Music festival aimed at cultivating talent

A new, weeklong music festival will debut in southern Minnesota this week, aiming to become a center for both established and aspiring musicians to play and learn.

The Minnesota Original Music Festival will kick off July 18 with a full schedule of workshops and performances, including a 60-hour band challenge, in which musicians will be randomly placed with others and challenged to form a band and come up with songs in 60 hours. The instant bands will then perform their original songs for a panel of judges.

The event also includes performances from musicians including Charlie Parr, Liz Draper and Chris Grey, the Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, Miss Myra, Lucy Michelle and others. All events are free, and music fans as well as musicians are welcome.

The event is focused “on the creative energy of Minnesota musicians, well-known and up-and-coming artists alike,” said Eli Hoehn, the event manager. “This is about identifying, facilitating and growing artists in Minnesota. For me, the biggest draw is the potential for a lot of very creative people to be in the same place at the same time.”

For more information, along with schedules of workshops and performances, visit



Stickers alert responders to special needs

A new sticker notification program launched this week allows residents to alert law enforcement of their special needs that could make it difficult to communicate.

The program, a partnership between the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office and the Stearns County Police Chiefs Association, uses stickers people can place in prominent locations such as a front door or window of their residence. The stickers have different colors to identify people who are deaf or hearing impaired, have dementia, have a brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, are diabetic or have autism or other special needs.

The stickers are free and available at the sheriff’s office or police stations in the county.



Cirrus expands paint facility

Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft has expanded its paint and finish facility near the Duluth International Airport. The additional 16,000 square feet will increase painting capacity by 35{5649da10f505f4d9ce6f427847d125ef295647a91e59852cf836032ab22cbba4} and add 50 jobs.

The aviation company, which employs 1,200 in Duluth, has also acquired the former nearby AAR Corp. maintenance building. That will become its innovation center and add another 80 jobs, officials have said.

“Because our demand for airplanes is so high, we can’t grow fast enough,” said Patrick Waddick, president of innovation and operations. “None of us really expected that in a global pandemic. … So, space is an important commodity.”

In 2021, the company surpassed 2019 billings with $632.9 million, moving 528 planes.