For decades the Woodtick Inn offered a neighborhood bar that attracted not only the locals but tourists, seasonal residents and the simply amazed.
The last group may have been mainly attracted by the annual wood tick races. Yes, using a real wood tick. The inn provides them for $1 but people are welcome to bring their own.
About three years ago, it all stopped. The fabled Woodtick Inn closed. Until this month. New owners Jane and Brad Holmvig negotiated a purchase from the bank.
The Holmvigs aren’t new to business but this is the first time they’ve been bar owners. The Woodtick Inn is physically in Cuyuna but has a Deerwood address, which is also the city listed as the location on the Woodtick's Facebook page. The Holmvigs own the North Country Cafe in Crosby and Holmvig Excavating.
At first they hoped someone else would step in and reopen the Woodtick, Jane Holmvig said. When that didn’t happen, they decided to give it a try themselves. The Woodtick was a place they enjoyed going to as hometown residents. They would meet friends at the bar and enjoy a night out. And they had a connection to it. Brad Holmvig’s great-grandfather, Charles Peterson, owned the Woodtick years ages ago in the early 1900s. Brad Holmvig grew up in a house just behind the Woodtick Inn.
So on Jan. 1 they reopened the Woodtick Inn, which was once known as the Cuyuna Bar, Jane Holmvig said. They employ two full-time and have part-time help as well. Before reopening, they completed a number of renovations — new flooring, gutted and remodeled bathrooms, new bar, new cabinetry, tables, bar stools, appliances and walk-in cooler. The Woodtick Inn seats about 100 and offers pizza, cheese bread and free peanuts and popcorn.
“The response we’ve had from people is huge,” Jane Holmvig said. “People are just really happy it’s open again.”
The Holmvigs are contemplating putting in a kitchen to increase the offerings to a small menu with burgers and fries and appetizers. They are planning an outdoor patio and perhaps live entertainment.
The bar is open seven days a week. The next event is an ice fishing contest from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 25. Participants may bring portable fish houses. There is a $5 entrance fee.
And if it ever thaws out, or when it does, the wood tick races are back in business. The annual event, the Woodtick Inn’s biggest draw, is the second Saturday in June. Wood ticks are collected prior to the event. Jane Holmvig said while people are welcome to bring their own bloodsuckers, they typically plunk down the $1. The wood tick jockeys then monitor their progress after wood ticks are placed in the center of the table and the winner is the first one to the outside circle. There are normally several heats and then several races going on at once. How do they keep track to know whose wood tick is the winner? They limit wood ticks to just a couple per table so the “jockeys” are able to keep an eye on their own entries. We’re not exactly talking greyhounds here.