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WINTERFEST: Bonspiel trophy is one-of-a-kind

submitted photo The one-of-a-kind curling trophy.

BEMIDJI — Generally, teams participating in curling bonspiels win cash and take home souvenir patches or shirts. But the winners of  the Winterfest on Lake Bemidji Bonspiel will be immortalized on a trophy like no other in the world.

In November, Terry Matson of the Bemidji Junior Curling Club, which organized the Winterfest Bonspiel, came up with the idea of offering competitors a one-of-a-kind trophy. He pitched the idea to Dale Goodyear describing the trophy as a statue of Paul Bunyan holding up a sheet of ice with a curling rock on it.

“I said I would take a look into it and see what I could come up with,” Goodyear said in a press release.

Goodyear checked out commercial trophy companies, but found nothing that fit the image Matson described. He conferred with Puposky sculptor Al Belleveau, who suggested connecting with Kathy Winger, known for her chainsaw statues of bears. Winger agreed that she could convert the bear design into a likeness of Paul Bunyan, which she carved out of a chunk of a pine tree that had blown down in Debs during the July 2012 windstorm.

With the basic Paul Bunyan statue complete, other folks brought their expertise to the project. Gardell Emery, a local lathe artist, turned out the wooden curling rink, and cabinet maker Gary Bergsven built the trophy’s wooden base. Goodyear ordered a piece of Plexiglass from Glass Doctor then cut it and polished the edges with sandpaper and steel wool according to Bemidji art teacher Gregg Wilimek’s design. Josh Gerard painted the statue, and Brittany Thompson of Ken K Thompson Jewelry engraved the plaques for the winners’ names. Goodyear and his wife, Lois, assembled the parts.

The 46-inch-tall statue of Paul Bunyan holding up a sheet of ice with a  curling rock on it was unveiled Jan. 14 at the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Matson said the Winterfest Bonspiel will consist of four events so the winners of each event will have their names inscribed on the plaques.

“Twenty-five years from now, they can bring their grandkids and say, ‘See, there’s my name on there,’” Matson said.

The trophy will be on display during Winterfest this weekend, at the Bemidji Curling Club during the season and at the Bemidji Visitors Center during the summer.