PR | ‘Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour’ Ablaze with Unique handcrafted artwork and Fall color Sept. 28 – Oct. 7

Art Along the Lake Fall Studio Tour

MEDIA CONTACTS

Lynn Nelson | LIN Public Relations, Inc.                            Linda Jurek | Visit Cook County

612.990.0126                                                                         218.387.2788

lnelson.linpr@gmail.com                                                    linda@visitcookcounty.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

‘Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour’ Ablaze with Unique artwork and Fall color Sept. 28 – Oct. 7 in Cook County

 

Cook County, Minn.May 31, 2018 –  Imagine the visual excitement visitors will experience when viewing artwork by 50-plus local artists, who are inspired by one of Minnesota’s premier destinations on the North Shore.  Cook County is where the Sawtooth Mountains meet the shores of Lake Superior, and it will be ablaze with Fall color during the annual “Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour” Sept. 28 – Oct. 7.

 

On the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to meet with artists in their home studios, as well as visit with guest artists at local galleries during the 10-day art extravaganza.  For many featured artists, these 10 days are the only time they open their studios to the public all year. Access to some of the artists featured on the fall art tour is limited, since they do only a few art shows per year and limited online sales.  “We have had customers fly in from around the country to come to the Studio Tour.” Said Dan and Lee Ross, who are sculpture and print artists.  Last year, there were more than 1,350 fall art tour visitors.

 

Featured Artists and Studios

Dan and Lee Ross, a local husband and wife sculptor team have been participating in art tours in Cook County and around the country for more than two decades.  The Crossing Borders Studio Tour was a popular fall art event in Cook County for 20 years.  The Ross’ were some of the original artists to found this event 20 years ago.  Last year Crossing Borders became “Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour”.  The Ross’ are well-known in the art world for their work, which ranges from small hand-held clay pieces to large scale commissions carved out of granite. In 2011, they did a major installation of five large granite animals for a healing garden at the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  You can view their work at: http://www.danross-leeross.com/.

 

One of the newest galleries to open on the North shore is the Frykman Art Studio in Grand Marais.  It is owned by glass, metal and architectural landscape artists Steve and Sharon Frykman.  The artistically-talented couple specializes in larger commissioned works for businesses and private homes, but they create smaller pieces of art as well.

 

Frykman Gallery visitors will be able to enjoy one-of-a-kind pieces from a community of nine to 10 artists, including Sharon Frykman’s mentor painter Hazel Belvo, who has taught at the Grand Marais Art Colony for more than 20 years.

 

You can view the Frykmans’ work here: https://frykmanart.com/art-of-the-elements-gallery/.

 

For the complete list of artists and galleries participating in the “Art Along the Lake: Fall Studio Tour”, click here.

 

Visit Cook County supports many art events throughout the year, including the Grand Marias Arts Festival, Plein Air Grand Marais, Unplugged, and the Spring Art Along the Lake Gallery Tour.  A 2015 regional study shows that “The Arts Economy in Cook County is the third largest in the state per capita, behind only Minneapolis and St. Paul, contributing almost $900 for each of the county’s more than 5,000 residents.”

 

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

 

Linda Jurek | Visit Cook County PH# 218.387.2788 Email: linda@visitcookcounty.com

Plan ahead to get to and from Cook County, Minn.

Road construction in Two Harbors mid-May to October

Plan ahead to get to and from Cook County, Minn.

 

What |              Beginning mid-May through October, three stretches of Minnesota State Highway 61 in Two Harbors, Minn. will be under construction at various times. If you’re planning on taking a road trip to Grand Marais or any other Cook County, Minn. towns, here are some suggestions from Linda Jurek, executive director for Visit Cook County, to make your drive less troublesome and your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.

 

Make an extended weekend out of it.  Visitors who plan to take an extra day or two and travel during non-peak times, typically on weekdays, can experience shorter delays while on the road.

 

Time is on your side.  Visitors can utilize the extra time during their longer stay to enjoy activities around Cook County with fewer crowds.  Check out our calendar of events to get ideas for your extended stays. https://www.visitcookcounty.com/events/

 

For additional road condition information, visit:

Minnesota Department of Transportation

www.dot.state.mn.us/roadwork/current.html

 

Where |            On Highway 61 in Two Harbors from Eighth Street to the Silver Creek Cliff tunnel (4.1 miles)

 

When |             Mid May – October

Rural Work: Two Harbors to Silver Creek Tunnel, including Campground

Road

  • A single land of traffic in each direction will be maintained for the duration of the project on Highway 61.  Anticipate flagging operations or temporary signals at work locations.

 

Late July – Early September

In the town of Two Harbors: Fourth Street (County Road 2)

  • Intersection – side streets and entrances will be closed for short durations.
  • A single lane of traffic will be maintained on Highway 61 and the north leg of Fourth Street at all times.

 

September – October

In Two Harbors: Eighth Street to Fifth Street

  • Side streets and entrances will be closed for short durations.  A single lane of traffic will be maintained on highway 61 at all times.

 

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

 

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Linda Jurek | Visit Cook County PH# 218.387.2788 Email: linda@visitcookcounty.com

Talking Tourism: Talking Tourism, Eh? | by Anna Klobuchar

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: May 2018

Talking Tourism: Talking Tourism, Eh? | by Anna Klobuchar

The world’s second largest country is a hop, skip, and a jump away, and contains our good neighbours to the north. (Don’t hit your spellcheck! We have temporarily adopted the Canadian spelling of ‘neighbour’ for the next couple of weeks). Canada’s southern border with the US is the world’s largest bi-national land border, and our Canadian visitors regularly travel to Cook County and Minnesota. In the community, they let us know how they enjoy all we have to offer, whether for the just the day or for extended vacation. We love our good neighbours to the north, and they love to visit us!

Yes, Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy, and still a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being head of state. And until just recently, with Elizabeth now on the throne for almost 65 years, the second longest reigning monarch was Queen Victoria, who held the crown for 63 years.   Hence, Victoria Day, and the 3 day weekend the Canadians celebrate on the weekend before the U.S. Memorial Day. Queen Victoria’s birthday actually fell on May 24, 1819, and has been celebrated in Canada on the third Monday in May since 1845! It is also their unofficial kick off to the summer season, and their weekend is packed with activities to celebrate the return of the warm sun and longer days.

For this year’s Victoria Day Weekend, May 19 – 21, 2018, the Canadian maple leaf flags will be a-flying throughout Grand Marais. The Grand Marais Downtown Business Coalition, in conjunction with Visit Cook County, created the “Welcome Neighbour” campaign, and is encouraging businesses to festoon their buildings with maple leaf flags, posters, and banners, all to ensure our northern visitors feel welcome.

Many area lodging properties are offering room rates on par with the Canadian dollar. From vintage Triumph auto club members who are driving their classic models around Lake Superior and hail from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Ottawa, to newlyweds from Thunder Bay who wish to hike the Pincushion trails for the afternoon, our Canadian patrons report that they feel embraced by the people and businesses in this area. They describe how they enjoy our picturesque harbor, or, should I say, harbour, and tell us about their visits to the Grand Portage casino, our area restaurants, shops, galleries, and hiking trails. As we are close, Cook County is popular with the year round day trippers, and even in the winters, they come to Lutsen Mountains to ski for the day. Those who stay overnight come for casino gaming, our area theater, concerts or to take classes at the Art Colony or North House Folk School. Lastly, on their extended trips to Duluth or the Mall of America, we are a friendly,  popular respite location.

We are about to start our high tourism season, and the economic impact from all our visitors is a major source of income and of vital importance to our area. Victoria Day Weekend is the soft launch into the about-to-become busy season, make sure you say hello to our polite neighbours from the Great White North.

Bon Jour and Good Day Canada!

Talking Tourism, Eh? Welcome Neighbours

Talking Tourism, Eh? Welcome Neighbours

PR: Memorial Day weekend in Grand Marais features a sound garden in Harbor Park, an art gallery tour, bike event and more

Harbor Park Sound Garden

Cook County, Minn. is kicking off Memorial Day weekend with Art Along the Lake: Spring Gallery Tour, a bike event and more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cook County, Minn. – May 8, 2018 – Art Along the Lake: Spring Gallery Tour highlights a collaboration of the different art galleries throughout Cook County. Six galleries will host different events Thursday, May 24 -Sunday, May 27.  An extra exciting element this year will be transforming Harbor Park into a sound garden with the help of Minneapolis-based award-winning composer/director James Everest.  Other events include artist Q&A’s, stone drilling demonstrations, live music, silk and wool dyeing, as well as interactive activities at the Grand Marais Arts Colony.

The Harbor Park Sound Garden is a family-friendly, free, outdoor event open to all ages and will take place from 12 – 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 27.  The Sound Garden event will celebrate the coming of spring, and the history, geography, and ecology of Harbor Park and Lake Superior.

According to Everest, the Sound Garden will feature a temporary sound installation, combining live musicians and a small choir with 35 small, battery-powered remote speakers distributed throughout the park, each playing a different part of the larger piece of music – a spatial concert you can walk through!  In addition to the sound installation, the event will feature visual art elements by local artists, live poetry, history, and storytelling and interactive opportunities.

Another event taking place on Memorial Day weekend is Le Grand Du Nord gravel cycling classic. The Le Grand Du Nord bicycling event represents one of the most amazing gravel courses in the United States. This year Heck of the North productions will introduce a new 120-mile route, which was built on the 100-mile course from previous years. There will also be the addition of a stunning 66-mile course, as well as a great introductory 20-mile course.  Beginning in downtown Grand Marais, all three events follow the shores of Lake Superior before climbing to their final destinations.

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

 

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Katie Krantz Katie@visitcookcounty.com 218-387-2788

PR | Rare Opportunity: Golf and Ski in Lutsen, Minn. on the same day in May

May 5 & 6, 2018 | SKI @lutsenmountains, GOLF at @superiornational AND explore WATERFALLS! The 1st annual Kite Festival will also be occurring over the Grand Marais harbor with kids kite making and big kite flying. It's going to be one fun spring weekend up north!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Rare Opportunity: Golf and Ski in Lutsen, Minn. on the same day in May

 Lutsen, Minn. – April 27, 2018 – While spring is starting to take hold of the northland, winter is hanging on for one last weekend at Lutsen Mountains. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to not only ski at Lutsen Mountains in May but also enjoy a round of golf at Superior National Golf Course.

Superior National Golf is excited to announce that the Mountain 9-hole course will be open for play beginning Friday, May 4th. A round of golf will be $35/person with a $10 discount on play after 5pm. The newly renovated River 9-hole course is planned to open by May 9 or 10 depending on weather followed by the Canyon 9-hole course closer to June.

Lutsen Mountains Ski Hill will be offering skiing on Eagle Mountain on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 2018. A single day lift ticket is offered at $39 for an adult and $29 for a child with two-day lift and lodging packages starting at $93/person. Only one other time in its 69 history has Lutsen Mountains been open for skiing into May.

“We plan our snowmaking to store reserves so we can remain open through April, anticipating some warm days in late March and early April,” states Jim Vick, Marketing Director at Lutsen Mountains.  “With the prolonged winter, we didn’t need to touch those reserves until last week, leaving plenty of snow to ski into May.  It is a rare opportunity to blend our seasons where you can ski, fish trout and golf on the same weekend.”

About Superior National Golf Course: Superior National Golf Course opened in 1992. It quickly became known as one of the premier destination golf courses in Minnesota. The Lake Superior adjacent 27-hole championship course with nearly 6,900 yards of sloping fairways and grand elevation changes earned it the title of “#1 Public Golf Course in Minnesota” by Golf Digest magazine. For additional information, visit superiornational.com.

Main contact: Heath Ekstrom, Business Manager | email: snlproshop@gmail.com | ph# (218) 633-7195

 

About Lutsen Mountains: Lutsen Mountains, located in Lutsen, Minn., is the largest ski resort in Mid-America with four interconnected mountains, 95 runs and 1,000 feet of vertical rise.  Its new gondola transports visitors to the highest peak along the North Shore for unparalleled views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains. For additional information, visit lutsen.com.

Main contact: Jim Vick, Marketing Director | email: jim@lutsen.com | ph# (218)406-1300

 

In addition to skiing and golfing, the waterfalls of the North Shore are reaching peak flow and a first year event, the Grand Marais Kite Festival, will also be occurring over the weekend.

 

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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May 5 & 6, 2018 | SKI @lutsenmountains, GOLF at @superiornational AND explore WATERFALLS! The 1st annual Kite Festival will also be occurring over the Grand Marais harbor with kids kite making and big kite flying. It's going to be one fun spring weekend up north!

May 5 & 6, 2018 | SKI @lutsenmountains, GOLF at @superiornational AND explore WATERFALLS! The 1st annual Kite Festival will also be occurring over the Grand Marais harbor with kids kite making and big kite flying. It’s going to be one fun spring weekend up north!

 

 

 

 

 

Kjersti Vick | Visit Cook County MN 218.387.2788 (office) kjersti@visitcookcounty.com

PR: First annual Kites at the Harbor event: new Grand Marais Kite Festival set for May 5

Grand Marias Kite Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cook County, Minn. – April 25, 2018 – Grand Marais will be hosting Kites at the Harbor: Grand Marais Kite Festival on Saturday May 5, 2018. The festival will feature professional kite flying demonstrations, a group fly as well as kids’ activities.

Avid kite fliers from the Twin Cities, Mitch Kiel along with his friends Richard Masak and Pam Hodges will be in downtown Grand Marais demonstrating kites between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. They will primarily be in the Coast Guard parking lot, 315 S Broadway, Grand Marais, Minn. 55604.  Depending on wind conditions, they may also fly in other locations around downtown Grand Marais.

The kite flying trio: Kiel, Masak, and Hodges are all members of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA) and have been flying kites professionally for many years at kite flying festivals and national conventions across the United States, Canada and overseas in Singapore.

A kids’ kite-making class will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., with a group fly to follow. These events will be held through Fireweed Bike Co-op, which is located near the Coast Guard parking lot. Fireweed will be selling kites and kite-making kits throughout the weekend. There will also be live music all weekend at various locations in Grand Marais.

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

 

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Katie Krantz Katie@visitcookcounty.com 218-387-2788 Photos available

PR: History buffs find charming destinations in Grand Marais and Cook County

Grand Marais Coast Guard Station historical photo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

History buffs find charming destinations in Grand Marais and Cook County

COOK COUNTY, MINN. – April 16, 2018 – The Grand Marais area is rich with history involving Ojibwe people, French fur traders, and Scandinavian settlers. Tourists interested in the area’s top historical destinations can participate in the Cook County Historical Society’s Passport Program, which encourages them to visit up to 20 area historical locations. http://passporttothepast.org.

Chippewa City Church

In the late 1800’s, the village of Chippewa City had over 100 families, and a tiny Catholic church stood as the center of their village.  Visitors are welcome at St. Francis Xavier Church, built in Chippewa City in 1895 by Ojibwe carpenter Frank Wishkop. It is a serene stop just off Highway 61, at milepost 111, which is one mile east of Grand Marais on Highway 61. In the late 1900’s, it was the hub of the community. The church began as a Jesuit mission for the priests who travelled from the dioceses of Fort William/Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) to hold services with the residents of Chippewa City. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. For more info, see: http://cookcountyhistory.org/chippewa_church

Grand Marais’ Lighthouse

By the early 1900’s, settlement and population growth had progressed slowly.  Fishing and logging became the primary industries, and the current lighthouse was constructed in 1922 for the harbor town of Grand Marais.  The original lighthouse – the first on the North Shore – was made of wood and built in 1885.  A sturdy, concrete breakwater was added and provides access to the lighthouse. Today visitors have access to the lit point, where they can take in a breathtaking view of the harbor and the Sawtooth Mountain range.  Large ships used this harbor for many decades, and they were the main mode of transportation for goods, services, and people until 1928 when the highway connected Grand Marais to the rest of the state.

Cook County Historical Society

In addition to the construction of the lighthouse, the federal government also commissioned the construction of the keeper’s residence, which was built in 1896. This charming structure is nestled on Grand Marais’s main road leading out to Artist’s Point, and currently houses the Cook County History Museum.  Prior to the electrification and computer automation, early lighthouse keepers were needed to trim the wicks, replenish fuel, wind clockworks and perform maintenance tasks. The keeper’s residence now features a variety of historic displays, as well as the beautiful Fresnel lens used in the community lighthouse for more than 100 years.  It was recently replaced, and museum visitors can examine the brilliant craftsmanship in this well-made, sturdy glass centurion. For more info, see http://cookcountyhistory.org/museum

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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Katie Krantz (218) 387-2788 katie@visitcookcounty.com Photos available for the story

PR: June 8-10: Three events in one weekend. Grand Marais welcomes walkers, runners, paddlers, and more

Craft Beer: Voyageur Brewing

June 8-10: Three events in one weekend

Grand Marais welcomes walkers, runners, paddlers, and more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cook County, Minn. – April 13, 2018 – June 8-10 in Grand Marais will encourage visitors to shake off winter and warm up to summer; there are options for visitors with a variety of interests.  The weekend’s events include the first annual Voyage North 5k & 10k, Grand Marais Block Party, and the Boundary Waters Expo on the Gunflint Trail.

The first annual Voyage North 5k & 10k will occur on June 9 at 11a.m. Participants will enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Superior, surrounding Sawtooth Mountains and the quaint harbor town of Grand Marais. Walkers and runners can finish with a post-race party at Voyageur Brewing Company.

Occurring at the same time will be the first annual Grand Marais Block Party. The block party will include live music, games, vendor booths and more. It will run all day from 9am-5pm.

The third annual Boundary Waters Expo is a family-friendly, hands-on event that features speakers, exhibitors and activities for everyone. It’s a two-day event June 9-10 that celebrates canoeing, camping and wilderness travel. Presenters include Cliff Jacobson, Rob Kesselring, Bear Paulsen and more. The event is free and open to the public. It is located 26 miles north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail.

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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Katie Krantz Katie@visitcookcounty.com (218) 387-2788 Photos available for the story

Talking Tourism: New Directions – Visit Cook County hosts Board Retreat | by Linda Jurek

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: March 2018

Talking Tourism: New Directions – Visit Cook County hosts Board Retreat | by Linda Jurek

What’s the best way to advance an organization? Retreat.  A board retreat that is.  Many of us have heard of board retreats and in planning for the first ever Visit Cook County retreat, the work done in advance is equally as important as gathering a busy group of board members. Being a younger organization of eight years and having achieved incredible growth and increased tourism traffic were a couple of reasons a board retreat was necessary. Number one for me? I wanted to offer the Visit Cook County (VCC) team and board members the opportunity to step away from their day to day business and provide a chance to exhale and consider the work of our organization. Hosting a retreat in Cook County comes with its own mixed bag of consideration but one of the best is the ability to disconnect with a drive inland – up the Gunflint Trail. And let’s not forget gathering a group of very busy individuals that serve on the boards of our local not for profits in addition to running their own businesses. A retreat should not be burden, and to my delight the vast majority of our board was able to attend.

 

The retreat also served as an opportunity for the team at Visit Cook County to provide thoughtful reflection on their area of expertise including marketing, events, communications, finance and info center operation. The retreat was set up in a sharing circle format with the opportunity to provide verbal and written feedback. Each team member provided a report and was able to receive feedback from the our knowledgeable board leaders. The VCC team reviewed the feedback and provided a brief report prior to kick of the day two work session. Some of the suggested highlights and directives include:

 

  • A review of our mission and vision
  • To focus on sustainable tourism growth with a focus on our slower occupancy months
  • Better identifying the role that Visit Cook County has in supporting local events
  • Improving our metric analytics for our marketing efforts
  • Improved communications with Visit Cook County stakeholders on everything from vacancies to the most popular visitor information requests to promotional opportunities and news alerts
  • Share marketing campaigns and initiatives

 

On behalf of Visit Cook County, a big thanks to the board of directors for providing leadership to continue the growth of tourism in Cook County.

 

2018 Board Retreat Group Photo

Back row (Left to right):
• Roz Randorf, Dale Carnegie (facilitator)
• Anna Klobuchar, Visit Cook County
• Frank Vecchio, Grand Portage Lodge & Casino
• Jennifer Kennedy, East Bay Suites
• Jim Vick – Lutsen Mountains
• Charles Skinner, Lutsen Mountains
• Dave Tersteeg, Grand Marais Rec Park
• Dave Seaton, Hungry Jack Outfitters
• Dennis Rysdahl, Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
• Nancy Burns, Lutsen Resort
• Scott Harrison, Lutsen Resort
• Beth Kennedy, Birchbark Books & Gifts
• Maggie Barnard, Visit Cook County MN 
• Lisa Bodine, Giant Voices (facilitator)
Front row (Left to right):
• Katie Krantz, Visit Cook County
• Emily Haussner, Caribou Highlands Lodge
• Molly O’Neill, Visit Cook County
• Pascha Apter, Giant Voices
• Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County
• Kjersti Vick, Visit Cook County
Visit Cook County Board Members absent from photo:
• Tom McAleer, Cascade Lodge
• Zach Baumann, Golden Eagle Lodge
• Mike Larson, Cascade Vacation Rentals

 

 

 

 

Cook County News Herald by Linda Jurek, executive director at Visit Cook County MN

PR: Coming soon! April and May are peak months for waterfall season on the North Shore

View of the Aurora Borealis from High Falls at Grand Portage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

April and May are peak months

Waterfalls in Cook County can roar from April through October

Grand Marais, Minn.January 30, 2018 – The North Shore of Minnesota’s unique geography provides perfect conditions for a vigorous waterfall season. As the ice on the inland lakes break up and the snow begins to melt, a deluge of water rushes toward the lowest point, Lake Superior, and through the ancient Sawtooth Mountain range.

The months of April and May are peak for waterfall season, but the rivers can begin breaking up as early as late March and continue at peak flow until June. Sometimes, as winter storms approach there can be a consolidated river rush in late October or early November.

Estimating peak waterfall season: Watching the weather forecast is a good way to narrow down the timeframe for waterfall breakup. The days need to be sunny and warm enough to melt the snow and ice up stream, generally 50-degrees Fahrenheit or higher for a few consecutive days.

 

“While they are at their peak in the spring season, waterfalls can be enjoyed all year long,” says Linda Jurek, executive director of Visit Cook County. “In the winter time, the waterfalls freeze and create scenic ice sculptures. In the summer, the rivers are warm enough to take a hike through. Using caution, you can find hidden falls that can’t be seen by a hiking trail. In the fall, the blue rush of water is the perfect contrast to the fall colors.”

High Falls is the tallest and most majestic waterfall in Minnesota; it is located in Grand Portage State Park and is part of the Pigeon River north of Grand Portage. At 120 feet high, this beauty is unforgettable.

Go to the Waterfalls page of our website for a printable map of the top 15 waterfalls in the county and more touring details:

https://www.visitcookcounty.com/waterfall-watching 

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 #visitcc, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

 

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Kjersti Vick (218) 387-2788 kjersti@visitcookcounty.com Photos and video available for the story

Talking Tourism: Evaluating Success – How We Use Data To Direct Marketing Initiatives | By Kjersti Vick

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: March 2018

Talking Tourism: Evaluating Success – How We Use Data To Direct Marketing Initiatives | By Kjersti Vick

Spring has arrived in Cook County! While our spring is less about beach vacations and more about spring skiing and maple syruping, it is equally as sweet. In the marketing world of Visit Cook County, we are always at least a season ahead preparing our ad buys and content creation. We’re thinking “summer” while the grass is buried under two feet of snow.

As the destination marketing organization for the region, we keep our ears to the ground listening for what trends or new opportunities lay ahead. In the depths of winter we send out a summer marketing survey to our stakeholders requesting feedback and ranking of various campaigns and vertical markets. Vertical markets are the broad topics we select to build a campaign around; often they are broken down into subcategories for content creation and receive budget allocations within seasonal marketing campaigns. With three years of results, we are now able to compare sentiment with measurable data. For example, we’ve seen biking as a vertical, previously in the lower third of the list, climb up to the top five most important verticals to focus on. This year, biking dipped slightly in ranking but that is nothing alarming. What that kind of data suggests is that our recent campaign on biking is working. Stakeholders are seeing our marketing efforts and there has been an influx of bike traffic and now other verticals are vying for the spotlight. Similarly, we have seen verticals that were at the top (ahem, Coolest Small Town) fall to the bottom of the list. Again, that viewpoint was palpable but without supporting data, it is difficult to assess if it is individual bias or truly what the majority wants. Being able to pair context with data is critical for evaluating a successful campaign.

Enough about what we think, what about our visitors? We all have our reasons for living here – but what makes someone visit here? Enter “Social Listening” my favorite buzzword phrase. Observing what people are saying on social media about their favorite attractions and digesting the feeling of posts help provide insights into why people come here again and again. While there are some constants, Lake Superior and the BWCAW, there are some surprises that are uncovered when you listen closely.

Case Study: Waterfall Season

If Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, Cook County is the land of 10M gallons of water. An evaluation of visitor posts has shown substantial emphasis on water as a primary attraction to Cook County. The obvious being Lake Superior and inland lakes, however, upon deeper analysis waterfalls were nearly as prevalent. In 2014, we started a new campaign promoting Waterfall Season during the months of April and May, known locally as “mud season.” Since the campaign launched in the spring of 2014, lodging tax has increased by 31.9% in what are historically known as low occupancy months. Additionally, the waterfall page on our website has become one of the top ten content pages on visitcookcounty.com. In reviewing the survey feedback from our stakeholders, it is clear that waterfall season is a time of year in which there is room for growth. While the additional amenities might not be as bountiful as in the height of the summer, the visitors during that time do not mind. They are here to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy season, and let the stress of life wash away with the ice breakup over the falls.

Of course while we are always looking forward to the next thing, being present and enjoying the current season is also important. For myself, I am celebrating the arrival of spring by skiing 31 consecutive days – starting March 1. Rain, snow or sunshine I get out for at least an hour a day to ski: downhill, backcountry or cross-country skiing (on a good day, all three in one day.) One could say my winter fatigue index is pretty low, so while we’re strategizing our summer campaign – I’m simultaneously savoring winter.

See more “Talking Tourism” articles and more at visitcookcounty.com/talkingtourism

Cook County News Herald by Kjersti Vick, marketing manager at Visit Cook County MN kjersti@visitcookcounty.com

Talking Tourism: How Lodging Tax Supports Events and Attracts Visitors | by Katie Krantz

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: February 2018

Talking Tourism: How Lodging Tax Supports Events and Attracts Visitors | by Katie Krantz

The Visit Cook County team receives this question many times throughout the year. It sounds something like this, “We’ve got a great idea for a new event that we’d like to put on. Can Visit Cook County help us out?” The answer is yes!  As Events Resource Manager for Visit Cook County, my job is to ensure that events in Cook County are well marketed, promoted and supported. But how do we determine which events we help with and to what level?

Let me begin by breaking it down. Of the 4% lodging tax charged to visitors, 1% of that is specifically earmarked toward events. This kind of allocation is unique to Cook County and totals approximately $400,000 annually. That sum is then divided among the tourism associations based on the contribution of lodging tax collected by community: Grand Marais Area Tourism Association (GMATA), Gunflint Trail Association (GTA), and Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association (LTTA). Each of those individual associations meets every winter to determine how to distribute their 1% budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs May 1 – April 30.

The process includes evaluating past events that have received support and reviewing new requests. Event planners that would like to submit funding requests are invited to attend the meetings to present their event. They can also send a letter or document that outlines what the event is, how they plan to spend the dollars, and why the event is relevant to tourism. While Visit Cook County organizes much of this process, the funding decisions are made by the association board members.

These meetings coincide with the budgeting process of Visit Cook County and are thorough and thoughtful. Board members take all of the information into consideration as well as evaluating time of year and how the overall marketing message relates to current marketing campaigns. The Visit Cook County team is always present and provides recommendations based on what is best for long term tourism growth and branding. While some events are solely funded from one area, the majority of events are funded across two or even all three associations.

One program that is unique to a community is the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association grant program. In Grand Marais, there are several organizations that host events that benefit from smaller levels of financial assistance or help with marketing. GMATA has implemented a simple application process for this program which is open until March 13, 2018. GMATA then meets later in March to evaluate the nearly $20,000 in requests.

The 1% is critical to growing our shoulder seasons, attracting new tourists to our area and ensuring that visitors have a memorable time when they are here. Cook County offers live music seven days a week, major festivals on most weekends through the summer and fall, four biking events with a cumulative registration number of 2400, professional art events and more. Because of the marketing, public relations and funding support that Visit Cook County provides through the 1% event tax, events thrive in Cook County.

 

http://www.cookcountynews-herald.com/news/2018-02-17/Columns/How_Lodging_Tax_supports_events_and_attracts_visit.html

Cook County News Herald by Katie Krantz, event resource manager at Visit Cook County MN Katie Krantz katie@visitcookcounty.com

Talking Tourism: Leveraging Lodging Tax Dollars for Success | By Molly O’Neill

Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.

Originally published: January 2018

Talking Tourism: Leveraging Lodging Tax Dollars for Success | By Molly O’Neill

What is Lodging Tax? Who pays it? What is it used for? Who authorized it? Do I need to register my lodging property? There are a number of misconceptions and questions surrounding the collection of lodging tax. So in 1,000 words I will try to explain this complex subject that is vital to the success of tourism in our community. It’s not only visitor bureaus and chambers of commerce who rely on lodging tax for funding. Target Center, Mall of America, The DECC, and even Superior National Golf Course owe their existence in part to lodging tax funding. So how does it all fit together? 

A brief History of Minnesota State Statute 469.190:

While the art of hospitality has long been a part of our heritage, the official collection of lodging tax has a brief history. Prior to 1972, cities and towns were allowed to impose local tax on sales of admissions, lodging, or live entertainment to fund entertainment or tourism projects as approved by individual city ordinances but it was up to the local governments to decide to participate. In 1983 the first law of what is now known as MN State Statute 469.190 was passed authorizing MN cities to collect a 3% tax on lodging room sales. In 1985 that tax as extended to include towns and counties.  In 1987, the townships of Tofte, Lutsen and Schroeder voted to approve lodging tax. The City of Grand Marais followed in 1988, and the county approved the unorganized territory of the Gunflint Trail in 1992. Additions of unorganized territory areas that fall outside township boundaries and increases to the approved percentages followed until 2000, when all areas had adopted the 3% maximum allowed.

Revenues collected through lodging tax must be used only for promoting the city or town as a tourist area. The collection of all lodging tax is monitored and penalties imposed for non-compliance by the authority stated in each entity’s ordinance. In Cook County, this is done by the Auditors office while compliance with other laws such as state health laws is monitored and regulated by the state.

In 2008, to address the need for supporting the production of events that draw visitors and fall outside the scope of marketing, the state of MN wrote an allowance into session law (366.007 Section 17) specifically for Cook County to apply an additional 1% lodging tax, and also allows up to 3% tax to be collected on sales related to recreation. The 1% Event Tax, what we call it for clarity, is used to support and promote local events selected by the tourism associations that make up Visit Cook County as we are now known. This law is up for renewal after 15 years, unlike the permanent 3% lodging tax.

Marketing and Events– How we use tax revenues to bring visitors here and enhance their stay:

Now that you know the history, let’s talk about how Visit Cook County leverages those tax dollars. The 3% lodging tax is used primarily for marketing the entire Cook County area, whereas the 1% event tax is used to produce and market events that may attract visitors or augment their itinerary. Marketing initiatives can be anything from a print ad in a magazine to hosting a booth at a tradeshow to a digital billboard in the Twin Cities. In addition to traditional marketing efforts, Visit Cook County also manages social media accounts and works with a public relations firm in Minneapolis to spread awareness of the area’s communities. The 1% event tax is unique to Cook County and ensures that events are well marketed and supported. Thanks to the 1%, event planners specifically choose to host events in, or even move existing events to Cook County for the support that Visit Cook County provides for event marketing and funding, bringing their attendees and their tourism dollars with them.

Lodging tax dollars are also invested in bolstering the visitor experience. It’s imperative that tourists have a positive and memorable time in Cook County which they then share with friends, family and others through word of mouth and social media. To accomplish this Visit Cook County prioritizes the website visitcookcounty.com, funds and staffs information centers in Grand Marais and Tofte, and creates printed publications including an annual visitor guide, recreational trail and attraction maps and a monthly event newsletter. These tools help visitors plan their trips, find interesting things to do while they’re here and share their memories when they return home.

How is lodging and event tax collected and paid?

Cabins, hotels, resorts, vacation rentals and private campgrounds are all required to collect lodging tax from their overnight guests. Once collected, it must be paid to the Cook County Auditor’s Office monthly, quarterly or annually.  Additionally, some non-lodging recreation businesses voluntarily collect a fee in lieu of tax to provide financial partnership with the lodging tax funds.

More and more there is heightened awareness about vacation rental by owner properties collecting lodging taxes from guests and paying it in to the county. Along with state and local requirements about zoning compliance and health regulations, all rental property owners except those leasing for more than 30 days, are required by law to participate in lodging tax collection. The benefits that vacation rentals by owner, or VRBO’s, bring as additions to our area’s lodging offerings are clear and undeniable. VRBO’s can fill a visitor’s vision of a dream escape. VRBO’s also provide employment opportunities for local cleaners, contractors, and administrative professionals. Homes and cabins that might otherwise be part-time second homes become occupied with more frequency by visitors who then imbibe in our local retail, dining and activity offerings. But this only works if the rental property is compliant with regulations regarding zoning, health and lodging tax.

So what does it mean?

The proof is in the pudding folks. Since the inception of the current structure of Visit Cook County in 2010 lodging tax revenues are up over 40% in every geographical area of the county. In 2016 that sum was over $1.16 million, which represents just a fraction of the total dollars brought into our local tourism economy by visitors. Visit Cook County Executive Director Linda Jurek has put together and reworked the organizational structure of her team to provide uniquely outstanding performance results in leveraging these lodging tax dollars for our area’s success. Check out visitcookcounty.com for links to the resources and to see a little more of what we do and how we do it.

http://www.cookcountynews-herald.com/news/2018-01-27/Columns/Leveraging_Lodging_Tax_dollars_for_success.html

Cook County News Herald by Molly O'Neill, administrative manager at Visit Cook County MN Molly O'Neill molly@visitcookcounty.com