I’ve heard that a castle once stood at the top of Rochester’s Pill Hill. Is that true? It sounds impossible. — Virginia, Rochester

Well, as you know, here at Answer Man World HQ, we deal in the impossible. So yes, Virginia, there once was a castle at the top of Pill Hill. But this wasn’t a castle like you would see in Camelot, occupied by knights of the roundtable.
In fact, Willson’s Castle, as it was called, was a “castle” in name only. It stood at what was then 900 W. College Street — now Fourth Street Southwest — at the top of Pill Hill. It was the home of Charles Cudworth Willson, who arrived in Rochester in the 1850s and practiced law for 60 years. He was Rochester royalty, you might say.
Ken Allsen’s fine book, “Old College Street” tells the tale of Willson’s Castle.
Willson built his home, which he called Red Oaks, at the highest point of Pill Hill, and then topped it with a 75-foot tower. Everyone in town took to calling the mansion “Willson’s Castle,” either in awe or in jest, and in no time at all Red Oaks receded into history.
The upper level of the tower, by the way, had windows on all four sides — imagine the view from up there!
Willson and his family lived in the castle until 1918 when Willson, then 89 and a widower, moved down the hill a bit to lodge with his daughter at the College Apartments. After sitting vacant for a few months, the castle caught fire that summer and burned to the ground.
The rubble of the castle served as a dangerous playground for local kids until the site was cleaned up and covered with soil. There’s no trace of the castle up there on the hill today, but those in the know — namely your not-too-humble servant — know exactly where Rochester’s castle once stood.


Rochesterfest is committed to promoting and celebrating the city of Rochester and southeast Minnesota annually by connecting people through a variety of wholesome, entertaining community events.

In the beginning, many people said it wouldn’t work.

“Too many other attempts were made to have a festival in Rochester and none were successful,” they maintained.
In 1983, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Rochester, Mayor Chuch Hazama named a 17-member committee to develop a plan that would involve the entire community in a celebration of the city. A year later Rochesterfest was born.

Come down for great food and fun events daily at 300 7th St SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

Grand Parade presented by Clements Chevrolet  

2:00pm start on 6th St SW.

Enjoy southern Minnesota’s biggest parade with over 100 units! The Elks and K of C’s support the Parade.


Come join the fun with friends and family!



Thursdays On First & 3rd

Thursdays on First & 3rd Summer Market and Music Festival is a weekly outdoor market of over 100 art, craft and food vendors and live entertainment every Thursday throughout the summer. Thursdays on First & 3rd begins on June 7th, 2018 and runs until August 30th. Thursdays on First & 3rd is an event that unites the Rochester community and provides a free option to simply enjoy life, feel a sense of place, and interact with others! Dogs are welcome at Thursdays, but must be on a leash.

Sit back and relax with friends and family as musical talent is featured from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM. Stick around for the Music Festival performances at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM on two stages!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2018 occurs on Monday, May 28. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Rochester Minnesota Ways to Honor our Veterans:

• 9:30 a.m. Procession from the American Legion to the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial
• 10:00 a.m. Memorial Day Program at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial
• Memorial Day Bash at the VFW Post 1215
• Memorial Day Grilling Event, Hyvee North (benefiting the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial) 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

We live in the land of the free, because of the brave. Celebrate these strong and remarkable individuals on this special day of the year.

Make Rochester a “Litter Bit Better”

A Litter Bit Better

About A Litter Bit Better

At the beginning of 2007, two citizens came to Mayor Brede with the idea of building a “trash mountain”. They were interested in getting community members involved in a city-wide litter clean up effort.

The Mayor brought a team of organizations together to plan and coordinate what would become aptly named, Help Make Rochester A Litter Bit Better!

During the week of April 21-28, over 1,384 volunteers city-wide scoured ditches, parks, and boulevards to pick up over 20,000 pounds of trash! Service groups, businesses, scout troops, faith groups, and 10 Neighborhood Associations registered and participated. And now it is an annual event in the City of Rochester.

You can read more about the first, recent, and upcoming litter pickup efforts in our News & Events page. Tips and a time line for how this successful litter pickup was organized can be found our our website. Photos from neighborhoods and groups who picked up Rochester can be seen in our photo gallery.

But litter doesn’t only occur once a year. All of us working together can make a difference. Be a leader. Avoid the temptation of throwing trash or flicking that cigarette butt out your car window. Be sure to bag all of your trash before placing it in the garbage can and then make sure the lid is on tight. This prevents loose trash from blowing out of the haulers’ truck, and into our streets and streams.

Resources for Kids

Resources for Adults


All of us together can pick it up and Make Rochester a Litter Bit Better!

Prepare for emergencies: We’ll do our part, you do yours

Emergency situations such as fire, extreme weather and power outages can happen without warning. By taking the time to prepare for a possible disaster, you and your family will be equipped to handle a crisis if one ever occurs.

Fire Safety, Escape Routes and Meeting Spots

• We suggest having a fire extinguisher on each floor, and check them annually to make sure they’re functioning properly.
• Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in each room and tested once a month. Use long-life lithium batteries to cut back on replacements.
• It is important to have an escape plan for yourself and your family, it could only take a mere five minutes for a fire to engulf your entire home. Ensure to include at least two exit routes in case one is blocked, and designate a safe location for your household to meet.

Emergencies are easier to handle when you have prepared ahead of time. Have a go bag ready if you must shelter in or evacuate your home. Make sure that your go bag is easy to carry and easy to get to.

What to Include in Your Go Bag, Home Safety Items and Tips


• Battery powered radio and extra batteries
• Flashlight with Extra Batteries
• Lightweight blankets
• Emergency information, including insurance policies, blood type, and emergency contacts
• A list of medications and correct dosage, and doctor’s names
• Personal items such as toothbrushes, soap, extra glasses, etc.
• First-Aid kit- (This would also be a good idea to store in a central location in your home, such as the kitchen, and make sure everyone knows where it is)
• Whistle
• Change of clothing
• Nonperishable snacks (At least a three-day supply for each member in the household)
• Water (At least a three-day supply for each member in the household. During an emergency, you should drink at least two quarts of water a day. Drink 3-4 quarts a day if you are in a hot climate, pregnant, sick, or a child. If you buy commercially bottles water, it should be replaced once a year. Store your water in a cool, dark place to keep it tasting fresher longer.)
• Books, cards or magazines to pass the time


There’s often very little time to react to a crisis. Meet with your family or household members to discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team. The unknown often causes more anxiety than knowing the facts. With a little planning and prep work, you can be well-equipped and ready to respond to emergencies accordingly.





Winter is time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of  friendly hand and for talk beside the fire. It is the time for home.

We at The Brittany’s would like to share some tips with you on how to stay safe this winter, so you make it home safe.  No one’s kidding when they say Minnesota winter’s aren’t for the weak, they can get brutal. If you travel during the wintertime we suggest investing in a winter survival emergency kit to keep in your car. Everyone should carry one in case of an emergency, it could save your life and the lives of your passengers.


 Here is what you will need in you winter survival kit

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery powered radio
  • Water
  • Snack food including energy bars
  • Extra warm clothes, hats, socks, boots, and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares and reflectors
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter , cell phone charger
  • Hand and toe warmers
  • Candles
  • Lighter or water proof matches
  • Ice melting windshield fluid

Kit tips:
Store items in the passenger compartment in case the trunk is jammed or frozen shut.
Choose small packages of food that you can eat hot or cold.

911 tips:
If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you’re experiencing.
Follow instructions: you may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken with and what will happen next.
If you must leave the vehicle, write down your name, address, phone number and destination. Place the piece of paper inside the front windshield for someone to see.

Survival tips:
Prepare your vehicle: Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full.
Be easy to find: Tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
If stuck: Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you’re with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
Stay in your vehicle: Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might become lost or exhausted. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
Avoid Overexertion: Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don’t risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
Fresh Air: It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while running the engine is also a good idea.
Don’t expect to be comfortable: You want to survive until you’re found.


We are FALLing in love with these recipes!

To keep the spirit of fall going, we wanted to share a few crockpot recipes that have everyone wanting more!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Servings: 4-6


  • 1-Green onion
  • 1- Onion, small
  • 4- Cups of peeled and sliced potato
  • 3- Cups of chicken broth
  • 1/4- Cup of flour
  • 1- Salt and pepper
  • 4- tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 Heavy cream or 2% Milk
  • 1/4 Cup sour cream


  1. Add diced potatoes, diced onions and chicken broth to your slow cooker. Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 3-4 until potatoes are tender.
  2. About 30 minutes before it is done, In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in flour and cook until bubbly. Slowly add heavy cream, sour cream. The mixture should be thick. Add this to the soup and stir. Continue to cook in slow cooker for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Serve with toppings, or you can also stir them all into the soup. Enjoy!


Servings: 4-6




Crockpot Roast with Vegetables

Servings: 6-8


  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 3 lb. chuck roast
  • salt and pepper
  • 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. beef bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp. dried basil


  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Place potatoes, carrots, onion and celery on the bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Season roast with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high. Brown roast on all sides and place on top of veggies.
  3. Combine water, Worcestershire, bouillon and basil. Pour over meat and vegetables.
  4. Cook on LOW for 10 hours, or until the beef is shredded very easily and vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy!




We are holding a little contest for the residents at The Brittany’s. Guess how many candy corns are in the jar and win a $20.00 gift card to Kwik Trip! We have the jar displayed in the main office, you are more than welcome to stop in and take a look at the jar in person. Winners will be announced Halloween Day!


May the odds be ever in your favor.

-The Brittany’s













Lets celebrate the cool crisp weather and the fun this month has to bring!

Its that fun time of the year again! A time to enjoy the beautiful color changes in the trees, the fall baked goods, and fun activities.


Looking for some fun things to do this month?

  • Fall Festival – Rochester is having their annual Fall Festival on the 14th of October. This year they will not only have treats and pumpkin activities, but a pumpkin carving contest as well!
    • Date: Sat. October 14th
    • Hours: 10:00am-2:00pm
    • Location: Peace Plaza, Downtown Rochester
    • Admission: FREE



  • Harvest Hustle-  Throw on your costume, head to Waseca, and take the kids out to walk the Harvest Hustle . Trick Or Treat on their 3/4 mile time lane, and walk through the corn maze!
    • Date: Sun. October 15th
    • Hours: 1:00pm-3:00pm
    • Location: 7367 360th Ave Waseca, MN
    • Admission:
      • $5.00
      • Adults & Kids 2 and under are FREE



  • Valleyscare-  Not only does Valleyfair have awesome attractions, but during Halloween they have mazes, shows, scare zones, and awesome experiences.
    • Date: Varies, refer to link –> https://www.valleyfair.com/explore/calendar-and-hours
    • Hours: Vary, refer to link above
    • Location: 1 Valleyfair Dr, Shakopee, MN
    • Admission: Tickets around $35.00



  • Fright at the Farm-  Enjoy the indoor and outdoor haunted attractions this fright farm has to offer. They have live actors, corn mazes, haunted houses, and more!
    • Date: Vary- refer to link –> http://www.rochesterhorror.com/2.html
    • Hours: Vary- refer to link above
    • Location: Willow Keeps farm in Zumbrota, MN
    • Admission: $13.00-$15.00


Halloween is always a fun time for treats and snacks! Here are some fun ones we thought we would share with you.

Mummy Hot Dogs 

  • 1 can reduced-fat crescents rolls
  • 8 hot dogs
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard, ketchup, or mayo (for the eyes)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  2. Roll out the crescent rolls into one sheet, placing 2 triangles together by pinching the seams to make a square. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each rectangle into 6 strips.
  3. Wrap 3 strips around each hot dog, leaving a little space at the top for the “eyes.”
  4. Place into oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool 5 minutes before adding dots of condiments for the “eyes.” Serve immediately.


Spider Chocolate Chip Cookies 

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp butter , melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips divided
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, and baking soda..
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently stir in ¾ cup chocolate chips. The dough will be soft.
  4. Gently scoop dough into balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and place 3-4 chocolate chips into the tops of each cookie, point side up.
  5. Add remaining chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, on low power, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Just barely cut the corner off of a small ziplock bag (you want the hole to be very small to make your spider legs). Spoon the melted chocolate into the bag and use it draw spider legs on the sides of the chocolate chips.


Are you into Pumpkin Carving? We found this online site that has free stencils for pumpkin carving! They have anything from classic stencils, to sports, and much more.

Check out the link below


We hope you all enjoy this beautiful season!

The Brittany’s












It’s back to school time! Let’s make it a smooth transition.

Even though we are in a middle of a heatwave, schools are back in session and kids are making the transition very often from unlimited free time to an organized and structured schedule. This can often be a challenge for them.  The US Department of Education has posted some tips to help make this transition a little smoother.  Here are some of the ideas they have recommended.


  1. Remember to read: While summer may have meant a more relaxed routine, try to set aside time to read with your kids. At this time of the year, your local public library likely has a display of back-to-school themed books, including children’s picture books, children’s chapter books, and young adult novels. Pick one off the shelf or ask the librarian for some suggestions. For a change of pace, online learning games may promote reading skills that your child can apply in all subjects areas.                                                                                 
  2. Be there to ease transitions: Starting a new school or moving from one grade to the next, for example, moving from elementary to middle school, can mean adjustments for kids—new route to school, new schedule, or new classmates. Try to assist in the transition by visiting the school with younger kids before classes start, maintaining routines at home for a sense of a familiar environment, or attending any parent orientation the school provides. Get tips for talking to kids about changes and coping with stress. Keep the lines of communication open and listen to your child.                                                                       
  3. Support homework: Show kids that homework is a priority. Establishing a standard time and maintaining a schedule can help. Determine a routine place for your child to do homework—a desk or the kitchen table. Try to keep it uncluttered, but have supplies they may need, like pencils, a ruler, and scissors handy in a drawer or a basket. There is an abundance of online resources available today to help kids with their schoolwork. Many sites enrich and personalize your kid’s experience and numerous information sources can aid in students’ comprehension. Get online with your child and find libraries at the local, state, and federal levels in your area that may help kids with school projects.        
  4. Pack nutritious lunches and snacks: Following dietary guidelines can help ensure your child has the proper nutrition to perform well in school. Promote a healthy, active lifestyle by encouraging kids to help with packing their lunch or trying a new recipe with nutritious ingredients.                                                                                                                        
  5. Stay active: With the return of school can come more time spent indoors, but don’t forget to keep physical activity a part of the daily schedule. Encourage the whole family to get moving for 60 minutes a day. Play tag in your yard or neighborhood park, for example. Staying active and getting the wiggles out can help your child focus on homework and relieve stress.                                                                                                               
  6. Try a new extracurricular activity: Afterschool programs are a way for kids to form new friendships, develop teamwork skills, and improve academic proficiencies. Look into programs that may be offered at your child’s school, or your local community center may have activities that could help your child explore a new hobby or discover a new passion. Is he interested in music, theater, or soccer? Is she curious about chess, robots, or world languages? And afterschool professionals can check out ED’s You for Youth (Y4Y) online community for ideas and strategies.                                                                                       We hope you have found some of these tips helpful in getting back into the swing of the busy school season.  Now let’s get out and enjoy this beautiful fall season, the reason many of us live in Minnesota!

Until next time. ~Katherine