnesota, it is a story of young romance against terrible odds and true grit on the border between license and responsibility, rich and poor, and right and wrong.

Mary Casanova is an award-winning Minnesota author. Many of her books stem from her life on the Minnesota-Canadian border; yet some of her stories have taken her as far away as France, Norway, and Belize for research.

The ECRL Reads program is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and in partnership with the Friends groups of the Cambridge Public Library, Chisago Lakes Area Library, North Branch Area Library, Princeton Area Library, Rush City Public Library and the Sandstone Public Library and both McGregor and North Branch Community Education.

For a list of all programming and events including book discussions, a Prohibiton re-enactor, music of the 20s and 30s, The Tin Lizzie: Mr. Ford’s Model T and more download the ECRL Reads brochure.  Be sure to follow us on  our Facebook page and Twitter as well (#ECRLReads).