Paul Bunyan's future home remains uncertain, but today owner Don McFarland said essentially two locations near Brainerd are finalists.
"If someone is interested in taking the whole park that's what I am going to go with," McFarland said today.
Earlier, when he was talking just about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, McFarland said he was talking about giving them away for free but now he said he preferred they go with the park.
McFarland said he was trying to protect jobs of his more than 100 employees.
He said the two finalists are Brainerd International Raceway and This Old Farm, both near Brainerd.
McFarland said his attorney has seen a commitment from Kohl's, the department store interested in purchasing the amusement center site for development, but he has not yet seen it. McFarland said nothing is final until he gets a definite commitment.
A decision is expected June 20. At that time McFarland said he should have an appraisal on Paul Bunyan and Babe.
The Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce had offered to add Paul Bunyan and Babe to the welcome center that will be built on Highway 371 near the Crow Wing State Park entrance and have the animated guy available to people year-round.
Lisa Paxton, chamber chief executive officer, was unavailable for comment this morning. Chamber officials previously reported they needed an answer from McFarland by early June in order to alter building plans.
Paxton said contributions, both monetary and in-kind materials, would be sought for the chamber's estimated $750,000 contribution to the project, which now would include an enclosure for Paul Bunyan and a gift shop. The revised plan adds about 3,000 square feet to the welcome center.
Paul Bunyan Amusement Center owner McFarland had offered to donate the statues to a nonprofit group when the park closes this fall.
Bob Brekken, chairman of the chamber's board, said today chamber officials talked to McFarland last week and learned of conversations with both BIR and This Old Farm. McFarland said if he could keep the park together he would prefer to do that, Brekken said.
"If he can't do that then we were his first choice," Brekken said, adding chamber officials expected to hear a decision one way or the other sometime this week. Site preparation has begun on the welcome center.
The welcome center is a cooperative venture that involves the State Patrol, the DNR and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
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