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IN MY HOMETOWN: A weekly roundup of news from the region

Gatzke, Minn. Pum is plugging away along the Pembina Oxcart Trail. Pum is the 2,600-pound ox that is leading Orlin Ostby, his family and friends along the 420-mile Pembina Trail from Pembina to St. Paul to commemorate Minnesota's 150th birthday. ...

Gatzke, Minn.

Pum is plugging away along the Pembina Oxcart Trail.

Pum is the 2,600-pound ox that is leading Orlin Ostby, his family and friends along the 420-mile Pembina Trail from Pembina to St. Paul to commemorate Minnesota's 150th birthday.

Ostby, who lives in rural Gatzke, Minn., started the trek July 1. Pum and the ox cart currently are traveling from Elk River, Minn., to St. Paul, where they expect to arrive Thursday, for the opening of the Minnesota State Fair.

The trip is a re-enactment, a journey honoring the fur-trading era in the history of Minnesota and North Dakota. From 1849 to 1901, as many as 500 ox carts traveled in procession from Winnipeg to St. Paul, carrying furs to St. Paul and returning with goods used by early European-American settlers.


The ox carts were driven by Metis, a culture that descended mostly from French voyageurs and Ojibwe.

Fifty years ago, Ostby helped a neighbor and friend, Delmar Hagen, prepare for a similar trip for Minnesota's centennial celebration.

Orlin and his family, wife Mandy, and children, 17-year-old Christopher and 12-year-old Catherine, are making the trip. They're also being accompanied by Steve Reynolds and Jackie Helms, Wannaska, Minn., as well as other friends and family.

Ostby reports that Pum hasn't been able to walk the entire distance, mainly because of heavy traffic as they get closer to the Twin Cities. So, the ox is spending some time in a trailer as the caravan of vehicles proceeds toward St. Paul.

Portland, N.D.

The Portland, N.D., City Council is considering a proposal from neighboring community of Mayville to provide police protection to the community.

Mayville provided police services to Portland for more than 15 years. But Portland dropped Mayville this year, instead signing an agreement with the Traill County Sheriff's Department.

Mayville has about 2,000 residents compared with about 600 in Portland.


As a Portland City Council meeting last week, council members said they have been satisfied with the police protection arrangement with the sheriff's department. But they want to give local residents a chance to express their opinions.

So, Portland delayed a decision until council's Sept. 8 meeting.

Last year, Portland balked at a new contract with Mayville, saying the cost was too high. Then, the Traill County Sheriff's Department made an offer, which was accepted.

"They're happy with their arrangement with Traill County," City Auditor Mary Geffre said. "They're not trying to cause any hard feelings with Mayville, but we think it's been working out."

Mentor, Minn.

A new farmers market has opened in the region.

The Mentor (Minn.) Farmers Market opened Saturday for the first time.

The market features locally grown produce, as well as products made from organic ingredients, including beef, lamb and bread, as well as free-range eggs and chickens, according to Amber Kazmierczak, board chairwoman of the Mentor Farmers Market.


"We want to offer as much organic products as possible, products made from organic materials," she said. "We also want to incorporate the local people, those who grow their own products."

The local Amish community will offer fresh produce. Other local vendors will provide grass-fed beef and lamb, jams, pies and other items.

"We'll go year-round," Kazmierczak said, operating from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Organizers plan to run the Farmers Market year-round, moving inside Mentor School during winter and other inclement weather.

Kazmierczak operates a local bread business, Our Daily Bread, which uses organic products, but are not certified as organic.

She said home-made ice cream will be available Saturday.

Lefse and other holiday items will be available later this year.

Vendors interested in being part of the market should contact Kazmierczak at (218) 637-2348 or (218) 289-3754.


Hallock, Minn.

The Kittson County Commission is being asked to increase its county fair budget by $5,000 for 2009, to $27,500.

The main reason is that it cost an extra $5,000 to bring in a carnival and midway to this year's fair, according to Dave Stewart, fair board member.

All in all, fair officials said this year's fair was a success.

The event, held this year in conjunction with the 125th Anniversary of Hallock, Minn., made some operational changes. It scaled back its entertainment, booking smaller, regional acts, as opposed to larger grandstand events that have been common in the past.

Fair officials also considered going without a carnival and midway because of rising costs. In the end, they booked a small carnival called Cody Rides, based in Prior Lake, Minn. It was the fourth different carnival in the past four years.

If the County Board approves the $5,000 budget increase, fair officials are confident they can bring back a carnival and midway again in 2009.

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