Ah, Labor Day, that welcome long weekend to fire up the backyard barbecue and marvel that it must have been Memorial Day just a few weeks ago.
While this summer may have seemed short, a long luxurious and colorful autumn would be nice.
"While it started slow it gained steam," Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber executive director, said of the summer season after a cool, wet weather beginning. "Most of businesses I've spoken with are happy where they ended up, either maintaining or growing a little bit. We are very pleased with that considering the challenges in the economy."
A strong, extended fall with great leaf color would be a nice end to the warm weather season that was packed with successful events from BIR to festivals and activities nearly every summer day, Paxton said.
Warrior Babe is one of nine Oxtrot statues to be auctioned, with online bids included, Sept. 6 at Paul Bunyan Land on Highway 18 east of Brainerd. The auction will be at 2 p.m. Paul Bunyan Land will open the amusement park for this community day event with park rides operating from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch is provided along with events and activities for children. Admission is $4 per person or $16 per family. Children age 3 and younger are free.
In addition, Paxton said the Oxtrot promotion - the public art exhibit that was behind placing colorful oxen throughout lakes area communities - has been a tremendous benefit and boost. The Oxtrot created a buzz about the Brainerd lakes area and exposure from the Twin Cities media, Paxton said.
Feedback from people who traveled around the area to see each ox came online and in person. Individuals who traveled to see each Oxtrot exhibit were eligible for a prize drawing.
"That really turned into a cult following this summer," Paxton said.
Prize winners will be announced at the Oxtrot auction on Sept. 6 at Paul Bunyan Land at This Old Farm on Highway 18, seven miles east of Brainerd. The Oxtrot auction will be an event in itself.
The day-long celebration begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. There is an admission cost of $4 per person or $16 per family. Children age 3 and younger are free. Paul Bunyan Land will open the park for this community day event with park rides operating from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be children-oriented art projects and games (like pin the tail on the ox) from 10-11:30 a.m. Lunch is provided at noon courtesy of The Crossing Arts Alliance and Reinhart Foods and Coca Cola.
The event includes photo opportunities with the talking Paul and the newly remodeled Babe the Blue Ox. A short program along with prize drawings and door prizes is planned at 1:30 p.m. The Oxtrot auction, with nine of the original 24 oxen up for bid, is at 2 p.m. Those wanting their own Babe may bid online or attend the event in person. Josh Porter, Avalon Studios and event coordinator, said the auction will pre-bids and live online auction. Dave Schubert is the auctioneer.
Porter said once an ox is purchased, buyers can do whatever they like to change its appearance should they want to do that. Oxen up for auction this summer are: Van Go-Gough does the Oxtrot, Crosslake Community School; Oxygen, downtown Brained businesses; Jaycee the Ox, Brainerd Jaycees; Babe's Bank is Best, Brainerd Savings & Loan; Warrior Babe, Sather Concrete Products; Doc Ox, Lakewood Health System; Ox in Sox, Russell & Herder; Oxograph, Avalon Studios/The Crossing Arts Alliance; Jackson PollOx, Brainerd Insty Prints.
The auction proceeds benefit The Crossing Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization, that plans to use the money raised to offer and implement art classes for K-12th grade students in lakes area schools.
The Oxtrot began this spring as 23 clever and colorful designs for Babe the not-so-blue ox statue, went on display beginning with the fishing opener. Displays were to continue at least through Labor Day with statues not kept by sponsors put up for auction. A 24th ox was created for the Welcome Center and put up for public naming with Isaac Johnson and Joseph Lambrecht submitting the name Oxograph based on the autographs the ox received while at Arts in the Park in Brainerd in July. Their name was chosen from about 120 entries in the naming contest.
The public art showcase provided by the Oxtrot had several goals - to create an outlet for area artists, connect artists with the business community, to provide a summer attraction and as afundraiser.
The Oxtrot project is sponsored by the Crossing Arts Alliance in partnership with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and Avalon Studios.
Dr. Kevin Dens reported he has moved into his new office in Baxter after practicing dentistry for 22 years in downtown Brainerd. The new Cosmetic and Family Dentistry office opened on Fairview Road west of Hawthorn Suites.
Dens reported "the new office was needed to expand to serve more families and offer more cosmetic services including veneers, whitening, and implants, as well as to incorporate the new technologies that were added such as digital panelipse and bitewing X-rays and fully computerized charting."
Dens reported digital X-rays expose patients to 70 percent less radiation than normal cardboard film X-rays, create a healthier environment as chemicals aren't used and can be enhanced and enlarged for easy viewing by patients, as well as e-mailed to specialists for consultation.
Dens is president of the Crow Wing County Dental Society.
The Westgate Mall is hosting a National Literacy Month and Project Imagination with an Imagination Workshop for children, teens and adults.
The mall reports the workshop offers a free interactive draw-along experience with characters, music and stories with the tagline of empowering kids through creativity as children "express opinions and showcase their imaginations via storytelling and original artwork."
A recognition ceremony is planned in October. Viking Coke and Riddles Jewelry are sponsoring Project Imagination.
The workshop is planned from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 6 at the mall.
Of the many milestones this year, revisiting an anniversary in the resort industry seems appropriate for the Labor Day weekend. Train Bell Resort spent this season celebrating 100 years in business. Owners Mike and Connie Bruesch researched a detailed history of the resort, tracing its start as a vacation spot to the late 1800s and the Merrifield area's legacy of logging, railroad and travelers. After one visit to the resort, Mike and Connie Bruesch moved themselves and their five children to become resort owners, leaving their corporate jobs behind to spend more time with their children. One of the things Mike and Connie Bruesch didn't expect was the personal friendships they would build with guests. Some guest families have been coming to the resort for 67 years.
"We're trying to create tradition here for people," Mike Bruesch said. "It's been a good thing. I can't imagine ever going back to the corporate world. Well when we walk outside you get to see our office. It's not four walls and a door."
Beyond the welcome influx of dollars from seasonal folk, for some summer's hectic traffic and the volume of incoming visitors may combine to make the calm of fall a welcome shift. For others, the summer season is a reminder they live in an area others are willing to drive for hours just to spend a few days enjoying. Many won't get here full time until they retire. So even if it takes a little longer at the stop light, the commute home is pretty reasonable and you're still here when you park your car in the driveway.
Leaving the metro area when some of their children were quite young, Connie Bruesch said they find living in the lakes area so routine they may not fully appreciate the difference in their everyday lives.
"They don't realize that they get to do everyday what kids get to do one week out of the year," Connie Bruesch said. "When they get off work they're swimming or they're boating or tubing. It's just something - I don't know if they totally understand how fortunate they are."
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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