Arts Advocates meet with Senator, Lord of the Dance coming to Bemidji and “Sordid Lives.”

I spent Saturday morning covering the meet and greet with Sen. Saxhaug and members of the Bemidji and environs arts reps at BCAC in the Carnegie Library. It took about a hour for the people to introduce themselves and tell why they were there to see the senator. Because of the space limitations for the Sunday article, I had to cull with “surgical precision” the many quotations that I recorded during the meeting. It’s always chancy quoting one person and not another, so please do not be offended if your comments don’t make it to the blog either.

But there were a few moments that gave me pause; when Wesley May, painter and Native American advocate and volunteer, came to stand before Saxhaug, introduce himself and shake the senator’s hand.  May stood tall among the crowd.

When Nancy Cole, Region 2 rep from Lake of the Woods thanked the senator for the funding her region has received to re-make their old depot. That funding has changed the lives of so many people in an area so bereft of cultural opportunities.

Bead artist Delina White from Bugonaygeshig School told of how the funds enabled her students to attend plays at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids—an opportunity they might not otherwise enjoy.

Marilyn Miller, board chair of the Bemidji Area Arts Endowment, who spoke of the nearly $12,000 in funds awarded yearly in Bemidji through BAAE for music lessons and arts activities. Money she told the senator that came from private donors who wanted to help supplement the arts grants.

Audrey Thayer who spoke of “Art from Within,” an initiative of the ACLU to give a voice to those who are or were incarcerated and their families.

Saxhaug was patient and listened attentively, looking only at his clip board to write a comment. I believe that everyone there felt that they were heard; a job well done by the organizers, participants and special guest.


LORD OF THE DANCE is making a stop in Bemidji while on a national tour. The original Lord of the dance, Michael Flatley is an American born step dancer, who brought Irish dance to the forefront. Flatley, although no longer a dancer—the Guinness Book of World Records cites him as having the world’s fastest feet—serves as artistic director of LOD.  Having seen them perform in England and New York, I can only say DON’T MISS IT!

Tickets are already on sale for the 3:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, Feb 24 at the Sanford Center. Tickets are $45 for premium reserved seating, $30 for reserved seating and $20 for Arena Bowl Seating. This show will not go to the Alerus in Grand Forks but it will be in the cities. So catch it while you can.  More color to come on this event in the near future.

 “SORDID LIVES,” a comedy by Del Shores will be the next Saarens’ production. A dinner-theater show that will include a Texas barbeque dinner–what else would you expect from a a bunch of Texans like Kevin Cease, Mitch Blessing, Chuck Deeter, Sarah Einerson (who is a transplanted Texan), Julie Kasier, Kathryn Lavelle, Andor Lofthus, Bridget Looper, Julie Quanrud, Steve Saari, Vicki Stenerson, Joel Ward and another true southern gal, Cheryl Winnett.

It’s an adult comedy with out-there adult themes so don’t even think about taking the kids. The comedy takes us into the lives of various “characters,” the Sordids and their friends. There was a movie made and,  if you goggle the title, you can get a good idea of the plot line.

Tickets need to be reserved at least one week in advance of the Feb. 21-23 dinner show at the Hungry Bear Conference Center. Ticket price includes dinner and play for a mere $32.50—a 10% discount is available for parties of 8 or more.

Call 556-1777 or send a check to Saarens Productions, 508 Woodland Ave. SW. Bemidji 56601.

The show is directed by DeeJay Arrens, and, yes, there will be a vegetarian option—cheese manicotti.