Top Three Vibrant Communities | July 25 – 29
July 29, 2016 by Blandin Foundation
1.) Ely: Vibrancy on the Iron Range a half-century ago was as plentiful as dandelions in June. Mining was booming and small businesses were popping up in the form of Ma’ and Pa’ shops and single screen movie theaters. Today, as many rural communities in Minnesota are realizing Strong Towns assessment on the ills of “big box” economy, the town of Ely is continuing their shining example of what could be. In 2017, Ely will reopen its 80 year-old, marquee-adorned State Theater. The historical building will undergo a serious face-lift through a renovation partnership with the State of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Interior Guidelines. The State Theater will rejoin the community of other locally-owned, beloved, small businesses like Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium, Ely Steakhouse and Piragis.
2.) Winona: It’s already been 10 years since the Minnesota Marine Art Museum opened its doors—and have they been busy! For a decade the museum has been snapping up world-class, water-themed art to bring to Minnesota. To celebrate their anniversary, the museum offered $1 admissions, discounted memberships and tours. Housed in the museum are works by art icons Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, and Georgia O’Keefe.
“It’s rare for a museum with the caliber of collections to be so young,” said assistant operations manager Dave Casey.
3.) Thief River Falls: It used to be largely about No-Shave November or ZZ Top fandom. But a growing number of Minnesota men are ditching the razor for the beard life and proof can be found at the Thief River Falls Beard and Mustache Competition. To say that the competition successfully gathered a crowd would be an understatement. Whether its around beards, birds, blueberries or bigfoot—its just great getting people together.
“A wildly diverse group of people, joined only by the fact they possess facial hair, found so much in common. The crowd included those who enjoyed the show from a baby carriage up to those who attended so they could see their grandchild compete,” said blogger Grant Nelson of Rural Reflections.
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