Second Harvest Fest medallion hunt a success

Treasure found under the Earl Street bridge

 

The second annual medallion hunt for the Payne-Arcade Harvest Festival may have been difficult for some, but not for those who knew East Side cinema history. 

This year’s medallion was found by Inver Grove Heights couple Brad TeGantvoort and Jana Armstead, seasoned treasure hunters with a knack for local history and cinema. Armstead used to work for the Ramsey County Historical Society and had worked for a variety of theaters and movie rental places when she was younger.

The medallion was found under the Earl Street bridge along East Seventh Street, under some of the large limestone blocks that line the road.

 

The hunt

It wasn’t until clue seven that the couple found it, but they had been searching in the area under the bridge for days. They even passed right by it multiple times just a few hours before they found it and had gotten a flat tire changed right next to it, they said.

Armstead laughed while telling the story. She said as they turned around to leave to grab some food, they ran over something in the street and got a flat tire. While they waited for AAA to help them out, she kept looking, again passing back and forth by the medallion. Their tire was swapped out literally right in front of the hiding spot.

After the flat tire, they went to their favorite St. Paul restaurant, Yarusso Bros., which they credit as giving them the luck to find the medallion later that day. 

“You always get lucky if you eat at Yarusso’s,” TeGantvoort said. 

They found the medallion at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13; the hunt had started on Sept. 7.

Clue-writer Ed Brodie, also an avid treasure hunter who grew up on the East Side, said he wanted to give East Siders a leg-up this year and wrote clues tied to an East Side claim to fame. 

The 1985 movie “That Was Then, This Is Now,” featuring Emilio Estevez, son of actor Martin Sheen, was filmed on the East Side. It included scenes in the now-gone Viaduct Inn and Spanky’s Bar, which were both near Earl Street. The movie was based off S.E. Hinton’s novel of the same name, a sequel to her famed novel “The Outsiders.”

Brodie hinted at this in clue No.2: “A man named Sheen, who’s son was quite keen, also from the silver screen, from this what do you glean?”

It’s also hinted at in clue No. 4: “I suppose I should say remember when, this was that now is then, Remix that as if you were Eminem, and bring you closer to the medallion’s den.”

Brodie said he tries to write the clues so that the medallion is found somewhere between clues six and 10, not too early, but not too late in the hunt. He came up with the original idea to have a Harvest Festival medallion hunt and was the clue-writer for last year’s hunt as well, when he hid the medallion in Swede Hollow Park. 

 

An integral part of their lives

Armstead and TeGantvoort are seasoned treasure hunters. Both have been hunting since the 1980s and have hunted together for about the past eight or so years. They participate in many of the Twin Cities medallion hunts and have found their fair share of medallions. 

Armstead also grew up in the Capitol Heights neighborhood of St. Paul and had plenty of East Side friends growing up, so she’s familiar with the neighborhood.  

The two met through treasure hunting and Armstead even used a fake treasure hunt to propose to TeGantvoort after he proposed to her last summer during the eclipse. 

She created a fake hunt for him during this year’s St. Paul Winter Carnival and pretended it was sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings — their other shared love. 

It lead him to the Ice Palace in downtown St. Paul where their friends had planned a Vikings-themed flash mob. At the end, her friends turned around and on their Vikings jerseys it read “Kluwe, will you marry me2?”

TeGantvoort’s treasure hunting nickname is Cluey, hence the use of Kluwe in the proposal. Armstead’s nickname is me2, which she said she used long before the #metoo women’s movement. 

They’ve even got a home office dedicated to the hunt, with maps and old clues from past hunts. Armstead shared a picture of a newly painted compass on the wall in their treasure hunting office.

Finding the Harvest Festival medallion means winning $250, but for Armstead and TeGantvoort, the money isn’t what matters. It’s about getting out to hunt together and solving the puzzle

“It’s more of a game with yourself than against others,” Armstead said, adding that it’s a test of one’s puzzling abilities. 

The couple said it’s important to them that they spend their winnings in the community where the medallion is hidden. It’s their way of giving back to the place that hosted the hunt. They do that by eating at local restaurants, like Yarusso’s, and coming back for Harvest Festival activities during the weekend, like the booya-to-go.

“We’re normally quite boring people,” Armstead laughed, adding they love talking about the hunt and “noodling” — dissecting clues — with other hunters.

Armstead also hosts a Facebook page called “Exploration and Recovery” where she posts about upcoming hunts across the region. 

“We just love to treasure hunt,” she said. 

 

- Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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