Alexandria, where you can 'shoot the minnow' nearby, named Minnesota's top town

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Alexandria was named the 2019 Best Minnesota Town by Minnesota Monthly magazine on Oct. 1. (Echo Press file photo)

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Thank you, White Bear Lake. Now hand over that crown.

It’s Alexandria’s turn in the spotlight.

The city of 13,000 – known for its lakes, historic downtown and team mentality – was named the 2019 Best Minnesota Town by Minnesota Monthly magazine on Tuesday, Oct. 1. White Bear Lake won last year.

“It is a great honor and I am very excited and happy,” said Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson. “I think it is a testimony to all entities and citizens working together to make Alexandria the place you want to be — the place you chose.”

Reed Fischer, senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, called Alexandria “a beautiful year-round destination with a rich history and a bright future.”


Cities enter themselves into the contest, and the selection process included the cities’ responses to questions about its traits and engagement, and qualitative and quantitative research. There also was an online public vote throughout September, where people could vote up to 10 times a day per email address.

Bemidji won the magazine's inaugural award for best town in 2017.

In reviewing Alexandria’s entry, these three things were among those that stood out, the magazine said:

  • Its state-of-the-art, 280,000-square-foot high school, which the magazine said demonstrated its commitment to education and the future. “The school reinvented the classroom experience with flexible learning spaces, natural light, and modular walls and furniture while implementing innovative learning programs and personalized learning to help students prepare for a specific career area.”

  • Cards for Kids in Alexandria, started by Emersyn Harris in 2011 to make a difference in the lives of those battling cancer. Since it began, Cards for Kids in Alexandria has brought smiles to 60,000-plus children.

  • The chance to swallow a dead, frozen minnow. “Alexandria’s Corral Saloon and Eatery provides an experience with its ‘shoot a minnow’ in addition to its 50-plus years of providing delicious food and attentive service,” the magazine said.

Yes, minnows.
“They used to be live in a fish tank,” explained bartender Darrian Peterson. “Now they have to be frozen.”

Adults can “shoot the minnow” in a variety of drinks, including root beer or butter schnapps.

Kids can “shoot the minnow” too, in their choice of Pepsi products.

“It’s so much fun when they do,” Peterson said. “The whole bar cheers them on.”

The Corral Saloon (in Nelson, actually, but close enough) goes through hundreds of “I shot the minnow” shirts a week, she said. There are special edition shirts for the Fourth of July and other holidays.


Its win will land Alexandria a feature in the March/April 2020 edition of Minnesota Monthly magazine, among other awards.

“I believe it will benefit the community as more people will hear about Alexandria through this and want to come here to work, start a business, vacation and live,” the mayor said.

Related Topics: ALEXANDRIA
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