MinnPost at the Fair: 17 honored with Community Pride Awards

State Fair crowd
MinnPost photo by Joel Kramer
Fairgoers from throughout the state gathered Sunday for the Minnesota Community Pride Awards.

Seventeen Minnesota communities shared $15,000 in prizes Sunday at the State Fair as part of the second annual Minnesota Community Pride Showcase and Awards Ceremony, held in conjunction with MinnPost’s Day at the Fair.

State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer, who assisted with the awards program, noted that the Great Minnesota Get-Together, with its emphasis on community, was the perfect place to honor Minnesota communities for their civic improvement efforts.

Participating communities staffed displays highlighting their projects as part of daylong activities that included interviews with such Minnesota newsmakers as Sen. Al Franken and Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. The day’s entertainment included performances by the Brave New Workshop satire group and Hmong performance artist Tou Ger Xiong.

You can check out a slide show of the day’s highlights here. Check back often throughout the week for other coverage of MinnPost at the Fair.

The  Community Pride competition was sponsored by the State Fair, Minnesota Rural Partners (our partner for the day) and MinnPost.

“The purpose for the contest, first and foremost, was to find a way to share the great ideas Minnesotans have for improving their communities in the midst of a challenging economic environment,” said Rural Partners’ Jane Leonard, who helped run the original Minnesota Community Pride program 26 years ago. She was inspired to revive the program after serving as executive director of the Minnesota Statehood Sesquicentennial in 2008. 

“So much good is happening in Minnesota’s communities that, if shared, can help others across our state and country. These citizens and the projects being honored at the State Fair embody the spirit of Minnesota Community Pride competition.”

Here is a brief look at the winners. For fuller project descriptions, check here.

Best of Community Showcase Award: Redwood Falls Friends of the Park, for renovation of Alexander Ramsey Park zoo exhibits and the initial construction of a Redwood River Walk.

Arts & Culture
Ely Greenstone Public Art Committee, for restoration and reclamation work on the Pioneer Mine Complex.

Second: Menahga Arts Guild, for raising awareness of artistic talent in the community and for creating a market for arts, arts education and increased cultural access and arts outreach.

Third: Winona County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, for an open house celebrating the Winona County Courthouse’s 120th year as a center of justice.

Broadband Improvements & Applications
Cook County Boreal Access, for its Community Video Lab, an online showcase of videos by and about the people and places of Cook County.

Community Beautification
Roseau Riverview Park, for developing green space and a gazebo as a public gathering space and history exhibit.

Second: Rice Lake Church Restoration and Preservation Group, for its preservation work to save the historic church, which was built in 1878 and is the last remaining building of the village of Rice Lake. 

Community Design Category
Inver Grove Heights, for its efforts to stop the planned demolition of the Rock Island Swing Bridge and for conversion of the structure into a recreational pier that would provide access to — and dramatic views of — the Mississippi River. 

Second: Redwood Falls Friends of the Park, for renovation of Alexander Ramsey Park zoo exhibits and the initial construction of a Redwood River Walk.

Diversity Category
Pelican Rapids Multicultural Committee, for efforts to bring together different cultures together by celebrating their diversity through music, dance, and food, particularly through its International Friendship Festival.

Entrepreneurial Culture & Support
Iron Range Earth Fest, for its celebration of local traditions and for providing venue for encouraging sustainable living on the Iron Range.

Health Care & Wellness
The Get Fit Mower County Healthy Living Challenge of the United Way, for a health and wellness initiative focused on helping participants lose weight, increase activity and pursue better nutrition. 

Historic Preservation Category
Wells Historical Society Depot Project, for resurrecting the dormant group to work to save building through an array of fund-raising projects.

Overall community and economic development achievement (Pop. 500 to 999)
Royalton Parks Project, for providing outdoor recreation areas for those of all ages.

Overall community and economic development achievement (Pop. 1,000 to 4,999)
Waterville Community Connections, for wide-ranging efforts to increasetourism and recreational opportunities

Second: Maple Lake Library, which opened its doors in March 2009 and operates with volunteers because of a partnership between Friends of the Maple Lake Library and city and community organizations.

Overall community and economic development achievement (Pop. 10,000-plus)
Northfield Home Matters Project, which has worked to stabilize the Cherry Park Neighborhood and other areas by foreclosure to create healthy, affordable and energy efficient hosing options.

Second: Itasca Water Legacy Partnership, a community coalition of water quality advocates that has worked to ensure clean water resources and quality habitat in the major watersheds in Itasca County.

Third: Inver Grove Heights Old Village Area, where the city first got its start, which has undertaken planning studies to determine the best way to rejuvenate infrastructure, housing, the business community and public space.

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