29th Annual Think-Off
Saturday, June 11, 2022 @ 7pm
Held @ NYM School Auditorium
Reception to follow @ Cultural Center

The 2022 Think-Off debate will be held at the New York Mills School Auditorium on Saturday, June 11th, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Doors open to the public at 6:00 p.m.

All are invited to attend the debate and cast your vote to help select America’s Greatest Thinker for 2022!

2022 Think-Off Moderator Jennifer Nelson

We are pleased to announce this year’s Think-Off moderator, Jennifer Nelson. No stranger to this neck of the woods, Jennifer grew up in Morris, MN and still spends most of her summers on the lakes of Otter Tail County. You may recognize her as a two-time Think-Off champion, claiming the title of “America’s Greatest Thinker” in 2014 and 2019. (She’s the reason we know that love motivates us more than fear and that voting does indeed matter.)

Jennifer earned her Master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School and now resides in the Twin Cities where she works as a research consultant for the Minnesota House of Representatives. Her life outside of politics is filled with dogs, books, tea, outdoor activities, and artistic endeavors.


Tickets to attend the debate are on sale NOW!  Adult tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door; students $5.  Click button below to buy tickets online. We continue to follow COVID safety guidelines. In Otter Tail County, Minnesota, current community COVID level is Low. The location of the debate will allow for adequate distancing, and masks will be available, but not required at this time. Please stay home if ill; full refunds will be given if unable to attend due to illness.

Buy Think-Off Tickets

Immediately following the debate, all are welcome to gather at the Cultural Center to enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar, and engage the finalists in further discussion.

In order to reach a more broad audience this year, we plan to livestream the debate on our YouTube channel.

Can’t make the live debate? Tune in here! >


If you do choose to log on virtually, please consider making a donation to help us continue our working in cultivating the arts and civil discourse in rural America!

Donate now to support civil discourse >


Here’s the 2021 debate to give you an idea of what to expect:

Check out last year’s Think-Off on YouTube >


This year’s Think-Off question is:

Which should be more important: personal choice or social responsibility?

This timely philosophical topic will be debated by the 2022 finalists (in alphabetical order): Matthew Anderson of Sunnyvale, CA; Dennis Nau of Fergus Falls, MN; Blaine Rada of Darien, IL; and Ronald Stewart of Coon Rapids, MN.  Anderson and Rada will argue that social responsibility is more important, while Nau and Stewart will argue that personal choice is more important. Click below to learn more about these four finalists.

Note: Original finalist Hunter Liguore of Everett, CT is unable to participate in the Think-Off debate due to a family medical emergency. We wish Hunter and her family the best during this difficult time. We also thank first alternate Dennis Nau for stepping into the finalist role. Click below to learn more.

Read more about the 2022 finalists here >


Think-Off Kick-Off Friday June 10, 2022

Join us in kicking off the 2022 Great American Think-Off weekend on Friday, June 10th, 2022 with events from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Cultural Center!

  • 5:30 p.m. Historical Downtown NYM Walking Tour: Join Otter Tail Historical Society Executive Director Chris Schuelke for a walking tour of historic downtown New York Mills on Friday, June 10th @ 5:30 p.m. We will meet outside the Cultural Center. Cost is $8/person with proceeds benefiting the historical society. Start the Think-Off weekend with a leisurely stroll through downtown New York Mills! For more information on the tour contact the historical society at 218-736-6038.
  • 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Finalists & Artists Reception: Welcome the Think-Off finalists and honor regional artists featured in our current gallery show, When the Work is Done. Artist talks, live music, refreshments and cash bar.  Free to attend & open to all!

More about the Historic Walking Tour:

When Otter Tail County Commissioners held their first meeting in September 1868, there was no New York Mills. It was a dense forest of white pine, red and white oak, tamarack, ash and balsam. The seemingly endless resource of timber led to the formation of the New York Mills Company, based out of Olean, New York. The company established sawmills making New York Mills a company town. By the early 20th century the town became a destination for Finnish immigrants. Public saunas, a strong cooperative movement and an independent political spirit characterized the community.

More about the Gallery Show:

“When the Work is Done” Regional Artist Gallery Show >


For a list of the past 28 years of Think-Off questions, click below.

Think-Off History >


We would like to thank Mid-State Auto Auction for being our major event sponsor once again this year. Mid-State’s annual support of this event makes it possible for us to continue to support civil discourse in rural Minnesota. Thank you Mid-State!

We would also like to thank the following local businesses and organizations for their partnerships/sponsorships of the Great American Think-Off (list will be updated as sponsors are added). We are so grateful for our community’s support!

  • Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast (hosts finalists)
  • Grass Roots Ottertail (provides flowers & plants at event)
  • New York Mills Public Schools (venue partner)
  • Overflow Creative (design partner)
  • Centennial Realty
  • Certified Auto Repair
  • F&M Insurance Agency
  • Farmers & Merchants State Bank
  • Farmer’s Daughter Rustic Bakery
  • Klein Insurance
  • Lisa Preuss Insurance Agency
  • Mills Auto Parts
  • Mills Lanes & Lucky Strike Grill
  • Mills Liquors
  • New York Mills Civic & Commerce Association
  • New York Mills Dispatch
  • Norton Printing
  • Perham Printing
  • Thursday Night Ladies
  • Vandermay Mechanical
  • Wadena County Historical Society

Thanks also goes out to Toni Ebner, Connie Warner, Lynn Kasma, Lina Belar, and the family of Mike Parta for their generous contributions to the 2022 Think-Off.

Questions or want more information? Give us a call at 218-385-3339.

This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through an operating support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.