More than 300 people ventured into Blackduck June 25 to enjoy beautiful weather and the first annual Lady Slipper Festival.
An inpromptu kickoff to the festival got things rolling June 24 with tacos at The Pond, served by the staff at Northwoods Lumber followed by a wine tasting, which, according to Pond Manager Shawn Waldo, was a complete success.
The bulk of the festivities began the next morning at 10 a.m. at the Wayside Rest.
"The Lady Slipper Scenic Byway festival planning committee was very pleased with the turnout and the participation in the festival," said coordinator Shirley Gilmore.
"People participated in the art, flower and history walks, the weather was great, the music was great and the Lady Slippers were blooming! The kids thoroughly enjoyed the new playground. The city crew worked very hard to have it finished by the day of the festival," she said.
There were three bus tours during the day. Gilmore said that more than 60 people took the bus tour which included stops at Benjamin Beach to listen to the loons, a walk around the main circle of the Camp Rabideau CCC camp and a stop to view the blooming Lady Slippers on the Lookout Tower Road. There was music, art, history and food all around Blackduck. The Blackduck Garden Club and TG Sales and Landscaping were responsible for flower plantings around town.
There was also an art walk with various businesses hosting a local artist.
The Blackduck History and Art Center displayed Jeff Asfoor's watercolors, Gilmore's photography, Jim and Judy Gorman's stained glass art, Marie Juelson's Brazilian embroidery and Carol Schlief's mosaic. Artist Cindy Burger was at Barbwire Clothing Co. with her jewelry. Insurance Services North displayed a private collection owned by Larry Zea and also displayed wood carvings by Robin Stomberg. The North Woods Tapestry Weavers group were giving spinning demonstrations at Moon Drug. Quilts by Jill Mistic, fiber art by Jane Carlstrom and Dawn Stander's micromacrame and knotting were on display at Anderson Fabrics.
Blackduck Dental Clinic hosted Joe Rossi's photography and Maureen O'Brien's art was on display next door at Northlander Gift Shop.
The Blackduck Senior Center hosted Dixie Smith with her leaf and leather paintings and Deb Krueger's photography as well as serving coffee, cookies, sundaes and floats. Festival-goers were also treated to the mural on the side of the Blackduck Law Enforcement Center, which was painted by artist Mary Therese Peterson and various community members for the Blackduck Centennial celebration in 2001.
Blackduck Floral and Gift hosted Kory Greiner's ceramics and Blackduck Family Foods displayed photography by Ursula Anderson.
There were nature walks at Pine Tree Park as well as a historical walking tour of Camp Rabideau. A historical presentation by Andrea Levasseur rounded out the tour. Back in town, there were children's activities in the hospitality tent at the Wayside Rest where the kids could color their own Lady Slippers and other orchids or have their faces painted by the Blackduck Girl Scouts. I
f it was music you wanted, it was music you got if you stopped by the gazebo. Jon and Sandy Romer kicked off the music with Native American flute and drum music followed by Ruth Woodward, Timberline, Pelican Railroad and Kitchi Boogie.
If anyone was hungry, there was plenty of food to go around. The Blackduck Lions Club offered pulled pork sandwiches and chips and the Blackduck Firemen had chicken sandwiches and brats for main dishes.
When it came to dessert, the Lady Slipper cookies made by Sandy Kalvig and sold by the drama and speech club were a huge hit.
Plans are already in the works for next year's celebration, according to Gilmore.
"We hope to have a similar format next year with refinements from what we learned this year," she said. "Funding remains to be seen, which will be needed until it can become self-sufficient. We had a formal evaluation/partnership with University of Minnesota Tourism which should give us some valuable insights," she said.