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30 posts categorized "Contests"

September 18, 2014

Rochester shoe firm advances as a finalist in Martha Stewart competition

A Rochester couple hopes Martha Stewart finds their American-made shoes "a good thing" now that their Well Bred shoes is finalist in her annual competition.

Get_photoJorge Gomez and Krisa Ryan run Well Bred shoes from their home in Rochester. While working as a designer for a large company, he saw the terrible conditions in Chinese shoe factories. That inspired him to create his own company and contract small American firms to make his shoes with only materials from the U.S.

Well Bred took its first steps two years ago and the pair have been very busy designing and marketing their line of men's shoes. Their shoes are sold through a variety of specialty retailers, including the MartinPatrick3 men's store in Minneapolis. Well Bred shoes can also be purchased directly from their online shop. People attending the Rochester Art Center's upcoming Art Bash will see a pair of Well Bred shoes among the silent auction items.

At the urging of their customers and other companies with similar philosophies, they entered Martha Stewart's American Made Contest. The annual contest chooses the top company in four categories - Style, Food, Crafts and Design.

GlencoefrontThe couple say they are humbled to be chosen as a finalist in the Style category.

"The great thing about Martha Stewart's American Made contest is that it brings together a lot of people from the close knit group of makers," said Gomez. "A lot of the people in this we know from the trade shows."

Now it is up to online voters and the contest judges, the executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Nine winners will be chosen by the judges and online voting will decide the final winner.

The online voting runs through Oct. 13 on Martha Stewart's website. The winners will be announced on Oct. 17. Part of the prize package includes attending Stewart's American Made Summit on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

"The national exposure would be huge for a small company like us," said Ryan.

June 18, 2014

Baker turned pizza maker hits hits the road with wood-fire oven

Have wood-fire oven. Will travel.

That could be Stephan Jennebach's new motto now that he's added a mobile pizza o10329915_10152411609534524_707966481405501891_oven to his Firebrick Bread business in Zumbrota.

About a month ago, he hit the road with a new custom trailer featuring a wood-fire oven and prep kitchen to make and sell pizzas wherever he'd like. Right now, Jennebach can be found at the Zumbrota Farmers Market on Tuesdays and the Red Wing Farmers Market on Saturdays.

The new offering has gone over so well that he needed to hire three employees to keep the pizzas moving. However, he's still remaining true to the original vision of Firebrick Bread and continues to bake an array of hand-made breads in his wood-fired oven at his home. He first fired up the bakery business in 2012.

His menu includes five types of pizzas. He's using some local produce on them now and hopes to do more of that as the project progresses. It takes about five minutes to make and then bake a pizza in the 700-degree wood-fired oven.

Jennebach says adding the kitchen-on-wheels made sense given the local hunger for wood-fired pizza.

"When I told people about Firebrick Bread, the first question always was, 'Do you make pizzas, too?,'" he said.

Since regulations wouldn't allow him to do that at his home, Jennebach started looking into putting an oven on a trailer and eventually turned to a company that specialized in them.

"It was a big investment, but it's one I believe will pay for itself," he said. "I can take it anywhere in Minnesota."

Right now he's sticking to weekly appearances at the two farmers markets and an occasional special event. That, combined with his weekly bread baking, has pretty much filled up his schedule at this point.


101207jennebachonaballLong-time readers may recognize the Jennebach name, since Stephen was a very enthusiastic commenter on this blog during its early years.

He was also pretty much the only one who would act on my goofy attempts at photo contests. I was just ahead of my time with 'selfies.' Heh. His best submission involved the big red balls in front of what was then the brand-new south Target store.

March 21, 2014

Med City tech quiz - Do you remember… ?

Looking through some old pics the other day, I came across some pieces of Rochester's techno past.

These were all once hot topics in the Rochester area. Some were even snapped up by early adapters. And then things changed.

While some of these still exist on the market in some form, a couple never made it beyond prototypes or early generations.

A couple of these are easy, but I wonder if anyone out there can correctly identify all of them.

Post your answers in the comments section to claim the fame of being Rochester's top tech historian.

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March 19, 2014

Flamingos + Elks = Bingo

After months of waiting, a Rochester nonprofit finally has scored permission to move to a new home.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, has been given the green light by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board to move into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

FlamingobingoIt's moving out of its long-time leased home at 2828 U.S. 52 North, which was sold to Luther Automotive Group in January.

Deb Nusbaum, Flamingo Bingo's charitable gaming manager, says the bingo center will call its final game at its current site at 1 p.m. on March 30. Then, Nusbaum and her team of 16 employees will move the operation.

She plans to kick off the new round of games at the Elks Lodge on April 4. Work on the new Flamingo Bingo site is underway.

The Elks Lodge members are very positive about bringing Flamingo Bingo into its facility, according to the club president.

"It's multi-faceted for us," said Chris Holloway, when the plan first was announced in December. "We have an excess of space that we don't use on a daily basis. We're both charitable organizations. There's a lot of crossover in our clientele. Plus it brings in additional revenue."

ElkslodgeNow that the move is in motion, the question is what will happen to the 42-year-old building where Flamingo Bingo has been been based since it opened in 2007.

Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive bought the building for $950,000 on Jan. 17. Luther also owns the nearby Park Place Motors dealership on the same frontage road.

Luther's Linda McGinty said the company does not have a specific plan for the site yet.

McGinty, director of real estate and development at Luther Automotive Group, declined to discuss whether its possible plans could include an expansion of Park Place Motors or possibly bringing a new dealership into the market.

However, she did acknowledge that Luther will "probably eventually remove the building."

December 06, 2013

Two Rochester nonprofit "animals" may move in together

Two of Rochester's nonprofit "animals," Flamingo Bingo and the Elks Lodge 1091, are looking to possibly move in together in early 2014.

Both organizations have generally agreed on a plan to have Flamingo Bingo move into the Elk's large Lodge Room at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

However, no lease has been signed yet. The proposed project is subject to the final approval from the state, which is needed before anything happens.

Flamingobingo"Both organizations are very excited about this," says Deb Nusbaum, Flaming Bingo's charitable gaming manager.  "We anticipate that we'll eventually be moving there, but there are a lot of details to work through yet with the Minnesota Gambling Control Board."

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, has called games at 2828 U.S. 52 North since it opened in 2007. It is now looking for a new home due to coming changes to its building, which previously housed Circus World bingo.

Nusbaum stressed that Flamingo Bingo is open for business at its current spot along U.S. 52 North and will remain so until it moves, probably in early 2014.

Flamingo Bingo's fund raising efforts are "critical" to supporting the Rochester Senior Center, she says. It's annual financial goal, which it met in 2012, is to raise at least $100,000 for the senior center, according to Nusbaum. The bingo parlor has 16 employees on staff.

For their part, the Elks members see a lot of benefits in bringing Flamingo Bingo into its facility.

"It's multi-faceted for us," says Chris Holloway, the current club president. "We have an excess of space that we don't use on a daily basis. We're both charitable organizations. There's a lot of crossover in our clientele. Plus it brings in additional revenue."

September 11, 2012

Roch's Transportation Tuesday features planes, buses and cars

Looks like Rochester has a Transportation Tuesday underway this week with two events - Allegiant Air's Vote for Vacation campaign and Kwik Trip's seminar about compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel - both scheduled.

Allegiant Air's "campaign" bus pulled into downtown Rochester late Monday to park near the Peace Plaza in preparation for a morning of light-hearted Allegiant-bus2voting combined with a serious memorial.

Voting for a favorite vacation destination will put people in the running to win four years of free airfare or a free pair of round trip tickets to any Allegiant destination.

The first 100 voters will be given a $21.60 "tax break" toward their next Allegiant vacation. That's about the equivalent of how much government taxes and fees add to the cost of a round trip flight.

Since the Allegiant stop in Rochester falls on Sept. 11, Mayor Ardell Brede will speak and lead the crowd in a moment of silence at 7:46 a.m. as the Bell of Honor tolls for those who lost their lives in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Kwik Trip's free seminar about compressed natural gas is then scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m at the Ramada Inn Hotel & Conference Center, 1517 16th St. S.W., Rochester.

Kwik Trip will introduce compressed natural gas, or CNG, as a fueling option in Rochester at the new station being built along 19th Street Northwest by CostCo's new store.

August 24, 2012

Victory will be sweet in Kemp's ice cream flavor contest

It's a fair question. Rah! Rah! Rhuberry or Mini-sota Donut?

Victory will be sweet no matter who wins Kemps' ice cream flavor duel underway at the Minnesota State Fair. Either way, Kemps senior food technologist Logan Julstrom will put the final touches on the recipe before the Rochester ice cream plant starts serving up the winner for a victory lap.

Land of 10,000 Licks Front"It is super fun. I think it is so cool that the fans get to make their own flavor," says Julstrom.

This year Kemps asked people to create a flavor to evoke their favorite Minnesota memory for its Hometown Favorites Ice Cream Contest.

More than 240 ice cream flavor ideas were submitted and online voting narrowed the choices to 10 and then down to the final two that are now going head-to-head at the Minnesota State Fair taste test.

Fair-goers can stop by the Kemps booth on Machinery Hill from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily to sample Rah! Rah! Rhuberry and Mini-sota Donut.

Rah! Rah! Rhuberry is described as "Custard ice cream, swirled with strawberry rhubarb sauce mixed in with pieces of pie crust." Its competition, Mini-sota Donut, has more of a fair flavor. It contains cinnamon and nutmeg chips with chunks of mini donuts.

The creators of both flavors were very specific about their vision of Minnesota, so Julstom had a clear road map for each. The sticky part was in the actually execution.

"It is not like I can just run out and buy a bag of mini-donuts and throw them in," she says. “These two flavors are unlike anything Kemps has ever created."

On Aug. 29, the grand prize winner will be chosen by a combination of fair-goer votes, online votes and a celebrity judging panel at the fair. The judging panel will feature Kemps spokeswoman (and Joe Mauer’s mom) Teresa Mauer, the 2011 Hometown Favorites ice cream flavor winner, Jen Folkens, and this year's Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

The winner will receive $2,500, a year supply of their ice cream and their flavor will appear on store shelves in 2013.

Last summer was the first time Kemps held this flavor contest. The 2011 winner, Land of 10,000 Licks, is in selected grocery stores like Cub Foods right now. The Rochester plant recently made 14,400 scrounds (That's what they call the squarish ice cream containers with rounded corners) for a limited run in the region.

Kemps will produce either Rah! Rah! Rhuberry or Mini-sota Donut next summer to hit the shelves.

So does Kemps flavor expert Julstrom have a favorite that she hopes will scoop the competition?

"I absolutely love them both…really," she says with a laugh.

August 31, 2011

Roch. software firm launches pro-am contest for app makers

Here's some from a piece I wrote about Vacava and its new web app creation software.

Take note professional and wanna-be app makers. They are offering $4,000 and two iPads for the best apps submitted to their Application Invitational.

Check out the print edition for the whole story.


A Rochester software firm is confident that its new product can make anyone into a programmer.

Logowhite200straptm To prove it, Vacava is giving its RapidBiz system out for free to both programmers and non-programmers to compete in a contest to see who can create the best web applications.

Winners in each of the pro and rookie categories will receive $2,000. Runners-up will get Apple iPads.

Competitors will also be able to earn for money directly from the marketplace for their work.

All of the business-focused applications will go into Vacava's online "catalog." Following the model of the Apple App Store, customers can directly purchase the applications.
The creators will receive all of the money generated by any sales.

March 24, 2011

Barbeque's hot and Mt. Roscoe is high

OK, you have to give Steve and Barbara Ross credit for always being creative when promoting Roscoe's Barbeque, Root Beer and Ribs.

Mt roscoe So Roscoe's seasonal drive-in on Fourth Street Southeast has re-opened for its 2011 run.

Since this is Rochester, the home of the endless winter, there is still a huge pile of snow occupying the parking lot. They've dubbed this mega-drift as "Mount Roscoe."

So the crew at Roscoe's have come up with a contest. Here's how they describe it:

The person who picks the day and time that Mount Roscoe's completely disappears will win a $200 gift certificate.
The mountain has been melting but the cold is keeping it around. The contest ends March 31.

And I think I'll pass on commenting on the photo. Even I have some sort of standards. Heh.


June 21, 2010

Rushford nanotech firm + Minn.

Despite its focus on microscopic particles, Rushford’s nanotechnology company is making a big impact in Minnesota’s most prestigious business competition.

Rushford Hypersonic LLC, which was launched by Dan Fox in 2007, was named last week as one of 48 semi-finalists out of more than 1,000 businesses competing for $100,000 to help finance innovative ideas.

Competing in the New High Tech Businesses Division of the Minnesota Cup, Hypersonic now must submit a business plan by July 23 to see if it will be one of the three finalists in the division.

6a00d83451cc8269e20120a58883bf970b-800wi Rushford Hypersonic uses a University of Minnesota-created process called Hypersonic Plasma Particle Deposition to bond coatings made of nano-sized particles into the surfaces of metals, ceramics and other materials,

While the process has many applications, Hypersonic is focusing on using the coatings to improve tools such as drill bits by reducing the friction they create and significantly increasing the coated product’s durability.

The Minnesota Cup, started in 2005, is a non-profit venture to encourage and fund innovate entrepreneur projects to spur new businesses in the state. In 2007,Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic topped more than 500 competitors to give Muve Inc. a $25,000 financial boost.

Today Muve is an active company marketing its Gruve devices to help people track the calories they burn and encourage a healthier lifestyle.