PBSB Celebrates Another Successful Year of Partnerships

A crowd, many dressed in red and black plaid, gathered at Breezy Point Resort's Marina II lakeside restaurant to celebrate another year of successful partnerships for the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association. This nonprofit organization is driven by a group of volunteers whose purpose is to promote, protect and preserve this nationally-designated 54-mile driving route in northern Crow Wing County and southern Cass County. Byway supporters, members and guests attended the event and included Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Thiede, Pequot Lakes Mayor Nancy Adams, representatives from both the Pine River Chamber and Brainerd Lakes Chamber, as well as dozens of residents, organizational representatives and business owners.

Though hundreds of businesses and individuals support the efforts of the Byway Association on an annual basis, a special award was presented to Ideal Township residents, Dave and Mary Badger, for their leadership role over the years at the Veterans Walking Trail and, specifically in 2009, for their creative solution to enhancing the Wetlands Walk along the Veteran’s Trail.Calling on the reliable support of the Sons of the American Legion and the Pequot Lakes American Legion, the Badgers devised a system to ward off plant overgrowth within the decking of the boardwalk, thereby minimizing insect issues for trail users.

A-Pine Restaurant owner, Rick Beyer, began the night speaking of his partnership with the Byway Association to promote Paul Bunyan. His businesses are on the Byway's driving route, and watching the success of the Byway Association's marketing efforts motivated him and his wife Leah to maximize their publicity efforts to tie to the legendary lumberjack brand.

Kathy Moore, a marketing consultant working with the Byway Association on a plan to develop long-term financial sustainability, spoke of the organization's aspirations to strengthen neighborhood bonds along the routes, between towns, among businesses and with other organizations. Moore also presented a summary of the first ever geocaching event in the region, Paul & Babe's GeoHunt, and offered it as an example of how working together, small communities can do big things.

Setting the stage for how to communicate the tangible effect of all of these area-wide partnerships, Brigid Tuck, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, working under a grant secured through the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association and nearby Lake Country Scenic Byway, presented the results from year one of this project, showing among other things, that over the past 10 years, the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway has brought in over $600,000 to the area and has created 7 jobs. The next step in year 2's work will result in the development of assessment tools that will be used to gauge the economic and social impact and significance of officiallydesignated scenic byways.

A highlight of the evening was the renewal of the Byway Association's existing partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. The partnership was solidified by the signing of a continuing contract between the Corps and the Byway Association, valid for the next ten years. The Byway Association utilizes an area within the Crosslake Corps' administrative building for a small office and an incredible open-to-the-public exhibit space saluting Paul Bunyan. A commemorative Tshirt, featuring the 'Paul Camps With the Corps' design by Pequot Lakes artist, Braden Palmer, was also unveiled to celebrate this mutually beneficial relationship. The Byway Association has plans to sell the shirts at the Corps campgrounds in the future.

Then, storyteller Mary Schmidt from Pierz, MN, offered a comical -- but historical look -- at clothing from Paul Bunyan's time to present. Mary has done several 'Dressing Paul Bunyan' presentations in the area over the years. She jokingly admonished the group, saying flannel and denim were modernizations of Paul's attire to fit our own comfort needs. His real clothing was wool. Mary received a standing ovation.

To wrap up the always entertaining evening, attendees developed new Paul Bunyan tales, a tradition at the Byway Association's annual dinner called "table tales." Door prizes were also given out, with one 'lucky winner' getting the traveling trophy, disguised as just another door prize. Winners from previous years have a whole year to come up with a few sentences or more to add to the continuing tall tale that accompanies the traveling trophy, a Billy Bass singing fish. Last year's winner was Paul Thiede. The 2009 winner was John Wetrosky.

The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association is a 501(c)3 organization that works in conjunction with federal, state and local (county, city & township) governmental agencies and councils, as well as with other local non-profit organizations to strengthen the quality of life and visitor experience along the Byway’s route by promoting and enhancing the area’s resources and amenities that support economic vitality.

To make a tax-deductible charitable contribution to the Byway Association or to learn more, click here. (Photos courtesy Janice DuBois, Northland Press)

News Category: 
Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Published By: 
the Brainerd Dispatch