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C.J. Gustafson
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Thirty Years of Food, Fun, and Friends at the Flea Market
Myron Haug was just sixteen years old when he entered into an agreement with the Pine County Fair Board that allowed him to operate a flea market at the fairgrounds. But despite his young age, Haug was already an experienced businessman, having been involved in several ventures, including a local bar, door-to-door sales, and his fathers cattle business. And he was a trained auctioneer.

At the time Haug went to the Fair Board to make his pitch, there were just five or six vendors who sold their goods during the livestock auctions held at the sales barn on the fairgrounds. Haug convinced the board that he could increase the number of vendors and build a flea market that would draw people from all over the state. Thirty years later, with approximately one hundred and fifty sellers, and an average of three thousand people passing through the flea market each Wednesday morning, from April through October, Haug has certainly kept his word.

The Pine City Flea Market has always been a family run business. In the early years, Myron lived across from the fairgrounds with his parents, Helen and Harry Haug. Helen ran the food stand and helped out where needed. Harry mowed the grass and helped maintain the grounds, part of the responsibilities included in the agreement with the Fair Board. Myron spent a great deal of his time building the business by talking with people about the flea market and encouraging them to participate. Gradually the enterprise grew.

In 1977, Myron married Joan Workman, a local Pine City woman. After about a year, Joan took over the food stand responsibilities. Over the next few years, the couple had three children, a daughter, Becky, and twin sons, Travis and Trevor. The children grew up at the flea market, helping to pick up garbage, mow the grass, and even clean the toilets. There was work to be done, and they pitched in to help.

Becky conveyed how all three children feel fortunate to have grown up with parents who encouraged them to be involved in the family businesses. She feels that the support their parents gave them, and the opportunities they had to learn have had a huge impact on who they are today. "The most important things they did for us were to teach us to work hard and to treat people well," she stated.

The boys eventually went on to other things. Both currently work for a cement company, are building a house, and have many side jobs going. "Thats typical of this family," Joan said with a laugh. "We're always working on some project."

"Even at a young age my brothers always had some sort of business going," Becky shared, remembering the boys having a stand at the flea market and working for the carnival during the fair.

Becky, who has a degree in Accounting, has remained actively involved with the flea market. "She pretty much runs things now," Myron said proudly, nodding his head at his daughter. Joan explained how she went back to school to become a teacher in 1991, and when she began teaching four years ago Becky took over her flea market responsibilities. As Becky moved around the food stand, talking to vendors and customers, darting off to run an errand, answer questions, or make decisions about the business, it was clear that Myrons sons arent the only ones who inherited his entrepreneurial skills.

Becky married Vance Wedin, an independent milk hauler, in 1999 and they have a one-year-old son, Austin, middle name of Myron. As he toddled around the food stand picking things up off the floor, messing with the brooms, and getting cooed at by the customers, his grandpa watched him with a mixture of love and pride. He joked that the child would be ready to start working at the flea market soon. In the summers, after school is out, Joan comes to the flea market and helps set up, then baby-sits Austin while Becky does her work. Everyone pitches in to make the flea market a success.

There have been many memorable events in the last thirty years, such as the time the television show, Good Company, featured the flea market in its Bargain Buys segment. But the Haugs said that it is the bonds with the people that stick out in their minds the most. Vendors like Ethel Swartz, who sells kids clothing and play equipment, the Radabaughs of Melon Vine Farms, Ethel Geriok, who specializes in antiques, and the folks of Potvin Produce have all been coming to the flea market for over twenty years. "You get to know them, know about their families," Joan said. "They watched our kids grow up, and now they really enjoy seeing Austin here with Becky."

Because many of the sellers tend to be retired people, several have grown old with the flea market and passed away. "There was even a lady who died right here at the flea market," Myron said. Bob Applegate, who sold potatoes and watermelon at the market for years sticks out in Joans mind as someone everyone knew and liked. "We have attended more than one funeral," she said sadly.

To help customers locate favorite vendors, the Haugs allow sellers to reserve the same booth sites week after week. There is overnight camping at the fairgrounds for those that come from far away or want to get an early start on setting up. The vendors expressed appreciation for the friendly, caring atmosphere at the Pine City Flea Market. Larry Krause, who has become a familiar figure in his little red bus, has been a vendor here for over ten years. This is a good place. "It's a good setup. And it's nice to see the same people every week," he said.

In addition to the regular vendors who return week after week, there are also a large number of regular customers, many who travel from other towns and even other states to shop. People have come to depend on the flea market for things like fresh flowers and produce, clothes for their kids, tools for their workshops, gadgets for their homes, candy for their sugar cravings and a vast variety of treasures for their collections. "I always seem to find just the perfect thing that I didnt know I needed," one shopper said enthusiastically.

Another big draw of the flea market is the food stand. Many people look forward to starting the morning out with a good cup of coffee and some pancakes and eggs, or ending their shopping day with a hamburger or hot dog. There have been several cooks over the years. Carol Johnson, who has been cooking here for three or four years, is clearly a favorite. People stop in, grab a stool and holler out hellos and pleasantries to her before digging in to eat what one older gentleman described as some of the best cooking around.

Sitting enjoying a cup of coffee and a roll one sunny June day, Dorothy Coppess of Pine City explained why she likes coming to the flea market. "For one, you get good deals," she stated as she pointed to nine marigold plants with huge, gorgeous flowers. "I bought the whole lot for five dollars. And look around; its a beautiful morning. Everybody is smiling and happy. It's a good place to be," she added.

Even on a rainy day, people seem to have a good time at the flea market. There is a sense of shared experience, whether it be keeping dry, making a good deal, or visiting with the Haugs and other friends. For many people, the Wednesday trip to the flea market has become a favorite part of their summer weekly routine. In fact, the entire town is impacted by flea market day. Businesses schedule extra staff to meet the increase in customers in town, local residents plan garage sales for that day, people avoid scheduling meetings or other get-togethers on Wednesday mornings because they know many folks plan on being at the flea market.

When the Pine County fair went to five days instead of four, which meant that it started on Wednesday, the Haugs decided not to have the flea market that one day. They heard from so many disappointed people that now during fair week, the vendors setup north of the grandstands in the open field. After thirty years, the flea market has become a Pine City tradition that many people just dont want to do without.

Selling cattle and conducting auctions, including the Pine City Lions auction, which he has done for twenty-nine years, are Myrons main activities. But he has a special fondness for the flea market. He is pleased with how the weekly event has expanded over the years, and he expects the flea market will continue to grow in the future. "Every year we get more vendors and more people passing through," he said. "I see it continuing for many years to come, getting even bigger and better."

The Pine City Flea Market runs every Wednesday from the beginning of April to the end of October. Many vendors begin selling around six in the morning, and activities usually wind down by about noon. To arrange for a vendor booth at the Pine City Flea Market, or for additional information, contact Myron or Joan Haug at 320-629-6924, or Becky Wedin at 715-689-2977.
Making Maple Syrup, An Age-old Tradition
There are few places more cozy and inviting on a rainy spring day than the Sugar Shack at the Audubon Center of The North Woods in Sandstone. And there are few people more enjoyable to talk syrup with than Ty Johnson, the Land and Building Manager for the Center. With the help of the other staff, Ty has been boiling maple sap into syrup at the Audubon Center for over eight years. The warmth from the wood fire used to heat the sap pans, the steam rising off the boiling sap, and the sweet smell of syrup wafting through the air, created the perfect setting to spend some time talking with Ty about the age-old process of making maple syrup.

To get maple syrup, you need maple trees. There are several ways to identify a maple: by its bark, by its leaves. But perhaps the easiest way is to look at its branches. If the stems growing off one side of the branch line up directly opposite the stems on the other side of the branch, creating a Y, you are probably looking at a maple tree. According to Ty, a good sap-producing tree will have a large solid trunk, and no broken branches or burls, (abnormal growths caused by injury or infection).

Next, you need to tap the tree to get the sap that comes up from the tree's roots. Determining when the sap will begin to run can be tricky. Weather is a main factor in when and how much the sap flows. The temperature has to warm up during the day, and then drop to freezing or below at night. Ty described an ideal sap day as one where it reaches 45-50 degrees during the day and falls to 20-25 degrees at night. Why do these conditions make tree sap run? "That is still a bit of a mystery," Ty admits. "The scientists think it has to do with the way temperature makes liquid expand and contract, but they are not ready to put their stamp of scientific proof on that theory."

The tree uses the sap to feed itself and grow new leaves and branches. That is why it is important to tap the tree correctly and not take too much sap. To tap a tree, you want to choose a place on the tree that has many large branches, if possible. This indicates a higher volume of sap. Then drill a 7/16-inch hole, which is about the size of an adults finger. It should go deep enough to hold the tap that you plan to use.

There are several ways to drill the hole. A hand tap is what it sounds like, a drill that you turn with your hand. There are tapping adapters that will fit on a chain saw, and there are other power tappers, made specifically for drilling sap taps. Ty uses the chain saw adapter. "We tap about 800 to 1000 trees," he said. "I wouldnt want to do all of them by hand!" Ty recommended only one or two taps in each tree, depending on its size. "I've seen some people put four or five buckets on one tree. Those guys are not leaving the tree enough sap to meet its needs."

After tapping the tree, Ty uses a syringe or turkey baster to flush out the wood chips. He includes a little bleach in the water to help keep the spores open. "A tree will begin to heal the drilled hole almost immediately," he explained. "The bleach slows that process." If tapped correctly, a tree will heal completely in about a year.

When the hole is clean, the tap is lightly pounded in until it is secure enough to hold the collection devise. The Audubon Center uses one-gallon buckets with covers to keep leaves and other debris out. Some setups use a gravity feed pipeline system that drains right into the holding container. "This requires at least a three percent slope for the system to work," Ty said. "We have one, but were not using it right now. A good tree, under prime conditions will produce about one drip of sap per second, which equals out to around 3 gallons of sap in a 24-hour period," Ty continued. "Which means that our buckets need to be dumped two to three times each day during peak levels." It may sound like a lot of sap, but consider that it takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That is because sap is mostly water, and to get syrup the water has to be boiled off.

Once the sap is collected, it is brought to the Sugar Shack and poured into the holding tank. When Ty is ready to boil the sap, he opens the valve and the sap runs into the cooking pans. The setup used by the Audubon Center has four evaporator pans, each at a different temperature. A wood stove heats the pans, so part of Ty's yearly preparation includes cutting cords of wood for the stove. In the first pan, the sap is heated to about 212 degrees. As the sap heats, it flows to the next pan, and the next until, in the fourth pan, it is boiled until it reaches about 219 degrees. Every few minutes the sap in this fourth pan starts to foam over, so Ty adds one drop of vegetable oil, and the foaming subsides for a bit. As the water is boiled off, steam fills the shack, accompanied by a sweet sugary smell. It is a surreal effect that creates an aurora of mystery around the whole process, making one feel like they are involved in a secret, ancient, ritual.

In fact, people have been making syrup for centuries. Ty described how Native Americans used to throw heated rocks into sap to cook it. Many people still collect sap and make syrup or maple sugar every spring, some for personal consumption and others for commercial distribution. Some simply fill a large kettle with sap and boil it until they get syrup. The techniques and equipment differ from person to person and from region to region, but those that prepare syrup for commercial purposes, as the Audubon Center does, must meet certain quality and safety standards.

The Audubon's syrup setup is inspected by the Department of Agriculture. In addition to assuring that the syrup reaches a certain temperature, Ty must also use a hydrometer to check for density. The specifics are complicated and technical. For those who want to know more about high volume syrup production, Ty recommended the North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual, published by the University of Ohio Press. Those who simply want to tap a few trees for personal use, perhaps as a fun family activity or a way to get closer to nature, might try Sweet Maple: Life Lore, and Recipes From the Sugarbush, a book written by James M. Lawrence, and published by Diane Publishing Company. Additionally, a small company called C & C Sugarbush, located in Pengilly, Minnesota, near Grand Rapids, is one of Ty's main sources of supplies from taps, to evaporator systems, to containers for the finished syrup. "Of course there are hundreds of resources out there for people who are interested in making syrup," Ty said. "These are a few I am familiar with and have found helpful."

When the syrup has thickened and reaches the correct temperature and density, Ty draws it off into a bucket and pours it through a filtering system. "This filters out the minerals and other impurities in the syrup," he explained as he pulled out the two filters. The first looks like a giant coffee filter. The second filter is much thicker and made of a material Ty called orlin, which looks similar to felt. "These are what we use, he said, "but many everyday materials will work for filtering. I have seen people use a flannel shirt."

Once the syrup is filtered it is ready to be bottled. If Ty is busy and has to wait to bottle the syrup, he must then reheat it to 180 degrees to meet sanitary standards. At the end of the day, the fire needs to burn out and the pans need to cool and then be covered. Ty watches this closely because he says that if the syrup burns, it creates a mess that can ruin the taste of the syrup and can take up to three days to clean up.

The length of the syrup season depends on the weather and can vary greatly from year to year. "When the sap turns cloudy and the leeks start coming up in the woods I know we only have a few days left," Ty said with a touch of melancholy in his voice. Although making maple syrup is hard work, demanding much time and effort, it is clear that the cycle has become as much a part of his life as the seasons themselves.

The Audubon Centers syrup can be purchased at its gift store and at Chris"s in Sandstone. Schools and other organizations also purchase the syrup to use for fundraising. Groups of school children from all over the state spend 3-5 days at the Audubon Center, helping collect the sap and learning about the syrup process and other environmental concepts. Tours of the Center, including the maple syrup facilities, can be arranged by calling their main number, (218) 245-2648.
North, to Alaska!
Spectacular cruises to the famed Yukon country provide a unique summer adventure for those who love history, rugged scenery, wildlife and the outdoors.

With its stunning snow-capped mountains, amazing wildlife encounters, miles of coastline, islands, and fjords, and opportunities to see glaciers up close, Alaska provides cruise vacations like no others. The state has a history steeped in gold rush lore, Native and Russian cultures, salmon fishing and wide and wild spaces. These unique attributes create many tourist attractions, and Alaskan towns and cities have been gradually moving their economies in that direction, developing facilites to accommodate cruise ships and entertain visitors. Many areas on the coast are not accessible by land travel, and cruising provides comfortable and affordable ways to see this rugged and beautiful region. There are currently nearly 30 ports of call along the state’s western coastal shores, and new stops rise in popularity every day. Alaska’s cruise itineraries offer plenty of options for those who enjoy history, rugged scenery, wildlife, and the outdoors.

History and General Facts
Native peoples have inhabited Alaska for tens of thousands of years. The first Europeans to see the region were those on Vitus Bering's 1741 Russian exploration. More of their countrymen soon followed and set up government at Sitka. On March 30, 1867, the United States and Russia signed a treaty to transfer Alaska to the United States, and the following October it became official as the Americans raised the Stars and Stripes over Sitka. It would be nearly another full century before Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

Alaska covers 570,373 square miles of land, plus an additional 45,000 square miles of water, making it the biggest state in the country. It comprises over 20 percent of the U.S.’s total land area, yet it has a population of just over 600,000. Contrary to popular misconception, the majority of the state’s residents are of Caucasian heritage (70%), with Native Alaskans comprising the second largest group.

The state’s extreme northern location produces unusual distribution of daylight hours and cooler winter weather. As a result, Alaska’s cruise industry is seasonal, typically running from April through September. Summer temperatures in the Inside Passage average in the 60s and 70s. Daylight hours are extended during this time of year. North of the Arctic Circle, daylight can last for an entire month in mid summer. In Anchorage, the state’s largest city and one of the northernmost cruise destinations, the summer solstice day is 19.5 hours long. These pleasant temperatures and longer daylight hours help cruisers get more out of their vacation and also provide a travel experience that cannot be found at other cruise destinations.

Cruise ships visit Prince William Sound with its wildlife and famous Columbia Glacier, and the Bearing Sea and Gulf of Alaska cruises are popular as well. But the Inside Passage is Alaska's biggest cruise destination. Also known as the Panhandle and as "Southeast" Alaska, the main ports of call are Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway. Spectacular Glacier Bay National Park is often an included destination on Inside Passage cruises.

Ketchikan
Often the first stop on northbound cruises, Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s first city and the salmon capital of the world. The town, with a population of over 14,000 is built along a steep hillside. It is located on the western coast of Revillagigedo Island, on the southernmost edge of Alaska. It is 679 miles north of Seattle and 235 miles south of Juneau.

Points of Interest
Totem Bight and Heritage Center: View large collections of authentic totem poles.
Misty Fjords National Monument: Travel by air or water to tour this pristine wilderness area of over 2 million acres. Contains towering 3,000-foot high rock cliffs and abundant wildlife including bear, mountain goats, seals, and a variety of birds.
Creek Street: Ketchikan’s red-light district until prostitution became illegal in 1954. Many of the stilt houses have since been converted to quaint shops. Dolly’s House, the areas most famous house of ill repute, has been preserved as a museum.
Deer Mountain Hatchery: Observation platforms and educational displays concerning the salmon's life cycle.
Water activities: Kayaking, salmon fishing, sea planes, scenic tours boating, and much more
Blueberry Festival: mid August arts & crafts show with music and food stands that serve up a wide variety of blueberry dishes.


Sitka
The former capital of Russian Alaska and the city where the U.S. officially took possession of the state, Sitka is located on Baranof Island. Originally inhabited by Tlingit Indians, the city today is a combination of Tlingit, Russian and American cultures. It is a stunning destination with small islands dotting the harbor and Mt. Edgecumbe, a picturesque volcano, as a backdrop.

Points of Interest
Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center: Offers a look at Southeast Alaska cultures through a series of exhibits and programs. Also includes an easy hiking trail to the site of historic Tlingit Fort.
St. Michael's Cathedral: Interesting Russian Orthodox church that was rebuilt after 1966 fire.
Tongass National Forest: The largest temperate rain forest in the world surrounds Sitka. Offers extensive system of trails for hiking.
Castle Hill: The place where the United States took possession of Alaska and also an area of Russian fortress-like structures. Provides a spectacular view of the town and surrounding scenery.
View Wildlife: Whales, grizzly bears, sea otters, sea lions and a variety of birds are abundant.

Juneau
Originally a fish camp for the indigenous Tlingit Indians, and later a boomtown and home of large scale mining operations, Juneau today is Alaska’s third largest city and the state’s capital. Its economy is driven by government activities and tourism. Surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and steep mountains, Juneau is somewhat remote but has all the modern conveniences and a large list of things to do and see.

Points of Interest
Alaska State Museum: First opened as a territorial museum in 1900. It has a wildlife exhibit, an extensive collection of artifacts reflecting the state's Russian history and Native cultures, antiques, art and natural history displays.
Governor's Mansion: One of Alaska's few examples of colonial architecture, the mansion was built in 1912 and houses Alaska's governor and family.
Mendenhall Glacier: Alaska's famous drive-in glacier flows 12 miles from its source, the Juneau Ice Field, and has a 1.5 mile face. The US Forest Service has a visitor center with a variety of exhibits relating to the glacier. Get face to face with a real glacier.
Mount Roberts Tramway: Travel 2000 feet up to the visitors’ center for breathtaking views, a restaurant, bar gift shop and museum.
South Franklin Street: A shopper’s paradise. Offers an amazing variety of merchandise.
Activities: Helicopter & dogsled glacier adventures, whale watching, panning for gold, hiking, kayaking, and a host of other adventures and outdoor activities await visitors to Alaska’s capital.


Skagway
This former mining town is located 90 miles northeast of Juneau at the northernmost end of Lynn Canal. During the days of the great Klondike gold rush, Skagway reportedly had 80 saloons and was known as "the roughest town on earth". Much of the town’s heritage and history have been preserved, creating a feel of what life was like in this rough and tumble town at the top of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Eagles Hall: Home of the revue "Skagway in the Days of '98." This old time production, which has been running since 1927, depicts the town during the gold rush and includes dancing girls and a reenactment of the shoot-out between villain, Soapy Smith and hero, Frank Reid.
Red Onion Saloon: One of the most well preserved establishments from the town’s heyday. Filled with history and character.
Trail of '98 Museum: Contains documents relating to Soapy Smith and Frank Reid, gambling paraphernalia from the old Board of Trade Saloon, Native artifacts and much more.
Broadway: A reconstructed gold rush street that runs the length of the town, Broadway is full of nostalgia and shops selling unusual merchandise.
Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve: The world's largest concentration of bald eagles can be found at the eagle preserve in the nearby town of Haines.


Glacier Bay National Monument
Preserved as a National Monument, Glacier Bay is an extraordinary collection of glaciers in a contained region. The park has snow-capped mountain ranges rising to over 15,000 feet, coastal beaches with protected coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers and freshwater lakes. Wildlife abounds in these 3.3 million acres of land and sea. The area is currently in a phase of glacial retreat, which provides unique opportunities to learn about emerging ecosystems. The park is a key area for many marine animals and as such is protected and monitored. Only two Alaska cruise ships per day are permitted to enter the bay during the summer months when whales come to feed. There are no roads to Glacier Bay and no Alaska Marine Highway ferry service, so cruise ships provide a great way to see this unique and impressive park.

From the Native Alaskans to the Russians, fur traders, prospectors and other adventurous individuals, people have been drawn to the spectacle and grandeur of Alaska for centuries. In a land that can be wild and unforgiving, cruising provides an affordable and comfortable means of exploring the state and its coastal waters. Witness the power of glaciers calving, kayak the pristine bays and fjords, buy an “oosik” at a seaside souvenir shop, get up close and personal with whales, dolphins and other native wildlife and maybe if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights will put on a show in late August and you will have the best seat in the house. What better way to enjoy your summer?
These are just a few samples from over 200 published articles. Please feel free to contact me for additional samples or information on a specific topic.