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on location: midwest ❖

randy mink

t’s hard to believe that Mall of America is 20 years old this

I

SPAM at 75. The Southern Minnesota town of Austin,

year. To many of us, the mega-mall seems just as fresh as

home of the Hormel Foods meat-packing plant, will be in a

when it opened in 1992. Twenty years is a real milestone.

festive frame of mind this year as it celebrates 75 years of the

A look at some other tourist favorites in Minnesota also re-

SPAM brand. Much of the hoopla will be across the street

veals milestones worth observing. Here are some of the most

from the factory at the free-admission SPAM Museum, and

noteworthy:

Hormel will stage a community festival in July. In animated TV

MINNESOTA MILESTONES Group-friendly attractions throughout the state mark special anniversaries in 2012

The Pepsi Orange Streak careens through Nickelodeon Universe, the amusement park in Bloomington’s Mall of America, now in its 20th year.

40 April 2012

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commercials you’ll see the brand’s first spokescharacter,

importance of SPAM to his troops during World War II. On a

Sir Can-A-Lot, as he crusades to “rescue the world from

make-believe production line, you can don a white butcher coat

routine meals.”

and race against the clock. A 15-minute video chronicles the

Manufactured in Austin since 1937, SPAM consists of pork

history of SPAM.

shoulder, ham trimmings and spices, all cooked and neatly

The gift shop sells all SPAM varieties, including ones that

packaged in that familiar blue-and-yellow pull-tab can. In 1989

might not be in your local store, plus cookbooks, oven mitts, T-

SPAM discontinued the attached key for twisting off the lid, one

shirts, mouse pads and other SPAM logo items. The Wall of

of many facts a museum visitor learns from a self-guided tour

SPAM at the museum entrance, a great photo backdrop, con-

or a “SPAMbassador” guide (often a retired Hormel employee).

tains 3,390 empty cans. (spam.com)

And did you know that Hawaii residents are the most ardent SPAM fans, annually consuming 11 cans per capita?

Minnesota History Center at 20. This great repository of all things Minnesota had its grand opening in 1992, the same

The SPAM Museum is a wonderland of memorabilia, from

year as Mall of America. An impressive building located near

radio jingles and TV commercials to a Monty Python tribute

the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, the museum captures

and a letter from General Dwight Eisenhower recognizing the

the essence of the state in interactive displays and videos. Popular permanent exhibits include Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, a look at those who grew up during the Depression, came of age during World War II and participated in the post-war boom. Visitors view classic film clips in a 1930s-style movie theater, get behind the counter of a soda fountain from the era, watch a re-creation of a WWII combat flight and join a Rosie the Riveter-style assembly line packing ammunition shells. A temporary exhibit on Depression-era art that adorned public buildings showcases 56 paintings produced under the auspices of the federal government’s Public Works of Art Project for unemployed artists. Organized by the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, 1934: A New Deal for Artists runs from June 2 to Sept. 30. Don’t miss the museum’s Weather Permitting exhibit, which covers ice fishing, snow shoveling, skiing and dog sledding; a six-minute show, complete with howling winds, sounds of breaking glass and recollections of victims, recreates living through a tornado. (minnesotahistorycenter.org) Mall of America at 20. After 20 years, the nation’s largest retail and entertainment complex under one roof still reigns supreme as one of the Midwest’s blockbuster attractions. Last year was a record-setter for the Bloomington mall, which reported a sales increase of 10 percent and welcomed 26 new tenants; traffic rose by 3.5 percent. Renovations in the area being vacated by long-time anchor Bloomingdale’s and more new stores are on tap for 2012, not to mention a full slate of 20th anniversary events. The mall’s Nickelodeon Universe, America’s largest indoor amusement park, welcomes two new rides that will up the scream quotient. On Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock, guests are able to control their seat, which can rotate wildly like a plane propeller or a gentle teeter-totter, making no two ride experiences the same. The ride is based on the new animated television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which will premier later this year on Nickelodeon. Other MOA fun options include SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Moose

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April 2012 41


on location: midwest ❖ Mountain Adventure Golf and a 14-screen movie theater. Mall of America, located 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, features 520-plus shops that annually draw more than 42 million visitors, including some four million international guests. The mall’s Phase II plan calls for up an additional 5.6 million square feet, with high-end hotel, retail and medical facilities, including a Radisson Blu hotel opening in 2013. (mallofamerica.com) Walker Art Center at 85. Established in 1927, the Walker Art Center became the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest and began its focus on contemporary art in the 1940s. A major expansion opened in 2005, and today the Walker is one of the nation’s five most-visited modern/contemporary art muSpoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

seums in the U.S. Besides featuring the works of major 20th and 21st century artists, the museum is revered for the vitality of its performing arts, film and education programs. A vital force for bringing new visitors into the Walker has been the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1988. Its centerpiece is Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Brugen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, a whimsical symbol of the Twin Cities. Together the garden and Walker Art Center attract more than 600,000 visitors a year. (walkerart.org) MSP Airport’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh at 50. MinneapolisSt. Paul (MSP) International Airport has come a long way since opening in 1962 with 24 aircraft gates on two concourses, or “piers.” Today it has 117 gates on seven concourses. Airlines carried about 33 million passengers to and from MSP last year, compared to fewer than 2 million in 1962. On average, some 80,000 people a day now fly through Terminal 1-Lindbergh. Of the seven airlines that served MSP when the terminal opened, only United Airlines still exists. The others – Braniff, Eastern, North Central, Northwest, Ozark and Western – succumbed to acquisition, merger or liquidation. MSP became a major hub in 1986 with the merger of the two largest carriers at the airport, Northwest and Republic, creating the world’s fourth largest airline. Although Delta Air Lines didn’t begin serving the Twin Cities until 1984, it became the dominant carrier in 2008 when it acquired Northwest Airlines. Because it was the only active terminal at MSP when it opened for business in 1962, Terminal 1-Lindbergh wasn’t actually named until 1985, when it was rededicated to famous

Source of the Mississippi River, Itasca State Park 42 April 2012

Explore Minnesota Tourism Photos

Minnesota aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Naming the terminal had become necessary with the introduction of a second terminal in 1986, the Hubert H. Humphrey International Charter Terminal. A numeric designator was added to both terminal names in 2010 in an effort to win approval from state and federal highway officials for signs directing drivers to the correct terminal for their airline. (mspairport.com) LeisureGroupTravel.com


Family Fun: ofAmerica America® has the widest variety of enter entertainment Fun: Mallof tainment options under one roof, including the largest indoor Nickelodeon® theme park – Nickelodeon Universe.® World-Class World-Class Shopping: Shopping: 520 stores all in one location with no sales tax on clothing and shoes! For more infor mation, contact Millie Philipp in Mall of America TTourism information, ourism at 952.883.8843, mphilipp@mallofamerica.com or visit www .mallofamerica.com www.mallofamerica.com

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on location: midwest ❖ Paul Bunyan and Babe at 75. On the shores of Lake Bemidji in downtown Bemidji, the Bemidji Tourist Information Center greets guests with the colorful statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, a photo opportunity if there ever was one. Reflecting the state’s northwoods heritage, the iconic cultural figures have awed millions of vacationers since 1937 and were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Made of steel, cement and wood, the giant, painted statues (designed on a three-to-one scale) are touched up each year before the summer tourism season begins. Four blocks west of the mythical lumberjack and his ox is the Bemidji Woolen Mills outlet store, which brims with the warm clothes it’s made for loggers and outdoorsmen since 1920.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, a Bemidji must-see

The fourth-generation family company makes the signature cotton sweater vests worn by Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. (visitbemidji.com/bemidji/paulbabe.html) Discovery of Mississippi River Headwaters, 180th anniversary. For decades European explorers were on the quest to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River, the “Father of Waters.” It was not until 1832 that Anishinabe Indian guide Ozawindib led British explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft to the source of the river at Lake Itasca in Northern Minnesota. The source was disputed until the late 1800s when land surveyor Jacob Brower proved the source and led efforts to preserve the remaining pine forest at the site through creation of Minnesota’s first state park, Itasca State Park, in 1891. Today tourists make pilgrimages to the Mississippi River Headquarters site, where the mighty river begins as a humble stream flowing out of Lake Itasca on its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. A trail leads from the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Visitor Center to the Headwaters Post, a tree trunk sign that signifies the river’s source. Some people wade across; others negotiate the neatly placed stepping stones. (http://dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/narrative.html) Hjemkomst Viking Ship Voyage 30th Reunion. The Hjemkomst, a replica Viking ship, was built by local history teacher Robert Asp and his family to prove the Vikings could have sailed to the center of the North American continent. The 77-foot ship and its story, including a documentary movie about the harrowing 1982 journey from Duluth, Minn. to Bergen, Norway, are on display at Hjemkomst Center, in Moorhead.

Hjemkomst replica Viking ship in Moorhead, Minnesota 44 April 2012

Explore Minnesota Tourism Photos

At a 30th reunion celebration on July 21, the captain and crew will discuss their historic voyage. The museum on that day launches a special exhibit on the event that will run through 2012. A platform allows visitors to look down into the massive oak vessel with 32 sets of oars. Also on the grounds is a full-scale replica of a 12th century Norwegian stave church. (hjemkomstcenter.com) LGT LeisureGroupTravel.com


72(;3/25(,10,11(627$ 9,6,7:::75$9(/75$'((;3/25(0,11(627$&20

FREE Admission

16,500 square feet of SPAM . Whoa. ®

FREE Admission!

Classic

SPAM Museum ®

Monday-Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM Sunday Noon - 5 PM CLOSED: New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day 1101 N. Main St., Austin, MN 55912

800-LUV-SPAM Mall of America shoppers enjoy extra savings as Minnesota does not charge sales tax on clothing.

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spam.com spamgift.com

April 2012 45


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