A planning meeting for "Discover the Fun on Old Highway 61" was held at the Moose Lake Depot and Fires of 1918 Museum annex on Wednesday, September 18. Representatives of the cities, three counties and businesses along Old U. S. Highway 61 attended and developed a mission and a vision statement for the fledging organization. This was the third meeting of the group.
“This is a long corridor, covering three counties,” said Facilitator Jo Faust, of the Municipal Development Group. “We have been doing strategic planning, and we are here to fine tune that today.”
Faust went on to say that “Discover the Fun on Old Highway 61,” will be launched on Friday, October 4, at the Highway 61 Film Festival at the Pine Technical College in Pine City from 4 to 6 p.m. Cathy Wurzer, TV host, author and producer of “Tales of the Road: Highway 61,” will be the special guest.
The group’s objective is to promote the history, businesses, individual cities and natural resources along Highway 61 to educate and attract tourists and visitors.
The Initiative Foundation awarded the group a $2,000 grant with matching funds to the Onanegozie Resource Conservation and Development Council, which is serving as fiscal agent for a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the Chisago County HRA-EDA, City of Pine City, Pine County, North Branch Chamber of Commerce, Carlton County EDA and the City of Rush City.
Signs marking the route of Old U. S. Highway 61 have been or are being placed along the original route through Carlton, Pine and Chisago counties.
Many of those that attended the meeting in Moose Lake said that they had driven along the original route as much as possible as they came to the meeting. The route has changed over the years, and better signage was needed, it was said.
The official designation of U. S. Highway 61 is now on I-35. The old Highway 61 route had been taken over by the counties through which it passes.
In the previous meetings of the group, a preliminary list and maps identifying over 100 destinations within the three-county area along Old U. S. Highway 61 have been developed. Destinations included historic sites, hospitality, natural resources, entertainment and shopping. A calendar of festivals and events within the cities and townships in the corridor has been developed.
The goals are to draw more tourists and customers to the businesses and communities, attract more businesses, promote the arts, history, recreational opportunities and natural resources along the corridor, expand the regional trail system along the corridor through collaborative efforts and branding the “Old U. S. Highway 61 Corridor” as a destination and developing a cooperative marketing program.
Businesses and organizations were invited to set up a booth along a virtual Highway 61 at the film festival. There will be no charge for booth space or to attend the film festival.
For more information, visit highway61filmfestival.org.