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All 5 MN Vertical Endeavors Locations Are Unionizing

Plus a Fashion Week hiatus, an all-ages club gets robbed, and ranking the State Fair food reviewers in today's Flyover news roundup.

United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 663|

VE workers celebrating their union reveal.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Vertical Solidarity

New union just dropped—and we’re not talking about off the bouldering wall! That’s a stupid, roundabout way of saying that workers at all five Minnesota locations of Vertical Endeavors, the popular indoor rock climbing clubs, informed management Friday that they’re forming a union. The 31-year-old, St. Paul-based company declined to offer voluntary recognition, according to a press release from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), meaning the table is likely set for a union vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Should worker yeas outweigh the nays, then blammo: There’ll be around 90 new union members organized under the banner of UFCW. Here’s Esthi Erickson, a manager/coach at the Minneapolis VE, speaking via press release: “Unionizing was important for me to better support my coworkers and myself, hold our company accountable for actions, and just making sure that we can ensure safety for us and our customers.” Union officials are touting this as another W in the outdoors-focused industry, since Maple Grove became the seventh shop in the REI retail chain to unionize back in June.

Fashion Week MN Takes a Hiatus

Since 2015, the biannual Fashion Week MN has hosted a variety of happenings, including runway shows, pop-up shopping events, designer talks, and glam parties, each fall and spring. But for the first time in eight years (minus a few breaks/online efforts during the Covid years, of course), event organizers will be taking a break this fall. "With a long history of community building, amplifying creatives, and being the hub of style—we are grateful to spend this time digging deep on our mission, vision, and values,” FWMN states from its Instagram. “While our main event takes a brief pause, the city will continue to pulse with ongoing fashion experiences that ignite creativity. We are going to launch something special and exciting in 2024!" The announcement comes at the same time as news that the org’s CEO and cofounder, Sarah Edwards, is moving some of her many many projects under one branding team, Haus of Sonder. Hmmm. Sounds like a collab of some sort is coming our way next year.

Catalyst Music Can’t Catch a Break

Earlier this month, we reported that local nonprofit Twin Cities Catalyst Music would be closing its St. Paul all-ages venue The Treasury at the end of October. The 180-capacity venue opened on Payne Ave. in April 2021. Today, Catalyst issued a press release saying that all the sound equipment (along with other “items of value”) was stolen sometime last weekend. “This is an incredible financial—and emotional—blow,” the release said. As a result, The Treasury will be closing immediately, and shows scheduled for the next two months will move to The Garage in Burnsville, which Catalyst has been operating since 2015. (Refunds are available for anyone who can’t make it to the alternate site.) If you’d like to help this eminently worthy org out, a GoFundMe aiming for $12,000 is about a quarter of the way to its goal, and Eastlake Craft Brewery is hosting a fundraiser for Catalyst on September 14.

Let's Rank the New State Fair Food Reviews

It's unnatural for our lil newsroom to flex, but we'll go ahead and say our State Fair food review crew produces the most entertaining and, crucially, honest feature you'll encounter any given year; check out 2023's roundup here. But what about the other guys? They ain't doing so bad themselves. We read (or at least skimmed) every new grub scouting report we could find, and here's how they rank.

MSP Mag: There are some head-scratchers, like praising the offensively bad Italian Duo Dunkers. But Stephanie March and Alex Lodner mostly hit the mark, and you get the sense they're having fun accomplishing a task that, while physically punishing, is a real hoot.

Star Tribune: This wildly comprehensive list needs a more assertive star system (one star equals a mild "no thanks") and the takes could be a bit more lively. Credit for calling out the Fruity Cereal Milk Biscuit, though.

Minnesota Monthly: We appreciate Jason DeRusha's voice and critical faculties. We're stunned, though, by the raves for the almost inedible Hot Honey Cheese Sticks. (To be fair, DeRusha didn't write that blurb: He endorses Blue Plate Restaurant Co. and therefore recused himself.)

Axios: Rock-solid choices, and clearly committed to scarfing as much as possible. We'd just love to see even more copy. This one, along with the three that follow, might have suffered from lack of staffing power. (We recruited three freelancers to help absorb the mighty list of 34 new foods.)

Eater Twin Cities: Again, these are the correct calls—all five of 'em. Let's hear some more!

Bring Me the News: Sounding like a broken record here...

Sahan Journal: Stellar work, but the self-imposed restriction of only trying "ethnic" foods left out a lot of contenders—including ones that fit the criteria like Baba's and, to an extent, Richie's Cheese Curd Tacos.

Pioneer Press: Typically, our crew is the most committed to shit-talking. This year, the PiPress picked 15 winners and 10 losers—almost an even split! But the quote-based critiquing approach doesn't display an abundance of effort.

WCCO: "Happily, nothing qualifies here so far," they write of their almost theoretical lowest tier. Come on, man!

(Dorky disclaimer: Heavy Table crushes it every fair, and this year they promise "12 essays, more than 10,000 words, and dozens of gorgeous photos." Their report is only available, for now, to subscribers.)

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