BAXTER -- The Paul Bunyan Amusement Center in Baxter will close its gates at 5 p.m. Monday after 53 years of entertaining generations of children.
But after a summer of debate and countless speculation, it appears the future ownership of the park's two statues remains in question.
Plans call for a Kohl's department store to open at the park location by next fall, said Don McFarland, amusement center owner.
In June, McFarland decided to give both Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox to the Rhythm of the Rails, a non-profit Brainerd theater group. The group planned to locate the statues at This Old Farm, an agricultural attraction east of Brainerd.
This Old Farm owners agreed to buy all of the park's rides, buildings and attractions and will operate them at its 180-acre site.
While McFarland said Thursday that the sale of the land to Kohl's was still a go, he said there was a question about where the statues are now going to go.
Friday, a member of the Rademacher family who owns This Old Farm said McFarland agreed Thursday to sell Paul Bunyan and Babe to This Old Farm, rather than give them to Rhythm of the Rails.
Jody Crowe, founder and producer of Rhythm of the Rails, said Thursday that there was a possibility that Rhythm of the Rails would not get the statues.
No contract has yet been signed.
McFarland said the amusement park will begin to be dismantled Tuesday, the day after the park closes at 5 p.m. This Old Farm will move all the buildings and attractions from the site.
McFarland said the Paul Bunyan Motel will close Saturday and for three to four days the furniture, TVs and other items will be cleared out and given to current employees. Then the motel will be torn down.
McFarland said that even though the sale of the land with Kohl's is officially Oct. 1, the company is anxious to begin construction before winter arrives.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.