State Fair taste-testing contest winners named

Fairgoers chose their favorite kuchen and snack sticks in taste testings at the 26th annual Pride of Dakota-KMOT Day at the 2014 North Dakota State Fair in Minot.

“We had our annual crowd-favorite kuchen contest and added a snack stick tasting this year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “It was a perfect blend of savory and sweet.”

Lois Meidinger of Grandma’s Kuchen regained her title after a year’s absence from the kuchen contest. Other contestants included Karen’s Kuchen, Cavalier; Wagner’s Wagon, Mercer, and Woodward Farm, Cathay.

Longtime Grand Forks meat processor L&M Meats won honors in the new snack stick contest. Other participating companies were Edgeley Meat Processing Plant, Edgeley; Maple Valley Meats, Enderlin; Reister Meats & Catering, Streeter, and Uncle Larry’s Beef Shtix, Fargo.

The annual event attracted a large crowd to the tent, where 24 Pride of Dakota companies were selling and sampling their products. More than 1,000 people took part in the Pride of Dakota lunch for a dollar.

The lunch was sponsored by Cloverdale Foods, Land O’ Lakes/Dean Foods, the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association and Pan-O-Gold Baking Co. with proceeds going to the North Dakota FFA. Farm Credit Services of Minot supplied the grill and staff.

The Pride of Dakota program provides member companies with cooperative marketing and promotional events, such as Pride of Dakota Day, the Holiday Showcases and in-store demonstrations. Administered by the Marketing and Information Division of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the program also provides educational opportunities and representation at regional, national and international marketing expositions. More than 500 North Dakota companies are Pride of Dakota members.

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Pride of Dakota Day slated July 21, at the State Fair

North Dakota companies from around the state will be displaying, sampling and selling their products at the 26th annual Pride of Dakota Day, Monday, July 21, at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot.

“You’ll find a wide range of quality Pride of Dakota products, such as food and condiments, notecards, recordings, books, apparel, jewelry and much more,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “It’s a great time and place for fairgoers to meet, shop, and share lunch.”

The annual event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., under the large tent near the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.

“The Pride of Dakota lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Goehring said. “For just one dollar, you’ll get a grilled hot dog, potato chips and milk.”

The lunch is sponsored by Cloverdale Foods, Land O’ Lakes, the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association and Pan-O-Gold Baking Co. The proceeds go to North Dakota FFA.

Goehring also encouraged fairgoers to take part in the Pride of Dakota Kuchen Contest and the new Snack Stick Contest at 3 p.m., just outside the Pride of Dakota tent.

“Several North Dakota meat processing companies that make meat snack sticks asked for a contest similar to the well-established kuchen contest,” Goehring said. “It’s another fun opportunity to taste and vote for the best the state has to offer.”

Goehring said that fairgoers who bring a non-perishable food donation to benefit the Great Plains Food Bank will get a dollar off their gate admission on Pride of Dakota Day.

Administered by the Marketing and Information Division of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the Pride of Dakota program provides member companies with cooperative marketing and promotional events, such as Pride of Dakota Day, the Holiday Showcases and in-store demonstrations. The program also provides educational opportunities and representation at regional, national and international marketing expositions. More than 500 North Dakota companies are Pride of Dakota members.

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POD companies create candy

North Dakota will be celebrating its 125th anniversary this fall.

It was on November 2, 1889 when President Benjamin Harrison declared North Dakota a state.

In recognition of this event, four Pride of Dakota vendors worked together to create a 125th anniversary candy bar.

Mikey’s Country Candy of Burlington makes the candy, Wagoner’s Wagon of Mercer produced the chokecherry flavoring, Neiss Impression’s of Minot did the packaging, and Home Sweet Home owner Linda Johnson will market the candy.

Chokecherry is the official North Dakota fruit, so there are three flavors of candy bars: chokecherry white, chokecherry dark and chokecherry milk chocolate.

Each candy bar sells for $2.95.

Linda Johnson, Home Sweet Home “I am all about supporting small businesses, it is better quality, we are a big family we worked together very well”

In Minot, the 125th anniversary candy is available at Home Sweet Home or at Visit Minot.

But soon, it will be available across the state.

North Dakota Candy
Posted July 1, 2014 by KX News
www.kxnet.com/story/25920395/north-dakota-candy

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Brenarsky’s

Lazy summer weekends at Lake Sakakawea inspired two Dickinson businessmen to take a concoction of seasonings they’d long been made for themselves, and turn it into a product they could sell.

Five years later, Brenarsky’s seasoning sauce is a product known throughout North Dakota, and it is slowly gaining a following throughout the country as a secret ingredient in alcoholic beverages, a liquid seasoning for grilled meats and, as its label states, “whatever the heck else you’d like to put it on.”

Dave Bren and Scott Karsky became friends in the sixth grade and served in the Army National Guard together. Yet, it was at their neighboring lake cabins that they realized there might be a market for the sauce they had long been using to make their own bloody mary’s, caesars, clamdiggers and red beers.

“That’s where it all started,” Karsky said.

For years, Karsky and Bren had been known as guys who knew how to concoct a good drink.

“We used to carry spices around with us and it just kind of evolved,” Bren said.

The first true iteration of Brenarsky’s emerged in the early 2000s, when Bren said he was asked to mix up caesars and bloody mary’s for his co-workers at a company golf scramble.

“I tried to make them off the tailgate,” he said, adding that it didn’t work out. “The next year, I poured a bunch of stuff in a bottle. From there, it kind of evolved.”

By 2006, they continued to toy with the seasonings during summers at the lake. By 2009, they’d perfected the recipe.

“I said, ‘Let’s bottle this someday,’” said Karsky, an insurance agent.

“We kind of laughed about it,” Bren added.

But one night, using a whiskey bottle they later stuck a homemade label on, the duo mixed up the first bottle of what was about to become Brenarsky’s “Lot 42” seasoning sauce, which takes its name from the lot where their lake cabins are located.

“I still have it,” Bren said with a smile. “It’s pretty cool.”

The duo shared it with their friends and neighbors and, after overwhelmingly positive reactions, bought 100 cases of one-dozen 5 oz. bottles, which weren’t too different from the Brenarsky’s bottles found in stores today, Karsky said.

“We started brewing it in our kitchen,” Bren said. “We said, ‘Let’s try it and see what happens with it.’ It just started to go off the shelves. We couldn’t make it fast enough.”

They officially started bottling the sauce in 2010.

The name was Karsky’s idea of incorporating both of their last names into one — and he isn’t shy about admitting that a little liquid muse had a lot to do with the naming process.

“A lot of alcohol and some creativity, and it was like inspiration immediately,” he said with a laugh.

‘Popular’ product

Kelly Wald, a Pride of Dakota specialist at the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, said it has been great to see Bren’s and Karsky’s hobby turn into a success.

Of the thousands of Pride of Dakota products, Wald said Brenarksy’s has been memorable and diverse.

“They’re not just looking at hitting up one specific niche with it,” Wald said. “I think that’s part of what makes them so popular.”

Wald said people who know she works with Pride of Dakota products have asked her where they can buy Brenarsky’s.

Bren and Karsky have five distributors in North Dakota and sell nationally through their Facebook page and website.

Locally, the sauce can be found at EconoFoods and Dan’s SuperMarkets, as well as several area liquor stores. A bottle retails for around $5 a bottle. Several bars carry the sauce to use in their drinks.

Bren said their children inspired the use of Brenarsky’s on foods. Even though they are too young to drink alcohol, they too wanted to use the sauce, he said.

“They’re like, ‘Well, what can we use it on?’” Bren said. “Next thing you know, someone put it on pizza. … My kids put it on almost everything.”

“It wasn’t a hot sauce,” Karsky added, “but it’s turned into that.”

Tony Elliott, the general manager of Players Sports Bar and Grill in Dickinson, said he discovered Brenarsky’s when he moved to Dickinson to work for The Fisher Group, where Bren is a partner and operations manager.

“We got some because we like the local stuff,” Elliott said. “Then, the next day at work, I showed up and found out we were actually producing the stuff.”

Elliott served as Players’ first executive chef when it opened. The restaurant’s bloody mary bar utilizes a great deal of Brenarskys, he said, and it is an ingredient in a handful of dishes, including prime rib. Players goes through about 60 bottles a week.

“We’re hoping they can come out with some sort of commercial packaging for us,” Elliott said.

The future

A “hotter” sauce, Brenarsky’s 2X, debuted about a year after the original after Bren and Karsky heard the demand from customers at trade shows.

“People would always ask for a hotter one,” Karsky said. “We’d usually just add a couple more drops of original seasoning. We didn’t want to make it too hot.

“It didn’t take much, and some people love the hotter one. We sell about equal, actually. At the shows, we might actually sell more of the hotter one.”

All of the sauces are cooked and bottled at Full Service Foods in Hillsboro. There, they said, owner Amy Gordon cooked up samples using different iterations of the ingredients, contacted laboratories to determine the nutrition facts and even helped perfect the 2X sauce.

“It was cool how she did all that with us,” Bren said.

Karsky said they’re already thinking about the next step for Brenarsky’s, including bigger bottles or bottles with a pump for bars and restaurants. They have also talked about distributing the sauce to stores nationwide.

The duo has sold Brenarsky’s online to customers in 40 states and are in the process of having their website redesigned.

“One day, if we get serious, we might make some money off of it,” Karsky said.

They currently sell about 14,000 bottles a year — a conservative estimate, Bren said. It’s more than enough so that they can invest back into the sauce and keep it coming.

“The goal is one day that hopefully this will be a little retirement fund for us that’ll keep us going,” Bren said.

Eventually, they want their children to take over, and maybe even expand, the business.

Until then, Karsky said, they’re just enjoying the good times the sauce has provided them.

“We blow a lot of it on tailgate parties,” he said with a laugh. “We’re having fun with it right now.”

Published July 1, 2014 at 10:22 a.m. by Dustin Monke
Secret of the sauce: Dickinson-based seasoning sauce Brenarsky’s continues to grow
www.thedickinsonpress.com/content/secret-sauce-dickinson-based-seasoning-sauce-brenarskys-continues-grow

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Red Silo Studio

Todd and Bobbi Jo Cody were ready to put down roots.

They’d been on the craft show circuit for years, selling Todd’s photography, including pieces matted and framed by Bobbi Jo, at Pride of Dakota shows, the Shady Hollow Flea Market in Detroit Lakes, Minn., Eco Chic’s Junk Market and other events.

Now they’ve opened Red Silo Studio downtown at 12 Broadway, a home décor and gift shop where they sell not only their handiwork, but that of other Pride of Dakota members.

“We are ready to take that leap,” said Bobbi Jo. “We enjoy being inside and being available more often than the art shows.”

They officially opened their doors Tuesday. At least 90 percent of what’s carried in the store is made in the area, they said.

It’s an eclectic inventory that includes upcycled furniture, artwork, jewelry, scarves, fresh-roasted coffee and food items.

“Most things are one of a kind, so you won’t see them in other people’s homes,” Bobbi Jo said. “There’s so many talented people in the area. It’s fun to bring everyone together and have one spot to showcase what they do.”

Three of Todd’s most popular photos, called the “lake trio,” adorn one wall of the store. He trains his lens on a variety of subjects – landscape, architecture, wildlife – with a local, rural flair.

Todd’s mom, Jane Cody of Fargo, creates the jewelry through Js Custom Designs.

Other products carried at Red Silo Studio include Mable’s Taste of Home syrups and mixes, Deb Jenkins’ chips and Crooked Halo Designs.

Through the studio, the couple also offer family and senior portraits, shot outdoors in downtown Fargo.

The Codys said it was important for them to be located on Broadway. The shop shares an outer entrance with Uncorked, a fellow Pride of Dakota member.

Kelly Wald, Pride of Dakota marketing specialist in Bismarck, said she’s seeing more members like Todd and Bobbi Jo grow their business and then open a storefront, in return carrying Pride of Dakota products.

Being a retailer in addition to a member means the owner can receive additional resources, including a grant program and promotional materials, Wald said.

“Our state is just in a good position right now. People are really able to get their own small businesses started and really grow them,” Wald said. “A lot of that has to do with the economics of our state.”

Stylish Silo: Red Silo Studio opens doors on Broadway
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM  on Jun 19, 2014
www.inforum.com/content/stylish-silo-red-silo-studio-opens-doors-broadway

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Dot’s Pretzels

The Henkes’ lives have taken a few twists and turns, but nothing to equal the twisty treats they’re baking up now.

Dot and Randy Henke farm outside Velva, spend a few months in Arizona and still started up a new business that joins the parade of homemade products under the Pride of Dakota label.

In a metal building not far off Velva’s Main Street, they manufacture Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels, a recipe that Dot Henke herself perfected a small batch at a time when she was making them just for fun.

Last year, 100 tons of pretzels went out the door to 800 sales points in 10 states and the business is still growing, the Henkes say. “The product sells,” said Randy Henke.

Around these parts, it’s hard to find a gas station or convenience store without a rack of them, usually near the front cash register.

Kelly Wald, a state Agriculture Department Pride of Dakota specialist, said the product has had a “fantastic” two years. “They’ve blown up almost overnight. You can find them in almost any retail store here. Everybody who’s had them, just loves them,” she said.

She said the product is a good ambassador for the Pride of Dakota label, which is a recognizable and respected brand here and in other states.

It started simply enough. Dot Henke said she sampled some coated pretzels at a wedding a few years ago, with the more traditional garlic and Worcestershire coating, and began experimenting until she came up with what she considered a perfect seasoning blend. In her words, “I kept messing around with it until I liked it.”

A friend asked her to bake up a few batches to present as unique gifts to business clients. She baked a few pans in her oven, packaged them in pretty cellophane bags and, “Oh my God, they loved them.” From there, at that friend’s urging, the couple started looking into how to take the pretzel confectionary to a commercial level, quickly outgrowing the bakery in the town’s grocery store.

They’re hoping the building they purchased and retrofitted with a health-inspected kitchen will fit for another two years or so, depending on how the business keeps growing and whether the pallet-sized orders they’re shipping now ever develop into enough to fill a semi truck.

The Henkes found that all it takes is a taste of those light brown twisty pretzels and they’ve hooked a new customer.

Dot Henke said they put together boxes with a couple dozen small sample-sized bags and sent them out to likely sales venues. The idea was to have enough in the box for the owners, employees or anyone else around, and then she’d follow up in a week with a personal phone call.

Randy Henke said the pretzels almost sold themselves.

“Our batting average was high, not 100 percent, but I’ll bet it was 90 percent,” he said.

At this point, they’re still making direct sales from Velva, but they also have distributors in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota who handle the pretzels for them.

“Some of these opportunities just fall into our laps,” Randy Henke said.

Even after baking and selling tons of pretzels — enough probably to have paved Velva’s Main Street by now — the Henkes still like eating their pretzels.

They looked a long time for the right pretzel, rejecting ones that were too hard-shelled, or the wrong shape, before finding just the right ready-made pretzel product in Indiana.

“Our recipe only works on this pretzel,” Randy Henke said.

Between Indiana and Velva, the pretzels lose a lot of salt in shipping and the Henkes save the 50 pounds every week that shakes loose in the shipping bags for a local farmer who picks it up and feeds it to his cattle.

After they’ve unpacked, the sturdy stick pretzels are coated with canola oil and Dot Henke’s seasoning blend, and baked for an hour and half at a low temperature in one of three rack-style ovens. They found adapting her recipe to large-scale production wasn’t as simple as straightforward multiplication and required some fiddling to get back to that just-right flavor.

“When we went from two pans to 30 pounds, it was really hard to get the flavor just right,” she said.

The oil is absorbed into the pretzels so they’re not greasy even if they are finger-licking good. It’s impossible to eat just one, though at 130 calories for 16 pretzels, some discretion is probably advised.

“They’re an in-between snack, not as bad as potato chips or a candy bar,” Dot Henke said. Customers can buy as few as 5 ounces or up to 2 pounds for a crowd.

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels has put Velva on the map and provides employment for seven people, who do the baking, the weighing and packaging and pretty much handle day-to-day business when the Henkes are out of state.

Wald, of Pride and Dakota, said Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels is one of more than 500 Pride of Dakota members. She said the established program continues to grow with entrepreneurs like the Henkes who apply every week with a new and interesting product idea, and more recently, with talented and creative types who collectively are expanding the Pride of Dakota line of art and gifts.

Published May 11, 2014 7:00 am  •  By Lauren Donovan
bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/velva-couple-connects-the-dot-s/article_3399f96c-d6c0-11e3-bc90-001a4bcf887a.html

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Pride of Dakota slates annual meeting

“Your Business Image” is the theme for the 2014 Pride of Dakota annual meeting, Thursday and Friday, March 20-21, at the Ramada Bismarck Hotel, 1400 E. Interchange Ave., Bismarck.

“This year’s meeting will focus on improving business image through presentation, marketing and customer relations,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who will speak at the group’s annual banquet Thursday evening. “The meeting also gives member companies an opportunity to network with one another, to develop new business, marketing and entrepreneurial skills and to learn more about the Pride of Dakota program.”

The keynote at the banquet will be leadership speaker and chalk artist Bob Upgren.

The opening session Friday features Deb Eslinger, executive director for the Center for Technology and Business, who will discuss customer service and business relationships.

North Dakota Department of Agriculture staff members Dana Hager and Kelly Wald will update member companies on new Pride of Dakota policies and the new website.

Following a break, participants can choose from a variety of breakout sessions – financial resources, interstate shipping of products, wholesaling, local sourcing, social media and branding. Presenters include representatives from USDA Rural Development, NDDA, ND Dept. of Commerce, North Dakota Highway Patrol, the Small Business Development Center, Maple River Winery & Distillery and Wild Inspire.

Pride of Dakota provides member companies with cooperative marketing and promotional events, such as in-store demonstrations, Pride of Dakota Day and the Harvest and Holiday Showcases. The program also provides educational opportunities and representation at regional, national and international marketing expositions. More than 500 North Dakota companies are Pride of Dakota members. The program is administered by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture Marketing and Information Division.

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State Capitol to host Pride of Dakota Day

More than 50 companies will transform the statehouse into a North Dakota products shopping mall during the annual Pride of Dakota Day at the State Capitol, Thursday, March 20.

“This is an opportunity for Capitol visitors, legislators and state employees to shop for high quality Pride of Dakota products and to meet the people who make them,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “You can see, sample and buy the finest in foods and condiments, decorative items, jewelry, art and much more.”

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Capitol’s Memorial Hall and Legislative Hall on the first floor and the west end of the ground floor.

Administered by NDDA’s Marketing and Information Division, the Pride of Dakota program provides member companies with cooperative marketing and promotional events, such as in-store demonstrations, Pride of Dakota Day and the Holiday Showcases. The program also provides educational opportunities and representation at regional, national and international marketing expositions. More than 500 North Dakota companies are Pride of Dakota members.

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My Pet Dish

When Marilyn Nielsen of Moorhead saw the My Pet Dish booth at the Pride of Dakota trade show, she immediately thought of her Shih Tzu-poodle cross Ringo.

The booth featured cups, plates, trivets, pet dishes and urns embedded with personal pet photos. Owner Dan Dietz uses a kiln to fire the images onto the products at his home studio in Fargo.

Nielsen knew something bearing Ringo’s image would make the perfect Christmas gift for her husband, Paul.

She purchased a mug as well as a trivet for her neighbors with a photo of their dog. She was so pleased with both that she’s since placed two or three additional orders.

“Because he makes them with our own pictures, it means a lot to those of us who treasure our pets,” Nielson said. “We also like to do business with a local person who does the work himself.”

Dietz got the idea for the business about four years ago when he began contemplating retirement.

He was interested in ceramics at the time. Not so much in making them, but in personalizing them. He wanted to find a way to embed photos onto existing ceramic pieces.

Incorporating his love of animals, Dietz launched My Pet Dish in 2011.

While he focused on pet photos in the beginning, Dietz said today he works with photos of just about anything. He has done merchandise for events like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings, and recently completed an order of 75 mugs for a reunion.

“I think of myself as a little fishing boat and not a big ship,” Dietz said. “I can change speed and direction instantly to meet customer demand.”

Dietz is always looking for new ways to use his kiln.

“My wife says once I get something going that I lose interest, so I started slumping wine bottles, too,” Dietz said.

Slumping involves melting the bottle into a shape where it can serve as something such as a cheese tray or spoon rest.

Dietz uses his image transferring skills to embed messages and designs onto those as well. He sells them alongside the pet products at trade shows.

After more than 30 years in the corporate world and several more doing home inspections, Dietz says he is happy to be working from his own home these days.

Pet project takes off: Personalized ceramic business captures faces of people, furry friends
By: Angie Wieck, INFORUM
www.inforum.com/event/article/id/428904/

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Perfectly Nuts!

Try our newest product, Gone Nuts Granola, made with old-fashioned oats, sunflower seeds, flax meal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, pecans, coconut flakes, honey, canola oil, cinnamon, vanilla, raisins, craisins and apricots. Enjoy it right out of the bag, add it to yogurt, mix in fruit or just add a splash of milk – either way, it’s a smart and healthy snack! It is full of whole grains, nuts and fruits and is naturally sweetened with honey.

We start with 100% all natural ingredients, slow roast them and then sweeten with honey to make a granola that is perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Contains no added sugar and no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

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