Community Events

State of Minnesota Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers

Did you know that one quarter of crashes in Minnesota last year were caused by distracted driving? That seems way too high of a number and a statistic that needs to drop considerably. 

The Minnesota Department of Safety is taking steps to work on taking drivers eyes off their phones and getting them back on the road. They have put together a plan to target distracted drivers -- city police, state troopers and county deputies are on the lookout for swerving cars, varying speeds and drivers with their eyes off the road. 

Phone calls are still legal on Minnesota roads, but using the Internet or texting is not -- even while stopped in traffic. 

Proving a driver is distracted with their phone texting is a tricky situation, but law enforcement officials can issue moving violations to anyone driving erratically. Distracted driving citations can range from $125 to $145 -- with that in mind, responding to that text while on the road or sending out that tweet is not worth the potential fine. 

Considering how many accidents are caused by distracted drivers, it's time that Minnesota drivers be forced to fully invest into safe driving -- if they can't follow that notion, those drivers who want to text and drive need to be penalized.

Photo courtesy of: IntelFreePress


Baby Gorilla Dies at Como Zoo

The Como Zoo community is dealing with a devastating loss this week. The zoo lost a baby gorilla less than a week after it was born to its western-lowland gorilla mother, Alice. This was the first birth of a baby animal is the history of the Como Zoo -- but the zoo has been caring for gorillas for 55 years. 

The baby was non-responsive and weak this past Sunday morning when zoo officials checked in on the gorilla and resuscitation efforts were fruitless. 

Zoo officials suspect the infant was not feeding properly. They were careful to monitor the mother and baby from a distance in an effort to not interfere with the parent-child bonding experience. Alice was very protective of the baby and often turned her back from zoo officials when they tried to observe her caretaking abilities. 

"The baby had appeared as if he was doing well through Saturday evening. He had a strong grip and was vocal," according to a statement from the Como Zoo. "Alice was showing positive signs of maternal instinct, had been observed nursing and cradling the baby."

A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

This sad news comes abrubtly after the amazing news of the gorilla infant's birth. 


Grand Old Day

What's better than an outdoor festival to start the summer?  While there are tons of outdoor events throughout the Twin Cities during the Summer months, nothing compares to St. Paul's Grand Old Day parade and all-day event.

Image Credit: Michael Hicks

Touted as the largest single-day festival in the Midwest, this event takes place on the 1st Sunday of June each year on St. Paul's historic Grand Avenue.  With a parade that begins around 9:30am and countless food vendors, concerts, and expos, this yearly gathering has something for everyone.


Experience a 19th Century Victorian Christmas

The Alexander Ramesy House in downtown St. Paul will open to the public for the holiday season on November 14th and run until December 30th. What makes this house special and worth checking out?

The historic preserved pre-Victorian home will be decorated for the season, but a la 1875. The beautiful home will beam with Victorian Christmas decorations and dated Ramsey personal items. The house hosts its visitors to experience Christmas long before our time. The house circulates smells of cookies from a wood burning stove and sounds of Christmas music drifting from a classic Steinway piano. This is a great chance to experience Christmas in a new and historic way.

To learn more or for ticket information, visit the Alexander Ramsey site.



Spring Remodelers Showcase – Twin Cities Parade of Homes 2012

The Spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase® is this weekend, from March 30 - April 1. Now in its 25th year, homeowners will find inspired ideas for remodeling their own homes, while getting a chance to interview a range of professional remodelers about their skills.

The tour has opened to the public 68 beautifully remodeled homes in 25 communities across the extended Twin Cities metropolitan area. Virtually every type of remodeling is showcased on the tour, including:

  • 12 whole-house remodels
  • 39 kitchen renovations
  • 19 additions
  • 16 baths
  • 13 lower-level finished

Other projects include decks, porches and exteriors, owners’ suites, mud rooms, home offices, laundry rooms, and garages.

The Remodeler’s Showcase Dream Home is a historic whole-house renovation located in the Southwest Minneapolis Community near Lake Harriet. It was remodeled by Feehan Design & Build, Inc.

The Parade of Homes Spring Remodelers Showcase is presented by Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) and sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. The tour homes are open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday March 30, and 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. on both Saturday, March 30 and Sunday, April 1. The Remodelers Showcase Guidebooks are available free at all metropolitan area Holiday StationStores. Searching for Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase projects is easy at

Remodeling representatives from 52 firms that performed the work will be on hand at each home to answer questions...

Spring Parade of Homes 2012 in the Twin Cities

The Spring Parade of Homes is in full swing again in the Twin Cities! And what great weather for it, too!

As of March 3, 2012, 306 brand new homes are on display in Twin Cities communities across the Metro. The Spring Parade of Homes is an excellent time for prospective home buyers to get ideas.

This year’s selection features several "Green Path Homes" that showcase eco-friendly amenities. MN Green Path certifies efficiency and performance in new home construction and remodeling projects. One of the Green Path homes featured on the tour is a simple looking farmhouse with incredible energy efficiency – and it belongs to none other than Don Shelby!

This ongoing real estate event is also an opportunity for builders to display their talents and now is a great time for it. The Parade of Homes is occurring at a time when the housing market is trying to make a rally nationally and locally. Construction seems to be gaining momentum in the Twin Cities.

The Spring Parade of Homes continues in the Twin Cities on weekends through April 1.


2012 Minneapolis Home and Garden Show

It is February, so of course, Minnesotans are thinking about spring. And with spring comes home remodeling, decorating, gardening and landscaping. Start planning your projects by attending the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show.

This year’s show dates are February 29 – March 4, 2012 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This event displays the latest fresh ideas in home, gardening, remodeling and home decor. The Minneapolis Home & Garden Show will display stunning gardens, local celebrities and more! Guests will have the chance to meet more than 1,000 experts and view hundreds of booths.

Partnering with this Minneapolis event will be Design Expert Ty Pennington, co-host of ABC’s “The Revolution.” He will be there to share his design expertise to create an environment for a better life. He will offer advice, encouragement and support to help individuals achieve their home-related goals.


Mid-Century Modern Home Tour in the Twin Cities

Seven mid-century modern homes in the Twin Cities will be open for public view on Saturday. The self-guided tour will be followed by a reception, sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo.

These homes are actually significant buildings by respected architects. They range from a Frank Lloyd Wright home with Wright-designed furnishings to a California modern house with courtyards. Other highlights of the tour include a Close-designed home bin University Grove, homes designed by University of Minnesota architects James Stageberg and Carl Graffunder, and Birdwing, a Hopkins home designed by Wright's son, Lloyd Wright. The tour ends with a reception at Sankaku, a house in rural Burnsville.

All the houses on the tour are private homes, said Karen Rue, board member for the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo, the nonprofit that is hosting the tour. "We're opening them up so people can really appreciate the preservation that's gone on inside."

Preserving modernist architecture is what Docomomo stands for - literally, the name is a condensation of the group's mission: "documentation and conservation of architecture from the modern movement." The international organization has been around since the late '80s, but the Minnesota chapter was first recognized in 2010. This is its first public tour of residences.

"People [are] interested," said Elizabeth Gales, board president. But with so many other eras to focus on, modernism wasn't a high priority. "That's one of the reasons to have a separate group. We've already lost a lot of interesting modern buildings."

So far, the group has focused on building a registry of modernist properties in the state and raising awareness. "We've not stood in front of any bulldozers yet," Gales said.

The tour takes place Saturday, October 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $30 ($20 for...

2011 Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour

The 2011 Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour is coming up this weekend. Homes on the free, self-guided tour will be open Saturday, April 30, from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, May 1, from 1 pm to 5 pm.

The Minneapolis & St. Paul Home Tour is coordinated by Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and the City of Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development department with other corporate and non-profit sponsors. On the tour of “real homes, real people, real ideas,” residents open their doors to show creative and practical ideas for home additions, kitchens, bathrooms and more. Visitors can talk directly with homeowners and find out what it’s like to live there. At many homes, their contractors, architects, and other trades people will also be on hand to answer questions.

Additionally, at 1:30 p.m. on each day, Bev Fiman will lead a walking tour of a few blocks in the Minneapolis Folwell neighborhood, stepping off from 3405 Humboldt Ave. N. Fiman has conducted tours at the Purcell Cutts house and is an architecture enthusiast. The tour route will highlight elements of various housing styles which brought the working people’s homes in this neighborhood dignity and distinction.


Twin Cities Parade of Homes Spring Preview ~ 2011

On March 5, the Parade of Homes Spring Preview opened the doors to model homes and neighborhoods across the Twin Cities.

The Parade of Homes offers access to 342 new homes and communities located in 74 cities throughout the Minneapolis - St. Paul Metro Area. There are 146 builders and developers participating in the 2011 installation of the annual event. There is a total value of $163,076,794 in houses on tour, encompassing 865,986 finished square feet for viewing. There are a total of 1,216 bedrooms and 1,060 bathrooms open to tour.

Homes on the tour are various in price and location; there is sure to be something for everyone. Five are priced below $150,000. About 70% of the entries, a total of 229 homes, are priced below $500,000. Seventeen homes are priced over $1,000,000, with two of those priced at over $3,000,000.

New this time is an Energy Efficient Home Tour, with 94 verified homes, which gives visitors a chance to tour a wide variety of energy efficient homes.  The newly built Twin Cities houses incorporate innovative energy-saving materials, construction methods and designs. These energy-savers also range of prices and styles, from a $138,000 multi-level townhouse in Rosemount to a $1.5 million lakeside retreat in Hugo.

Finally, visit the Dream Homes - three truly unparalleled homes to tour. The $5.00 donation at the door helps the Builders Outreach Foundation continue its mission of promoting homeownership through affordable housing and to contribute to the revitalization of communities.

The residences on the Parade of Homes Tour are open Thursday - Sunday through April 3.

For more information, visit


Minnesota Home & Patio Show 2011

Do you have plans for this weekend? The 32nd annual Minnesota Home & Patio Show will be at the Saint Paul RiverCentre February 17 through 20, 2011. More than 400 local and national manufacturers and retailers will be on site, offering creative solutions for home project needs.

The Home & Patio Show in Saint Paul is a great place to gather information, get ideas and be inspired for the upcoming spring home improvement and gardening project season. Whether you're planning to replace those windows, or to give the garden a makeover, you can find the resources you need at the Home & Patio Show. Attendees can learn about the landscaping, see new building materials, buy lawncare equipment or pick up some new tools. Architects, building suppliers, contractors, interior designers and landscaping firms will be available to discuss new home construction, remodeling projects, energy conservation, landscaping needs and other renovation projects.

A variety of demonstrations, presentations, and exhibitions will be available for viewing and learning. PBS old-house expert Bob Yapp will be in town Feb. 20 for two presentations sponsored by the Twin Cities Bungalow Club. How-to help will available every day from the home improvement coaches from Home Depot.

Tickets are available for purchase on the day of the show. For more information, visit


New "Sustainable Shelter" Exhibit at the Bell Museum

"Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling Within the Forces of Nature," a new exhibit at the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis, compares how the homes of animals and humans differ. It also investigates the connection between nature and our lifestyle.

"Sustainable Shelter" was designed to educate people of all ages, but it is particularly designed to engage children - the future homeowners of America. Data and ideas are presented in entertaining formats such as animation, hands-on exhibits and computer games that explain words like "carbon footprint." The exhibit includes displays, graphics and model homes that depict how everyday activities in our homes affect the environment. For example, "The Life Cycle of a House" uses cartoon drawings to show how people can make better choices when constructing a home and provides information about eco-friendly building materials.

The exhibit focuses on the home because they consume incredible amounts of energy and water. Homes are where individuals can personally make the biggest difference in their own and our communities' energy and water consumption. Reducing that consumption reduces our impact on the Earth's deteriorating environment.

Among the more eye-opening exhibits are three models of single-family homes from the 1800s to today, which compare size and energy use. The 1800s home is 400 square feet and released 3,500 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere annually from energy use. The example showing a typical new home today is 2,500 square feet and releases a whopping 12,000 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.

Admission to the Bell Museum of Natural History is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors and children; and free on Sundays.


Autumn Unplugged at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen MN will soon extol the beauty of fall with its Autumn Unplugged celebration. Beginning on September 25 and running through Halloween, Autumn Unplugged offers a variety of events.

This Sunday, the main event will be the "Pumpkin Palooza," a display of 83 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds — large and small, common and exotic.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is part of the University of Minnesota. It is located about 9 miles west of I-494 on Minnesota 5 in Chanhassen.

The grounds are open every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 8 a.m. to sunset. Admission is $9 for adults. It's free for members and visitors age 15 and younger.


Eagan Celebrates Clean Waters with LakeFest

Eagan is an angler's dream in the south-metro area: There is public access to fishing within one mile of every resident's home. What's more, Eagan has won national recognition for its clean waters and abundant parks.

On Saturday, June 12 Eagan residents will gather for LakeFest, a celebration of the city's lakes, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Blackhawk Park, on Murphy Parkway just off Deerwood Drive. At LakeFest on Saturday, residents can take a child fishing without having to worry about bringing a fishing license or even gear, which will be provided to all who are fishing. This year Eagan will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the city's nationally recognized program for water quality.

Eagan MN has about 200 lakes and ponds that are at least an acre in size, with a total of about 350 bodies of water. To protect all that water takes a serious commitment from the city and serious participation from residents. In 1990, Eagan became the first city in Minnesota to adopt a comprehensive lake water quality management plan. In 1996, the program received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National First Place award for outstanding municipal storm water control. In 2007, the city adopted a state-of-the-art water quality and wetland management plan that has been widely praised. Since 2008, Eagan's popular Neighborhood Fishing Program has provided public access to fishing within a mile of every home.

Other activities are planned: Kids will be invited to create "fish print" art, learn about water safety, and take part in water-quality experiments. For adults, groups from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the National Audubon Society are putting on informational displays. There will also be music by award-winning folk singer and songwriter Bill Isles of Duluth....

Twin Cities Communities Celebrating Building Safety Month in May

According to Finance & Commerce, the city of St. Paul is celebrating “Building Safety Month” during May. Initiated by the International Code Council Foundation,Building Safety Month is part of a national effort to protect lives and property. It aims to raise awareness of issues like fire prevention, controlling mold, being safe around backyard pools and grills, and regularly replacing HVAC filters.

“The important work we do is often overlooked until a catastrophic tragedy occurs,” said Bob Kessler, director of the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections. “When building safety and fire-prevention experts inspect buildings during and after construction, we help to ensure that the places where you live, learn, work, worship and play are safe.”

This is the first year that building safety has been highlighted for a full month. Building Safety Week was first celebrated in 1980. During 2009, more than 2,600 individuals in 17 countries pledged their support for the 2009 Building Safety Week. Additionally, the President of the United States, governors, mayors and county officials from 31 states issued Proclamations, Official statements and Letters of Recognition in support of 2009 Building Safety Week.

Some different safety issues are being emphasized for each week in May. Week one was Energy & Green Building, week two is Disaster Safety & Mitigation, Week three will be Fire Awareness & Safety, and week four will be ...

Rain Garden & Sustainable Gardening Workshops

Early spring is the time to spruce up a home's exterior for the late spring and early summer home selling season. As I write this, the snow is melting away more quickly than expected. That mean's it is almost landscaping and gardening season. Just in time, there are some workshops to get you prepared for the planting season.

With all the rain we've been getting, naturally rain gardens would be a good topic to discuss. Do you have a low lying area in your yard where rain water flows or accumulates? It can be hard to keep plants alive in those areas. Planting a rain garden in that spot can help improve the quality of local lakes, rivers and streams. Metro Blooms is offering a series of low-cost rain garden workshops to help get you started.

For $10, learn how to plan, design, install and maintain a rain garden filled with native plants, which filter pollutants out of runoff. There are three levels of workshops: an introductory session, a design session in a small-group format, and a three-hour session that combines both introduction and design. Classes started earlier week and tey run through the end of May. They are being held throughout the Twin Cities area, from from Bloomington to Wayzata, Chaska to Chanhassen. For locations and times, visit Metro Blooms.

Along the same lines, Maplewood MN would like residents and non-residents alike to participate in the Extreme Green Makeover. Starting this month, Maplewood is sponsoring classes on rain gardens, rain barrels, low-input lawn care and sustainable yard design. Nonresidents are welcome to participate, but only Maplewood residents can qualify for the grand prize of a $15,000 front-yard makeover.

Find out more about the Extreme Green initiative at a kickoff event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 18 at the Maplewood Library. All attendees will eligible to win door prizes, which include compost...

Spring Parade of Homes(sm) and Remodelers Showcase(sm)

Last fall, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities combined its two fall events: the Parade of Homes, which features new construction houses, and the three-day Remodelers Showcase, featuring remodeled kitchens, additions and owner's suites. It was the first time the two shows were linked.

Now, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities is combining the two events again for the Spring Parade of Homes Tour. This year's event features 366 model homes in 83 communities throughout the Twin Cities. Prices range from $129,900 for a home in Elk River to $2.4 million for an estate in Credit River Township. Most of the houses are in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

That is with purpose, too. Ever since the shaky economy and tighter financing hit the real estate market, some Twin Cities builders have been adapting their designs, downsizing floor plans, and offering lower-cost materials.

Builders also are paying close attention to what new home buyers really want. Amenities like expansive master bathrooms, formal dining rooms, Venetian plaster finishes, and luxe lower levels are no longer "necessities".

Additionally, the St. Paul home featured in the TV show "Extreme Makeover Home Edition," will be open for viewing March 27 and 28.

The Parade of Homes Spring Preview runs Thursdays through Sundays beginning on March 5-28. The homes are open for tours from Noon to 6 p.m. each of those days.

The Spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase takes place Friday, March 26th through Sunday, March 28th. The homes are open from Noon through 6:00 pm

Guidebooks are available at Twin Cities Holiday Station Stores and at





Home and Patio Show 2010

The Home and Patio Show is back at the Saint Paul RiverCentre! This show features hundreds of exhibitors and has the best and most respected local resources for all home and garden needs. Find what is needed for new spring and summer gardening, home renovation, landscaping, building, decorating, or green projects. There's also a kids' potting table, bulb sale, and opportunities to consult experts through Ask the Gardener!

The show opened Thursday in Saint Paul and will be open through Sunday. The cost is $9 for adults and $2.50 for children ages 6 to 12. Younger kids have free admission!


Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The annual St. Paul Winter Carnival begins this week! It is the time of year again to dress warm and enjoy the winter wonder Minnesota has to offer.

Thursday, the festivities begin early with the royal coronation and reception, as well as an ice carving competition. A snow sculpture competition and Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade are highlights of Fridays events. The parade is a new attraction inviting guests to wander up John Ireland Boulevard to the State Capitol. Other events throughout the carnival include hot-air balloon liftoffs, rugby and lacrosse exhibitions, a snowy baseball game, beer dabbler sampling, and the "St. Paul Winter Carnival Has Talent" contest.

Though the Carnival was originally first-held to celebrate the success of railroad expansion in the city, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival also has its beginnings in an insult. According to legend, a New York reporter wrote in 1885 that Saint Paul MN was "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter." Offended by this, the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce decided to prove that the fast-growing City of St. Paul was a habitable, even lively place during the winter.

The first Saint Paul Winter Carnival was then held a year later in 1886. Patterned after Montreal’s Winter Carnival, the first Saint Paul Winter Carnival included parades, skiing, snow shoeing, and tobogganing. Additionally, the first ice palace was a big attraction.

The infamous Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt didn't begin until 1952. Each year, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press prints 12 clues on 12 consecutive days. These clues point to a local park, where participants race to find the gold medallion. The finders of the medallion are awarded up to $10,000 and receive a place of honor riding in the closing Torchlight Parade. As of this writing, it is Day 4, so 4 clues have already been offered. Think you're up to the ...

Happy New Year's Eve, Twin Cities!

It is December 31, 2009, meaning that at midnight we celebrate the start of a new year, January 1, 2010. In fact, we'll start an entirely new decade! Have you picked out your New Year's resolutions yet?

It has been a crazy year in Minnesota, as well as the rest of the United States. A new president. A financial meltdown. A mortgage, real estate, and foreclosure crisis. Don't even get me started on Brett Favre, Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman, or the Christmas storm. And that is just this year! You can reminisce about the Aughts in Minnesota if you take a look at this Minneapolis Star Tribune Decade in Review.  

If you still haven't decided what you want to do, check out the selection of events happening tonight in the Twin Cities from Just make sure of two things tonight. First, keep warm because it is hovering around five degrees even as I write this and it is supposed to stay close to 0 tonight. And second, if you choose to drink, don't drive. Designate a driver. Not only will it keep you and other people on the roads safe, but the Minnesota State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies throughout the Twin Cities are cracking down on impaired driving during the holiday season.

From the team at Barker & Hedges Real Estate & Homes of Minnesota, have a happy and safe New Year's!

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