Question to weigh importance of the economy, environment

Photo by Chad Koenen
The 30th annual Great American Think-Off is set for Saturday at the New York Mills School.

The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is gearing up for the 30th annual Great American Think-Off weekend from June 9-10.

  The weekend kicks off on Friday, June 9 with a variety of activities from 3-9 p.m. including a mobile sign shop, a historic walking tour, a reception and outdoor live music.

  The 30th annual Great American Think-Off debate will be held at the NY Mills School Auditorium on Saturday, June 10, at 7 p.m. with a reception immediately following at the Cultural Center.

  The 2023 Think-Off question is “Which is more important to protect: the environment or the economy?” The debaters arguing that the environment is more important are Gretchen Mayer of Mansfield, S.D., and Doug McClain of Fergus Falls. Arguing that the economy is more important are Allen Taylor of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Timur Usenov of Maple Grove, Minn.

  This year’s debate will be moderated by Katie Lange, former award-winning broadcast news professional and current Brand Marketing & Communications Coordinator at KLN Family Brands in Perham.

  The public is also invited to the Think-Off Kick-Off on Friday, June 9. From 3-6 p.m., the New York Mills Public Library (located next door to the Cultural Center) will host a participatory Mobile Sign Shop with teaching artist Peter Haakon Thompson (free to attend and open to all). Beginning at 5:15 p.m., enjoy a historic walking tour of downtown New York Mills, hosted by Otter Tail County Historical Society (cost $8/person to OTCHS). From 6-8 p.m., the Cultural Center will host a reception honoring the Think-Off finalists and Regional Artists currently on display in the Gallery, with Artist Talks and Finalist Intros at 6:30 p.m., and a taco bar by The Otter and cash bar available. Continue the 30-year celebration with Live Music Outdoors by local band “The Confused” behind the Cultural Center from 7:30-9 p.m. (free to attend and open to all).

Tickets to attend the Think-Off debate are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, or $5 for students. If you become a member at the event, you get in free. All audience members get to vote in the contest to decide who makes the better argument and is ultimately named America’s Greatest Thinker for 2023.

 For more information, call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339, visit the Center’s website at, or buy tickets online at