Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New York Mills, MN

New York Mills in North MN is small, quiet and interesting - a truly blink-and-you'll-miss-it, kind of place, it is the home of the ANNUAL GREAT AMERICAN THINK-OFF. Now in it's seventeenth year, the Think-Off ooccupies one summer night to pose one question for debate to three rounds of debaters. The audience chooses the winner. The 2009 Question: "Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?"

The Think Off is the brain child of the New york MIlls Cultural Center , and more specifically it's founder John Davis. The center is responsible fror bringing touring musical acts into the community as well as art exhibits and crafts from the surrounding area, and acts as a sort of Arts Oasis in this heavily agricultural town with vast expanses of corn fields in every direction, and at the time of my visit in October, huddled groups of deer hunters in flatbed trucks were either hitting the town's one bar for a beer on the way out to the woods, or hitting the town's one bar for a beer on their way back in. We watched them come and go from our bar-side perch, and as the cheap beer flowed and the loud '80s hair metal blaired from the jukebox it was hard to imagine that just around the corner on the main street stood the home of the GREAT AMERICAN THINK-OFF, but there it is. The competition logo is Rodin's "Thinker" sitting atop a tractor. It's motto:
"bringing philosophy from the ivory towers of academia into the lives of thinking americans."

I enjoy a place like New York Mills for the peace and quiet and the pace of life, where the main street is quieter than my back yard, and given that the town has one bar , two coffee houses and a bowling alley, with little else protruding from the landscape, not to mention a place to hear music and absorb art and craft, i'm guessing the locals enjoy it for pretty much the same reasons.