Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Event organizers in Cook County, Minn. are reinventing what event participation looks like during the time of Covid-19

May 14, 2020 08:49AM ● By Editor

Grand Marais, Minn. (May 13, 2020) - For over 90 years, the Fisherman’s Picnic in Grand Marais, Minn. held annually the first weekend in August has been canceled this year. The only other time Fisherman’s Picnic was canceled in its long history was during WWII. A marquee event weekend, visitors from around the country choose to plan their trip to the North Shore and Gunflint Trail around this annual event to celebrate the heritage and spirit of the community. 

Like many communities, major events are struggling to find a way to continue amidst the COVID-19 crisis. “Events are an essential part of our brand,” says Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County. “While we’re primarily known for our outdoor recreational activities, our local event organizers really put on some spectacular events throughout the year that will really be missed this summer.”

However, in the spirit of small town ingenuity, event organizers in Cook County, Minn. have been working hard to reimagine events amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

Lutsen 99er Launches Lone Wolf Challenge

Organizers of the Lutsen 99er, a world-class mountain bike competition featuring distances of 25, 49, 69 and 99 miles, is launching a virtual event aptly named the Lutsen 99er Lone Wolf Challenge in place of the cancelled traditional event. “We started the 99er in 2011 because we wanted to showcase the quality of the terrain that exists in this area,” says Peter Spencer, Race Director for the Lutsen 99er. Over the past 10 years, the Lutsen 99er participation has grown from about 100 riders to over 1,800 riders and their families.

“The Lutsen 99er participants are like family and while this year’s event will be missing the physical comradery of the event weekend, biking is by nature an individual sport so why not still come up and test your mettle at your own pace?” asks Spencer. GPS directions will be sent out to all registered Lutsen99er participants for any of the course distances to ride between June 5th - July 12 of this year. Those who complete the challenge will be awarded a limited edition commemorative gift from Wolf Tooth Components. Learn more:

North House Folk School’s Wooden Boat Show & Solstice Celebration

At North House Folk School in Grand Marais, event organizers are preparing to launch a virtual edition of their famed Wooden Boat Show and Solstice Celebration through a week of live craft demonstrations, evening webinars and hands-on(line) courses. North House will be bringing the event weekend to life through video boat tours and behind-the-scenes wooden boat projects from around the country.

Embrace the Slow TV movement. Hjordis, the beloved schooner of the North Shore has over-wintered in Knife River, Minn. Join her and her socially distant crew for (part-of) the 14-hour journey home. It’s the nautical equivalent to the televised yule-log...only without even the suggestion of warmth.

The event kicks off at noon CST on Monday, June 15 on Facebook Live, and will continue all week with the full slate of speakers, demonstrations and more available. All content will be available on demand Saturday, June 20 at

Boundary Waters Expo on the Gunflint Trail

Boundary waters canoe area enthusiasts have come to look forward to this gathering of canoe experts every year since 2015. This year, event organizer Quinn McCloughan of Bearskin Lodge & Outfitters is preparing to host the presentations via live stream on their YouTube channel. Combined, these wilderness experts have several decades of experience and stories to share. More information will be posted as available at

About Visit Cook County

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades -- most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at



Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here