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Get Out & Play in Gary

                ...better yet, live where you play!

         By former mayor, Karie Kirschbaum (Jan. 2012-July 2020) (Published Twin Valley Times, 2018)

            Let me brag a little... we live where we play! It’s the stuff out of which HGTV shows are made. It’s hard to believe just an hour or less from Moorhead, Detroit Lakes and Thief River is a friendly city with good schools, parks, affordable housing, quiet streets to walk on and nice neighbors to visit.

            After a 30-year absence, I moved back to my hometown in 2010. Why? I came home for a funeral and when I got back to California my husband said, “have you been on vacation or at a funeral…I’ve never seen you so relaxed!” That was 2010, the year we realized quality of life mattered more to us than what we were striving for. We have never regretted the move. A couple years later we were joined by both of our daughters and their families. There is nothing like seeing your grandchildren raised in small town Minnesota. Check us out! In 30 minutes or less, down a road with no traffic, past a tractor or two and beautiful country side, you will find yourself in the middle of everything - Mahnomen, Crookston, Ada, Fertile, Twin Valley or Flom.

            The best part is in two minutes or less you will find yourself on your ranger, horse or snowmobile headed down the Agassiz Recreational Trail watching deer, wild turkeys and bald eagles. The Wild Rice River is 6 miles south for good fishing, camping and a great park.  Either direction will land you at a food/watering hole in 10 minutes. 

            For an extra treat, go west of the ART for a half mile and enjoy six miles of trails and a ninja/obstacle course in the Gary Pines, a 160-acre forest located on Hwy 32. It is a place where your children can explore the outdoors and enjoy artwork by Scott Petry of Andy Lake Woodwork through the trails…a wolf, eagle, bear, sasquatch and more. Take time to have a picnic at one of the shelters and enjoy the sunset. Go to the “Play where you live” link for complete information.

            Like to fish? Ice castles and fish houses abound in local yards in the summer. In the winter, they are on the lakes for ice fishing adventures.  For warm-weather fisher folks, the Wild Rice River is six miles south on Hwy. 32 and in under 30 minutes the “land of 10,000 lakes” and the recreation which comes with it, becomes reality.

            Like to hunt? The unofficial hallowed holiday of deer hunting is celebrated here. It’s two weeks of four generations and their friends sitting around a bonfire talking about the big buck of the day and eating granny’s baked goods. Saturday night folks head up to the Gary Legion/Who’s? Place for the deer hunters dance – camouflage is the color of the night.


             Get out with your neighbors. We have great parks, but our friends and neighbors are even better. For locals and visitors alike, it happens by accident; we run into each other on a trail, a sporting event or uptown, and time just gets away from us. It’s good for the blood pressure. At other times it is an unspoken tradition which brings us together.  It’s the annual Gary Days festivities complete with a car show, three on three basketball tournament, a parade (tractors included), a feast and a street dance. It may also be Santa Day or Halloween-Fest with the Gary Community Club, the Fall Bazaar, the Fireman’s Dance, Bingo or a big wedding dance…there is no limit to community activities. Be as busy or as quiet as you like. Welcome to Gary.

Local businesses

            We like to get out and play, but we enjoy our homes and local merchants as well.  This includes the Gary Café with good home cooking; Gary State Bank is a place where the tellers and president know your name. At 104 Salon, Jess will give men or women the latest hairstyle, or in some cases, the one you have had for 40 years and want to keep. On the way back to the house, don’t forget to stop at the Farmers Union for groceries, fuel, a cup of coffee with neighbors and a smile. Other businesses are hidden throughout our community – HVAC, contractors, a mechanic, an accountant and even a Tupperware lady.

            Our agriculture heritage is rich, alive and well. There is no shortage of seed, beans, beets, fertilizer, agronomists, mechanics and tractors here, but we also cater to folks who like to shop close to home.For crop-checkers, wheth­er you are in your pickup, on foot or horseback, there are miles and miles of solitary country roads with fields and pastures on all sides.  Enjoy the wildlife along the way. We’re too young to sit around

            According to Town Charts, the median age of Gary residents is 43.4 years. By percent, 33.8 percent are under the age of 20, 11.4 percent are 20-30, 23.3 percent are in their 40s, 12 percent in their 50s, 6.8 percent in their 60s and 12.8 percent are over 70 and every group is pretty active -

 So, we’ll end where we started; we are way to young to sit around. Get out, play and enjoy all that Gary has to offer! Check us out.

Karie Kirschbaum

Mayor of Gary Jan. 2012-July 2020

Norman Co. EDA Chair (

Gary Cares President (

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