Salsa Fest debuts

In celebration of local food and the cultural diversity of the central Minnesota farming community, the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) will host the first Minnesota Salsa Fest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Todd County Fairgrounds in Long Prairie, Minn. The family-friendly event will feature live music, salsa tastings, contest and demos on making it, food vendors and more. Local fare will include Mexican food from Taqueria Chavez (Long Prairie) and El Portal (Melrose) as well as Griff's Pizza (Long Prairie), Ted & Gen's BBQ and Finnegan's beer, even salsa ice cream to sample or buy, developed by the University of Minnesota Ice Cream Lab.

To compete in the salsa contest, e-mail to get signed up. Entry fee is $5.

The goals of Minnesota Salsa Fest are to build community, raise awareness of SFA and sustainable farming, and give local growers and producers a new marketing opportunity. Tickets are $5 at the gate; under age 12 free. For more info, visit

Cocktails at the Castle

In what's become the American Swedish Institute's (ASI) signature event, Cocktails at the Castle returns Sept. 15 with art, activities, music, food and specialty cocktails. This year's event celebrates women and the paintings of women now on view in ASI's Still Life: Karin Broos exhibition. Cocktails at the Castle regularly sells out. Advance tickets: $17 for ASI members, $20 general admission. If available, $25 tickets can be purchased at the door. ASI also encourages people to bike to the event and check in at the bike station to receive a drink discount. This event is limited to those age 21 or older with I.D. For more info, visit

Curly Girlz offers sugar-free treats

Paula Even Trenda has been making candy for years, since she was a kid, really. But it wasn't until she was married in 2003 that she got serious, taking the Ecolechocolate online course and starting to make candies for gifts and for sale. By 2011, she was online as Curly Girlz Candy. In 2014, she opened a retail space in Medford, Minn. This year, Curly Girlz moved to downtown Owatonna, Minn., for larger production facilities and a new retail shop. Trenda continues to innovate with her latest, a line of sugar-free candies that also are "keto friendly," or low in carbs. She's developed a proprietary blend of high-fiber, plant-based alternative sweeteners. Judging by her caramels and almond toffee, you'd never know they're not full of sugar. The small woman-run business has some specialty retail outlets, such as the Golden Fig in St. Paul. To see other store locations, or to order online, visit

Kohler Food & Wine Experience

Among the Midwest's top epicurean celebrations, the Kohler Food & Wine Experience convenes Oct. 19-22 with a talented roster of award-winning chefs and exclusive culinary and wine tasting experiences at the luxe resort in Kohler, Wis. This year's celebrity chef lineup includes Richard Blaisof, winner of Bravo's "Top Chef All-Stars"; Alex Guarnaschelli, executive chef of Butter in New York City; Stephanie Izard, recently crowned Food Network's "Iron Chef," and cast members from "America's Test Kitchen," the top-rated cooking show on public television. For details and tickets, visit Kohler