Category Archives: Know Your Vendors

The who, what and why of event planning

Mesmerize with a Magician

Who doesn’t love magic? Local magician, ventriloquist, and escape artist Kelvin Saline has been amusing and delighting crowds for 44 years. As an 8 year old Cub Scout, Kelvin was introduced to magic when his mother, the den leader, made a coin disappear using Kelvin as her “secret accomplice.” He said that the reaction from the other kids was so unforgettable that from that day on he was hooked! He researched magic in library books and catalogues, and became a self taught magic man.

He began by making coins disappear, then larger and larger objects. Since adding the family comedy, ventriloquism, and incorporating escapes, Saline’s show has been in high demand. His “Magic Village” stage show is a 30 – 45 minute performance. Fairs and Festivals welcome him to entertain and amaze their crowds. Fundraising performances are also available for organizations, such as PTA’s, elementary schools, school bands, etc. Saline provides all that is needed for the fundraiser, but the group provides the venue.

He is a lifelong Duluthian married to Sherilyn, with children Brittney, 27, and Zach, 10. As he humorously states, he has 2 children between 10 and 27. While serving in the Air Force, he brought his special brand of diversion to the folks at an air base in Maryland. Later, he was also stationed in Southern Italy, and did magic shows for the Italian orphans there, through an interpreter. A highlight for him was the opening ceremony at the Special Olympics in Fort Meade, MD.

Saline believes that helping and motivating  others through his gift of magic is important. He has been very involved in Anti-bullying campaigns throughout Minnesota schools, mainly on the Iron Range and Twin Cities. This is done through visual interpretation and his ventriloquism, gaining more of a captive audience. He is hoping to become a bigger part of the Duluth Schools anti-bullying awareness
movement in the future. Saline also has a motivational presentation for businesses that stresses goal setting and success-driven strategies using magic. Though well received, it hasn’t been a main
focus for Saline. As the anti-bullying program gains more traction and clout, he will plan to develop and market the motivational aspect more.

A few of the outstanding events that Saline has been part of include being a Magic Consultant for the smash hit musical Pippin, “Day out with Thomas” yearly train ride and family fun, the Pumpkin Patch train rides in the fall, and the Lester River Rendezvous.

The testimonials from audience members are very positive. Saline uses clean humor and audience participation to make it an enjoyable time for all. He has a proven track record, and will continue to draw smiles and laughter through his professionalism and talent. Maybe for 44 more years!

Tune into Local Musicians for Your Next Event

Gina Lee

Duluth is known for its eclectic array of musicians, and Gina Lee is certainly one of them. She started singing when she was a little girl, and has been singing and performing professionally since 1979. Lee has become a well-established musician/entertainer/songwriter. Gina was born in Arizona, raised on the West Coast and made the transition to Minnesota in 1988, after a divorce, and met family members she hadn’t seen before. It’s been her home since.

You could call her a one woman band since she plays a 12 string guitar and pre-records music on her keyboard, for a fuller sound. Gina played in rock and country bands in 1979 and the early 1980s, starting in North Dakota and then on to the West Coast.

Her day job as an accountant is taking all of her time and energy, since it’s tax season. But when that fun time of year is done, she performs regularly at local venues. Even while raising a family and becoming an accountant was important to her, she still continued to play on occasion.

Music became a way of life 6 years ago, when she began performing as a “one-woman” act. Lee has no specific musical influences, but enjoys playing originals, folk rock, rock, and country. While Lee appreciates all types of music, folk rock is notably her specialty.

When asked if she has a favorite song, she replied, “I don’t really have one. But people sure like ‘Jambalaya’!!”

Gina Lee has performed in a variety of establishments. Emily’ Lighthouse restaurant in Knife River (now closed, sadly), The Iron Mug in Morgan Park, RT Quinlan’s, Beaners, Amazing Grace, GB Schneider’s, Bent Paddle, Clyde Iron, Radio Waves Music Festival, Pizza Luce, Lake Avenue Cafe…. and the list goes on.

But Lee said, “I find the assisted living homes most rewarding and other venues when people are having fun and dancing!” Sounds like she is not only a gifted entertainer, but also a giving one!

EventPro has helped and encouraged local musicians and bands in forming an alliance geared toward networking and arranging gigs. Our local music and arts scene is flourishing and Lundeen Productions has had so much to do with that.  Lee met Tracy Lundeen a few years ago at the Women’s Expo that she performed
and Rose Hoene, local music events promoter and coordinator, introduced them.

In our correspondence via email, I asked Gina a bit about her accomplishments. She replied, “I have played the  Homegrown Music Festival and Radio Waves Music Festival in Grand Marais more than once. I have written, performed and produced two albums. I have
(so far) contributed 5 original songs to Christmas by the Lake CD. I have come very close to winning the theme song contest for Bentleyville…. but alas, did not!”

Find Gina Lee at

Greg Tiburzi

When Bob Dylan left Hibbing, Minnesota in 1960 to venture out into the big world, Greg Tiburzi was born there. Seems like it was fate that another Iron Range musician came along to spread the gift of words and melodies.

Tiburzi listened to pop music on WEBC-am radio out of Duluth, and in Chisholm years ago, his grandmother sang on a station during the heyday of radio.

He found the drums to be his first instrument of choice. He began playing them in school bands and other groups. His very first band in 1978, called Open Fire, helped him work though his stage fright while singing and drumming. He continues to play drums for First
Lutheran church and other local groups.

Tiburzi began writing songs in the late 1970’s. He relays that his favorite song to play is an original called “Flow Again”. In his own words about that song: “It was written during a bout of powerful anxiety. The song is about hope, and it is a release for me each time I play it. Even though it is of a very personal nature, I feel it is a common feeling we all share.”

At times, a song can bring healing, not only to the listener, but for the artist at the helm.

Lately Tiburzi has focused on singing and playing acoustic guitar and harmonica at local establishments, nursing homes, private parties, and an occasional fundraiser. He enjoys performing many styles of music.  His performances mainly feature his originals, pop music from each decade, rock, folk, country, and standards. And this is impressive–Tiburzi appreciates world music and often incorporates songs from other cultures into his sets.

If you’re curious to hear Greg Tiburzi’s music, once a month you’ll hear some Italian songs when he plays at Valentini’sVicino Lago (various Wednesdays) and Gannucci’s Italian Market (usually last Fridays). He also plays once a month at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake (every third Tuesday) and Bulldog Pizza and Grill. Add to that list The Spirit Room, Breeze Inn, and much more. He has also taken the stage at the ever popular Duluth Homegrown Music Festival.

Musicians that I’m familiar with, (of which I’m one) strive to be
perfectionists at their craft. Tiburzi is no different, and shares this
regarding his performances:

“I strive to do justice to the song and perform it as the melody and lyrics call for. The song keeps me focused. The reward for me is in playing the song properly, whether for an audience of 100 or 1.”

When asked how he met Mr.…I mean… Tracy Lundeen, it was while Tiburzi performed at the Engwall’s Corn Maze about 6 years ago. He has also been on the Christmas by the Lake charitable CD, which is produced by Lundeen Productions. Tiburzi said, “Tracy is such a great asset to the local music scene.” As this writer views it, Greg Tiburzi deserves the distinction of being a wonderful asset, also.

Summing up what he feels about music and performing, he said, “I revere the healing quality of music, the ability to lift and better connect us to each other, our surroundings, and ourselves.” Well said, Greg.

Find Greg Tiburzi at

Ricky Lee

I was born in a log cabin in….no seriously, I was born in St. Paul Minnesota—in a hospital — I am a child of the suburbs in the 60’s. We had lots of open fields and lakes around our house and I could swim by the time I was 5.

I was very active in sports and wanted to be Harmon
Killebrew when I grew up. People always seemed to be having me sing. At that point I really didn’t like that very much.

My dad played in a band and gigged every weekend at a supper club called McGuires in the northern Twin Cities area.

He always had music playing. Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr among others. My mom gravitated to show tunes so I also heard Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins to name a few.

When I was about 10 years old, The Beatles showed up. My dad made sure we watched them on Ed Sullivan that night. That took me down the rock and roll path.

As time went by I pretty much stayed with rock and folk. Then about five to six years ago I heard my oldest son listening to Michael Buble. When I heard, him sing, it brought me back to the music I grew up with.

Imagine my surprise when I found I could actually sing those old standards of my youth. This has become great fun. I love it. I love the new arrangements. I only wish my dad had survived to hear me sing them.

Rickey Lee is a crooner for any occasion. He is heavily influenced by the music his parents played while he was growing up. This includes the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Rickey was born and raised in the Twin Cities but moved to Duluth with his wife in the mid 1980’s.

Adventure is Out There

Choose Your Cruise on the Vista Fleet for Your Special Events
by Sheryl Jensen
The Vista Fleet has been one of the jewels of the tourist industry in Duluth for many years. Many locals, however, forget that a cruise on the Vista Star or the Vista Queen is not just for tourists! What better way to show off Duluth to visiting friends or family and play tourist yourself for a day, then to take a beautiful harbor cruise?

Or are you planning a special event for the summer or fall months? Do you have a wedding, or a wedding shower, an anniversary, special birthday party, or a summer celebration to thank your employees, on your calendar?

Whatever your special event might be, consider making the Vista Fleet your first stop for planning a day or evening your group will never forget.
The Vista Star is the largest of their fleet and can hold up to 220 guests for a reception or 125 for a sit down dinner. It has 3 decks, 2 of which are enclosed. In addition to private full boat or deck charters, this vessel also provides their daily grand sightseeing cruises as well as their pizza and evening dinner cruises.

Their intimate private charter boat, the Vista Queen, is available for small groups. The vessel can accommodate a maximum of 36 passengers for a sit down dinner charter or up to 50 passengers for a charter reception (weather permitting).
Sarah Steinbach, who owns the Vista Fleet with her husband Justin, says, “Think outside the box with all your special events by talking to us first.”
One of a Kind Weddings
“So many people these days are looking for ‘destination’ weddings, trying to find a spot that is unique. Couples who love their city also love to show it off for their weddings or receptions. A  wedding/reception package on the Vista is perfect!” says Sarah.
With a customized package to fit your wedding budget,
the Vista Fleet can provide the unique setting of the beautiful boat with Lake Superior and the Lift Bridge as your backdrop. Or you could have your wedding elsewhere and have the reception onboard. Whether you want a small wedding with just the bride and groom and two guests, champagne, and a cake; or a sit-down dinner for twenty, forty, or more, the Vista folks will work with you for the picture perfect wedding. They can even assist with fresh flowers, decorations, and music.

Memorable Parties or Meetings
Are you in charge of a business meeting with clients or out of town business people? The Vista Star is the ticket for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner tour.

For a anniversary, birthday, or retirement party, let them do the work for you. “We work with Grandma’s Restaurant and Duluth Grill as our preferred caterers but are also open to other catering choices. Our preferred caterers also provide rental services of linens, china and flatware, napkins, and service staff,” says Sarah.
Treat your guests and clients to an incredible on-the-water experience they’ll remember for years to come. The Vista Fleet allows you to please everyone, every time, with custom designed meetings and events.

Sarah adds, “We sometimes take for granted how amazing the harbor is. See the city from a different point of view and connect with the water. We want to put you out there to enjoy it for yourself and make your special day even more special.”

For more information, visit
or call 218-722-6218
For their group sales coordinator
Mary Mikulich, call 218-329-8702

Choosing a Wedding Officiate

You’re engaged! Amidst the hugs and flurry of excited congratulations from family and friends you’re asked about the date of the ceremony, a venue for the service and reception and what kind of dress you’re hoping to find. All very legitimate questions and ones that many couples can answer because they’re the first to get crossed off the never-ending list of things to do before their special day.

One thing that doesn’t get asked and usually doesn’t even make the never-ending list of things to do is “who is going to officiate your ceremony”? Not as much fun to think about as decorations, dresses and wedding cake flavors however, you’ll need an officiate to perform your ceremony, sign your marriage license and register it with the state to be legal. Unless you’re planning on the clergy of your church, you will need a person who has their credentials registered with the state you are holding your ceremony. State laws do vary, if you are in question, check with the state marriage license office located in the court house.

Every officiant will have a different way to handle the weddings they preside. I am basing this article on the way I officiate weddings. I specialize in non-denominational and non-traditional weddings and consider it an honor to be included in your special day. My goal is to make your wedding ceremony to be exactly as you’ve pictured it. I believe that you and your fiancee’ should be comfortable with whom you choose to perform your ceremony. If at all possible, ask for a face to face meeting BEFORE you make the decision to book your date with an officiate. That isn’t always the case if you’re from out of the area. If a meeting isn’t possible, personal calls, texts and emails should be utilized.

Be sure to bring your list of questions you might have to your meeting. When I meet with a couple, I ask questions to determine what you’re hoping to accomplish and try to offer ideas and helpful suggestions. A good officiate will try to anticipate the needs of the couple and their guests, for example if it’s an outdoor wedding with no chairs, I will ask if there are grandparents or elderly guests that we be more comfortable during the service in a folding chair. Or, the suggestion of an agreement with an indoor facility as a back-up in case of inclement weather.

The ceremony script should be personalized to the couple. I share previous scripts as a template and work with my couples to write their own. Some couples find a ceremony script that fits them perfectly, most take different paragraphs to piece theirs together and still others will write their own completely. When I am complimented on the ceremony, I am proud to tell them that the couple wrote their own service. With my officiate services it is entirely up to you to decide how much, if any, religion is included. You make the decision if you will have a sand, candle, marriage license signing or another type of ceremony within your service. You choose if you want music, scripture or poem readings, a rehearsal or if you want to use a sound system during the ceremony. (whichI offer at a slight additional charge).

If you are not enlisting the services of a Wedding Planner, a thorough officiate should be able to conduct your wedding rehearsal, should you want one. They are also responsible for making sure your marriage license has all the proper signatures and information required and must mail it to the appropriate state marriage license bureau within five days after the ceremony.

I always tell my couples to laugh and enjoy the time you spend together planning your wedding, those moments are just as memorable as your wedding day itself. Again, I can only speak for my services, but during the ceremony it isn’t unusual for the bride, groom and myself to form an intimate bubble. A conscientious officiate will allow that to happen while still making the guests and wedding party feel as if they are also part of the ceremony and not just looking in from the outside.

Remember, while choosing your wedding officiate may be the last thing you cross off your list, it is also one of the most important decisions of your ceremony.

By: Cathy Holman, Wedding Officiate

Maxi Child's Trio: Making Mellow Music

In the elegant ambiance of the Blackwater Lounge in downtown Duluth, the dulcet tones and laid-back vibe of Maxi Childs and her fellow musicians seem right at home as a throwback to clubs of yesteryear. Maxi herself looks as if she could have stepped off the walls of one the elegantly gowned and coiffed women in one of the club’s deco mural paintings.

The Trio performs at Blackwater four nights a week (Wednesday-Saturday) from 7 to 10 pm. Maxi is the lead singer of the group, joined by Steve Netzel on bass and vocals. Their varied set list includes jazz, light pop, and a delightful mix of standards from the golden age.

Rotating members of the trio include pianist Tom Cawcutt on piano on Wednesdays; John Heino, pianist on Thursdays; Peter Knutson on guitar on Fridays; and Darin Bergsven guitarist on Saturdays. The trio expands for some evenings to include drummer Jeff Peabody and trombonist Tim Stratioti.

Steve Netzel started playing bass in a band with friends the summer between his 6th and 7th grade years and has been in one band or another ever since. “When I heard that Brian Flaherty was opening the Blackwater Lounge in 2009, I approached him about us performing there. He agreed that we could give it a try to see if it worked on both sides. We started with one night a week, added a second, a third night, and now a fourth. It has been great!”

Maxi Childs has also been a musician since she was a child. “I started out with the Duluth Accordionaires and sang in high school. I also had a group at one time called ‘Maxi and the Rusty Pickups,’” she says with a laugh. “Steve and I both have a real affection for the old
standards, so it seemed like a natural for us to perform together,” she explains.

For Maxi, a big part of the gig at Blackwater is meeting wonderful people, many of whom become return patrons. “We have had couples who got engaged here and then now come back for their anniversary every year. And we meet the coolest people from all over the world–people who are here in town for business who then come back to see us when they come back to Duluth.”

Steve agrees that the people make the job a joy. “It is an absolutely wonderful gig. How many musicians get four nights a week, 200 nights a year at the same place? And how many jobs are there out there where people clap for you?”

With their set list of over 200 songs, patrons are likely to hear something new every time they stop by. “We love requests. And with the Internet, we can find lyrics and songs easily,” says Steve.
The Trio does occasionally perform for weddings or other events locally, but it is their home at Blackwater that has fit as a perfect niche for both the Trio and the Lounge management.

Maxi adds, “I can’t say enough what a joy it is to be able to do what you love to do and to entertain people at the same time. We feel very lucky.” For more information, visit or
follow the Maxi Childs Trio on Facebook.

Bye, Bye Buzz

In Minnesota, we have 4 seasons Fall, Winter, Spring …and Mosquito Season.
By Tiffany Mallory, Manager at Mosquito Squad

I attended a beautiful outdoor wedding reception this past summer. The weather couldn’t have been more
perfect. White chairs were set up for guests with a 100+ year old oak tree as the centerpiece. As guests shuffled in to find a seat, the music began. Down the aisle came two little flower girls with smiles on their faces. There was a pause in the center of the aisle, one girl whacked the other on the back and quietly said, “a mosquito was
biting you”. Moments later, the bride came walking down arm and arm with her dad. As she placed one foot in front of the other, she made eye contact with her soon to be husband standing under the tree, who was swatting through a cloud of mosquitoes. The entire evening was spent indoors taking shelter from the bugs and guests left with itchy reminders for days.

Many of us entertain outdoors and this is especially true during the dusk and evening hours. Mosquitoes are evening feeders and like to feed under the veil of night and cooler temperatures. Mosquitoes usually feed during the times we enjoy entertaining, so effective mosquito control is a necessity for anyone who enjoys activities outdoors during the spring and summer.

Whether it’s an outdoor BBQ, a rehearsal dinner, a beautiful outdoor reception, a hike in the woods or just a day pulling weeds around your prized Hydrangeas, mosquitoes come for the fun and invite their friends and family for an all out feeding frenzy. If your outdoor experiences sound a little like this… mosquitoes at the cookout, mosquitoes at dinner, mosquitoes while roasting marshmallows, mosquitoes during conversation, tiny mosquitoes managing to bite even though jeans and lawn chairs and long sleeve shirts, even sneaking into the house when you open the door, you’re not alone. I’ve listened to many stories of pain and frustration and haven’t met one person who says they enjoy the buzzing and the bites that those little pests bring.

Here are some things that we can do to help lessen the swarm:

  • Your first line of defense is to make certain you have eradicated or substantially reduced areas where mosquitoes can lay eggs all around your home and yard. These include pots, outdoor toys, containers or any area where even small amounts of water or moisture can collect.
  • Keeping your lawn cut and free of debris is important because
    mosquitoes lurk in dark, deeply vegetated areas.
  • Having your property treated by a licensed professional
    to kill and prevent mosquitoes is key to complete mosquito

Ask your local mosquito control specialist about barrier protection, all natural protection, misting systems, and event spraying that are safe for your family and pets, the only thing you have to lose are the bugs! Until then, pleasant swatting!