Considered the birthplace of Minnesota, Stillwater is one of the state’s oldest towns. At the height of the logging boom, Stillwater’s lumber mills were the largest in the country. This boom brought wealth and commerce to the area and that history can be seen today in murals on Main Street and historical markers sprinkled throughout the valley.
In 2019, The Jespersen family opened The Lumberjack Axe Throwing Bar, a place for visitors to learn about the history of Stillwater in a warm, friendly environment while enjoying food, drink and fun with friends. Pictures throughout the space celebrate the Jespersen family roots, which date back to the grandparents’ farmstead in Cook, Minn., where the family had a lumber camp that offered care, rest and warm food to local lumberjacks.
The Jespersen family: Nathan, Sara, Elianah and Astoria
Sara Jespersen says, “It’s a place where we can foster community with locals and new people because we offer a really focused sense of an engaging experience.”
The bar has a cozy, cabin-inspired decor, an educational timeline and historical images lining its walls. The menu is all about comfort food with a modern twist – like handmade guacamole or a crudité platter served with locally grown vegetables. The Lumberjack hopes to be a place that locals call home, a place where people feel comfortable and faces are familiar.
The Fancy Nancy cheese and charcuterie platter
Without being “hoity-toity” the food and drink options, “will leave you feeling spoiled rotten!” The beer and wine selections are handpicked from local brewers and distilleries and the scratch-made food is local, sustainable and organic whenever possible. The menu features sharables with choices like the Munchies (kettle chips with Southwestern aioli) or the Fancy Nancy (a cheese and charcuterie platter). If you are in the mood for bar grub, try the “How You Doin” (a Gouda, prosciutto, salami, and pesto sandwich on sourdough bread) or “The Bruce” (a 100 percent beef hotdog with cheddar, marmalade and pickled onions). Satisfy your sweet tooth with the Smitten, a flourless chocolate truffle cake with pomegranate glaze.
Dig into “The Bruce” or some housemade guacamole with chips.
If you’re meeting for drinks, The Lumberjack will not disappoint. Choose from tap beer, canned beer or buckets of beer. Cocktails more your jam? Try the You Wanna Peach Me made with Pike & Clark gin, Gabriel Boudier peach Liqueur, honey, lemon and soda water. Or, try the Rough Housing – a recipe of Rough Rider bourbon and maple, served on the rocks. The Lumberjack also offers a variety of white and red wines, rosés and bubbles.
From the bar: “You Wanna Peach Me” and “Rough Housing”
In addition to the historical images, the cabin-like comfort and all of the old-fashioned/modern deliciousness being served – this is the kind of place where games can be found in, “every nook and cranny.” Anything that creates an engaging experience can be found in the bar, like board games, outdoor games and shuffleboard.
Looking for a totally new experience or event? Stop in for some to axe throwing!
Need some inspiration to try it out? Here’s a little history for your inner lumberjack …
According to Whistle Punks, an Urban Axe Throwing organization, this is a growing trend across the country. Axe throwing is an activity where patrons throw axes at targets. This trend has hit cities such as; Brooklyn, Austin, Detroit, Philadelphia, Denver and right here in the Midwest. Primarily a group activity, an axe-throwing session takes between 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the group. Participants are briefed on safety rules and given demonstrations before anyone can handle an axe. Based on The Lumberjack’s website, “coaches carefully guide guests through the process by teaching participants to throw safely and coach you to a whole ‘nother level of play! There are great team building games for groups of as few as 8 to as many as 150 people!”
Axes are described as some of the oldest tools known to man. They were common in the stone age, however throwing axes were not used until 400-500 AD. Used in the early to middle ages as a weapon, the Francisca axe, is probably the most famous throwing axe. Commonly associated with the Franks, at the time it was also used by German tribes. Some historians believe that the thrown axe was not used in battle, instead they believe it was used to hunt food. Difficult to get within arm’s length of an animal, thrown weapons were often used. Other historians claim that the axe throwing pre-dates hand-to-hand combat.
By the late Middle Ages, axe throwing was common. Made of iron, axes were often used by foot soldiers and knights. Europeans brought them to the New World, provided as tomahawks to the Native Americans. According to legend, it was the frontiersman of North America that held the first throwing competitions among Celtic tribes. Fast forward to the modern era and axe throwing became a popular sport in many lumberjack sporting events. The past 20 years have seen a resurgence of this activity as a popular urban sport, popping up in bars and pubs across the globe.
Fortunately for those interested in trying something a little different, you need not travel far. Jespersen says, “We have a coach in every axe-throwing pit … it is like darts on steroids. It’s very easy to learn and very, very safe … It’s a really good time.” So, for a truly unique experience in the St. Croix Valley, gather friends, family and flannels and visit The Lumberjack Bar.