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Detroit Lakes plans for state 150th bash

Detroit Lakes Mayor Larry Buboltz presided over a planning meeting Tuesday for events to celebrate the Minnesota Sesquicentennial.

Detroit Lakes was chosen as "Capital for a Day" on May 14 and will host the sesquicentennial commission.

The May visit will give the city and area the opportunity to celebrate and showcase its many highlights and attractions, as well as its historical roots and unique environmental make-up for the commission. Buboltz said the month of July also will be set aside for highlighting Minnesota's 150th birthday in the area.

"It's a great honor, and I again thank Cleone Stewart and Mary Beth Gilsdorf, and Dave Hochhalter for nominating us, and obviously all the people who voted for us" Buboltz said. "We beat out some pretty big cities, some popular cities and so forth, so we're very, very proud of that."

Buboltz said most of the celebration activities will need to be generated by the area and he reviewed the program description information. The state will provide banners and "Capital for a Day" road signs, he said.

The use of the honorary capital title can be used in the community for the year; the title can be attached to community events and festivals or the official logo can be used to create special letterheads or signs.

For the "Capital for a Day" celebration in Detroit Lakes, there should be an official recognition ceremony with the Sesquicentennial Commission members and local dignitaries. There should also be a tour of the town and sites of interest in the area, and a civic roundtable discussion for community members to discuss and provide input and feedback on the Sesquicentennial Plan for the Future.

Roxann Daggett, the ambassador for Becker and Ottertail Counties for the sesquicentennial celebration, said she had looked at what some other areas are doing for their celebrations, such as a wagon train traveling to St. Paul.

Buboltz said a tentative plan has already been discussed for the May 14 celebration. A rough outline included a larger tour of the area, including Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge; lunches, a more specific tour of Detroit Lakes in the afternoon, with moving towards the lake with the sailboat dedication, host the community meeting in the pavilion, and then something including the schools, and end with a community picnic.

"It not only has to be that day, because in July I think we can do a lot of things. I mean I think the water carnival, the fourth of July, the 10,000 Lakes Festival, are opportunities to do some other types of things that would be interesting," he said.

Dave Hochhalter of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce said the focus is also on the whole area, not just Detroit Lakes. Jo Johnson asked if it would be possible to incorporate American Indian culture into the program for the day. Joe LaGarde of the White Earth Reservation said the Detroit Lakes School District has a drum and dance team that could possibly perform on May 14. It was also suggested that native dishes could be incorporated at the community picnic.

Sharon Josephson of the Becker County Historical Society suggested having historical displays throughout the area, including information from the White Earth Tribe. Chamber Tourism director Cleone Stewart suggested a presentation on the Lakes County Scenic Byway and the sesquicentennial celebration at Itasca State Park at the beginning of June.

Denise Oakes of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency suggested area displays from the agency, area DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to highlight the unique ecological makeup of the region. The MPCA is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2008. Dave Larson of FACE Inc. and WE Fest suggested bringing in a band following the community picnic, and offered to host a media lunch on May 14.

Other suggested ideas included an essay contest and coloring contest, including the "Capital for a Day" celebration with the Festival of Birds, which starts the next day, oxen or horse carts at the fairgrounds, and additional activities for children, such as crafts.

"This is all of our birthday celebration. It's Detroit Lakes and our neighbors," Buboltz said.

Amy Stearns was designated as a facilitator for events to celebrate the sesquicentennial. Jo Johnson said she would work on the community picnic committee and talk to local service clubs for help and support.

Mary Brenk of Detroit Lakes Newspapers will help with the publicity committee. Sharon Josephson will head the historical committee with help from Joe LaGarde. Cris Valdez, provost at Minnesota Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes, will talk to area schools about possible programs or activities.

The wildlife committee will include Denise Oakes of the MPCA and Todd Luke from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dave Larson of FACE Inc. and WE Fest will head the music committee and sponsor the media lunch. Teri Lynne Nelson said the sailboat committee is already in place, and Daggett said she would look into the possibility of a flyover during the May 14 celebration.

"If every town feels like they're part of this, in this area, I think it is just going to be make it a fabulous event," said Daggett.

Buboltz said the city still needs to find out what it can budget for the event and will help with getting money together to fund activities.

Buboltz said the Tuesday meeting was not inclusive. More people and ideas will be needed to help pull everything together for both May 14 and the month of July. He urged committee members to talk to people about ideas for the sesquicentennial celebrations and bring both to the next meeting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 19 at City Hall.