Photos submitted by Kim Dayton
A Boreal Exclusive - July 27, 2020
COVID-19 has affected so much of our daily lives. Here in Northeast Minnesota next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Gunflint Trail Fire Department found itself in a bit of a predicament when it was looking ahead at their 2020 fundraising events. This group protects the 57 mile long trail year round and needed monetary donations in order to continue their services. Because of the global pandemic, the Department was looking at major financial shortfalls.
Two of the main GTFD fundraisers that were the big money makers, the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races and Mid-Trail Annual Quilt Raffle and Auction, could no longer take place. The August concert at Community Center Fire Hall #1, which also was a popular fundraiser, now had to become a virtual concert. The annual quilt and kayak raffle winners were usually announced at this August concert event. The Friends of the Gunflint Trail Fire Department put on their creative caps and started researching other ways to support the GTFD.
According to trail resident Kim Dayton, her friend, general contractor Michael Valentini, and his crew were at her house at the end of April working on a project. Michael and his crew are also part of the Fire Department. They started talking about a calendar fundraising proposal. They put Kim on the Friends of the Gunflint Trail Fire Department Committee so she could share her ideas.
As the concept of a calendar began forming, the firefighters were joking and having a great time with it. The day of the photo shoot, there was a bit of shyness in the air until the first firefighter took his shirt off. Soon after, they started laughing and had a day of fun in their new role as calendar models. Keep in mind, the average age of a GTFD firefighter is 65, and the oldest is 87.
A huge team effort turned the idea into a reality. Business sponsorships covered each page of the calendar. The goal was to have the calendar ready for sales by July 10th, the opening day of Chik Wauk Museum. They actually had it ready a few days early, because according to Kim, “The concept spread like wildfire, no pun intended”.
Calendars have been placed at different lodges along the trail, including Trail Center. Online orders on Etsy can be placed as well. They had a goal to sell the 500 calendars by the end of the summer. Not surprisingly, sales skyrocketed and they sold the initial batch in just under three weeks. A second order of 500 calendars will go on sale this week. The Friends hope also to be able to sell them at local businesses in Grand Marais in the future.
All of the firefighters on the Gunflint Trail Fire Department are volunteers who dedicate countless hours of their own time, keeping both residents and visitors safe. Fundraising dollars go directly towards upgrading and buying new equipment. To learn more about the Gunflint Trail Fire Department and to make a donation to help support them, please visit their GoFundMe page:
To order a calendar online, follow this link: