Who’s ready for summer? To plan your trip, you’ll want to know what’s happening where and when on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Here’s a helpful planner:
The completion of 25 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails at Redhead Mountain Bike Park in Chisholm is summer’s most exciting new development. A grand opening June 25-27 is the general public’s chance to explore the trails and learn more about the project, which is far from finished. It’s also a great opportunity to sample dishes from the Minnesota Discovery Center restaurant, The Rustic Pig, and check out a traveling exhibit, We Are Water, in the facility’s Overlook Gallery. MDC is sure to be a hub of activity, with many weddings scheduled, performances in the amphitheater, additional trolley runs planned, a new bike shop onsite, and increased traffic from the thousands of mountain bike enthusiasts who will be visiting this year.
Other events and activities to look forward to this spring and summer:
First Thursdays QC Art Walk, featuring artists and musicians at local businesses on the first Thursday of each month all year round in Virginia, Eveleth, Mountain Iron and Gilbert. Find First Thursdays on Facebook for details or pick up your artist/business lists at the Lyric Center for the Arts in Virginia at 4:00 or later on the first Thursday.
Have you ever been to the Olcott Park Botanical Garden and Greenhouse? A charming throwback to the heyday of Iron Range city parks, this site will host its annual houseplant sale fundraiser on May 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Be sure to visit the Olcott Park Fountain and look for the wood carvings scattered around the park when you’re there!
Also on May 21, Hull Rust Mine View opens for the season. If you haven’t been there (or even if you have), this is a free, must-see for all Rangers, their visitors, and tourists! There will be construction onsite as a permanent building is added, but that won’t detract from the amazing views and super-cool mining equipment. They are open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and would love it if you stopped by their gift store in Hibbing – purchases support the work of the Tourist Center Senior Citizens.
The Year of Dylan: a growing partnership between Duluth and the Iron Range celebrates “St Louis County’s native son,” with activities like the Dylan Project monument groundbreaking in Hibbing on May 22, Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday Bash in Duluth May 24, and a concert and Dylan exhibit at Minnesota Discovery Center in August. Find a complete list of events at www.duluthdylanfest.com
Tackle, Tulips and Solar Tours: a new event from the folks who bring you Iron Range EarthFest and the Pasty Festival, the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability is hosting a lead tackle exchange, free tulip bulbs, an interactive table about loons and more. This is free, at the Kline-Cuppoletti Building in Virginia, on May 22.
Lyric Center for the Arts exhibits: Open Water in May features local artists interpreting this magical time of year when we migrate back into the water, and in June, An Artistic Exploration: Ancient Cedar Trails, opens with featured artists Mike Chaffin, Pamela Davis, Jim DeVries, Nancy Ensley, Linda Glisson, Marge Helstrom, Louis Laakso Lundin, Victoria Ranua, Sue Rauschenfels, Wendy Rouse, Joan Schopp Hunn and Nancy Stubenvoll. The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Field Trips in the Sax-Zim Bog: rich in wildlife and plant life, the Sax-Zim Bog is a special ecosystem, right in our own back yard. Join naturalist-guided field trips or tune into regular Zoom discussion about all things bog. Or, stop by and check out the short, looped boardwalk trails. Find a complete list of events at www.sax-zim.org
May 28 marks opening day for the Minnesota Museum of Mining. Again, if you have not been here, or it’s been awhile, go check it out! Admission ranges from FREE to kids under six, to $8 for adults. There’s mining equipment and locomotive engine to climb on, indoor exhibits to see, and a replica underground mine. A new exhibit “Ore to Steel” will be on display. The Museum of Mining is open daily through mid-September, Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m.
From wherever you are on the Range, it’s a beautiful drive to Embarrass and the Nelimark Homestead Museum and Gift Shop. Opening for the season June 3, this site shares the history of Embarrass with a little coffee ‘an waiting for you, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On June 5, the Shifters Car Club annual car show returns to Bennett Park 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with food, flea markets and of course, those gorgeous cars. No admission for spectators.
Our Farmers Markets return to Virginia Market Square on June 10 (2:30-6 p.m. every Thursday) and in Hibbing, across from McDonald’s June 15, Tuesdays 2-5 and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ReVive Virginia is bringing back the ever-popular Food Truck Festival on Chestnut Street in Virginia June 19, September 18 and November 20. For the June 19 event, there also will be a family-friendly seek-and-find type game hosted by Homeward Bound, a grassroots welcoming initiative.
Of course there will be Fourth of July events, but that’s for another column! Other community celebrations that are “on” for the summer: Hibbing Jubilee parade and activities July 10, Hoyt Lakes Water Carnival, July 22-25, and Chisholm’s Doc Moonlight Graham Days August 4-8, same timeframe as the St Louis County Fair, and the Embarrass Region Fair August 27-29, to name a few.
In July, Northern Lights Music Festival will bring ensemble performances and a full-length opera, Cinderella, to venues around the region. You can purchase tickets (some events are free) through their website www.northernlightsmusic.org
The 11th Annual Iron Man Car Show is July 10 at Minnesota Discovery Center, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with music and concessions, and Family Discovery Day is happening at MDC on July 22, 4-7:30 p.m. featuring Fossils! Fossils! Fossils! and July 29, the amphitheater there will host a free concert by the Northshore Philharmonic Orchestra.
The annual Mesabi Trail Tour will look a little different this year, with three separate out-and-back events taking place of one, one-way ride, starting July 31 from Minnesota Discovery Center. Other tour dates are August 28, departing from Itasca County Fairgrounds, and September 18, with an Olcott Park-to-Hibbing route. Find information and register at www.mesabitrail.com
On August 19, Family Discovery Day returns to Minnesota Discovery Center with “Rock Hounds Abound,” 4-7:30 p.m.
BrewFest is back in Olcott Park on August 21, 4-8 p.m. with brews, food and music, and Honktoberfest in Biwabik is September 25, with craft beer choices, food, wiener dog races and more.
Miner’s Entertainment and Event Center will open in September in Virginia with fanfare and undoubtedly some surprise events, and the incredibly popular Iron Range Pasty Festival awaits on October 9.
Let’s also not forget about the classes offered by Borealis Art Guild in Hibbing (stained glass to diamond willow) and the Iron Range Makerspace workshops, also in Hibbing. There will be ATV rides, fun run/walks, live music in the park, events hosted by Mesabi Outdoor Adventures, and much more.