It has to be something in the water, something in those 10,000 lakes that makes Minnesota capable of fostering the deluge of personalities and cultures. What other state in the entire country could have been equally nurturing to Prairie Home Companion as it was Prince. According to one survey the state’s workforce is among the best-educated and with a higher standard of living as well, not only that, but according to multiple health studies they all live longer too. The phrase “Minnesota nice” really does permeate the culture and lend to some of the most unique places.
Speaking with Cindy Habedank of Visit Bemidji we learned about The Curling Capital of the World. “Curling has been a popular sport in Bemidji since the early 1900’s.” Habedank went on to tout their Olympic curling achievements, “Bemidji Curling teams have represented the USA in the 2002 and 2006.” Not an easy feat in any sport, but Bemidji knows what it knows, and curling is one of those things. The scene around the area is capable of handling all manner of events, conventions, and meetings, Habedank gave us this last nugget, “A common remark from visitors and meeting attendees is they are surprised at what a vibrant town Bemidji is. From major franchise hotels to art/entertainment and the stellar GW Neilson Convention Center, they are glad they came and will be back.” Bemidji is also an artsy college city, coffee shops and public art run rampant through the streets, it’s almost literally alive with art. Not exactly what you’d expect from an area with a giant Paul Bunyan statue.
Matt Laible of Meet Minneapolis gets at the meat of meeting in Minneapolis, “We’ve seen a number of groups incorporate media walls near registration and/or inside their exhibit halls. Also, planners are trying to make their exhibit halls more engaging by incorporating contests, games, happy hours, and other activities.” In some of the larger events, tech is becoming King. It’s not that we haven’t all seen the gradual progression from analog to digital, but there’s been some other fun and interesting things as well. Laible notes other technologies he’s seen in the wild, “We also had a group recently use a new type of phone charging station where you actually place your phone inside of a locked cabinet and take the key, so the attendees do not need to stand there waiting for their phones to charge.” Mobility is important for networking purposes and to take in everything that an event has to offer, while phones are becoming increasingly more important it can be hard to be tied down to a charging station to make sure no one swipes your phone. These charging lockers sound intriguing and hopefully they’ll become a more prominent fixture at events.
For those times that you get to break away from the busy work and take in some sights there are great places to go in Minneapolis. Laible lists some options, “Specifically for meeting or conference goers, Mia (the Minneapolis Institute of Art) and Weisman Art Museum are good options. Exploring the downtown Minneapolis Riverfront, including the Mill Ruins, St. Anthony Falls, and Main Street is also a great way to spend an afternoon.” For those that have a night or two to kill, the legendary First Avenue music venue is a great place to see national acts or smaller touring acts depending on which room you have acquired tickets. If you’re a fan of Prince’s 1984 flick, Purple Rain, then you’ll be happy to know that many scenes were filmed right inside First Avenue. There really are some interesting spots to check out in Minneapolis, ask a local, or ask #askMPLS, I’m sure they’ll point you in the right direction because that’s just how Minnesota is.