HENDRICKS, Minn. -- Eight years ago, an email launched a great series of stories that Eric Perkins calls 'Trippin' with Perk'. It's a series in which Eric travels Minnesota and Wisconsin in search of those hidden gems in small towns, the kinds of things you won't find in a tourist guide.
Eric recently contacted dozens of Chamber of Commerce offices around Minnesota to see what was unique about their community. Not only did Hendricks email back to let him know but they sent a list of about forty different "characters" for Eric to interview.
Once again, he's back on the road, and he recently travelled to the small western Minnesota community of Hendricks, on the border of South Dakota. It may only have a population of 725 people, but it's a community full of characters.
Eric's first stop is the town's golf course, which actually sits on the border. Once in town, you can't miss its Norwegian heritage which is everywhere you look.
Also nearby, the prairie church named Singsaas Lutheran. It's on the national register of historic places. Elwood Bakke's grandparents helped build the church in the late 1800s and of course, he, like the church, is very Norwegian. As a matter of fact, there are more than 30 men named Ole buried in the adjacent cemetery.
As Eric continued his way through town, he felt very 'velkommen' in this very friendly town. He also noticed that no one was in a hurry. Tractors, even golf carts, are driven in the city streets. In fact, Hendricks is the golf cart capital of the Midwest thanks to NB Golf which is the first thing you see as you drive into town.
Eric also met the town's strongest man, a guy named Bobby Kanz who is the town welder. He demonstrated his strength to Eric by lifting a 15 pound sledgehammer by the very end of the handle.
"That's a 15 pound sled?" Eric asks. "You gotta hold it like this, all right all right," Bobby told Eric as he lifted it as if it were a feather!
On the other side of town it was a much tamer game of pinochle.
"What do you play for?" Eric asked the group of men. "Just for fun" they tell him.
But that pride soon turned to trash-talking or, in Glen Metowney's case, it was actually a strange, winning ritual where he brings the horses out. What he does if he wins is make some funny horse sounds with his hands and of course, he's a big hit at the senior center.
Next stop for Eric, he gets blown over at a wind turbine farm in the area.
And everyone needs a souvenir when they road-trip. Eric stopped by Tommy Johnson's place. He's been a used car salesman for 60 years. He also sells anything and everything in his home. Eric walked away with a new (or at least new to him) hat.
Eric also met the town's mayor, a local dairy farmer who collects bib overalls (more than 100 pair and counting), a 71-year-old grandma who rides a mean snowmobile, and a guy who collects more aluminum cans for recycling than you could possibly count!
All in all - it was a pretty amazing trip. Hendricks, Minnesota, the town's slogan is: 'The perfect place to raise children'. But it appears there are a lot of other things to do there as well!
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)