PR: Lutsen 99er Returns June 24-26 with New Route

Lutsen 99er

Lutsen 99er Returns June 24-26 with New Route

Expect Road Closures and Delays Around Cook County 

Cook County, Minn. – June 14, 2022 – One of Cook County’s largest events of the year, the Lutsen 99er, returns June 24-26 with a new route following the region’s hydrological event this spring.

As per years past, Highway 61 will be closed from approximately 7:25-8 a.m. the morning of June 25 during the start of the races near Ski Hill Road in Lutsen. Spectators are invited to gather at Fika Coffee in the Clearview building located in downtown Lutsen for the official Watch Party to cheer riders at the beginning of the race. Fika coffee, World’s Best Donuts, pancakes and camaraderie will be served.

New this year, due to the forced route changes because of flooding, riders will be crossing Highway 61 at the Onion River Road intersection throughout the day from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Vehicle drivers should expect short delays and Onion River Road residents should expect bike traffic until approximately 5 p.m. This reroute will utilize sections of the Gitchi-Gami bike trail from Onion River Road to Superior National Golf Course.

There will also be heavy bike traffic along Cascade River Road and Bally Creek Road from about 8:15 a.m. until about 1 p.m. These roads remain open but drivers are advised to watch for bikers.

“We’re so glad to be hosting this iconic event in Cook County once again,” Visit Cook County Executive Director Linda Jurek said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience along this new route as the 99er team embraced the challenge to find something that worked after our spring flooding.”

Local businesses are invited to include something in the 99er swag bags, such as a rack card, small gift, discount on a future visit, etc. A total of 2,100 items would be needed. If you have an item you’d like to include – or if you’d like to volunteer to help stuff the swag bags June 23 at 6 p.m. at Lutsen Mountains while enjoying pizza, beverages and good company – email Lutsen 99er’s Signe Larson at signesummer@gmail.com.

 

About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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PR: Owner of Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak to Purchase Big Snow Resort, Mich.

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Owner of Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak to Purchase Big Snow Resort, Mich.

Charles Skinner agrees to acquire the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

For Immediate Release

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Lutsen, MN, and Wausau, WI (May 25, 2022– Charles Skinner, the owner of Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains Ski Area and Wisconsin’s Granite Peak Ski Area, has a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Big Snow Resort, which consists of Indianhead and Blackjack ski areas, from Art Dumke. Skinner’s family has owned and operated vacation destination ski areas catering to Midwest families for 60 years.

All the resorts in the Skinner ownership portfolio are accessible to Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis/St. Paul markets, offering customers outstanding affordability and the luxury of travel flexibility.

Big Snow Resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, known as “Big Snow Country,” so named thanks to the lake effect snowfall of Lake Superior, delivering 200-inch averages annually. Indianhead was the first ski resort built in this region of Michigan, while Blackjack is the most recent ski area built in 1977.

“We are thrilled that these two historical, Upper Michigan ski areas, known for their prodigious powder snow, will be joining our legendary family of resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” stated Charles Skinner. “The current owner and his excellent staff have done a terrific job honoring the legacy of Indianhead and Blackjack and combining them into the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We intend to build upon this work by investing in new lifts, snowmaking and base area infrastructure at Big Snow soon.”

Big Snow will join the tradition of its sister resorts providing Midwest families with diverse and high-quality alpine ski vacations in some of the most picturesque areas in the Midwest.

“I would first like to say how grateful we are to the many awesome employees, skiers, and community members who we’ve had the privilege of serving and working with the past many years,” stated Art Dumke, owner of Big Snow Resorts. “I’m also pleased that the new ownership has so much expertise in operating premium Midwest ski areas and is vested in improving the ski area for skiers, employees, and the community.”

“We’re committed to providing Midwest families with great destinations close to home that offer the best snow, great customer service, and fast, modern ski lifts,” added Charlotte Skinner, VP of Finance and Resource Management. “We are planning major investments at Big Snow that we know everyone will be very excited about when details are announced later this summer.”

The Skinner Family plans to retain all Big Snow Resort’s current employees. “Art has told us great things about the current staff, and we look forward to working with the entire team on this exciting new chapter for this legendary resort,” explained Charlotte Skinner.  “The current management team will enjoy support from our management teams at Lutsen and Granite Peak, and our goal is always to be the best employer in the region.”

“This transaction will strengthen all three areas. We will continue our pace of investments at both Lutsen and Granite Peak,” emphasized Charles Skinner.  “At Lutsen, we are pleased to announce that we will be installing a new, high-speed, 6-place chairlift from Leitner Poma on Eagle Mountain next summer to replace the ‘Bridge Lift.’ This summer, major investments are also taking place in snowmaking and a host of building improvements at both Lutsen and Granite Peak.”

The transaction includes all of the assets of Big Snow Resort, including over 1,000 acres of private land. The closing, subject to financing and due diligence completion, is expected to occur by the end of July.

For Media Inquiries:  

Jim Vick,
General Manager
Lutsen Mountains
jim@lutsen.com

Gregory Fisher
General Manager
Granite Peak Ski Area
greg.fisher@skigranitepeak.com,

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About Lutsen Mountains. Lutsen Mountains was the first ski area in Minnesota (1948).  Lutsen Mountains is Minnesota’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (800’) and the most trails (95) spread over 1100 acres. Trails are served by eight lifts, including two high-speed lifts, and a 3rd high-speed lift will be installed next summer to replace the venerable Bridge Lift.  Straddling four peaks of the ancient Sawtooth Mountain range, the ski area boasts unique 180-degree blue water views of the World’s largest lake, Lake Superior.  Lutsen Mountains is the winter anchor of a 5,600-population economy, located in a county the size of a small state that is almost entirely dependent on tourism.  Lutsen Mountains has been family-owned and operated for 74 years and is today owned and operated by Charles Skinner and his daughter Charlotte.  Lutsen’s management team is led by 35-year Lutsen veteran, General Manager Jim Vick.

About Granite Peak. The ski area was the first ski area in Wisconsin (1937).  Granite Peak is Wisconsin’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (700’) and most trails (54), served by seven lifts, including three high-speed lifts.  Located in the Rib Mountain State Park, the ski area is the most popular winter recreational venue for Wausau residents and is the primary winter draw for Wausau’s tourism economy.  The Granite Peak team is led by 20-year ski area veteran General Manager Greg Fisher.

About the Skinner Family.  The Skinner Family began operating ski areas in 1962 when Charlie Skinner, Sr. founded Sugar Hills, in Grand Rapids, MN. Charlie purchased Lutsen Mountains in 1980 from founder George Nelson. Charles operated Lutsen with his brother-in-law Thomas Rider until his retirement in January when Charles took over sole ownership. Charles has been owner and president of Granite Peak since 2000. Our ski areas prioritize healthy and safe outdoor recreational experiences. Our mission also promotes our employees’ healthy and happy well-being and our diverse communities. We strive to offer the highest level of Midwest skiing to preserve the value of all of our constituencies.

Today, Lutsen and Granite Peak are owned and operated by Charles and his daughter Charlotte Skinner.

 

About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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PR: Grand Marais Welcomes Back Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic

Le Grand Du Nord Jeremy Kershaw

Grand Marais Welcomes Back Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic

Spectators can watch exciting race start and finish at Voyageur Brewing 

Cook County, Minn. – May 23, 2022 With views of Lake Superior and the Grand Marais Harbor in the background, 700 racers will roll out and cross the finish line at the Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic on Memorial Day Weekend.

Le Grand Du Nord LogoRepresenting one of the most amazing gravel courses in the country, the Le Grand du Nord is returning for its seventh edition on Saturday, May 28 – this time providing an exciting spectating opportunity as the race’s centralized start and finish location will be across the street from Voyageur Brewing Company.

“There will be a festive atmosphere at our new start and finish location,” Le Grand du Nord organizer Jeremy Kershaw said. “We encourage folks to come check it out and cheer on the competitors.”

Le Grand du Nord includes three different length events:

  • 110-Mile Event (Waves begin at 8 a.m.)
  • 54-Mile Event (Waves begin at 9 a.m.)
  • 26-Mile Event (Waves begin at 10 .m.)

All three events will follow the shores of Lake Superior before climbing to their final destinations, with each offering a unique experience. The 110-mile course will climb more than 5,500 feet and the most remote feel. The 54-mile course also offers climbing and forested roads while the 26-mile “marathon” route is a great introduction to gravel cycling with a mix of paved and gravel roads.

“Le Grand du Nord is such a great piece of our biking culture in Cook County,” Visit Cook County Executive Director Linda Jurek said. “From our gravel roads to our world class Jackpot and Highclimber single-track courses, our reputation as a biking destination continues to grow.”

 About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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PR: Superior National Forest Update: 2022 Fishing Opener & fee campgrounds, flooding, ice-covered lakes, and snowy roads

Forest Service News Release

Media contact: Joanna Gilkeson (218) 349-5134, joanna.gilkeson@usda.gov

Know before you go: 2022 Fishing Opener  

Status of fee campgrounds, flooding, ice-covered lakes, and snowy roads variable across the forest 

Duluth, Minnesota, May 12, 2022—Minnesota’s fishing opener is almost here and officials on the Superior National Forest would like to remind anglers and other visitors to recreate responsibly and safely, and plan ahead before traveling to the Forest for the weekend.  It is especially important this year as winter conditions linger, especially in the northeastern portion of the Forest.  Some Forest roads, particularly on Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts are covered in mud, slush and snow and may prevent travel to certain areas. Flooding near lakes, rivers and of roads is a concern, especially on the Kawishiwi, Lacroix and Laurentian districts. 

Fall Lake Campground flooded as of May 12, 2022. USDA Forest Service photo

Check conditions!:  While fishing opener is here, summer temperatures and clear roads are not. Lakes in northern Minnesota remain cold through spring and can be dangerous, and even lethal if exposed for several minutes. Many of our lakes are still partially or completely frozen; some are open on the edges only. Be careful that you do not get stuck on a lake by the wind blowing ice around and blocking you in bays and other areas. Underwater ice chunks in lakes are another hazard for boaters this year,  accidents have already occurred. Learn more cold water safety on the Minnesota DNR website

If you’re interested in particular lakes or roads, please call ahead to the local District Ranger office to inquire about status. Outfitters and guides are also great resources for local conditions. 

Find a fishing spot: The Forest boasts hundreds of lakes and 77 boat accesses. Motorized and non-motorized boating opportunities are available. As a rule, areas listed under motorized boating are lakes or campgrounds with a drive down boat ramp for launching a trailered boat. McDougal boat ramp is open (however the campground is not). These lakes can also be accessed by non-motorized boats; more information can be found on our website, water activities. For general fishing outlooks by region see the Minnesota DNR fishing outlook 2022 (PDF)

Campgrounds:  Campgrounds on the Kawishiwi, LaCroix and Laurentian Districts are open. Most campgrounds on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts are closed until May 17, with the following exceptions:

  • Now open – Iron Lake Campground
  • Now open – Trails End Campground is open except for sites 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.  Seagull Lake Nature Trail and the Seagull Lake Canoe Launch are also closed. Boaters/ canoers should plan to put in at Blankenburg Landing
  • Open May 13 – Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake and Temperance River campgrounds 
  • Open May 14 – Flour Lake Campground 

 

Note that water systems in many campgrounds have not been turned on yet. Drinking water will be available later next week. Some outhouses and garbage bins are not available. Please call a Forest district office before your trip for status updates on our campgrounds.

    • Fee campgrounds offer some first come, first served sites and some reservable campsites. Campsites can be reserved at recreation.govFor a list of amenities at each of these campgrounds, visit our  camping recreation guide (PDF).
    • Rustic campgrounds are free of charge and are first come, first served. They have outhouses, tables and fire rings but no drinking water. Outhouses are open but bring your own toilet paper.
    • Backcountry sites are free of charge and offer a more remote experience while still providing a fire grate and wilderness latrine.  
    • Rustic campgrounds and backcountry sites do not have a garbage service. Please pack your garbage out, and do not bury it or throw it in restrooms/latrines. 

Although rustic and backcountry campgrounds are open, they may not be accessible due to road conditions and snow or passable by low clearance vehicles. Alternative  campgrounds can be found on state forestsstate parks and county land. 

Be bear aware: Bears are out of hibernation and in search of food.  A fed bear is a dead bear! Whether you are on the Forest or in the Wilderness, take all precautions to discourage bears from visiting your site and keep your campsite clean. Here are some bear aware best practices: 

    • Dispose of fish remains by traveling at least 200 feet away from campsites, trails, portages and shorelines and pack out live bait.  
    • Never eat or store food in your tent.  
    • Be prepared to securely store your food, toiletries and trash, or anything with a strong or sweet odor in a bear-resistant container, your vehicle or by hanging your food pack.  

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit holders: 

Many lakes remain partially or fully covered in ice and slush. Some BWCAW campgrounds are open but be aware that some campgrounds are still closed, mostly on the east side of the Forest, due to snow and roads being inaccessible due to snow, flooding and mud. BWCAW interior lakes to the north are expected to have ice. Call for conditions before setting out.

Permit holders must pick up permits from the issue station selected when the permit was reserved. Group leaders or alternates must pick up the permit on the day of the trip or one day prior. 

Gunflint, Tofte, Kawishiwi and LaCroix Ranger District offices are open seven days a week for BWCAW permit issuance and in-person Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly education. The Laurentian Ranger District and the Supervisor’s Office are operating Monday through Friday only. Please check the Forest website for office hours.

Permit holders need to watch parts 1 and 2 of the BWCAW Leave No Trace video series prior to departing for their trip. To receive credit for watching the videos, click the links in the emails sent to the permit holder to access the videos online (use Chrome to avoid errors). If you have not reviewed parts 1 and 2 before arriving at your issue station, you will need to watch the complete BWCAW Leave no Trace video series before receiving your permit. All permit holders are required to watch part 3 of the video series and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules at their issue station prior to receiving their permit.

Thank you for doing your part to help keep the Forest and Wilderness safe, enjoyable, and pristine for all visitors.  

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Forest Service Shield
Joanna Gilkeson (she/her)
Public Affairs Specialist
Forest Service

Superior National Forest
p: 218-349-5134
joanna.gilkeson@usda.gov
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808
www.fs.fed.us
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Caring for the land and serving people

PR: U.S. Postal Service announces date and location for Minnesota Artist George Morrison First-Day-Of-Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony.

George Morrison Stamp Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. Postal Service announces date and location for Minnesota Artist George Morrison First-Day-Of-Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony.

 

April 5, 2022 – Grand Portage, Minn. – The United States Postal Service will honor Native American Modernist Artist George Morrison (1919-2000) with a First-Day-of-Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony at 1:00 pm on Friday, April 22nd, 2022 at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino in Grand Portage, MN. The pane of 20 George Morrison Commemorative Forever Stamps shows five of Morrison’s abstract landscapes, painted between 1949 and 1995.

Grand Portage National Monument - Exterior welcome sign

Grand Portage National Monument

The Stamp Dedication Ceremony will take place indoors at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino. The program will feature traditional drumming from Stonebridge Singers, live music, a pipe ceremony, and speakers. Attendees to include state, tribal, and local dignitaries, members of the public, artists, museum directors, the Morrison Family, and representatives of the National Park Service.

The event is free and open to the public. Ceremony attendees are encouraged to RSVP at usps.com/georgemorrison. Link here for the official press release from the U.S. Postal Service. News of the stamps is being shared with the hashtag #GeorgeMorrisonStamps.

George Morrison was born in Chippewa City, near Grand Marais, MN in 1919, and is widely recognized as a founding figure of Native American modernism and one of the nation’s greatest modernists artists. He is best known for his abstract landscapes and monumental wood collages, which draw on childhood memories and reflect a deep and abiding connection with the natural world. Many of his works feature a prominent horizon line inspired by his childhood on the shore of Lake Superior.

Two exhibitions of George Morrison’s work will run in conjunction with the Stamp Dedication Ceremony. At Grand Portage National Monument’s Heritage Center, the George Morrison Exhibit “Connections” will open the week of April 18, 2022. For this exhibit, the National Park Service has gathered works in their collection, along with works and artifacts from private collections, to curate the exhibition. The show will run through September of 2022.

Grand Portage artist, George Morrison, at work in home studio in Grand Portage. Photo from Morrison Family Estate

Grand Portage artist, George Morrison, at work in home studio in Grand Portage. Photo from Morrison Family Estate.

Another exhibition of Morrison’s work will take place at the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery in Grand Marais. Artworks in the collection of the Cook County Historical Society will be on temporary display in the Anna Johnson Room, opening the week of April 18, 2022.

Both exhibits are free and open to the public.

Other events in support of the Stamp Dedication Ceremony:

  • Reception and Dinner Program on Friday, April 22, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. This is a VIP RSVP invitation-only event at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino.
  • “Artists in the Lobby” at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino, Friday, April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd, from 10 am – 5 pm. Local and regional artists in a variety of mediums will display their work.
  • Dedication of “Spirit Little Cedar Tree,” a large, wooden mosaic created by Grand Portage Artist Donavan Dahmen. The artwork was acquired by the Grand Portage Tribe in 2017 and depicts a sacred tree of the same name, located on the Grand Portage Reservation. It can be viewed in the lobby of Grand Portage Lodge & Casino. Dahmen has said that he wants to dedicate the piece to Morrison, who greatly inspired him as an artist. Morrison is recognized and widely admired for his monumental wooden mosaics.

Customers may purchase George Morrison stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at www.usps.com/shopstamps , by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic, or at Post Office locations nationwide.

About Visit Cook County

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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PR: Cook County Public Health advice to businesses on coping with the Omicron surge

Cook County Public Health advice to businesses on coping with the Omicron surge

Grace Grinager, Cook County Public Health Supervisor, wishes to alert business owners and managers that the COVID-19 surge resulting from the Omicron variant will affect us here in Cook County, likely for the next few months. It is so highly contagious that it is spreading at three-to-five times as fast as the original strain of COVID-19.

Grinager said the main impact on businesses will be staff shortages when employees call in ill. Here are a few pieces of advice for local business owners:

  1. Please support your employees in staying home when they are sick!!!  While challenging, this is the most important thing you can do to help prevent COVID from spreading rapidly in your workforce
  2. Please encourage your employees to get vaccinated AND boosted if they are eligible (2 months after J&J, 5 months after Pfizer series, or 6 months after Moderna series).  Weekly opportunities continue to be advertised on the county’s hub site (http://cookcountycovid19.org).  The booster dose is particularly important at preventing infection.
  3. Re-visit and strengthen your COVID mitigation strategies.  With this new variant spreading, this is more important than ever in order to minimize disruption to your business.  Encourage masking with a KN-95 level mask (one clearinghouse for vetted masks is https://shop.projectn95.org/masks/).  Consider staggering staffing, and distancing staff to the extent possible when on-site.  Make sure that staff who have been feeling ill or have been exposed to COVID-19 test (5 days post-exposure).  Consider having test kits (antigen or mail-in saliva test kits) available on-site at your business to facilitate testing.

The nature of the pandemic is changing.  Due to the highly contagious nature of the new variant, the sheer number of people becoming sick will rise.  While we do expect more breakthrough cases, this doesn’t mean the vaccines aren’t working.  With more people in the community vaccinated and boosted, the chances of the vaccinated segment of the population becoming seriously ill is much lower than it has been in the past.  The segment of the population that remains unvaccinated remains at higher risk for both infection as well as serious outcomes due to COVID-19.  This is worrisome as our medical system as a local, regional, and state level are extremely stressed.  It continues to be very challenging to transfer local patients out when they require a more intensive level of care (please see attached media release from 1/4/22 Joint Media Release Healthcare Strain – FINAL).

 

PR: Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort Announces Purchase of Family Stock of Tom Rider

Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort Announces Purchase of Family Stock of Tom Rider

 Purchase ensures continued family ownership of resort

For Immediate Release

January 5, 2022 – Lutsen, Minnesota – Lutsen Mountains today announced the purchase of the 50% ownership interest of Co-President Tom Rider.  Following the purchase, Charles Skinner will continue as the sole owner and President of Lutsen Mountains, as well as Granite Peak ski resort in Wausau, Wisconsin.  The transaction ensures that the iconic North Shore ski resort, that caters to Midwestern families, will continue to be owned and operated by the Skinner family.

The ski resort was founded in 1948 by George Nelson, Jr., which he ran until purchased by Charlie Skinner in 1980.  Charlie’s son Charles and son-in-law Tom have run the resort together since joining the business in the early 1990s.  “Tom has been a terrific partner over the last 31 years”, said Skinner. “Knowledgeable, smart, extremely skilled, and a superb human being.  Tom contributed enormously to this business and I feel very fortunate to have been able to work alongside Tom all of these years”.

“Having devoted three decades of my life to Lutsen Mountains, the decision to sell my interest was difficult and comes with many mixed emotions”, explained Rider.  “The main condition to selling was that the business be left in capable hands, and I am confident that with continued family ownership, and the superb team of key staff in place, that the future of Lutsen Mountains is bright.”

“I am very happy that this transaction will enable Lutsen Mountains to continue as a family-run business”, said Charles.  “I have long believed that the best model for destination ski areas of our size is multi-generational family ownership.  And with both of my daughters, Charlotte and Caroline, having grown up in the ski business, and with MBA degrees, I am grateful that they have the interest and aptitude to lead the family business in the coming years.”

“We also have an amazing team of senior managers”, continued Skinner, “many of whom also are multiple-generation family employees of Lutsen Mountains, including the Vick, Buckman and Plummer families.  The family theme is an entrenched part of our business culture, and is something we are very proud of.”

Lutsen Mountains also announced closer collaboration with Granite Peak going forward.

“From combined ticket and season pass products to leveraging the talents of the two businesses’ key managers across the combined enterprise, being able to operate the two resorts as a single operation and with a single vision, will have enormous benefits to employees and to customers”, stated Lutsen’s Operations Manager and Marketing Director, Jim Vick, a 30-year veteran at Lutsen Mountains.

Greg Fisher, General Manager and Marketing Director of Granite Peak, who joined Granite Peak in 2020 after an accomplished career at the 17-resort Peak Resorts following Peak’s acquisition by Vail Resorts, elaborated further.  “I have been wanting to sit down with the Lutsen team for quite some time to see how we can develop more joint products and promotions that I know our customers would love.  There are also many operational and administrative functions where closer collaboration would greatly benefit both resorts”.

Lutsen and Granite Peak have both proposed major expansions in terrain and facilities.  “The planned expansions are necessary for the ski areas to survive for the next generation of Midwest skiers, and we are counting on the next generation of family ownership and our talented team of managers to realize the full potential of these improvements,” said Skinner.

“Lutsen Mountains is the winter anchor of our county’s tourism-based economy, and the expansion is necessary for Lutsen Mountains to continue to draw the large number of winter visitors to Cook County that many of our other businesses depend on”, noted Linda Jurek, Executive Director of the Cook County Chamber/Visit Cook County.

Jim Boyd, the Director of Public Policy for the Cook County Chamber, explained further.  “As a small, family-owned resort, Lutsen will never be as large as the Western conglomerate resorts, but with the proposed expansion, Lutsen will be able to offer varied terrain and up-to-date facilities that can lure substantial numbers of families to take a five-hour road trip rather than boarding a plane and heading west.  We are grateful that Lutsen Mountains has accepted the challenge to survive through growth, and to take on the debt load to make that growth possible.  Our economy depends on this expansion because, without the winter revenue from downhill skiers that visit Lutsen Mountains, many or most of the businesses in our county would not be viable.”

The stock purchase was made under a process initiated by Rider pursuant to a longstanding buy-sell agreement between the parties.  The specific terms of the transaction are considered a private family matter and were not released.

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Contact:

Jim Vick, Director of Operations and Marketing, Lutsen Mountains | email: jim@lutsen.com | ph# (218) 406-1300

Amanda Plummer, Assistant Director of Operations and Marketing, Lutsen Mountains | email: amanda@lutsen.com | ph# (218) 406-1377

Gregory Fisher, General Manager and Marketing Director, Granite Peak | email: greg.fisher@skigranitepeak.com  | ph# (715) 845-2846

PR: Norpine Fat Bike Classic is Back in 2022 Featuring New Full Moon Tour

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Norpine Fat Bike Classic is Back in 2022 Featuring New Full Moon Tour

Cook County, Minn. – January 3. 2021 – Registration is now open for the Norpine Fat Bike Classic, which will return to Lutsen for its sixth year with events beginning Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, and culminating with races on Saturday, Jan. 29.

Hosted by the Superior Cycling Association, all events are held on the Norpine Cross-Country Trails, which take riders through stands of old growth cedars on Pisten Bully-groomed trails while overlooking Lake Superior.

New to this year’s events is the Full Moon Tour on Jan. 15, a 6-to-8-mile evening guided tour on the Norpine trails for those that want to experience fat tire biking under Cook County’s world-class dark sky. The full moon will be weather permitting, of course.

The Norpine Fat Bike Classic races will be held on Jan. 29, with a 30-mile long race and a 19-mile short race — both on the same trails — followed by an awards ceremony and after-race party at Cascade Restaurant & Pub.

Riders can also register for a day-time, untimed tour for those wanting to experience the trails in a non-competitive event. Ride with family and friends, or go solo, and complete the tour anytime between Jan. 15-28. Tour registration fee includes a T-shirt, swag bag, trail use fee, ticket to door prize and a ticket to door prize raffle. 

For more information on the Norpine Fat Bike Classic events and to register, go to www.superiorcycling.org/norpine.  

 About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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PR: Dark Sky Festival Returns to Cook County, MN Dec. 9-11, 2021

Dark Sky Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dark Sky Festival Returns to Cook County, Minnesota Dec. 9-11, 2021

Three-day event will celebrate the county’s world-class dark sky

 

Cook County, Minn. – Dec. 1, 2021 – Cook County’s Dark Sky Festival will return Dec. 9-11, celebrating the area’s world-class dark sky with programs, activities, dinners and more.

This event is especially fitting as Northern Minnesota was recently named one of the “25 amazing journeys for 2022” by National Geographic because of the region’s lack of light pollution and dark skies.

This year’s festival kicks off Thursday, Dec. 9, with a special night along the Gunflint Trail at Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters, next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of only 15 International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world. The evening will include a Dark Skies Dinner with a Constellation Presentation and a guided Celestial Legends night hike. Reservations can be made via Gunflint Lodge. Visitors can stay in a lakeside fireplace cabin Dec. 8-10 with Gunflint Lodge’s Dark Skies Package, with dark sky dinner, presentation and night hike included.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Grand Marais will celebrate the Dark Sky Festival with “Turn Out the Lights!” an event in Harbor Park where attendees will watch the city go dark for a few minutes to enjoy a darker-than-normal sky over the iconic harbor. Following “Turn Out the Lights!” a Star Party with staff and students from the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium will be at Voyageur Brewing Company, which will include telescope viewing and a live star/constellation show under the stars.

The weekend will be full of other programs that are free but with limited capacity for safety with masking required. Early sign-up is recommended.

 

Friday, Dec. 10

4:30 p.m. | Winter Constellation Stories with Emma Adams | Studio 21, Grand Marais

 

Saturday, Dec. 11

3 p.m. | Animals and Dark Skies with Steve Robertsen | Studio 21, Grand Marais

4 p.m. | Saving the Dark – a Documentary Movie and Q&A with Starry Skies North IDA | Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, Grand Marais

7 p.m. | Asteroids, Meteors and Comets Oh My!! with Emma Adams | Studio 21, Grand Marais

8 p.m. | Dark Sky Adventures with Travis Novitsky | Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery, Grand Marais 

The festival will conclude with a Night Sky Walk along the Lake Loop Trail in Sweethearts Bluff Nature Area with Starry Skies North and Superior National Forest employee Caroline Torkildson and dark sky photographer Travis Novitsky.

“We are excited to once again bring our community, partners and fans of our dark skies together to celebrate,” said Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County Executive Director. “While all presentations on Friday and Saturday are free, space is limited so register early.“

See the full schedule, details and registration information for presentations: https://www.visitcookcounty.com/darkskyfestival/

 About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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PR: Grand Portage, Minnesota Artist George Morrison to be honored by the Postal Service with Forever Stamp issue

George Morrison US Postage Stamps Release coming in 2022

Grand Portage, Minnesota Artist George Morrison to be honored by the Postal Service with Forever Stamp issue

 

George Morrison US Postage Stamps Release coming in 2022

George Morrison US Postage Stamps Release coming in 2022

November 15, 2021 – Grand Marais, Minn. – The United States Postal Service has announced several new stamps to be issued in 2022.  Among those being honored is renowned American artist George Morrison (1919-2000).

Born in 1919 to Native American parents James and Barbara (Mesaba) Morrison, in Chippewa City, near Grand Marais, Minnesota, Morrison lived a truly extraordinary life.  One that took him from humble beginnings in the wilderness of northeastern Minnesota, to the epicenters of the post-World War II Modern Art movements in New York City and Paris.

Morrison is widely considered one of the nation’s greatest American Abstract Expressionist painters and the founder of what is now known as Native Modernism.  He was a contemporary of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning, and is best known for his abstract landscapes and monumental wood collages. Morrison was also a revered college professor at several prestigious institutions, including Cornell University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Dayton Art Institute, and the University of Minnesota, where he also taught American Indian Studies.

Of Anishinaabe descent, Morrison returned to Grand Portage, MN in his later years, where he built Red Rock, a home and studio overlooking Lake Superior, and continued making art until his passing in 2000.  His son Briand Morrison, a respected jazz guitarist, and composer now resides there with his partner Roxann Berglund.  They have been working with the Postal Service over the past several months to help facilitate the upcoming stamp release.

“I think the images that were chosen are a good representation of his work, his paintings,” said Morrison. “If you look at his legacy, and the art that he did do, the Abstract Expressionist style, combined with his take on it, he is world-class.”

Five of Morrison’s vibrant and colorful landscape paintings will be featured in the Forever Stamp release, scheduled for Spring 2022. “The new 2022 stamps are miniature works of art, designed to be educational and appeal to collectors and pen pals around the world,” said USPS Stamp Services Director William Gicker. “As always, the program offers a variety of subjects celebrating American culture and history.  The vivid colors and unique designs of this year’s selections will add a special touch of beauty on your envelopes.”

George Morrison at work on a wood collage in his Grand Portage studio. Photo from the Morrison estate

George Morrison at work on a wood collage in his Grand Portage studio. Photo from the Morrison estate.

More information about the date of the official stamp issue and location of the First Day Release Ceremony to honor George Morrison will be announced by the Postal Service in the coming weeks.

About Visit Cook County

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Linda Jurek | Visit Cook County                       Kjersti Vick | Visit Cook County

Phone#: 218.387.2788 ext. 101                         Phone#: 218.387.2788 ext. 104

Email: linda@visitcookcounty.com                  Email: kjersti@visitcookcounty.com

 

 

Additional Stories:

MPR News “Renowned Minnesota Native artist George Morrison to be honored with new stamp

Star Tribune “Minnesota artist George Morrison to be honored with postage stamps.”

PR: Cook County Looks Forward To Welcoming Canadian Visitors Once Again Starting November

Grand Portage Lodge & Casino

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The US/Canada Border to Reopen for Non-Essential Travel 

Cook County looks forward to welcoming Canadian visitors once again starting in November.

 

October 13, 2021 Grand Marais, Minn. Starting in early November, the United States will lift restrictions on its land borders with Canada for allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to travel by land or ferry for non-essential or leisure purposes. In border communities like Cook County, this announcement is exciting. 

“We have been waiting for this announcement for 19 months,” said Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County.

The border closure has impacted many communities that rely on Canadians for patronage, friendship and workforce. In Grand Portage, MN, a gateway community, the impact was significant. Todd Ford, Marketing Director at Grand Portage Lodge & Casino had this to say “We were thrilled to wake up to this wonderful news this morning. The border closure has certainly had a significant impact on us, as it has with so many businesses on both sides of the border. We look forward to welcoming our friends back with open arms.”

 “We’re excited to not only welcome our friends and neighbours back but we’re also excited to show them the newly finished Highway 61 corridor through downtown Grand Marais,” continues Jurek. The two-year highway reconstruction project is in the final stages of completion. The project included improved roadways, sidewalks, and a new bike path that connects Grand Marais to Cutface Creek – about 5 miles of new paved bike trails to explore. 

Along with vaccination requirements, Canadians will find that COVID-19 protocols remain in place throughout many local businesses to keep both visitors and residents safe. 

“While an exact date has not been announced, early November cannot come soon enough” added Todd Ford. 

 

About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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Talking Tourism: Catalyst for Change

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: October 2021

Talking Tourism: Catalyst for Change – Two Strong Organizations – One Executive Director

By: Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County

 

Visit Cook County launched as an independent 501(c)(6) in the spring of 2010. The convergence of three tourism associations and strategic partnerships with Grand Portage and Lutsen Mountains resulted in an award-winning Destination Marketing Organization. Building upon that momentum, the Cook County Chamber of Commerce was established three years later to support the internal needs of the business community that traditionally come from a Chamber. When established, the mission of the Chamber was intentionally prioritized around policy and advocacy with Jim Boyd assuming the leadership role as the Chamber’s new Executive Director.

With the recent announcement of Jim’s desire to step down to part-time employment, the Chamber’s Executive Committee began entertaining an idea of one Executive Director leading both the Chamber and Visit Cook County. This organizational model is very common elsewhere, particularly in smaller communities and/or in communities that struggle to sustain two separate organizations both focused on one primary economic driver. Cook County, Minnesota is a shoe-in for both of these circumstances. 

Although there is a difference between the missions and visions of the two organizations, there is notable overlap in membership. As the main driver of the local economy is tourism, the work  on policy, workforce housing, road construction and business communications are only a sample of the intersections these two organizations experience on a daily basis. The Chamber is an inward facing organization; promoting member business, advocacy and policy. Visit Cook County is an outward facing organization; providing area branding, supporting events and programming, providing communications, and soliciting visitors to our areas. 

Under this new model, both organizations will maintain their autonomy and will continue to have two separate boards of directors. Each board will continue to guide the mission, work, and focus of the independent organizations. A new position, Director of Policy and Advocacy, will be created for the Chamber where Jim will remain to continue providing his expertise and leadership in the policy sphere. The seasoned and talented team at Visit Cook County will step in to begin supporting the administrative and membership work of the Chamber. Education and social networking events will be added as a benefit of Chamber membership. 

The single director model provides opportunities for both organizations. Visit Cook County is continuing to work toward a more balanced tourism economy with efforts toward sustainable tourism and destination management beyond destination marketing. These are inward facing initiatives (outside of VCC’s normal scope) but align with the work of local businesses, which in turn affects the Visit Cook County outward facing marketing and branding efforts and tactics. The synergy of work with the Chamber is naturally there, and is a proactive and timely response to the conditions set before us all in working to manage Cook County as a prosperous, safe, friendly, and sustainable destination and home for residents.

Visit Cook County is a firm believer in community engagement and actively seeks diverse voices. Under the leadership of Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County hopes to enhance our tourism partnerships. With strong partners, Visit Cook County continues to work toward the goal of creating balance between a thriving year-round tourism economy and extraordinary visitor experiences while maintaining the quality of life for residents. Boards of both organizations have voted to move forward under this new single director model and believe that Linda will be able to effectively and expertly utilize the strengths of both organizations to be successful together and separately.  

An FAQ has been prepared and can be found here: FAQ Shared Director

Hospitality workers get a free cup of coffee courtesy of Visit Cook County September 12-17, 2021

For immediate release

Hospitality workers get a free cup of coffee courtesy of Visit Cook County September 12-17, 2021

Grand Marais, MN – September 7, 2021 – As the busy season begins to wind down after another record-breaking year, Visit Cook County wants to champion those who continue to be the “heart of hospitality” in the community by offering a cup of coffee for hospitality industry workers September 12-17, 2021.

“Celebrating the hard work of those in the hospitality industry is important,” said Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County. “It has been a challenging year with increased demand for outdoor destinations and evolving COVID restrictions. The employees and owners who have worked so hard to provide a great visitor experience really deserve to be recognized.”  

Outside of government, education and healthcare, the main industry in Cook County is tourism. There are over 1,000 employees in the hospitality industry in Cook County, according to an Explore Minnesota report, which is about half of the working population in Cook County. 

Who is eligible? Front and back of house staff that work in hospitality based industries like dining, retail, lodging and activities. A shortlist includes servers, bartenders, housekeepers, receptionists, cooks, clerks, guides and so much more. 

Where? Java Moose in Grand Marais (hours: 7am – 3pm Friday – Wednesday, closed Thursday) and Fika Coffee in Lutsen (hours: 7am – 12pm Thursday – Monday, Closed Tuesday & Wednesday) are prepared to offer complimentary coffee beverages to hospitality workers. One coffee/drink per location.

This event is part of a greater program initiated by Visit Cook County titled the “Heart of Hospitality” to celebrate the workers in the hospitality industry. Launched in 2019, local business owners and managers are asked to nominate employees who they believe exemplify hospitality excellence. An award is given to an employee from each tourism district. Nominations for this year’s “Heart of Hospitality” awards are open. Deadline for 2021 nominations is October 4, 2021.  To learn more about the award or to nominate an individual, please click here. Winners are announced in late October.  

 About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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Kjersti Vick

Marketing & Public Relations Director, Visit Cook County

kjersti@visitcookcounty.com

(218) 387-2788 ext. 103