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

PR: Cook County Accommodations Have Rare Openings Heading into the Fall Travel Season

Gunflint Trail Resort on a lake

Cook County Accommodations Have Rare Openings Heading into the Fall Travel Season

Gunflint Trail Resort on a lake

Gunflint Trail Resort on a lake

Cook County, Minn. – Sept. 2, 2021 – Now is the time to plan a fall getaway. Cooler temps mean leaf change is on the horizon, the U.S. Forest Service just announced the reopening of portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and local resorts have rare openings during peak season for reservations.

Amid concern regarding the wildfires in northeastern Minnesota, lodging properties in Cook County have seen a recent spike in cancellations despite no imminent threats. While the Greenwood Lake, Whelp and John Ek fires all remain active, they are between 5-40 miles away from the homes and businesses in Cook County. Due to drought conditions, the U.S. Forest Service had closed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) until Sept. 3, however on Sept. 2, the closure order was lifted beginning Sept. 4 for the majority of the BWCAW with the exception of a few notable areas.

Local resorts, lodges and other accommodations are ready to welcome those who have been waiting for a reservation opening.

“Suddenly we have availability – something that’s been tough for people to find this summer. We’re open and ready to host visitors during what most consider the best part of the season,” said John Fredrikson, owner of Gunflint Lodge and Outfitters on the Gunflint Trail. “Now is the best time to visit with cooler temps, fresh air and fall colors.”

Although the drought will likely change the timing and vibrancy of Cook County’s fall color experience, fall colors will occur. Visit Cook County will be posting fall color updates on our social media outlets. Check out our fall color blog from last year for a breakdown of the fall color progression.

“Our local webcam library is another great way to track the fall color progress” said Kjersti Vick, Marketing & Public Relations Director. “These cameras are placed in several locations around the county providing a true snapshot of what is occurring right now in each community.”

To view webcams, including a live video feed of the Grand Marais harbor, visit https://www.visitcookcounty.com/resources/webcams/.

For coordinating interview with local lodging owners, as well as photos of Cook County, please contact Visit Cook County Director of Marketing & Public Relations Kjersti Vick at kjersti@visitcookcounty.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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Stories: 

Bring Me The News: https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-lifestyle/arrowhead-resorts-see-spike-in-cancellations-despite-no-imminent-wildfire-threat

Gunflint Trail Cross-Country Ski Resorts Invest in New Infrastructure to Enhance the Ski Experience

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Gunflint Trail Cross-Country Ski Resorts Invest in New Infrastructure to Enhance the Ski Experience

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100 – photo by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge

February 11, 2021 – Cook County, Minn.     Visit Cook County invites cross-country ski enthusiasts to experience a transformed, modern ski experience in Minnesota’s arrowhead region. After investing in new grooming infrastructure, the trails in Cook County are expertly groomed and ready to be skied. Spend your days exploring over 400km of beautiful trails throughout the region and embrace Hygge and all things cozy once the sun goes down.

“Whether you’re a new skier or an experienced veteran, you’ll find endless opportunities for adventure in Cook County this winter,” said Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County Executive Director. “Resort owners throughout Cook County have made significant investments to our grooming equipment, so visitors can enjoy the very best skiing in the state. Head north! We’d love to see you.”

Cook County sees an average of 120 inches of annual snowfall in the stunning Superior National Forest. Come February and March, the trails truly transform into an epic winter wonderland. Our large network of trails is meticulously groomed all season long, creating optimal conditions for the perfect ski.

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100

The key to an excellent cross country-ski experience is flawless grooming. In the last few years, significant investments into grooming equipment were made to both the Central Gunflint and Sugarbush Ski Trail Systems, replacing equipment that was from the 1980s. The Central Gunflint Ski Trail System, managed cooperatively by Bearskin Lodge & Golden Eagle Lodge, are known throughout the state for their impeccable grooming. By investing in upgraded equipment, conditions are only getting better.

The Pistenbully is quiet, fast, powerful and eco-friendly, and it streamlined grooming work instantly with a larger and improved tiller. An attachable cutter blade helps break up ice or packed snow with ease all right from the groomer cockpit saving both time and energy. With a firm base, smooth snow and 12’ wide trails, skiing between Golden Eagle and Bearskin is excellent.

“This winter started out strong with good snow early, but then we had a few weeks without significant fresh snowfall and warmer weather. However, because of the new grooming equipment the trails have remained in great condition because we are now able to break up the snow crystals and set them into a strong base,” explained Ruth Wagner, owner of Golden Eagle Lodge. An incredible cross-country ski experience draws hundreds of visitors each winter, and lodge owners have taken time to curate truly magical adventures. Extend your cross-country adventures into the evening and try night skiing with old-fashioned kerosene-style lamps along the 3km Wolf Point trail, or other lit trails near Bearskin Lodge.

Track Your Progress with GPS Mapping

One of the best parts about cross-country skiing is spending hours deep within the wilderness, but it’s nice to know where you’re at on the trail. The Sugarbush, Norpine, Bally Creek and Pincushion trails have georeferenced digital maps available for download and use with apps like Avenza. Once downloaded into a phone or digital device, a wayfinding app can place a dot on the map right where you are, even without a cell or wifi connection. Cell coverage is spotty deep within the Superior National Forest, so these maps are essential to a safe and fun journey.

Head up to Cook County for a cross-country ski getaway! Browse trail conditions in Lutsen and Tofte, Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail for updated grooming reports, insight from fellow skiers and ideas on where to start your next cross-country ski adventure.

View the Cook County Ski Trail Map and plan a trip north today.

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 Visit Cook County, Minnesota

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 VisitCookCounty.com.

Nothing better than a freshly groomed trail - by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail

Nothing better than a freshly groomed trail – by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail

New Fat-tire Biking Opportunities Fill The Winter Void on the North Shore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (from MN State Parks)

New Fat-tire Biking Opportunities Fill The Winter Void on the North Shore

Winter groomed fat tire bike trails

Winter groomed fat tire bike trails on the Norpine Ski Trail system in Lutsen

There is always something to do outdoors in the State Parks along the North Shore. This year’s snowfall has not set records, but that does not stop people from enjoying the great outdoors in the north-country. The fat-tire trail conditions at Split Rock Lighthouse and Cascade River state parks are in great mid-season form – – packed and firm – – and the summer crowds are gone, so now is the perfect time to explore these Minnesota State Parks.

Fat-tire bikes are an off-road bicycle with oversized tires, designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain, such as snow, sand, and mud. The wide tires can be used with low-inflation pressures to allow for a smooth ride over rough obstacles. The sport is growing in popularity and more trails are accommodating this new outdoor winter sport.

At Split Rock Lighthouse State Park north of Duluth, 8.2 miles of fat-tire biking is available on multi-use trails where fat-tire bikers, hikers and snowshoers can all enjoy the same designated, packed trails. The trails are family-friendly and offer a great first-time experience for beginners. The trails meander through the park, follow the shoreline of Lake Superior, and offer amazing views along the way. A valid MN State Park Pass is required and parking can be found in the park at either the Trail Center or the Pebble Beach parking lots.

At Cascade River State Park, a partnership with the Norpine Ski Association has permitted 11 miles of new fat-tire bike trails (also see Facebook Norpine Ski Association) on select cross-country skiing trails. A generous accommodation has been made alongside the ski trails so that fat-bikers can also use the trail.  These trails are some of the most scenic along the Sawtooth Mountains. These multiple-use trails are experimental and may provide an avenue to maintain and grow outdoor winter activities and trail grooming – please be courteous when using the groomed trails. Fat-bike trail users are asked to consider buying a Great Minnesota State Ski Pass to help support trail grooming efforts. The trails can be accessed from several trailheads along Highway 61 and County Road 45 near the town of Lutsen. Call Cascade River State Park to learn more about winter activities at the park.

There is still plenty of winter left to try fat-tire biking. If you don’t own a fat-tire bicycle, several bicycle shops in Duluth, the surrounding area, and along the North Shore rent them. Additionally, hotels and other lodging facilities are catching onto this sport and can often time help bikers find the best trails in the area.  Make a plan to visit the North Shore this winter and find out why so many people return year after year.

More information about these trails is available by calling or emailing Split Rock Lighthouse State Park or Cascade River State Park.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Phone: 218-595-7625

Email:  SplitRockLthouse.StatePark@state.mn.us

 

Cascade River State Park

Phone:  218-387-6001

Email: cascaderiver.statepark@state.mn.us

 

Fat Bikes can be rented at: 

Sawtooth Outfitters, Tofte, MN | (218) 663-7643

Spokengear Cyclery & Outdoor, Two Harbors | (218) 834-2117

Continental Ski & Bike, Duluth | (218) 728-4466

 

Socially Distant and Amazing Cross-Country Ski Trails in Cook County, Minnesota

Socially Distant and Amazing Cross-Country Ski Trails in Cook County, Minnesota

January 1, 2021 – Cook County, Minn. Visit Cook County invites all levels of cross-country skiers to kickstart a
much-anticipated new year by enjoying over 400km of trails throughout Cook County, Minnesota. With an
average of 120 inches of annual snowfall in the stunning Superior National Forest, the opportunities for
adventure are endless.

“Fresh air and exercise are essential to mental and physical wellness, as we’ve all learned this past year,” said
Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County Executive Director. She continued, “A cross-country ski adventure in Cook County
is the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy the season.”

Five Great Reasons to Try Cross-Country Skiing This Year
1. It’s affordable and fun!
2. View wildlife and nature up close
3. Endless adventure opportunities
4. Full body workout
5. Aprés ski
Read our blog post to learn more.

Whether you’re an expert looking to stretch your legs and skills, a family hungry to get outside safely, or a
couple looking for a romantic ski through the trees, the perfect cross-country ski adventure awaits in Cook
County. The best part? With so much open space on the trails and ample lodging, you can remain as isolated as
you need to be to feel safe.

Three Lesser-Traveled/COVID-Friendly Cross-Country Ski Trails in Cook County

  • Norpine System, Lutsen Area – This stunning 58 +km network of trails surrounding Cascade River State
    Park has some of the state’s best views.
  • Central Gunflint Ski Trail System – Located in the heart of the snowbelt of the North Shore, it doesn’t get
    more peaceful than 70 km of trails along the Gunflint Trail and BWCA.
  • Banadad Trail System, Gunflint Trail – Ski to your heart’s content on 43 beautiful kilometers in the
    Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

View the Cook County Ski Trail Map and plan a trip north today.

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Visit Cook County, Minnesota
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.

 

https://www.skinnyski.com/notices/archives/cookcty20210105.pdf

Press Release: Empty Bowls Cook County “Give Together” 2020

Empty Bowls Cook County “Give Together” 2020

Empty Bowls 2020 will once again raise critical funds for our community’s hunger needs this November. In lieu of a soup meal get-together, Empty Bowls 2020 will be an online “give together” to raise the $30,000 necessary for Empty Bowls to continue its work in Cook County. All funds raised support the Cook County Food Shelf and other community organizations working to alleviate hunger in Cook County.  

The current global pandemic may have cancelled Empty Bowls’ in-person fundraiser, but it’s also responsible for an uptick in food insecurity both locally and nationwide, making it more important than ever for Empty Bowls to continue its work in Cook County. Empty Bowls urges everyone to donate at www.emptybowlscookcounty.org to make sure Cook County’s hunger needs are met in the coming year. Alternatively, send checks payable to “Empty Bowls Cook County” to Empty Bowls, P.O. Box 294, Grand Marais, MN 55604. Empty Bowls Cook County is 501c3 non-profit and donations to Empty Bowls Cook County are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

To help with this fall’s fundraising, beautiful handmade bowls from the Grand Marais Art Colony and other local potters will be sold online. The bowl sale will go live at www.emptybowlscookcounty.org in mid-November. A selection of gift certificates and other donated items from local businesses can also be purchased on the website to support Empty Bowls Cook County. 

With a fundraising goal of $30,000, Empty Bowls urges individuals and businesses 

to sponsor Empty Bowls’ 2020 efforts at one of the following levels: Event Sponsor $1000+, Business Sponsor $500 – $999, Table Sponsor $250 – $499. Please send a check payable to Empty Bowls Cook County to P.O. Box 294, Grand Marais, MN 55604 or give online at www.emptybowlscookcounty.org.

Empty Bowls addresses Cook County’s food insecurity through several community hunger programs. Funds from last year’s Empty Bowls event were distributed to Birch Grove Community School, Cook County Food Shelf, Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Cook County Ruby’s Pantry, Cook County Schools, Cook County Youth Agency Coalition, Cooperation Station Daycare, Great Expectations School Lunch Program, Oshki Ogimaag Charter School, and the Violence Prevention Center. 

Empty Bowls in Cook County started in 2006 and works in collaboration with the Grand Marais Art Colony and the generous donations of local businesses. Currently, the Empty Bowls steering committee plans to do a drive-thru soup meal event fundraiser in spring 2021. 

 

Contact: 

Empty Bowls 2020

P.O. Box 294, Grand Marais, MN 55604 

218-370-9581(Ada Igoe, Empty Bowls marketing) 

emptybowlsgm@gmail.com

www.emptybowlscookcounty.org