Terry Mattson: Holiday talk? Never too soonIt’s not too soon to get excited about Bentleyville coming to Bayfront Festival Park for the holidays.
By: Terry Mattson, Budgeteer News
Maybe it’s the weather lately that has me thinking about the holidays.
Or maybe it’s the months of preparation it takes to deliver a world-class event. Either way, I just want to offer a little food for thought: It’s not too soon to get excited about Bentleyville coming to Bayfront Festival Park for the holidays.
For years, Nathan Bentley has hosted one of our region’s most fun holiday traditions at his home in north Cloquet.
Bentleyville has become, for many, as synonymous with the joy of the holidays as good old Santa Claus himself.
Beginning this year, Bentleyville will open its lighted gates to thousands more visitors at Bayfront Festival Park. I’m not suggesting that it isn’t already wildly successful, but its new venue on Duluth’s harbor will undoubtedly expose it to a whole new audience.
For those of us who experienced Bentleyville at Nathan’s home, we remember it as a magical winter playground for kids of all ages — now, imagine that experience enhanced tenfold.
This year we’ll stroll through tunnels lit with thousands of lights extending hundreds of feet. We’ll warm ourselves next to 15 fire pits and roast marshmallows. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will greet us along with all eight, costumed reindeer. Lit panoramas of the Aerial Lift Bridge and Enger Tower will captivate us. And all of this will be set to our favorite holiday music.
Some have questioned whether the Bayfront Bentleyville will have as much charm as the quaint, wooded venue at Bentley’s home. There are two big reasons I believe it will be even better.
It will be three times the size as before — and it was already pretty festive.
There’s no doubt Bentleyville will fill Bayfront Festival Park and be the proverbial shining star of our downtown.
Perhaps even more important, though, is how Bentleyville brings people together at the holidays to experience childhood joy all over again. When young and old gather around twinkling lights, holiday music and hot chocolate, that’s when real magic happens.
At Visit Duluth, we believe the holiday magic of Bentleyville will be a boon to many of our members. Experience shows that when Duluth brings in a dynamic new event or attraction, the benefits stretch throughout our community. As families come from near and far, they’ll no doubt dine out more and take time to look through Duluth’s eclectic stores. Some of them will also plan an overnight stay in our hotels or bed-and-breakfast inns.
We are already beginning to promote Bentleyville throughout the region in such publications as Lake Superior Magazine, and even more promotion is being planned to launch closer to December.
As a new attraction to Duluth, Bentleyville helps to round out an already-
terrific roster of winter events and attractions. The AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross kicks off the season Thanksgiving weekend, typically coinciding with the opening of Spirit Mountain. Bentleyville fits in very nicely in December along with the Historic Bed and Breakfast Inns of Duluth Annual Holiday Open House. January brings Duluth’s Winterfest and our newest sports event, the Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic. February, of course, showcases the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. And Spirit Mountain closes out winter’s activities in March and April.
While everyone at Visit Duluth is focused on finishing a strong summer season, it’s clearly not too soon to be looking forward to winter. It may seem odd, during summer’s dog days to be thinking of holiday lights, music and hot chocolate, but that’s what it takes to create a world-class event. Rest assured that Bentleyville on the shores of the world’s greatest lake is going to be world-class.
For more information about any of Duluth’s great winter experiences, please call 722-4011 or go to www.visitduluth.com.
Terry Mattson can be reached by telephone at (218) 722-4011 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.