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Messages from the President

Planning an Eventful Summer - June

By: Anna Tanski, President/CEO | June 6, 2016

My husband, Jason, is an avid aviation enthusiast, so this summer we’re planning a family vacation to attend the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in July. According to the air show website, this mega event draws 500,000 people and 10,000 planes to a city with a population just over 66,000.

Not that Oshkosh isn’t a lovely destination (any city near Green Bay is fabulous in my book) but without the lure of AirVenture I’m certain we wouldn’t be visiting this summer. Special events mean big business for communities, which triggers travel with a purpose and the infusion of spectator dollars that accompanies it.

Duluth is poised for a remarkable lineup of summer events. Grandma’s Marathon’s 40th Anniversary celebration kicks of a calendar loaded with activities which carries over into late fall. A few weeks later Duluth hosts its own Aviation and Air Expo followed by the DECC’s 50th Anniversary weeklong extravaganza featuring concerts by KISS and The Beach Boys.

The Bayfront Blues Festival has been a fixture at Bayfront Festival Park for 28 years and is the granddaddy of events in this outdoor concert venue, drawing thousands of music lovers from across the Midwest. Between these large, well-established events which have been around for decades, dozens of popular events have emerged, keeping Bayfront booked solid.

Christian rock, 80s tribute bands, art festivals, Pride festival, several craft brew events and numerous fundraising walks are sandwiched between national acts such as Trampled by Turtles and The Goo Goo Dolls. Beyond Bayfront the community calendar is jammed with a diverse array of entertainment offerings which appeal to a broad segment of locals and visitors.

Tall Ships remains the largest event in Duluth’s history and returns to our waterfront in August. The World’s Largest Rubber Duck and several first-time vessels offer new experiences to this year’s event. In 2013 tickets were purchased in all 50 states and four provinces.

Without the draw of Grandma’s incredible race experience, would participants visit Duluth if they weren’t here to run? Without popular headline acts or majestic ships would visitors flock to our city?

No question we would have visitors, but would we have as many? Not if they share my Oshkosh attitude and only visit with the sole purpose of attending a specific event, regardless of other wonderful attributes the city offers.

The influx of tourism tax collections reflects the direct impact these signature events have on our community. In addition to reaping economic benefits, locals can take advantage of a wide array of world-class events right in our own backyard. Events build upon Duluth’s solid tourism foundation and enhance the overall appeal of our city. Be sure to get out and enjoy this eventful, or event FULL summer!