Year of the Legend
Paul Bunyan’s 75th Birthday
The city of Bemidji is located in a vast woodland and lake region. As early as the 1890s
the town saw a modest tourist trade. When rail connections came to Bemidji, in 1898,
promoters began the development of lakeshore sites for cottages, hotels and resorts. Most
of these resorts catered to hunters and anglers. In the 1920s the rise in automobile popu-
larity contributed to a significant boom in Bemidji's tourist industry, but it, along with the
rest of the economy, suffered during the Great Depression. Enter Paul Bunyan and Babe
the Blue Ox.
As a means of stimulating tourism in Bemidji a number of local, civic organizations
sponsored a winter carnival meant to hype the city's resources for winter sports. Due to
Bemidji's once prominent status as a logging and lumbering center the celebrations fo-
cused on Paul Bunyan, the larger-than life lumberjack who is an American folk hero. On
January 14, 1937 the carnival opened with Earl L. Grinols, Sr. the carnival king. The on-
set of the carnival brought the unveiling of two giant statues, one of Bunyan and the
other of his giant blue ox, Babe; the pair would serve as carnival mascots. Babe was
brought into town on a Grinols Implement & Fuel Co. truck arranged so that its exhaust
exited through Babe's nostrils.
In March 2006 the Rotary Club of Bemidji raised $53,000 and along with a $68,000 fed-
eral grant set about to repair some damage to the statues. In addition the money was to be
used in maintenance with the majority slated for stabilizing the ground beneath the stat-
ues, to lessen shifting in freezing temperatures. The work also focused on a 1-inch-wide
(25 mm) crack in Babe from the neck to the hindquarters which continued to widen de-
spite yearly fixes by the city with caulk and blue paint.
This year the City of Bemidji is celebrating 75 years of the Lumberjack and his trusty
friend! Visit Bemidji today and experience the Year of the Legend!
Check out these events:
Every 3rd Saturday of the Month
Cookie Decorating at the Cabin Coffeehouse & Café
Bemidji Downtown Days
June 9, Downtown Bemidji
Jaycee’s Water Carnival
Birthday Party for Paul Bunyan!
June 29-July 4 , Waterfront-Lake Bemidji
Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival
August 2-4 Waterfront-Lake Bemidj
Don’t forget to wear your Red & Black for
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue
Ox through the Years...