Ninja Warrior comes to Spicer!

Ever seen the show American Ninja Warrior on NBC?

Admittedly, I haven’t, but I’m told it’s a show full of strength and athleticism, featuring contestants that compete against each other as they maneuver challenging obstacle courses.

This weekend, the Spicer area gets a glimpse of the popular show right on Saulsbury Beach!

Today (Saturday, June 13th) and tomorrow (Sunday, June 14th) only, teams and individual competitors have the opportunity to try out slightly milder versions of their favorite American Ninja Warrior obstacle courses for themselves. From running steps to maneuvering an unstable bridge, participants will compete in our own local Ninja Warrior event.

Non-competitors can also be nearby to watch the competition all weekend. There will be food vendors, inflatables for kids, and a dunk tank on property for this family-friendly event, as well.

The best part? 100% of the proceeds go to Grace Place of Willmar.

Grace Place, founded in 2014, is a home for women who have been incarcerated, fought addiction, and struggled with poverty, among other hardships. The women receive encouragement, spiritual guidance, and training to help them develop healthy habits and learn important life to overcome whatever situations they may face.

You can learn more about Grace Place here and its Ninja Warrior event here. Be sure to check out this fun event this weekend and support a great cause!

Carlson Studio of Spicer to close its doors

Yesterday Carlson Studio of Spicer made the official announcement that its 30-plus- year photography business will come to an end as of May 31, 2015. Marti Carlson has been photographing graduates, couples, kids and families for years and is a well-known local favorite.

As someone with a photography background myself, I can personally vouch for her skills behind the camera. Carlson Studio has “unofficially” been known as the best photography business in the area for as long as I can remember. Marti took my childhood photos, senior pictures, and several family shoots as I grew up. She’ll be missed!

That said, there is a small silver lining

Before the studio closes for good, it’s offering MAJOR deals on files from old sessions!

Carlson Studio deal

If you’re from the area, you know that Carlson Studio is known as a higher-end photography business. Its current special, though, is a steal! From now until May 1st of this year, you can purchase digital files from any session prior to 2012 for $50. For older sessions, negatives can be purchased for just $25. On top of that, each additional session that you buy is only $15 each!

Kandiyohi County is losing a great photographer this year but I, for one, am excited to check out some of the old files from my family’s past sessions and relive memories long forgotten.

You can receive updates from Carlson Studio on its Facebook page, or call 320-796-0096 for more information. The studio is currently located at 176 Progress Way in Spicer.

Best wishes to all those who’ve been involved in Carlson Studio – you and your talents will be missed in Spicer and the surrounding areas!

Where to Dine in the Willmar Area This Easter

I don’t think I can recall ever dining in a restaurant on Easter Sunday.

Usually Easters past have been spent at my grandma’s or in my mom’s kitchen, the smell of turkey permeating every nook and cranny.

Not this year!

Although I love a homemade Easter meal, this year the list of family in the area is small, so we decided to do dinner out instead.

I’ve had fun exploring all the options, and without further ado, here’s the comprehensive list of eateries hosting Easter meals tomorrow!*

Bello Cucina
Brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
194 Progress Way
Spicer, MN 56288
(320) 796-0203
More info can be found on Facebook.
Reservations recommended.

Green Mill
Brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Willmar Conference Center
$17.95 per person, including beverages
($15.95 for seniors and $7.95 for children 5-12)
Regular Green Mill hours resume in the restaurant at 5:00 p.m.
2100 E Highway 12
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 231-2301
Reservations recommended.

Hillcrest Restaurant
Open from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Features: Pit Ham and Yankee Pot Roast
16451 Highway 71 NE
New London, MN 56273
(320) 354-4545

Kandi Entertainment Center
500 19th Ave NE
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-3800
Reservations recommended.

McMillan’s Family Restaurant
Buffet from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
2620 1st St S
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-7213

The Oaks at Eagle Creek
Buffet brunch served from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
$14.95 per person
($12.95 for seniors 60+ and $6.95 for children 6-10)
1000 26th Ave NE
Willmar, MN 56201

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
Hours: 12:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
2645 South Highway 71
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-5957


*More local restaurants may offer Easter meals, but this list is limited only to the ones I could confirm.

Birthday Freebies in the Willmar Area


It just so happens to be my birthday today and, as everybody knows, the best part of birthdays is stocking up on freebies from local retailers!

In case you’re unfamiliar with this concept, many vendors offer free and discounted products on your big day to help you celebrate. Some deals are even redeemable throughout your entire birthday month!

Many retailers require that you sign up for their e-mail list ahead of time, so plan ahead, and be sure to have an ID on you if you’re 16 or older, just in case.

Here’s the full list of places in the area that offer birthday specials:
A&W: Free root beer float when you join the Mug Club
Arby’s: Free shake when you sign up for e-mails
Applebee’s: Free ice cream with either chocolate or strawberry sauce (and a free birthday song!)
Burger King: Free hamburger Kids Meal for kids under 13 years old (BK Crown membership required)
Caribou Coffee: Free medium drink when you join their e-mail list and provide a photo ID
CherryBerry: Free frozen yogurt and toppings of choice
Culver’s: Free ice cream surprise when you join their e-mail list (In the past, treats have included a scoop of custard and an ice cream sundae.)
Dairy Queen: BOGO Blizzard—mini, small or medium (Sign up for e-mails online to receive your birthday coupon and other deals throughout the year.)
Dunn Bros: Free birthday drink when you sign up for their e-mails
El Tapatio: Free dessert and song, plus you get the honor of wearing a sombrero!
Erbert and Gerbert’s: Free sandwich during your birthday month when you join the Sandwich Society (must pick up a card from an Erbert and Gerbert’s location)
LuLu Beans: Free cookie of choice
Green Mill: Free small one topping pizza for adults who join their rewards program, and free kids meal for kids who join the KidSpace birthday club (both offers valid through your birthday month!)
Panda Garden: Free buffet on your birthday with a valid ID and a party of 6+ people (print coupon here!)
Qdoba: Free burrito when you join their e-club
Redbox: Free DVD rental when you sign up for e-mails
Papa Murphy’s: Free cookie dough when you sign up for e-mails (You’ll also be the first to know about deals throughout the year!)
Pizza Ranch: Receive a $5 bonus on your card when you join the Ranch Rewards program AND take out a free cactus bread when you dine in.
Spicer Castle: Free birthday dinner (up to a $15 value)
Taco John’s: Free cini-sopapilla bites when you sign up for e-mails

Know of other local businesses that offer birthday freebies? Comment below and we’ll add them to the list!

Dine Out for United Way of West Central Minnesota


Over the past few weeks, a number of local restaurants have been donating percentages of their sales to United Way on designated days. A full list of participating eateries can be found here.

If you’ve missed out on any of these opportunities to eat out for charity, you’re in luck! There’s just one day left TOMORROW on Thursday, March 26th.

This Thursday, the following restaurants will be participating:
Cornerstone Coffee: $1 from every latte or mocha (iced, steamed, or blended)
Domino’s Pizza: 15% of all sales
Jack’s of New London: 25% of all sales
Ruff’s Wings and Sports Bar: 15% of sales with flyer
Spicer Castle: 10% of all sales

This is an easy way to support United Way while enjoying some yummy local eats! Check out the full United Way of West Central Minnesota site for more details.

Free Cone Day at Dairy Queen!


Attention, Willmarites!

Today just so happens to be Dairy Queen’s 75th anniversary, and participating Dairy Queen locations across the U.S. are giving away free vanilla cones to celebrate!

This deal is only good today, March 16th, so hurry to your favorite DQ before it closes for the night! I just grabbed my complimentary cone from the 1st Street Dairy Queen, and it was every bit as sweet and creamy as any DQ cone should be.

If you’re feeling generous, participating stores are accepting donations for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Be sure to leave a little something if you have some extra cash or change on hand!

Since the newly constructed Highway 12 Dairy Queen is still getting its finishing touches for a late spring opening, run to the 1st Street location before 9:30 p.m. to take advantage of this freebie!

Rumor has it that the Spicer location is also participating in this event, but I have yet to confirm this. Spicer’s DQ is open until 9:00 p.m.

Enjoy your ice cream tonight! #winningWillmar