IF YOU LIVE IN MINNESOTA, New York or Germany, you are likely familiar with the case of a now-fired Der Spiegel journalist who visited Fergus Falls and fabricated a magazine story about this west central Minnesota community and its people. If there’s one thing we Minnesotans don’t like, it’s lies about who we are. How this writer thought he could pen such a piece of fiction and get away with it is beyond my comprehension.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, click here to read a post on Bob Collins’ NewsCut blog at Minnesota Public Radio. He offers a good summary. Fergus Falls folks set the record straight with their own investigation of Claas Relotius’ claims in a particularly humorous piece. It’s worth your read.
I’ve been to Fergus Falls. Several times. And I’ve found it to be an artsy community with a lovely downtown and equally lovely people.
Heck, I even had a poem posted on billboards there back in 2011 as part of the (now-defunct) Roadside Poetry Project.
I visited several places that endear Fergus Falls to me—The Viking Cafe, Dairyland Drive In, Kaddatz Galleries, Otto the Otter statue and top of my list, Victor Lundeen & Company. Then third-generation print shop owner Paul Lundeen gave me a personal tour of his second floor print shop, showing me lots of vintage art and type. You can bet I was an appreciative visitor given my interest in all things print.
This is the Fergus Falls I saw. Not some backward, gun-toting community of hicks, as portrayed by the German magazine writer.
Take a look at my blog posts for my view of Fergus Falls. It’s nothing like Relotius’ fabricated version. And that’s a good thing.
TELL ME: Are you familiar with this story and how would you react if a foreign writer negatively fictionalized your community? Have you been to Fergus Falls? If yes, what’s your perspective of this Minnesota community?
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling