October 12, 2020


Filed under: Barter Fest,Curious Guild - New Moon Gatherings — Ralph E. Cook @ 2:24 pm

Third times the charm… October 17th, 2020; a curious guild of unruly souls will gather to build connection with the earth and each other in Hewitt, MN.

Fire pit creation – bring a favorite stone to add to the new fire ring!

Potluck – please let me know what you plan to bring, so we can coordinate a well balanced menu.

Camp-out – plenty of room to pitch a tent or possibly bed and floor space for out of town travelers.

Drumming & Music – bring a drum or instrument and let me know if you would like to perform in some way.

Message me for address and more details… please invite your friends if you have any left. 



August 15, 2020

New Moon Gathering

On Tuesday, August 18th, 2020 a curious guild of unruly souls will gather to build connection with the earth and each other in Hewitt, MN.

Potluck – please let me know what you plan to bring, so we can coordinate a well balanced menu.

Camp-out – plenty of room to pitch a tent or possibly bed and floor space for out of town travelers.

Drumming & Music – bring a drum or let me know if you would like to do a performance in some way.

Message me for address and more details. ♥

September 7, 2019

Minnesota Salsa Fest

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: — Ralph E. Cook @ 12:02 am


January 27, 2017

Wild Rice Festival 2017 – Save the Date!

Filed under: Barter Fest — Ralph E. Cook @ 3:33 pm

October 10, 2016

“Take a Walk on the Wild Side”!

Filed under: Barter Fest,Music — Tags: , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 4:23 am


April 12, 2015

Empower While Paying Attention.

Filed under: Action,Barter Fest — Ralph E. Cook @ 11:44 am

Dear Campers,

Now that we are past the spring equinox 2015, I would like to share a few thoughts and intentions.  The connections we made through hosting a Barter Fest the last five years are truly incredible.  We couldn’t have asked for more support from our family, friends and community who all participated in creating this great event.  Thank you to everyone who helped us make an amazing Barter Fest in Hewitt a reality!  While we have realized that it is time to retire this Barter Fest, we are hopeful that others may light a similar fire in their community.

Barter Fest 2013000_0012555433_1417421675148190_1595686078_n

At some point we all come to a crossroads in our life, but luckily we still have the freedom to choose which path to take.  Each and every day we are presented with opportunities to change our ways.  The path that I have chosen for the new year is a path of empowerment for myself and those around me.  No longer will I stand by watching others disempower themselves and I challenge you to do the same!

map of consciousness

Our life path can be perceived as a two way street.  In one direction we slowly destroy ourselves or willingly allow ourselves to be destroyed.  Surprisingly enough, this appears to be the paved and easy road, the one most traveled these days.  Why would a society choose to promote and indoctrinate such a direction?  Profit & control.  As long as there is money to be made by people getting sick, there is no incentive to stop creating the causes of illness.  As long as we are overworked, unhealthy and distracted, we will not pay attention to what is really happening to us and our world.   Notice the scope of frequencies on this map of consciousness that you take in by watching the nightly news on your “tell-a-vision”!


It is possible to empower yourself and those around you.  At first, this trail appears to be an uphill climb.  The portage this way is long and hard, so you best ditch the extra baggage and self hate you’ve been carrying around all these years.   Once you are free from self loathing, you can start to forgive those who have done you wrong.  It is helpful to consider the cycle of patterns that have been placed over you by family and friends during your upbringing.  These patterns can be passed down from generation to generation, but you do have the ability to the break these chains once and for all.  Once you have broken free, you have a responsibility to help those around you do the same.  When deciding what to eat, how to spend your time or who to hang out with, ask the question; does this empower or disempower me?  As you strive to change direction in your life and our world, know that you are not alone in this effort.  Our time here is short, so we best make the most of it!  Together, may we leave behind a legacy of more beauty, truth and love!



September 17, 2014

2014 Barter Fest Performance Schedule

Filed under: Abandoned Scout Camp,Barter Fest,Music — Ralph E. Cook @ 9:21 pm

Performance schedule for Barter Fest’s hay wagon stage:


Leroy     Noon-12:45

Open Mic     12:45- 2:15



Old School     2:15-3:00



Michael Mitchell     3:15- 3:30


barterfest9-10 075

Buffalo Skin     3:45-4:15



Natasha Vodkavitch     4:30-5:15



Al DeSautel     5:30-6:15



Amanda Standalone     6:30-7:15



Karen Townsend     7:15-8:00



Dorthy Fix     8:15-8:45



Duluth Spin Collective     8:45-9:30



Leon Boots     9:30-10:15



Matt Faulkingham     10:15- 10:45



Sycamore Smith     11:00-12:00 am


Indoor Schedule 504 N Front St:


Brain Washh     12:00-1:00 am



DJ Guy Jean     1:00 am – ???


The 2014 Barter Festival is made possible by the Hewitt Lions Club, the City of Hewitt and “by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultrual Heritage Fund”.

September 16, 2014

Barter Fest Demonstration Schedule

Filed under: Action,Barter Fest — Ralph E. Cook @ 7:10 am

Barter fest demonstration classes will be held indoors (unless noted otherwise) at 504 N Front Street Hewitt.  These classes are sponsored by the New York Mill Cultural Center and are made possible “by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultrual Heritage Fund”.

Kathy Connell – Seed Saving

Noon- 1pm


1- 1:15 pm

Kathy Connell- Continued

1:15- 2 pm

Nikki Werner– Coptic Book Binding

2:30-3:00 pm

Brad Wegsheid– Raku Ceramics (outdoors)

3:15-4:15 pm

Pat Kilby– coffin making

4:30-5:30 pm

Bruce Engebretson– spinning & weaving

5:45-7:30 pm

September 2, 2014

2014 Barter Fest Flyer

Filed under: Barter Fest — Ralph E. Cook @ 4:41 am





As always, this year’s Barter Fest flyer was skillfully made by Amber Fletschock.

August 17, 2014

Barter Fest 9.20.2014!

Filed under: Barter Fest — Ralph E. Cook @ 7:45 am

Dear Campers,

Are you ready for another Barter Fest?!  For the fifth year in a row, individuals from around the region will gather in Hewitt, MN on September 20th, 2014 to exchange items, knowledge, talents, create new relationships and experience a menagerie of artistic entertainment.  Unique to this year, the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center will co sponsor the event by hosting numerous folk school classes all day.  If you’ve never made it to Barter Fest, this is the year to do it!


Bartering is so much more than a transaction and rarely are two barters the same.  The act of each barter is a creation in itself, a memorable story to be shared and quite possibly the beginning of a new relationship.  The practice of bartering is to assign, discuss and agree on a shared value with each transaction.  Along with the liberating experience of bartering, this event will present an opportunity for you to sing songs, share a poem, story or just speak your mind on an open mic stage.  Interwoven with the open format of  songs and stories will be scheduled performances from a wide range of artists from the tristate area.  Check back soon for a complete schedule of classes and performers for the 2014 Barter Fest!


What can I bring to barter?  Here are a few ideas but don’t let these limit you;  home grown food, firewood, your art, your products (what do you make?), your business (what do you do?) useful items that you no longer need, livestock, manure, straw bales, plants, antiques, honey, maple syrup, wild rice, jam, baked goods, building supplies, school supplies, clothes, jewelry…the list is endless!  This is the time to celebrate the season’s bounty and a chance for us to come together before winter sets in.  May our paths cross at this year’s Barter Fest!

January 29, 2014

The Barter Fest Mission

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 9:32 pm
*The mission of Barter Fest is to foster self reliance and grow community interdependence on a regional scale.  Inspired by the founding mothers & fathers of rural Minnesota who built thriving communities with access to little or no paper currency, this event presents an opportunity to celebrate life’s bounty and a chance to share, trade and connect with one another.* 
Barter Fest is gonna HAPPEN September 20th, 2014, so save the date dears! 

September 20, 2013

No one will ever forget THIS BARTER FEST!

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 5:25 pm


September 14, 2013

Barter Fest September 21st, 2013!

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: , , , , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 7:28 am


Dear Friends,

Here we are again at the Autumn Equinox, one of two days per year when the hours of light and dark are equal, OH and the TIME FOR another BARTER FEST!  Can’t think of a better way for us to get together to share and celebrate the fruits of our labor.  Why go through all the work to have a barter fest?  Honestly for me hosting a festival like this is a great excuse to get old friends together, while creating an opportunity to make new ones!  After the first year in 2010, we couldn’t believe the incredible energy that radiated from this place after the event.  In a way, Barter Fest has become a power plant of positive energy that resonates through out the year.  It is SO empowering to come together with a group of independent humans to celebrate all that we have to offer each other!

Barter Fest was inspired by the founding fathers and mothers of Hewitt.  Like most communities in Minnesota, there was a lack of paper currency floating around when the first pioneers arrived.  These were hard working, unique, creative people that landed here and I can definitely see why they chose to set up camp in this beautiful place.  The early settlers traded their hard work, talents and know how, while building solid communities of interdependent relationships.  Barter Fest aims to rekindle this community resilience, but on a regional scale.

So what’s happening this year?  For the fourth year in a row, Barter Fest will kick off with the 10billionbeats.com global peace drumming.   This hour long drumming will take place in the downtown Hewitt park, Friday September 20th from 7 – 8 pm.  If you show up early on Friday you will have a chance to find the best camping spot, get settled in and if you’re willing:  WE CAN ALWAYS USE  your HELP!  This year does promise to be a bit different.  Rather than schedule wonderful performers like prior years: https://soundcloud.com/abandoned-scout-camp, we decided to try an open mic performance format for 2013.  Many attendees to Barter Fest are writers, musicians and other gifted folk, so we thought why not trade songs, talents and stories?  Who’s gonna get something for a song?!

The bartering will begin at 10 am on Saturday and the celebration spills over into the night.  Once again, this event is sponsored by the City of Hewitt and Hewitt Lions club and as always the Lions will be peddling their “Ranger” burgers and fresh cut fries.  If you have frequented Barter Fest before, you will know to dress warm= I’m talking about long underwear warm!  Traditionally, for whatever reason, the festival has fallen on a clear, but brisk autumn day.  Is it really free, what’s the catch?  Yes, Barter Fest is free to attend, free to park, free to barter and free to camp (REALLY, there’s no catch).  The camp sites are not sponsored by the City or festival, but have been offered up by neighbors to the Abandoned Scout Camp and down by the river, so just ask around if your looking for a place to pitch a tent.  Can I sell my goods at Barter Fest?  Yes, all that we ask is that you are open to bartering your goods, but of course YOU may DECIDE to trade for paper.  How do I barter? No two barters are ever alike.  Bartering presents a creative opportunity with every transaction.  Often bartering will involve more than just two individuals.  It’s best not to limit your imagination by being told how to barter.  I recommend just giving it a try!  Hope to see you in Hewitt!


Peaceful wishes,



P.S. the Hewitt Museum will be open from 12 to 4 pm during Barter Fest:  http://hewitthistoricalsociety.weebly.com 

August 22, 2013

Barter Fest 2013…less than a month away! Gonna make it?

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: , , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 2:57 am

March 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

Filed under: Action,Barter Fest — Tags: , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 2:17 am

Dear Campers,

WE MADE IT.  Here we are at the Vernal (spring) Equinox 2013!  You may be growing tired of this wild man telling you to set your intentions for the year NOW, but I have learned from experience that if you do; they will very likely come true.  (So be careful what you wish for dears!)   YOU HAVE the POWER to overcome in your thoughts, actions and feelings.  So often we give this power to others: media, doctors, schools, churches, governments and all the other bullies on the block.  Ha!  Why do we do this?…because it’s easier to do what you’re told and not be free.  From the very first minutes of life on this amazing planet our conditioning begins.  This system is passed down from those who were trained before US; by those who were trained before them and so on.  It is time to end these cycles of deception and destruction!

May our paths and intentions cross this year!

Much love always,


P.S. Only 6 months left until Barter Fest September 21st, 2013!

October 7, 2012

Barter Fest Happened September 22nd, 2012!

Filed under: Barter Fest — Tags: , , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 6:55 am

Dear Campers,

Can you feel the wave of energy from this year’s Barter Fest?  Hewitt still does and so do we!  For three autumns in a row, humans from this region and beyond have came together to create a power plant of positive energy for Stowe Prairie and the rest of the Universe right here in the heart of Hewitt, MN population 267!

Barter Fest has brought a new community together every year, strengthening local and regional connections.  Rekindling a reliance on one another for goods and services while celebrating life, this is what Barter Fest is all about!  A huge ThANK YOU to all souls who attended, performed, volunteered or just sent well wishes to this year’s Barter Fest!  Together we made it happen!



September 22, 2012

Barter Fest 2012!

Filed under: Barter Fest,Camping,Music — Tags: , , , — Ralph E. Cook @ 4:57 am

Dearest Campers,

Barter Fest 2012 has arrived!  Set on the Autumn Equinox, this year promises to be remembered.  Once again the weather is cool so don’t forget to dress warm.  In Minnesota, it’s never to early to break out the long underwear!  Always sexier to undress than dress!  So, get here and lets celebrate this experience that is Barter Fest, together!

Much love,


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