VIRGINIA – The second annual Bridge Daze, taking place Saturday, Sept. 15 in Virginia, celebrates the unique placement and construction of the Hwy 53 bridge, as well as the region’s mining history. The headline event is the Headlamp Hustle, an evening fun run/walk from the east end of Chestnut Street along the Mesabi Trail, across the bridge and back. But not everything is about the bridge.
The Bridge Daze committee, functioning as part of ReVive Virginia, has partnered with the 218 Taphouse, Lyric Center for the Arts, and Smith’s Infusion to bring some of the fun downtown, and to extend the event throughout the day.
The Lyric Center for the Arts’ annual Volkswalk fundraiser is happening in the afternoon, and will provide registered participants with a self-guided walking or cycling tour of public art in the area. Following the 2:30 p.m. event, the 218 Taphouse is hosting bands in a family-friendly street show.
“The 218 Taphouse is honored to be a part of the Bridge Daze celebration this year,” said Carly Gobats, owner/manager of the Taphouse. “This event is huge for the area, and welcoming residents to take part in all the family-friendly activities is helping to revitalize our historic downtown.”
Gobats has high praise for events that help highlight downtown businesses. “We have been fortunate to participate in the art walks, were we have showcased local artists and musicians. These events have sparked a new interest into the downtown area, and have been so beneficial to the businesses, artists and the town. The street shows that have been outside of The 218 Taphouse have given people the opportunity to see local, live and original music in a community setting. These family friendly events have also showcased Fire Dancers, Minnesota breweries with their local distributor, and The Downtown Dancers.”
For the Taphouse’s 20th Street Show on Bridge Daze, from 3:30 – 7:30 p.m. Gobats and her crew host the extremely popular local bands Psycho Jane and The Christopher David Hanson Band playing on the outside stage. “Both of these bands have built quite the reputation for themselves and we are excited to have the both playing for the first time together,” Gobats said.
With a free craft activity for kids at Smith’s Infusion on Chestnut from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., plus an older kid/adult string art bridge keepsake project available for $21.48, owner Jenni Smith is helping bring new ideas to the event and new excitement to Virginia’s main street. Folks can also stop by Smith’s Infusion with item from home—tote bag, t-shirt, towel— and do a free screen print of the bridge. Smith is also hosting a coloring contest for children age 12 and younger with prizes for different age groups.
“The bridge is a reminder of who we are and what we do here,” she said. “It’s also a reminder that we need bridges to keep our communities together and strong. I hope people in our area support this event because if they do they’re supporting businesses, families, and community.”
Friday, Sept 14—The Bridge Daze kick-off event with United Taconite:
• 3 – 7 p.m. Learn about United Taconite’s plans at an open house at the Virginia Senior Center, 511 Chestnut Street; cake and coffee will be served. This is an opportunity for people to learn about Cleveland Cliffs’ United Taconite mine and their mining plans for the former Highway 53 corridor. United Taconite personnel will be on hand to discuss mine activities and answer questions from the public.
For more information, contact Virginia City Administrator Britt See-Benes at 218-748-7500.
Saturday, Sept 15—Bridge Daze schedule of events:
• All day: Downtown business specials and coupon page;
• 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Smith’s Infusion special activities. Free project for kids, bridge screen-printing, bridge string art project ($21.48) and more (417 Chestnut Street);
• 12 p.m.: Bridge View Park ribbon cutting (.8 miles from trailhead at the end of Chestnut Street; golf cart ride available);
• 2:30 p.m. Volkswalk (People’s Walk) fundraiser for Lyric Center for the Arts. Register online at BridgeDaze.com—$25 for seniors, $30 adults (kids 12 and under are free) and includes Fandana, drink chip for 218 Taphouse and swag bag from local businesses. Registration fee increases on day of to $30/$35. Register and start an around-thetown walk past public art locations at the east end of Chestnut Street (map provided);
• 3:30 – 7:30 p.m. Street Show outside of 218 Taphouse featuring Psycho Jane and The Christopher David Hanson band. Free event;
• 6:30 p.m. Headlamp Hustle–Fun run/ walk across the bridge and back from the east end of Chestnut Street. Register online $25 for seniors, $30 for adults (kids 12 and under free) and receive headlamp, drink chip to 218 Taphouse and swag from local businesses. Registration fee increases to $30/$35 the day of the event.
Find more information at www.BridgeDaze.com or call 218-749-8161 (Iron Range Tourism Bureau).
About Bridge View Park
Many have asked how they can see the bridge. Can you walk under it? Is there an overlook where you can see it? Now we have an answer: Bridge View Park.
Visitors who want to view the bridge still won’t be able to walk underneath it, but the park offers a great sideview of the bridge from top to bottom. Two benches will be located in the park, along with interpretive signage about the Rouchleau Mine that the bridge crosses, and information about the construction project.
Located along the Mesabi Trail between First Avenue East (the last cross road at the east end of Chestnut Street) and the bridge, the small park was the idea of Mike Stone, ReVive Virginia member and downtown businessperson. Funding came from a Range Realtors Association grant, as well as the City of Virginia and an Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board’s Laurentian Vision Partnership grant. The Mesabi Trail and Iron Range Tourism Bureau are partners in the project.
“We’re very happy to have this project nearly complete in time for Bridge Daze,” said Britt See-Benes, Virginia city administrator. “It’s a nice addition to the trail and another asset for area residents and visitors alike.”
The park area is approximately 140-feet by 90-feet, and around 8/10 mile from the trailhead on First Avenue East. According to the land license agreement, chain link fencing was required on three sides of the park. Benches were provided by the Regional Railroad Authority/Mesabi Trail. Signage was paid for through the IRRRB grant.
“It’s a great project that allows us to educate people about mining and projects like the construction of the bridge,” said Beth Pierce, executive director of the Iron Range Tourism Bureau, which served as fiscal agent for the IRRRB grant. “There’s plenty of interest in the bridge locally and by visitors, and the new park will give people another way to experience it.”
A ribbon-cutting for Bridge View Park is being hosted by the City of Virginia and the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 12 p.m. in conjunction with Bridge Daze. A golf cart will be available to ferry people to the park if they are unable to walk the distance. Coffee and cake will be served after the event at the Senior Center on Chestnut Street in Virginia.
For more information about Bridge Daze events, visit BridgeDaze.com.
What’s a volkswalk?
First and foremost, the Lyric Center for the Arts’ Volkswalk is a fundraising event that supports regional arts programming through the Lyric Center in Virginia.
In a more global sense, volkswalk translates to “people’s walk” and is a community tradition throughout Europe and the U.S. It’s a time for friends and neighbors to come together for a healthy hike and discover their surroundings. The Lyric Volkswalk route set out is about 3.1 miles, but you can meander to see what’s off the path, or walk farther or shorter routes. Ride your bike, run or walk… it’s up to you.
The Lyric Volkswalk began in 2014 as a way to feature the great public art in Virginia while promoting healthy walking. The event was developed as a partnership between the Lyric and the Statewide Health Improvement Program through the St. Louis County Health Department. At the time, the Iron Range Veterans Memorial sculpture created by Gareth Andrews was newly installed and there was the opportunity for area residents to learn more about it and the other public art within the city.
“The Lyric Volkswalk is a great fit with the other Bridge Daze activities,” says Mary McReynolds, executive director of the Lyric Center for the Arts. “It’s a great time for residents and visitors to discover interesting parts of Virginia in a community-building activity. I am excited that the Lyric has recently completed a project in partnership with the Iron Range Tourism Bureau mapping the accessible public art in the city and produced a map that will be revealed at this year’s volkswalk and then available at several locations around town.”
Public art featured on the map includes the Sawyer sculpture, the Virginia murals, the Bess Metsa Gardens mosaic rose, the Angel of Hope statue and more.