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Fall color trip will take off on Sept. 26

LAST YEAR'S TOUR included a stop at Kujawa Log Furniture in Park Rapids to see how they build furniture out of wood.

It’s doubtful they’ll be singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall,” but they always sing the praises of the 88-miles of Lake Country Scenic Byway they see.

For 11 years people have been climbing aboard the coach bus that winds them around the Fall Color Tour, hosted by the Tourism Bureau.

The Lake Country Scenic Byway is a designated stretch of beautiful sites enhanced in the fall by colorful foliage.

The one-day event takes place Thursday September 26 with an 8:45 pickup at the Kent Freeman Sports Arena in Detroit Lakes. Travelers can also get picked up in Frazee and Perham.

Part of the idea behind the Fall Color Tour is to give participants a chance to learn about local businesses in a way they might not get any other way.

“The businesses open it up to us for sort of a behind the scenes look at what they have and how they do things,” said Cleone Stewart, Detroit Lakes tourism director.

The first stop this year will be The Lodge on Lake Detroit.

“Depending on the weather, we’ll probably be taking a look at their rain gardens and beach area as well as sampling of their rooms, their lobby and spa area,” said Stewart, who says locals may have seen The Lodge through other events, but aren’t likely to see the ins-and-outs of the luxury hotel.

The next stop along the way is the DL Wetlands Management District, where officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and DNR will be on hand to show off their unique firefighting equipment.

“It’s designed to cover terrain that fire trucks can’t,” said Stewart, “like the Marsh Master that can go right across water and has onboard water tanks for when there are fires burning in the wild land, and you can’t walk there and the trucks can’t make it.”

Onward down Highway 34 east, where just before Osage the bus turns south to the Wolf Lake area where fire ravaged a big chunk of land early this spring.

A step-on guide will take travelers to the forest area where experts are busy trying to save trees that were not only damaged in the fire, but are now suffering the aftermath.

“There are bugs that get in there, and people say they can literally hear them munching on the weak trees,” said Stewart, “So we’ll hear about what their plans are there and what do they do.”

From there it’s lunch at the Blueberry Pines Golf Club.

“And that’s included in the price,” said Stewart, who says the next stop after lunch “the Finnish-designed museum that is situated by the famed St. Urho statue in Menahga.”

The West Central Telephone Association in Menaga is next.

“I think this will be really interesting because they offer solar and wind energy to their customers, so we’ll have solar-brewed coffee there along with Menahga Bakery’s famous cardamom bread,” said Stewart.

Participants can expect to roll back into Detroit Lakes around 5:15 p.m.

If there are enough people signed up from around the region, there will be a second bus that will do the exact tour but reversed with the expedition starting in Menaga.

The cost of the one-day trip is $60 per person, and tickets can be purchased at several locations including the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce (218-847-9202) or the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce (218-732-4111).

The deadline to purchase those tickets is Friday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m.