This past year saw the launch of several exciting ventures around Northfield in the arts and entertainment world, including the reopening of the Northfield Public Library.

The library and events like the TORCH Poetry Slam have kept youth engaged in the arts.

The Northfield community also saw an expansion in the way it can appreciate music with the FM launch of KYMN.

These are some of the top stories collected from the past year in the arts and entertainment world in the Northfield community.

KYMN launches on FM

Dialing up KYMN Radio got a little easier this year when the station announced it acquired an FM radio frequency.

KYMN Radio became available at 95.1 as well as on 1080 AM. The station is now also known as 95-The One, but its programming will be the same.

“We are grateful that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) opened a window of opportunity for us to acquire the FM license,” KYMN owner Jeff Johnson said in a press release. “This will give our listeners a clear, strong signal for 24 hours a day and our clients another level of service.”

Johnson has waited for the window to open for the past several years and it allows the AM broadcast to be simulcast on the FM signal through a translator.

The move is for the music, as well as for Johnson. The station consistently updates its rotation and features music from an expanse of genres.

“It really allows us to feature the music,” he said. “It’s been our goal to be a little different. We have 4 to 5,000 songs in our rotation.”

KYMN has broadcast in Northfield since 1968 and features local programming from residents. The station can be heard on AM, FM, livestreamed online and programs are available to podcast.

Keillor visit

Garrison Keillor has been a frequent visitor to Northfield and he made a special trip in September at The Grand Event Center as part of a fundraiser for Save the Northfield Depot.

When news of his appearance first surfaced and tickets went on sale, it didn’t take long for The Grand to sell out. The event brought in more than the $20,000 goal that was set and gave Northfielders an opportunity to bask in the rich stories Keillor can tell.

Local musicians Martha Larson, Mike Hildebrandt, Helen Forsythe and Mark Kreitzer provided musical accompaniment for the evening, dubbing themselves the “Train Gang.”

Northfield Library reopens

The Northfield Public Library reopened this spring and opened the eyes of community members showing what a library can do in a community.

The renovations included a glass atrium, an outdoor patio and play space for children.

The $3.4 million project includes 55 percent of the funding coming from public sources, and the remaining 45 percent from private sources.

“It’s been intense and very enjoyable,” Library Director Teresa Jensen said at the grand opening ceremony in May. “There have been lots of ups and downs, but I think everyone’s heart was in the right place for this project and so they all made it happen.”

One of the main goals was to maintain the historical side of the library while embracing technology.

Architect Michael Roehr, of RoehrSchmitt Architecture, has been involved with the project since the beginning.

“We were told to do something that would really address the future, that was not timid, and that’s what we tried to deliver,” he said.

RoehrSchmitt Architecture partnered with Rothholz Weiner Architects to work on each phase of the project.

According to Roehr, “This is something that is unique to Northfield because the people of Northfield were so incredibly vocal and instrumental. In the end you get a better product because everyone has been heard.

“We wanted to frame the wonderful buildings that were already here that were referring to the past and do something that clearly refers to the future as well, which we think is the essence of what libraries are about.”

The community of Northfield has been called a “City of Readers,” as 90 percent of residents have a library card.

But for more than 30 years, it has made do with a small brick 1910 Carnegie library expanded in 1984 with a brick addition.

TORCH Poetry Slam

The TORCH Poetry Slam entered its second year this December and it has become an important outlet for students and those in the community to learn from each other.

About 20 Northfield High School students shared their deeply-personal stories to the audience. The event has given students another opportunity to be vocal, in addition to the The Latino (And Friends!) Play Festival, which entered its sixth year.

Poems and performances are open to students in Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH), a Northfield program that supports minority or low-income students to address the achievement gap.

About 250 students, families and community members attended last year’s slam and there are cash prizes for first through fourth place winners.

“A lot of the stories are dark and painful but it was also the feeling of celebrating the fact that [the students] got through it and that they’re survivors,” said Northfield High School English Language teacher and poetry slam organizer Jennifer Lompart. “I think they were really proud.”

Nick Gerhardt is the Northfield News Associate Editor. You can reach him at 645-1136. Follow him on Twitter @NfldNewsNick.

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