Best Bets: Book Season Begins – Duluth News Tribune

Duluth – Astrological fall begins on September 22, meteorological fall begins on September 1, and primary fall begins on August 30 with the seasonal debut of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. The seasons of the performing arts will begin to increase soon, but the literary fall season is not waiting. This week’s best bets include four book events…plus a bit of music, art, and of course, two harvest festivals.

Among online intellectuals, “TBR” stands for “to be read,” as does the pile of books you plan to read. If your stack can handle another book or two, here are four author looks you might consider checking out.

book cover:

Contribute / Forge Books

This week’s most lavish book release event is taking place at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Marshall Center for the Performing Arts. Carol Dunbar, the UMD graduate who “goes off the grid into the woods of northern Wisconsin” 20 years ago, is celebrating the release of her first novel. The Net Beneath Us is about a year into the life of a woman raising two young children off the grid in the Wisconsin woods after her husband had a logging accident. The release event will include reading, discussion, dessert, live music, and a special appearance by local authors. For more information, see

Minneapolis writer Peter J brings “The Ski Jumpers” to Fitger’s Bookstore on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) and Zenith Bookstore on Saturday (7 p.m., in conversation with Linda LeGarde Grover), among other Northland appearances. The novel has a definite appeal in our winter sports hub: it centers around a veteran ski jumper forced to grapple with a traumatic family past even as he struggles with a younger diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The book is set specifically in Minnesota, and the meditations in the depths of Lake Superior are among the most soothing thoughts Geye’s hero can relate to. For more information, see

“The Hidden Room” by William Durbin and Barbara Durbin, photographed in the Veterans Memorial Hall in St. Louis County Depot.

Jay Gabler / The Duluth News Tribune

The Hidden Room is a novel by Duluth William Durbin and Barbara Durbin, set in Ukraine near the end of World War II. Written for young people, it is based on the true story of a Jewish family who was taken to a cave to hide from the Nazis. It’s a poignant survival story, grounded in specifics and driven by Al Durbin’s straightforward prose. The authors donate half of their proceeds to Ukrainian food aid; Durbins will be at Fitger’s Bookstore on Saturday at 3 p.m. to present their new book. For more information, see

hand holding book

“Where Secrets Live” by S.C. Richards, filmed at the Duluth Public Library.

Jay Gabler / The Duluth News Tribune

S.C. Richards is also the author of Duluth, the latest of which is “Where Secrets Live.” How attractive is this book and how local is it? Within the first 100 pages there are references to:

  • Mysterious accident of the messenger islands boat.
  • St Paul’s Peak Street (“smells like burnt grass and old money”).
  • Sadness sex.
  • “Minnesota winters are very cold.”
  • A private investigator makes an important discovery while staying at a Bayfield hotel.
  • Valley Fair.
  • A psychiatrist named Lee Atwater wears $300 suits and sits behind a mahogany desk on the ninth floor with glass walls in his downtown Minneapolis office.

Richards will be at Fitger’s bookstore on Saturday noon. For more information, see

Kick off the new performing arts season

070220.SDNT.  Huskies1.jpg

Wade Stadium, photographed July 1, 2020.

Jed Carlson / File / Telegram Superior

“Some of our establishments have been able to continue live shows through most of the pandemic, and others have just returned to the stage this season,” notes a press release for Thursday’s Splash Season event. “Either way, the past few years have taught us that we are stronger together.” Several Duluth nonprofit performing arts organizations take the field at Wade Stadium (home of huskies) for a free evening for all ages featuring music, theater and dance performances. Last year’s event saw, among other entertainment, the delightfully surreal spectacle of ballet on the ballpark. For more information, see

Trail through the woods by day, with yellow leaves on the trees and orange leaves lining the ground.

The Harvest Moon Festival is a sign of fall in St. Louis County.

Contribute / Eli Chamber of Commerce

Is it time to harvest already? Apparently, because this weekend you have two chances to celebrate the season in Northland. Ely’s Harvest Moon Festival takes place all weekend in Whiteside Park, with more than 100 vendors of crafts as well as vintage vehicles — and food and drink including “lots of freshly baked blueberry pie in the pavilion,” according to a press release. When you’re ready to branch out, the Chamber of Commerce has a map of local businesses that offer special promotions associated with the festival. For more information, see

Meanwhile, in Duluth, the Society for Sustainable Agriculture is holding a Harvest Festival on Saturday at Bayfront Festival Park. You can learn more at,

And read the Melinda Lavine News Tribune feature about the event.

Art escape! no you

A view from a boat with the United States flag in the foreground and an autumnal landscape in the background.  A dock building and a low blue building can also be seen.

Bayfield, as seen from the Madeleine Island ferry in the fall of 2021.

Contribute / Jay Gabler

Bayfield is known for its New England coastal village atmosphere, the annual Apple Festival, and for being the mainland terminus of the Madeleine Island ferry line. It’s also home to a number of artists, and the community showcases that fact with a new nine-day event called Art Escape. From Saturday to September 18, dozens of Bayfield area artists—from Oulu to La Pointe, Red Cliff to Drummond—give shows, performances, open classes, and studios. It all starts with the 59th Annual Bayfield Festival of the Arts in Memorial Park, on Saturdays and Sundays. You can find the complete Art Escape guide at

Five years of Earth Rider Festival

A row of men raise beer-filled species, standing outdoors in a grassy field.

Lifting steel at Earth Rider Fest, 2019.

Contribute / Brewery Earth Rider

Earth Rider Fest is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and the excellent brewery isn’t holding back from the local line-up for Saturday’s event. Artists include singer-songwriter Haley (now St. Paul, formerly Duluth); both Davis (Simonite and Carol) from Trampled By Turtles; righteous rockers kiss a tiger; Lanue, supports the new sparkling EP; and Emma Jane, among others. The event also marks the unofficial kick off of the Oktoberfest season, with kraut-eating competitions and lamb steins as well as a polka party. The president will even attend Paine with an official mayor announcement. Prost! For tickets and information, see


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