Introduction to Mankato, Minnesota
The city of Mankato is the county seat of Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and is located about 80 miles southwest of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Principal highways servicing the city include U.S. Routes 169 and 14, and Minnesota State Highway 60. Mankato is home to the main campus of Minnesota State University.
The city's original name was Mahkato, a Dakota Indian term meaning "greenish blue earth". An early spelling error which was never corrected caused the name to become Mankato. In 1862, a conflict between the U.S. and the Dakota Indians (known as the "Sioux Uprising" in reference to the Dakota tribe's alternate moniker of Sioux) resulted in the largest mass execution in the nation's history when 38 Dakota Indians were hanged in Mankato. The city received its charter in 1868, the same year that Minnesota's second Normal School was established in the city. A teacher's college until after World War II, the school expanded its curriculum to include science and fine arts courses and became Mankato State College and later Mankato State University before being renamed Minnesota State University, Mankato in 1999.
Arts and Entertainment in Mankato
The unique history of Mankato is preserved in many registered historic sites, and the talents of its students and residents support a thriving fine arts community. The city's location amidst Minnesota’s famed waters and woodlands also affords visitors and residents an easy escape to hiking/biking trails, golf courses, lake fishing and recreation, and winter skiing. Included among its many attractions are the following:
- The Carnegie Art Center: The largest visual art center in south central Minnesota.
- R.D. Hubbard House: Originally built in 1871, the house is the oldest remaining example of a Victorian Mansion in the area.
- Judge Lorin P. Cray Mansion: A Queen Anne style mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Minnesota Valley Chorale: Grounded in the great works of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and complemented by folk music, madrigals and spirituals.
- Mount Kato: A year-round recreation area for skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, and mountain biking.
- Land of Memories Park: Located along the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers, the park offers bike trails and camping.
- Minneopa State Park: Offers nearly five miles of hiking trails and over four miles of cross-country skiing trails.
- Red Jacket Trail: A 13-mile biking trail.
- Mankato Ballet
- Merely Players Theatre
- Minnesota State University Theatre
- Highland Summer Theatre
- Mankato Symphony Orchestra
- Blue Earth County Heritage Center Museum
- Seppmann Mill
- Morgan Creek Vineyards
- Wildlife Safari Museum
- Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail
Mankato is also home to some popular annual events and festivals. April's International Festival is an event designed to celebrate and raise awareness of cultural diversity in Greater Mankato. The Hickory Street Ribfest, held every August, features a weekend filled with music, games and award-winning ribs from across the country. In September, the city hosts the Mankato Mdewakanton PowWow, where thousands of Native Americans return to their ceremonial grounds to celebrate and reenact ceremonial dances while wearing traditional costumes. The Deep Valley Book Festival, held in November, is a two day celebration of books and reading which gives the public a chance to meet and talk with Minnesota authors and writers.
Minnesota State University's athletic teams are known as the Mavericks. The men's and women's ice hockey teams both compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) along with four other Minnesota-based college teams. The other Maverick teams compete in the North Central Conference of NCAA's Division II. The University is also the current site of the summer training camp for the Minnesota Vikings National Football League team.
Plenty of professional sports, much of it of the major-league variety, can be found about 90 minutes away in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. A list of some of Minnesota's pro teams includes the following:
- Baseball: Minnesota Twins (MLB)
- Football: Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
- Basketball: Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
- Hockey: Minnesota Wild (NHL)
- Women's basketball: Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)
- Lacrosse: Minnesota Swarm (National Lacrosse League)
- Soccer: Minnesota Thunder (United Soccer League)