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Go-Putt-N-Bump celebrates 25 years

Nobody ever says that just because you build your dreams with your own two hands, it will flourish.

Nobody predicts with certainty that if you put your blood, sweat and tears into your work, it will literally pay off.

And nobody can promise that making the world a better, more fun place to be will make you more money.

But for Curt Shaw, it sure has been a fun ride.

The man behind Go-Putt-N-Bump and his son, Tim, are celebrating 25 years in business for Detroit Lakes' only amusement park.

For a quarter of a century, the park has generated smiles and memories for countless children and their families.

Fun was never in short order at Go-Putt-N-Bump; money was the issue from the very beginning.

"In 1987, they wanted a million dollars to put a three-item park together," said Shaw, who had worked as a salesman for 30 years, "and I knew I didn't have no million dollars."

So Shaw, being what he calls a "jack of all trades, master of none," scoped out 10 different amusement parks nationally, gathering just enough inspiration to build the park himself.

"I should have been an architect because I could visualize just what I wanted it to be," said Shaw, who admits he was definitely the risk taker of the family.

"My wife thought I was nuts," he laughed.

Shaw's wife, Renee, might have questioned Curt's sanity, but she did it while helping him plan, build and market the park.

Curt dreamed up the design of the three-item park in his head, while Renee came up with the name.

"It sure turned out to be a catchy name, too," he said.

It took them roughly nine months to construct the park, as they dug the pool for the bumper boats, engineered the go-cart track and designed the mini golf course.

Shaw and his wife were featured in a May edition of the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 1987, as the local couple stood proudly in front of a half-finished park.

Shaw says he invested his whole life into the park, selling his collection of 54 cars to help fund his new venture.

"The city and county commissioners didn't think we'd make it here."

They were wrong.

Go-Putt-N-Bump has made it, and has since added five new boats, kids go-carts, video games, batting cages, and some more Shaws.

"I came in 1990," said Curt and Renee's son, Tim, who took an early retirement from AT&T to join the family business.

"My kids have both worked here, and my wife has helped out as well."

And as kids and adults laughed through the boat bumps, the Shaw family made it through their own bumps in the road.

A handful of competitors have came and gone since the Shaws built the park, and with them went other entertainment businesses in town.

"It's sad ... Detroit Mountain, the water slide, the Island Girl boat, parasailing ... all these things are gone -- it's a shrinking market," said Shaw.

What was once a bustling business in the 80s, the amusement park industry slowly fell off.

"People were having less children; they were busier, kids started getting more interested in video games," said Curt Shaw, "I suppose it was a bunch of things."

The Shaws say since its opening in '87, business has dropped by about half.

Go-Putt-N-Bump took its biggest hit though, nine years ago when Renee died.

"Ya, that's been tough," said Curt Shaw, his voice dropping a bit.

Tim stepped up, though, taking over many of the duties his mother once did.

Now, the father and son team co-own the facility, with Tim managing the daily operations.

They both say, even though the business hasn't been as lucrative as they'd hoped, the fun times and the employees they've had over the years have been tremendous highlights.

"It keeps you young, right, Dad?" Tim teased his father.

"Well, yeah, it does!" Curt smiled, as he laughed about asking new hires how much they're willing to pay them to work there.

"It's just a fun place to be," said Shaw.

And in a world of trends, the Shaws are proud that family traditions have kept their business afloat.

"We're a mainstay," said Curt Shaw, "I like that families make us part of their yearly traditions, whether they're vacationers or locals -- there are people that came here when they were six who are now bringing their kids."

And although the Shaws say they have no plans to not be around in the future, Curt says in the end, the park he built with his own two hands is ultimately still just "stuff."

"This place is always for sale; I don't own a thing that I couldn't sell for more money."

Ideally, though, the Shaws say they'd rather see business pick up again, like it was when they first started.

"We're not getting rich, so we're not doing it for the money," said Tim Shaw, "but we get to help people have fun, and you can't beat that."

Go-Putt-N-Bump is open seven days a week during the summer, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To find out more, call 218-847-7083, log on to or find them on facebook.