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2021 Summer Newsletter

Dear Minnesota Croatian Friends,

My daughters graduated from High School this past June and I decided to take a break from Croatian activities to focus on my girls’ final days of high school. During their last month of school, everything reopened and we were able to attend their band and orchestra concerts, awards ceremonies but most importantly, attend a live graduation ceremony. Both of my daughters will be attending the University of Minnesota and living on campus so it will be exciting times for them.

Other exciting news to report that both Delta and United are now flying direct from New York City to Dubrovnik!

The Slavic Experience 2021 has been rescheduled for August 21st and 22nd, 2021 at Kaposia Landing located in South St. Paul and it will be an outdoor Festival. After discussion with multiple members of the Croatian community, our organization will not be participating in this event this year. With that said, if a community member were to step forward and want to champion this event, please let me know. You would need to recruit approximately 8 – 14 volunteers for this two day event. For more information about this festival, please check their link to Facebook or their website https://slavicexperience.com/.

We also had the pleasure of a young woman, Tatjana Mustac from New York City who was our “Rudy Perpich” intern this past Spring. Tatjana worked on an article about Mark Rubin, the St. Louis District Attorney in Duluth, created a lovely promotional brochure about our organization and also updated our local Minnesota Croatian Business Directory. You can read Tatjana’s article about Mark Rubin below.

The Minnesota National Guard has been planning year-long events and are scheduled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota National Guard State Partnership Program with Croatia in July with Croatian and Embassy officials. The State Partnership Program between the Minnesota National Guard and Croatia has strengthened national security, as well as economic and cultural ties between Minnesota and Croatia since its inception in 1996.

And finally, we are planning to hold our Annual Christmas Party this year. The date is currently reserved for Saturday December 4th, 2021 and we may do it on a smaller scale this year depending on the current Covid situation. If you would like to help with the planning and logistics of the Christmas party, please email me and I will set up a zoom call for either July or August. My email is listed below.

I sure miss everyone and hope to see you soon. My best to all – stay healthy!

Andrea Novak Neumann

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Interview with Mark Rubin

By Tatjana Mustac, 2021 Rudy Perpich Fellow

For an assignment during my Rudy Perpich Fellowship, I interviewed a member of the Minnesota Croatian community, Mark Rubin.

Please share with me a little bit about your career and life in Minnesota.

Mark was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota. For his undergraduate studies, he attended the College of Saint Scholastica, a private Benedictine college in Duluth, where he majored in History. With a history degree, there were limited career options that included either becoming a teacher/professor or librarian but Mark decided to attend law school afterwards.

Mark attended Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His father’s advice was to finish a year of law school before he got married and he followed his father’s advice! After his first year law exams, he married his wife, Nancy whom he dated for 4 years! This June, he will be married for 45 years. During our interview, he praised his wife and was beyond thankful for her!

Additionally, he had two sons with his wife – Tony and Jeremy. Tony is currently one of 34 Assistant Attorneys at the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. Jeremy has a Masters in Education and is the father of Mark’s two grandchildren: John Angelo and Julia Lynn and is married to a pediatrician in the Duluth area.

Mark began his career in law at 23 years old in the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office where he was a Prosecutor and an Assistant Attorney. He worked there for nine years then left to work in private practice for two years in civil litigation and got criminal defense experience along the way. He also did some maritime law for the big ships that regularly come into Duluth.

After, he returned to work for the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office where he came back to working as a Prosecutor since he missed working in the law enforcement area. In 2010, Mark ran for the job of St. Louis County Attorney and won! He is currently in his third term with a year and a half left.

Where is your family originally from in Croatia and what was their experience with immigrating to the United States?

Mark’s father’s side was from Croatia and his mother’s side was from Ukraine. On his father’s side his grandmother was from Gospic while his grandfather was from the Lika/Sveti Rok area.

His grandmother, Sophie, came to the United States when she was around 16 years old since she was set to be married to a man from Trinidad, Colorado. Upon getting married, they had two children and moved to the Duluth area, specifically the Gary neighborhood. The neighborhoods in the Duluth area had different sections as to where certain immigrant groups could stay; the Gary neighborhood was welcoming to many Croatian immigrants. However, after sometime, the man she had married had passed away.

Sophie met Mark’s grandfather, Anton Rubcic, who switched his name to Rubin. Upon speaking with Mark, he mentioned to me that it is not known why the name change occurred. Anton Rubcic worked as a rigger at the United States Steel Plant in Morgan Park. Sophie and Mark had two children, Mark’s late father and his late Aunt Mary.

Mark’s father unfortunately lost his father quite early on in life around four to five years of age due to a work accident in the 30s. But, Mark’s father, John Rubin, was mostly raised by Mark’s grandmother and John’s step brother. Eventually, Mark’s grandmother remarried a man named George Tomic, who was also passionate about his Croatian heritage. When he was 17, he skipped his senior year of high school and went to serve stateside in the Navy at the end of WWII. At the time, many Croatian immigrants had served. After serving, John trained to slice meats and continued for most of his life.

Mark’s mother, Annette, was a stay-at-home mom who raised him and his two sisters: Monica who currently resides in the Twin Cities area and Susan who currently resides in the Duluth area. Additionally while growing up, Mark’s father was very passionate about maintaining his Croatian heritage through making wine in the basement and preparing lamb outside on the spit with the whole family! Mark expressed to me that he was truly thankful to have been able to experience a taste of the old world with his family!

How do you and your family uphold your Croatian heritage here in the USA?

Mark and his family uphold their Croatian heritage mostly through food related traditions. Mark’s favorite was their traditions for Easter. On Good Fridays, they prepare fresh bakalar to eat with some red wine. While on Easter Sundays, they prepare plenty of sarma for days of delicious leftovers! Additionally on Easter Sundays, Mark and his family enjoy upholding their Ukrainian heritage through having perogies and participating in Easter egg cracking. Mark even expressed that he and his family enjoy preparing other Croatian delicacies such as cevapcici and povitica with ham.

Outside of food related traditions, Mark grew up going to many Croatian picnics in the Gary neighborhood and has enjoyed going to events with the Croatian Cultural Society of Minnesota. Another way Mark recently has upheld his heritage was through visiting Croatia a few years ago with his wife. They were able to visit various cities such as Zagreb, Dubrovnik (where they attended Carolyn and Fred Bruno’s multi-day wedding celebration, including an evening cruise around the Old City and a Klapa Band at their wedding reception!), and Makarska, where they stayed at the Villa Rubcic for a few nights! Additionally, he was able to explore the Lika area where he met a few locals who had the same last name as his grandfather, Rubcic.

Furthermore, while serving as the County Attorney, Mark told me he was very fortunate to develop a warm friendship with the late Tom Rukavina, Steve Rukavina’s cousin who was serving as County Commissioner. Tom would often refer to Mark as the “Other Croatian Sensation” and always had a new Croatian word or phrase each Tuesday when they met at County Board meetings. Mark expressed how much he misses him but was also very appreciative and thankful of all of the fun times they spent together.

What kind of advice could you share with young Croatian Americans such as myself?

Upon speaking with Mark a piece of advice he was able to share with me was to continue to pass down the traditions and learn as much as possible about your family history. Unfortunately, his grandmother and father did not want him learning Croatian or Ukrainian growing up because they wanted him to learn and know English. Knowing the English language was how you were able to fit in as an immigrant.

Additionally, Mark emphasized continuing to be involved with our close knit Croatian communities both locally and back home in Croatia. Since his father was born in the United States, he was only able to go back once in 1972 with his mother and uncle Nick and his wife. Upon visiting, he met one of his uncles; however, it was the only time he was able to go back.

Mark expressed to me that he wishes he had the opportunity to go back with his father to see the country through his eyes. A big piece of advice Mark emphasized to me was all Croatians should go back home at least once with their immediate family and learn their roots back home! Having had the privilege of going back each year since I was two years old with my parents and grandparents, I agreed!

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2021 Spring Newsletter

Dear Minnesota Croatian Friends,

We had two exciting webinars in February that I hoped you all had a chance to join. The first webinar was on: “The Future of Travel in Croatia”. Co-founders of Mindful Travel Croatia, Alex Schmidt and Domeniko Hajdic, shared their insider knowledge and expertise on what’s going on in Croatia right now and what’s to come in the future of tourism.

Our second event was a virtual wine tasting, hosted by Randall Olson of Blue Ice, an importer and distributor of wines from Croatia and Southeastern Europe. Randall had organized a portfolio of three wines from Istria, Croatia to include a Perla Rose, Terra Rosa and Malvazija wines. He discussed the history of winemaking, along with other notable facts about the regional wines of this beautiful country. This webinar was also recorded and can be found our Croatian Cultural Society of Minnesota Facebook site. It was definitely a fun way to spend Friday night.

South St. Paul’s Sarma Queen, Eunice Dasovich has kindly offered to teach a class on how to make her world famous sarma – just in time for Easter. The class will be on Tuesday March 30th at 5 pm at the Croatian Hall. There is no cost for this class and there will be maximum of 12 attendees. She will also be selling sarmas to class attendees and others. The cost for sarma will be 6 for $18 or $3 a piece. Please call Eunice Dasovich to reserve your spot in class today.

Special thanks to our members who volunteer with our social media. Jasmine Hoedemann has been helping with updating our Facebook site and Max Woxland has been updating our Website.

There will be more opportunities for volunteering at the Slavic Experience 2021. This incredible BRAND NEW festival will take place at Father Hennepin Bluff Park in NE Minneapolis on August 7th and 8th, 2021! It was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but this year it will be an outdoor event.

We will again have another summer intern who will be a shared resource with the NFCACF. One of her projects will be to create a Welcome Booklet for Croatians moving to Minnesota. A little about Tatjana – Tatjana Mustać is a master’s student in Biomedical Sciences on the Physiology & Biophysics track at Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY. Tatjana has a diverse background in scientific research, healthcare experience, and experiences within the Croatian American community. As per her future plans, Tatjana hopes to pursue a PhD within the Biomedical Sciences and continue her journey as a lifelong student in all facets of her life beginning with the 2021 Rudy Perpich Fellowship.

The Minneapolis International Festival will be celebrating the different cultures in the City of Minneapolis and surrounding communities with music, dance, art, cultural learning booths, exhibits demonstrations, food AND MORE. Learn about all the many amazing cultures that make Minneapolis such a wonderful place to live. Special thanks to Mary Sedlar who is coordinating this virtual event on our behalf. She selected this fantastic video below. Please make sure to watch it if you are planning to visit Croatia in the near future. The date is not determined. Please check this link for details – https://www.facebook.com/mplsinternationalfestival .

We will be continuing with online Croatian language classes. Below are the dates for the Zoom classes in the Spring 2021:
March 17th
April 7th
May 12th

Classes have been fun via zoom. We have attendees from Hibbing, Eveleth and the Twin Cities. It’s been great meeting Minnesota Croatians from around the state. Classes are moderated by Max Woxland and Vanca Schrunk.

We are looking for volunteers to help with a sister city relationship between Vukovar and St. Paul. If you have family in Vukovar, you could be a great resource for us. Members of this committee would be dedicated to this international friendship by promoting humanitarian, educational, cultural, civic and social events. The committee would meet monthly to determine the program between the two cities. For more information please contact Andrea Novak Neumann.

Our Condolences to the
Chutich, Pavelich and Mikulich Families

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Virtual Event: Wine Tasting

Our second virtual event in February will be a wine tasting, hosted by Randall Olson of Blue Ice, an importer and distributor of wines from Croatia and the Balkans Peninsula. Randall has organized a portfolio of three wines from Croatia to include a sparkling, white and red. The three wines include Perla Rose, Terra Rosa and Malvazija. He will discuss the history of winemaking, along with other notable facts about this beautiful country. This will be a great opportunity to enjoy unique wines with your favorite nibbles from the comfort of your home. Twin Cities liquor stores will be selling the three wines for $35, and they will be available for pickup in early February. For those of you who purchase Croatian Wine – this is the deal of the century! The liquor stores that are participating in the wine sales include:

South Lyndale Liquors – 5300 Lyndale Ave St., Minneapolis
Thomas Liquors -1941 Grand Ave, St. Paul
Wine Republic – 438 Union Pl Ste 2, Excelsior

Participants outside of the Twin Cities may order the wines and they will be delivered directly to your homes. Any orders placed by February 5 through www.blueiceus.com, wines will be delivered on time. Any questions can be directed to Randall at 651-226-3056 or randall.olson@blueiceus.com.

Register early as we will have a limited number of spots open for this event. Once you are registered, you will receive an email with a link to a Zoom webinar.

Register for a Virtual Wine Tasting Webinar

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The Future of Travel in Croatia

Join us for virtual travel event you won’t want to miss: “The Future of Travel in Croatia”. Co-founders of Mindful Travel Croatia, Alex Schmidt and Domeniko Hajdic, will be sharing their insider knowledge and expertise on what’s going on in Croatia right now and what’s to come in the future of tourism. Join us for important updates and exclusive tips on how to plan your dream trip to Croatia. Please register in advance below.

Register Here for “The Future of Travel in Croatia” Webinar

To reach out to Mindful Travel Croatia directly, you may email them at TheMindfulMermaidBlog@gmail.com or visit their website at https://mindfulmermaid.com/.

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Year in Review: 2020 for the Croatian Cultural Society of Minnesota

Sretna Nova Godina 2021!

I think it’s safe to say that no one could have imagine what 2020 had in store for us. Our board had its most ambitious year planned, only to cancel the majority of the events. The first cancelled event was the Croatian Heritage Night with the Timberwolves after the NBA cancelled its season.

Even though our events were cancelled, our members worked behind the scenes working on grants, creating a new website, hiring an intern to help with adding pictures to our Noteworthy Minnesota Croatians and creating virtual events for our community including language classes and a cooking class.

We started 2020 as many people did with plans and ideas that had to be readjusted or set aside until calmer times returned. We were able to at least participate in the Balkan Festival in February. Cancellations soon followed so we weren’t able to take part in the Festival of Nations and the International Festival or hold our annual Christmas party due to the pandemic.

Croatia has been devastated by major earthquakes this past year – first March 22nd in Zagreb and most recently December 29th in the Petrinja and Sisak regions. Fundraising through the Croatian Fraternal Union and the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) are the two organizations that I would recommend donating to as I personally know the two organizers. Links will be included for both Go Fund Me’s below. Full disclosure: I am personally involved with the ACAP Go Fund Me fundraising opportunity and it involves over 25+ other Croatian organizations throughout the world. Our organization did make a donation to ACAP while I did make a personal donation to the CFU.

I am always looking for article submissions and ideas for the next CCSM newsletter. Please submit ideas on what you’d like to see in the next newsletter or any events. Also if anyone wants to submit an article, that would be very welcomed. Anyone with a computer can help with the newsletter and our Facebook site. We did hit a new milestone of 500 followers on Facebook in June and less than 6 months later are now at 600 followers! In the last quarter, we had over 160,000 reaches compared to our first year on Facebook where we only had 15,000 views. The number partially grew as a result of our outreach to greater Minnesota and interest from other Croatian groups throughout the world. This type of growth is rewarding but overwhelming too.

We can’t continue this organization without all the wonderful volunteers who help us with the Festival of Nations, the Christmas party, the Friends of the IHRC and many other events as they come up. I can’t even begin to name everyone who has been so gracious with their time to volunteer and help when needed. Your support, attendance and volunteering at our events is very appreciated. Please join us at our annual planning meeting on Thursday January 21st at 7:00 pm am via Zoom to plan activities for the upcoming year. All are welcomed to attend (even if you live in greater Minnesota!)

Pozdrav,

Andrea Novak Neumann
President, Croatian Cultural Society of Minnesota

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Chisholm Basketball Coach Bob McDonald Passes Away at 87

Legendary Croatian-American basketball coach Bob McDonald passed away on October 13th at the age of 87. Bob was very proud of his Croatian heritage and made several trips to Croatia with his family. Our sincere condolences to his family.

-Duluth News Tribune https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/sports/basketball/6716823-Legendary-Chisholm-coach-Bob-McDonald-dies-at-87

-MSHSL (Minnesota State High School League) https://www.mshsl.org/about/news/johns-journal/johns-journal-chisholm-legend-bob-mcdonald-has-died

-MPR News                  https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/10/14/bob-mcdonald-iconic-local-basketball-coach-dies-at-87

-Bring Me The News                https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-news/minnesota-basketball-legend-bob-mcdonald-dies-at-87