• A Slice of Rochester Pie

     
    FROM THE Summer 2022 ISSUE
     
    Photo credit: William Forsman Photography

Bill Von Bank, vice president of marketing and communications for Experience Rochester Minnesota Convention & Visitors Bureau and Mayo Civic Center, knows how to make a luscious pie. On summer and fall weekends, he travels to Minnesota farmers markets as Bill the Pie Guy, selling his homemade apple, blueberry, mixed berry, strawberry, rhubarb, peach, and pecan pies to hungry marketgoers—and donating the profits to hunger-relief organizations. 

But when you reach him by phone, he seems much more comfortable talking about why Rochester is such a great city for meetings and events rather than talking about his personal details. It is easy to see why he is so enthusiastic about the city.

“Rochester offers a healthy dose of Midwest charm,” Von Bank says. “We’re conveniently located within the Upper Midwest, so it really does allow us to be a great site for regional meetings, events, and conventions.” 

In 2017, the Mayo Civic Center completed an $84 million expansion in Rochester, which gave the city considerably more space for events. The civic center now has more than 200,000 square feet of convention space and one of the largest ballrooms in Minnesota at 40,000 square feet.

The native Minnesotan, who grew up on a hobby farm near New Prague, has much more to say about what makes Rochester special. “There’s so much history to explore throughout the city, due in large part to the Mayo brothers,” he says. “There’s a great history tour by the Rochester Trolley and Tour Co. that I would recommend to anybody coming to town. Also, I’m really impressed with the craft beer scene in Rochester. In 2012, there was just one brewery. Now, there are five proving their worth as destination breweries.”

But what about the winters? Not a problem, Von Bank says. “The skyway that connects to Mayo Civic Center also connects to more than 2,000 hotel rooms downtown. And the skyways are climate-controlled. We also have a pedestrian subway system underneath Mayo Clinic and some of the hotels. So, there are ways to get around without having to go outside in the dead of winter.” 

To learn more about Rochester, check out Von Bank’s Growing Destinations podcast (growingdestinations.com). And if you run into him at a farmers market this summer or fall, get yourself a pie.

There is nothing like the energy of a college campus as students return for the fall semester. By the time Labor Day hits, many students are itching to get back to their friends and return to routine, even at the cost of exams, papers, and presentations. 

 

Lauren Bennett McGinty took over as executive director of Explore Minnesota Tourism in November 2021. The longtime Minnesota resident who moved here from Milwaukee when she was four has thoughtful reasons about why she remains in the North Star State.

“I moved to Minneapolis after I graduated from [Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter], and I put my roots down here,” she says. “I think a lot of it is I continue to find something new everywhere I go, and the people here are just wonderful. We have such a diverse and rich culture. I love everything about it.”

 

Cafe and Bar Lurcat in downtown Minneapolis is an elegant, multifaceted haven for food lovers looking to host an event. This chic, yet urban venue offers delectable cuisine and three private event spaces—and for their special events, Cafe and Bar Lurcat partners with D’Amico Catering, a Twin Cities hospitality company that has served the area for over 30 years.