Category Archives: Articles

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

Field of Opportunity

Planning a party that will leave your gueststalking for weeks is no easy task, but fi nding theright venue can make the feat a bit easier.

In Duluth, we’re lucky have a variety of amazing locations to choose from – but may of them have the most unique venue for parties, corporate events, reunions and more, The Engwall’s Corn
Maze. The maze is located at Engwall in Hermantown and features over an acre of corn stalks to get lost in. You’ll also fi nd a 3,000 square foot big top tent available, and a conference room. This
venue brings the whole party for you, beyond the maze itself, you’ll fi nd activities like Corn Cannons,

Hayrides, Pumpkin Bowling and Fire Pits. Engwall’s owner Rod Saline, heard “if you build it, they will come”. And come they have.

Octoberfest Fun and T-shirt Tutorial

By Shana Vesel
My favorite time of year is when summer comes to a close. Days are getting colder and leaves are turning colors. With Halloween right around the corner, the best way to enjoy a fall day is to have a party! Most people don’t have much going on. School is in full swing, the cabin is packed up tight, and there aren’t any other big events or holidays. So, every year, I host a camping gathering called “Octoberfest”. It started out several years ago with my Grandpa.

He was a big fan of fall camping. The colder the better. My husband still jokes that if we don’t travel down 20 miles of dirt roads and pull off into the wilderness, it isn’t camping by Grandpa’s standards! So, “Octoberfest” became a tradition and we made it into more of a party. I like to plan food, activities and games so that everyone can be involved and have a good time. We lost Grandpa a few years back, but our annual “Octoberfest” helps us remember him and celebrate with fall camping.

When we decide on a weekend, I send out an invite either by regular mail (if you have the time to put something fun together) or by email. We always have our favorite campground in mind and I plan games and activities around the campground layout. With the invitation, I will invite the group to sign up for our one group shared meal: a soup

We plan arrival for Friday afternoon. That gives us time to all get to the campground and set up. Decorating your campsite is highly encouraged! I’ll hit the local craft stores, dollar store and home store for various props, lights and decorations. There are no power hook-ups at this time of year, so I have to keep in mind that whatever we do has to be run off of a generator. I can’t tell you how cool light-up inflatables look at night in your campsite. Think of your neighborhood, only condensed! It’s especially fun when we have the campground to ourselves. Something else to keep in mind is the weather. It may be cold, rainy or sometimes snowy. Your decorations should be able to withstand mother nature. A covered screen tent or canopy makes a good gathering spot if the weather is not the best.

On Friday evening, we like to carve pumpkins. I ask everyone to bring their own pumpkins and I supply the tools. They can carve their pumpkin however they choose. We line them up in front of our campsite and put lights inside. Be careful with candles especially if there are children or dry leaves. I prefer to use the battery operated lights. Walking around the campground loop seeing all those carved pumpkins lit up is really neat!

Saturday we start the day with t-shirt or sweatshirt making.
I usually buy multi-packs of men’s white t-shirts to share, but you could have people bring their own. Choose an area with lots of ventilation and a flat space to decorate the shirts on. Using masking tape, create a design on the t-shirt making sure to press the tape down firmly. Lay flat and take spray paint to highlight various areas of the design. Be sure to supervise and assist children with spray paint! Once dry (usually less than 30 minutes), remove tape and customize further. We like to cut and/or tie the t-shirt with ribbon to really make it your own. Matching t-shirts really make a group photo look amazing!

After the t-shirts are made and everyone’s wearing them, we get some fun games started. One of our favorites is called “Newspaper Costume Contest”. We separate the group into teams. It works best if you have at least 3 people per team, especially if there are children playing. Every team gets a stack of old newspapers, scissors, masking tape, packing tape and/or scotch tape. On the word “go!”, each team has to create a handmade costume using only newspaper and tape. One person has to designated as the “costume” wearer and the other teammates are the builders/designers. I recommend a 30 minute limit, but you could make it longer. To set the mood, I will play Halloween music while the teams work. After the time is up, have a costume parade and judge for places. Make sure you have lots of prizes – it’s hard to choose a favorite sometimes. Also, it’s important to take as many photos as you can!

For lunch, we gather together for our soup potluck. Some people bring soup or stew, others bring crackers, bread or rolls and some bring dessert. Whatever you decide on, just make sure it’s enough to share!

When it starts to get dark and our campsites are glowing with decorations and pumpkins, we have a flashlight scavenger hunt. I choose about a dozen various Halloween themed items to hide around the campground. In the past, I’ve made painted wooden
cut-outs, but the dollar store will have lots to choose from too. Teams split up and use their flashlights to hunt down all of the items on their list. If you’re creative, make up little clue poems to help find them. If not, make sure all the items are out in the open enough to find easily.

Our fall camping trip has become something my family and friends look forward to all year. It’s something fun to get everyone outside and enjoying our fall weather. This party can easily be adapted for other locations and condensed into one day or afternoon. We have also used some of these ideas for other holidays. Just make it your own and invite your family and friends. They’re sure to have a great time!

Patriotic Thirst Quenchers

When the summer sun heats you up – these red, white,
and blue beverages will cool you down!

Cran-cherry Juice
Kid friendly pina colada drink
Blue raspberry drink
*You can pick any three red, white and blue drinks
as long as all the drinks have different sugar contents per ounce.
1. Fill the cup 1/3 of the way up with the drink with the
highest sugar content. In this case the cran-cherry juice.
2. Fill the cup to the top with ice
3. Pour the drink with the next highest sugar content (in this case
the pina colada drink) another third of the way up. The key is to
pour it very slowly over the ice. If you pour to quickly the colors will combine.
4. Repeat with the last drink (in this case the blue drink),
fi lling the last third of the cup. Remember to pour very slowly.
5. For the straw, cut the ends off of a twizzlers candy, then you can even use red, white
and blue pull n’ peel twizzler candy to add some more color.

Lime Juice
Frozen Strawberries
Super easy, all you need to do is put 4 ounces of
Hynotiq, 2 ounces of vodka, and a splash of lime
juice in a glass. Then you use the frozen strawberries
for ice.

Famous Dave’s: Pass the napkin!

Summer. A season that we all look so forward to. Time to get out on the lakes, and enjoy picnics and barbecues. And for those of you who can’t live without a fi nger-licking delicious barbecue,
Famous Dave’s comes to mind.

The Duluth restaurant opened in 2002, and continues to be one of Canal Park’s hot spots. You may (or may not) know that Famous Dave’s offers catering. This can best be described as best
family style buffets. They offer to cater corporate events, weddings, business lunches, grad parties, school functions, personal occasions, and more. Greg Toon, general manager at the Duluth restaurant since 2004, relayed that they are a year round catering company. Groom’s dinners and family reunions are very popular in the summer months. He also jokingly said that they are not afraid to “ruin” a wedding dress or two. This writer thinks it would be worth it!

Offi ce meetings with lunches, or staff training days are popular, with multiple shift caterings a plus. If food is desired for 1st/2nd or 3rd shifts, they provide that as well.
Fall-off the bone smoked ribs, beef brisket, pork, and hand seasoned slow-roasted chicken are the house smoked meats that keep people coming back for more. Several made-from scratch items are available, such as the popular Wilbur beans, coleslaw, garlic mashed
potatoes, and mmmmac-n-cheese. Toon said that the honey buttered corn bread muffi ns are incredibly popular. There are pans of delicious food that you can help yourself to, but they also have staff who can dish up plates for the diners. A huge plus is the fact that Famous Dave’s personnel will clean, clear tables, and take care of refuse during the event. Each level of service has a cost along with it.

Famous Dave’s catering will cover a radius from 1.5 to 2 hour drive. There are extra fees for longer trips, but they have the equipment needed in order to supply a perfect meal. The catering prices run from $8-$16 dollars depending on the selection. Average prices run
from $12-$13 dollars a plate. A full menu can be seen online at Craig Smith , Sales director for Enger and Lester Park golf courses, has some very kind words to share. “Famous Dave’s has been an outstanding source for event catering for me over the past 15 years in both my baseball years and now for golf related events. I have enjoyed partnering with them for daily menu items, special catering events, and golf tournaments which our participants fully enjoyed and looked forward to year in and year out. Clients can rest assured that owner Randy Jernberg, General manager Greg Toon, and their staff will be there to support them from the initial meeting through delivery and at a great price! I highly recommend Famous Dave’s for all your event and catering needs.”

Abby Olson, owner of Saffron and Grey fl oral, Is also a very satisfi ed patron. “We have used Famous Dave’s for events and Greg Toon has always been very professional. He shows up on time & sets up a delicious spread. During the planning process he makes appropriate suggestions so you never have to worry about having too much or too little. We highly recommend working with our Duluth Famous Dave’s and Greg Toon.” “Consistent food quality and pleasing our customer is what we strive for”, Toon says. “We take pride in this, along with serving high quality meat, and providing a great meal to enhance your gathering is what famous Dave’s is all about”.