Minnessentials stories

What are the foods, sights, activities and rituals that make Minnesota what it is? Introducing Minnessentials, an occasional series that plunges into the culture of our state with the help of Star Tribune readers. Have a favorite? Tell us at minnessentials@startribune.com or tweet at reporter @SharynJackson.

Mansmith’s Classic Christmas Trees is a family operation. Russ’ wife, son-in-law and granddaughter all lend a hand.

At 75, a Minnesota Christmas tree farmer isn't slowing down

Choosing the right tree out of row upon row of needle-laden green pyramids is a quintessential holiday custom, especially in Minnesota. The magic of the season keeps this 75-year-old Christmas tree farmer growing.
October 22, 2015
At the annual booya fundraiser in North St. Paul, Bill Weber, whose great-grandfather created the recipe in 1927, stirred one of the cooking pots.

In Minnesota, booya is more than just a stew

For a passionate segment of the state's population, booya is a quintessential fall tradition, a community gathering and a childhood memory all centered on a stew of epic proportions.
September 2, 2015
Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar was hopping Thursday, the first day of the fair. Catherine Guden of Apple Valley, above, took her bucket as (catastrophe!)

Work is sweet for lucky few at Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar

For a lucky group of workers, nothing is better than the 12 days spent filling pails for those hungering for a State Fair tradition.
June 17, 2015
Liam Hazleton, 4, tried to get a good look at crappie minnows as his father shopped for bait at Mike’s Bait on 8 in Forest Lake.

Bait shops are marketplaces, meeting spaces for Minnesotans

With shared stories, tips and a sense of community, bait shops are the Minnesota version of barbershops.