People Stories

Of all the amazing things that make up our region, the most amazing of all are the people! Of all the things we want to write about, our highest priority is to write about the folks doing creative things. Let us introduce you to just a few of your neighbors in these Greater Mankato Area people stories!

Photo and art by Brittany Wegener - Scorpio natal light charm

Artist of the Month: Brittney Wegener

Brittany Wegener is a mixed media artist creating three-dimensional art and who has used her art for personal growth. You can see her craft on display in January at The Fillin' Station.
Photo by Jim Denomie - Detail of "Beautiful Witches" - 2020 - 24x30 oil on canvas

Distinctive and Daring: Jim Denomie at the 410 Project

Jim Denomie, originally from Hayward, Wisconsin, is an award winning artist garnering national and international attention. His most recent work will be on display at The 410 Project in Mankato from January 8-24.
Piano keyboard

Making Music: St. Peter Singer Kay Koehler Boasts Decades-Long Career

St. Peter resident Kay Koehler has sung backup for dozens of big-name country music stars in her decades-long career.
Photo by Calla Defries - Matt Atwood in the role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at Mankato Playhouse.

A Full Circle Passion: Matt Atwood 

From insurance to performance to the award winning a cappella group Home Free then back to real estate, Matt Atwood's passions have come full circle.
Fresh herbs from the garden

Healing by Nature’s Intent – Elizabeth Willett

Elizabeth Willett has been on a long path to becoming an herbalist and wellness counselor.
Prayer circle

Gentle Shepherd Ministries: Reaching Those Forgotten

At Gentle Shepherd Ministries, volunteers minister to some of southern Minnesota's forgotten population: seniors and inmates.
Photo by Casey Ek - Hensta piles topppings onto a pizza destined for a pickup order. While he learned the skills of making food over 25 years from mentors, colleagues and through passive observation, Hensta believes customer feedback has been equally important in refining his dishes. He has used that feedback to determine the amount of toppings typical customers want.

A Taste of the Big Apple in Nicollet: Great New York Pizza

Hentsa Tesfai serves up big city taste at his new restaurant, Great New York Pizza, in Nicollet.
Photo from The Mankato Free Press - The Immortal Trio - L-R: Frances Kenney Kirch (Tacy), Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy), and Marjorie Gerlach Harris (Tib). This photograph was taken outside Lincoln School (now Lincoln Community Center) in October 1961 when the three attended “Betsy-Tacy Days” in Mankato.

A Special Homecoming: Mankato Residents Share Memories of Author Maud Hart Lovelace’s Visit to...

Mankato residents share memories from nearly 60 years ago, when author Maud Hart Lovelace returned to her hometown of Mankato.
Video Game Controller

Leveling Up: MSU’s Varsity Esports Head Coach Jacquie Lamm

MankatoLIFE is excited to welcome our very first professional student writer, Meredith Maxwell! Welcome to the team, Meredith! By Meredith Maxwell Jacquie Lamm is no foreigner...
Photo by Don Lipps - Mankato Area Gymnastics School

Gymnastics for Everyone: Mankato Area Gymnastics School Offers Teachers Specializing in Special Needs Education

The Mankato Area Gymnastics School is working to meet more aspiring gymnasts' needs with two new special education instructors.