Attending events this week will prove to be challenging.

Two major events are planned for the same day and at the same time. Paul Bunyan Playhouse Stars in the Street 60th Anniversary celebration with Kevin Kling and author Leif Enger at the Bemidji Public Library—what a difficult choice to make!

As always, my best source of information on upcoming library celebrity events, Marilyn Heltzer, came through on this one as well with lots of background information and praise for Enger. For the old timers here in Bemidji, do you remember when Leif Enger was the sole employee of the MPR affiliate here in Bemidji? According to Marilyn, he worked by himself and did everything—I hope that didn’t include having to empty the trash. Enger spent 20 years with MPR and before he went out on his own as an author, he and his brother Lee wrote a mystery series about a retired major league baseball player living on a lake in Northern MN. The series was published under the name L.L.Enger. Marilyn claims to have enjoyed them very much.
Enger’s first novel, “Peace Like A River” was on the N.Y. Times best seller list. Both Marilyn and Laura Bush share the distinction of having declared that it is a great book. His newest book, “So Brave, Young and Handsome” is out now. “Leif has an incredible gift for the language,” said Marilyn. Well, as for me, I am going to verify that claim Thursday, May 20 and get there early enough to get a seat for the 7 p.m. talk by Enger.

Sculpture Walk 2010-11 Opening Reception is at the Wild Rose Theater this Saturday, May 22. The public is invited to meet and talk with the artists who belong to the new pieces or the artists who embellished the fiberglass Beavers around town. Folks are asked to bring a dish to share for the event which will begin at 5:30 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. Wendy Greenberg will be calling Contra Dance (Celtic style line dance) at 7 p.m. for those at the reception. Anyone who wants to attend the Contra Dance without the reception will be asked to contribute what they can (from $5 to $10) to help underwrite the cost of the reception. Make sure you get around town to look at some of the pieces being installed this year. They get better and better each year—the other day, I saw an elderly gentleman being nudged by his wife for looking at the lovely diver on the corner of Fourth Street and Paul Bunyan Drive. Thanks from the Bemidji community for all the time and effort the Sculpture Walk Committee puts into this public art project. It is appreciated by residents and visitors alike.

In the column this week, there was mention of more information about the handbell concert this Saturday, May 22 at Bangsberg Hall. The 7 p.m. concert is hosted by the Lutheran Student Fellowship and, although there is no admission charge, they ask for a $10 donation to help defray the cost of the event. “Strikepoint” is based at the First United Methodist Church in Duluth and has been touring since 1985 with an international tour every two to three years. The “directorless” ensemble is lead by nationally known handbell clinician and conductor, Bill Alexander. The group rings on six octaves of bells which is almost the range of a piano keyboard. Treble ringers can hold up to six bells in their hands at one time. Bass ringers might use their whole bodies to move the 13-pound bronze bells. The program is varied but some of the audience favorites are Debussy’s “Arabesque,” Bach’s “Little Fugue” and Disney’s “Studios Under the Sea.” For handbell enthusiasts, this is a concert that would be hard to miss.

You were promised more information about the upcoming Italian Opera Night Gala but I suspect you have read just about all you can for the present. Information about the gala with notes about the selections, singers and musicians will be forthcoming in a couple of days. Let’s get this weekend under our belts first.

If anyone is interested in seeing an Air Show with the Thunderbirds this Saturday, Grand Forks Air Force Base is hosting this amazing fleet of pilots. Just take U.S. Highway 2 West past the city of Grand Forks and you will see signs for the base. It is easy to get to and don’t forget to take a chair for sitting and a picnic lunch. If you see us there with the grands, please stop and say hello. This is a great family event.

Congratulations are due to Beverly Everett and the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra for having achieved Finalist status in the American Prize Conducting and Orchestral Competition. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the announced winners will include our hometown orchestra and conductor.