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Santa’s Workshop Festival is Saturday at Clear Lake Arts Center

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake Arts Center will host Santa’s Workshop Festival and Creative Kids Christmas Art Activity from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

Admission is free.

Santa’s Workshop Festival includes performances by the Dickens Characters, magicians, puppeteers, jugglers, and sing-a-longs in the Sukup Performing Arts Wing. Visitors will also have the opportunity to have their picture taken with the Frozen Princesses, Elsa and Anna, in the Hanson Gallery.

New features will be “The Langer’s Ball’ music duo from the Minnesota Renaissance Faire, and a new Queen Victoria with an inter-active children’s fun zone. The “Punch & Judy” puppet show will be returning after two years’ absence.

The festival is sponsored by Teamquest.

A Creative Kids Free Art Activity will be offered from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in the CL-Tel Studio, for children of all ages, sponsored by the Clear Lake Noon Lions Club.

Montana musician Max Hay returns to Mason City

MASON CITY — Veteran Montana musician Max Hay returns to Mason City Brewing for a show from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

There is no cover charge.

Hay is promoting his CD, “Christmas at Chester’s,” an original play for radio which was released Nov. 8.

It was written by Hay and produced by his independent creative audio production company, Shangraloft Records/Dogbite Moon LLC.

“Christmas at Chester’s” is an absurd musical story told in three acts, with two comical commercial breaks, according to a news release.

It tells the story of a small-town corner bar, its regular crowd and their unique ways of celebrating Christmas.

Anyone familiar with the traditional holiday stories will feel at home in the format, according to Hay.

“Don’t be surprised to find offbeat humor, references to whiskey and a slew of brand new holiday songs,” Hay said in the news release.

“The Ballad of Thievin’ Steven” is a nod to ‘90s hip-hop while “The Debbie” is a “teeny-bopper craze that seems to put dancers to sleep,” according to Hay.

With casual references to “The Matrix trilogy” and other icons of pop culture, adults may grasp “layers of fun” that kids might miss.

“Christmas at Chesters” is available at as well as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and most digital audio dealers.

Mason City grad Lapointe named KCMR's Home Town Talent

MASON CITY — Ruth Lapointe, a 2009 graduate of Mason City High School and 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa, is KCMR’s Home Town Talent artist for December.

Lapointe, along with her original song “Winnebago,” will be introduced at 10:35 a.m. Thursday by morning show host Kim Svejda on 97.9 KCMR.

“Winnebago,” a song about young love, features the Winnebago River where Lapointe spent a lot of time while growing up in Mason City. Lapointe felt that people who grew up in small Iowa towns could relate to the song’s message about taking a new crush to a quiet spot on the edge of town.

“Winnebago” will be played on KCMR for the next 30 days.

Lapointe, who performs under the stage name Ruthless Ruth, lives on Des Moines’ south side. In college, her friends called her “Ruthless” and it caught on as a stage name.

Lapointe learned guitar in eighth grade. Her first major performance accompanying herself on guitar was at the Mohawk Follies her senior year.

She describes herself as an artist who performs folk-pop with added millennial social-commentary. She is working on both original songs and cover tunes.

Home Town Talent is sponsored by Poet Biorefining-Hanlontown.

Award winners announced for 'Area Show: 45' exhibit in Mason City

MASON CITY — “Area Show: 45” awards were announced during an opening reception Nov. 19 at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum.

Artists competed to have their work featured in a solo exhibition and for $1,000 in cash awards.

Claude Bilsborough of Titonka, who received Best in Show for his oil on linen piece, “In the Flyway,” will be granted a solo exhibition in 2017.

Three artists received $250 Excellence Awards: Joan Webster-Vore of Hudson for her fiber/mixed media piece, “Shadows,” Jo Anne Willemsen of Mason City for her ceramic piece, “Broken Glacier Dreams,” and Larry Gregson of Mason City for his oil on herringbone linen piece, “Crushed Can on Scrap Plywood.”

Merit Awards of $100 each were given to Rob Wallace of Ames for his wood piece, “Sunrise Splendor,” and to Jaclyn Garlock of Clear Lake for her painting, “Take Time to Make Time.”

The $50 Most Daring Award went to Paul Weitzel of Mason City for his oil on salvaged board, “Winter Train.”

Honorable Mention awards were given to Danny Brunsvold of Kensett for his drawing, “Bestefars Family,” Jan Hix of Waterloo for her oil painting, “Once There Were Buffalo,” Gregson for his painting, “The Illuminated Line,” and Lori Biwer-Stewart of Osage for her collagraph, “Tension.”

The exhibition includes a variety of works created by artists above high school age living within a 100-mile radius of Mason City. Each artist was eligible to submit two entries. This year’s show drew 106 entries by 56 artists, and 45 works by 36 artists were chosen for the exhibit.

The juror was Naomi Friend, exhibits curator at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames.

Many works are for sale and can be purchased through the museum.

The exhibition will be on view in the Kinney-Lindstrom Gallery through Jan. 28. Admission is free and open to the public.

Mason City Schools to present orchestra concert

MASON CITY — The Mason City Schools’ Instrumental Music Department will present a Winter Concert featuring the Lincoln Intermediate School, John Adams Middle School and High School Orchestras, grades 5-12.

The performance will be 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, in the North Iowa Community Auditorium on the North Iowa Area Community College campus.

Directors Lauren Jensen and Malcolm Burke will lead the performance.

The concert is free and the public is invited to attend.


Lincoln Intermediate School 5th Grade, directed by Lauren Jensen: “Pluckers,” Jeremy Woolstenhume; “Fiddler’s Hoedown,” Robert Gillespie; “Impulse,” Brian Balmages

Lincoln Intermediate School 6th Grade, Jensen: “Gargoyles,” Doug Spata; “Loch Lomond,” Arr. Noah Klauss; “Wexford Circle,” Elliot Del Borgo

John Adams Middle School, Jensen: “Accents,” Robert Frost; “Gauntlet,” Doug Spata; “Orpheus in the Underworld,” Jacques Offenbach; “Dragon Dances,” Soon Hee Newbold

High School, directed by Malcolm Burke: “Symphony No. 25 in g minor,” W.A. Mozart, I. Allegro con brio; “Aspire: A Dream Fulfilled,” Bob Phillips; “Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2,” Georges Bizet/arr. Merle Isaac

Charles City Singers' new director to make debut at Dec. 3 concert

CHARLES CITY — Scott Blankenbaker will make his debut as director of the Charles City Singers during the group’s annual winter concert on Saturday.

Blankenbaker, a Charles City resident who directs two choirs at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota, succeeds Steve Heitbrink, who directed the Charles City Singers for 30 years. Heitbrink is now singing with the group.

“I’m enjoying it so far,” said Blankenbaker. “It has been fun.”

Blankenbaker has been leading rehearsals since September in preparation for Saturday’s concert, titled “The Journey Begins: Songs of Transport.”

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Charles City. Old favorites, holiday songs and new pieces, including Blankenbaker’s own arrangement of “Deep River,” will be included.

A few surprise musical instruments, a small group and a Christmas sing-a-along also will be featured.

The Charles City Singers were formed more than 40 years ago.

Blankenbaker said some of the members have a master’s degree in vocal performance while others sing as a hobby.

He said he enjoys directing the Charles City Singers because it’s “a little more relaxed than my college groups.”

The Charles City Singers have traditionally done two concerts a year, one in December and the other in April.

Ten of the members have formed a small ensemble that plans to go out in the community for more performances. This group will be singing carols as well as a couple of pieces from Saturday’s concert from 5:30 until 6 p.m. Friday at the Charles City Arts Center.

The Charles City Singers currently has 35 members.

“We are always looking for new singers,” Blankenbaker said.

Joining the group requires a “pretty short and painless audition,” he said.

Advance tickets for Saturday’s concert are available for $5 at First Security Bank, First Citizens Bank, the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, the Charles City Arts Center or from choir members. Tickets will cost $7 at the door.

Students in grades K-12 will be admitted free.