Hartford offers new recreation, restaurant and handmade originals

Aug. 13, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by the Minnehaha County Economic Development Association.

Located a quick drive northwest of Sioux Falls, Hartford is growing at a steady clip. The community has added about 700 people since the start of this decade.

Those residents and an increasing number of visitors are finding plenty of new reasons to spend time in the city that brands itself as “on the edge of everything.”

Swenson Sports Complex and Industrial Park

A growing 40-acre sports and business complex is offering new options for local teams and tournaments.

The Swenson Sports Complex and Industrial Park has two ball fields, soccer fields and upgrades in progress.

“What’s new here is water. We didn’t have water to this area until later this summer. We’re planning on getting sewer here in the near future, and we’re also working on getting two new ball fields out here in the next few years, along with more soccer fields and space for development,” said Jesse Fonkert, chamber and economic development director for the city of Hartford.

The complex also is preparing to attract more business activity and already has successfully hosted tournaments, he said.

“Our facilities are very popular. We’re always bringing more young families into town, and this is what they want. They want the quality-of-life features like ball fields, soccer fields, a pool, walking trails. All those things really matter to them.”

Blue 42 Sports Grill

Before and after games – and pretty much anytime in between – crowds are packing the Blue 42 Sports Grill, which opened under new ownership late last year.

“The community has been great,” said general manager Tony Axtell, whose wife, Courtney, owns the business. “They’ve been through the growing pains with us. Our first Friday night, there was an hour wait to get food.”

The restaurant offers a six-page menu that includes a large kids’ menu, gluten-free choices and a signature soft pretzel that’s as large as a 16-inch pizza.

“We make a lot of it from scratch. We don’t like cutting corners. Everything’s prepared daily, so our cooks are in a couple hours before we open and a couple after we close.”

Courtney Axtell also owns the adjacent and recently remodeled Dakota Plains Event Center, which went from hosting 10 to 15 weddings in prior years to about 40 this year.

“We want to provide something that’s affordable but still elegant enough to host a wedding,” he said.

Hours at Blue 42 are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will adjust to close at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday after Labor Day with later hours for NFL game nights.

Knotty Gnome Variety & Salvage

Shop handmade local merchandise at this one-of-a-kind store co-owned by Hartford native Stacy Wengler.

“The store is full of handcrafted items. That’s our main focus. So locally made handcrafted gifts, home decor, lawn art, all kinds of things,” she said.

Knotty Gnome also offers a variety of craft classes for kids and adults, with activities ranging from sewing to painting and paper crafting.

“I think Hartford is excited to have us,” Wengler said. “It’s a great place to stop and grab gifts … and for Christmas shopping, of course.”

Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

What’s next

The new Buffalo Ridge Brewing is the talk of the town in Hartford. It’s under construction downtown. The 4,000-square-foot building plans to open in October.

New brewery coming to Hartford

Hartford offers new recreation, restaurant and handmade originals

From a new place to eat to athletic fields and a one-of-a-kind store, here are three reasons to head to Hartford soon.

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