It’s hard not to get a little worked up when you’re at a Community Forum (such as last Friday’s forum that was held on the first floor of the Fournet Building during the weekend tours) and there are two areas with lists that ask what people DON’T like about downtown Crookston. In the organizer’s defense, I did see the other lists that asked what people like and what people would like to see happen in downtown Crookston. But the negative lists, unfortunately, are what stuck out in my mind.

    It’s hard not to get a little worked up when you’re at a Community Forum (such as last Friday’s forum that was held on the first floor of the Fournet Building during the weekend tours) and there are two areas with lists that ask what people DON’T like about downtown Crookston. In the organizer’s defense, I did see the other lists that asked what people like and what people would like to see happen in downtown Crookston. But the negative lists, unfortunately, are what stuck out in my mind.

    Some of the typical things on the first “What Do You Not Like About Downtown” list included: empty buildings, one-way streets, and lack of small businesses. One item on a list across the room that was written next to a map of downtown read “Lack of Family Activities.” Before I blew a gasket, I tried to think of the ways that people get their information in and around Crookston. Maybe this person just wasn’t well enough informed of how many family activities there actually are in this town. We’ve got a daily newspaper with a community calendar in its print edition and on their website (and occasionally a full list is available on social media), a radio station that reads their calendar on-air and is included on their website, the Crookston Chamber’s website plus fliers in their office, City Hall, Parks and Recreation website, the printed and online Funfinder updated twice a year, a free weekend paper delivered to thousands in the region, fliers at the schools/library/churches/organizations, social media events/pages and shared content across multiple public groups/pages, and (sometimes) posters hung around town. Plus the ability to call these businesses, organizations, groups and locations to get event/activity information. After all that, there doesn’t seem to be much room for not knowing what is going on in and around town.

    That being said, if you live in or near Crookston, and you have access to any of those outlets of information, you would know there most definitely is NOT a lack of family activities. Unless you’re looking to swim with the dolphins, go spelunking, or ride a roller coaster, of course.

    Crookston has a magnitude of annual events that happen every month of the year (check out the 2017 edition of the Times’ Community Connections Section II for an extensive list that’s not even the FULL list) and that doesn’t include all the side activities happening regularly around town. We’ve got a community pool, a library, a museum, a movie theatre, many parks, many sports and recreation venues (like the Crookston Splash Park, Crookston Sports Center or Crookston Gun Club), access to the river via canoe/kayak rentals, walking/hiking/biking trails, and a ton of other activities through the schools and city. We’ve got non-profit organizations for families to volunteer at such as the Humane Society and many places for families to go to simply have a picnic lunch. Want to go shopping or out to eat? We’ve got that covered, too.

    So, please. For the love of all that is wonderful. Do not say there’s a lack of family activities in Crookston. In my line of work, I can’t keep up with all that Crookston has to offer. My weekly (and daily) schedule is ALWAYS packed FULL of activities and events. Next week in Crookston, we have the start of Club Kid, falcon banding with the Raptor Center, Kids at Castle Park Kickoff, the start of Community Ed Summer Camp, Summer Reading program at the Library plus other weekly library events, horse riding camp at UMC, and Movies on the Square. And that does not include the many meetings, sports activities, healthcare activities, and separate organization activities available to the public.

    I challenge anyone out there reading this that feels there’s a lack of family activities in Crookston to come to the Times’ office and I will physically print you out a list of many different things you can do today, tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. Or, if you’re really feeling saucy, you can follow me and Maddie the summer intern around for a month and check out all the cool events we get to go take pictures at. Believe me, you’ll be wishing you never wrote that on the list at Friday’s forum.

    Bengtson is assistant editor at the Times.