Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Organizers of Hibbing's Dylan Days put event on hiatus

With Zimmy’s waitress Stephany Weinand holding the letter “H,” manager Mike Thompson adds the “A” to birthday wishes to Bob Dylan outside the Hibbing restaurant in May 2011. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

The organizers behind Hibbing’s Dylan Days have announced the end — for now — of the annual festival celebrating the famous folky’s birthday in his hometown.

The event each May that included a weekend of tours, music and a creative writing contest is on hiatus, according to committee member Aaron Brown, who made the announcement on his website Minnesota Brown.

“The story of Bob Dylan in Hibbing remains a fascinating tale of 20th century America,” Brown said on his blog. “For almost 15 years I told the story to thousands of people from all over the world. It was an honor, a thrill and an education. This little volunteer gig shaped the way I write and think about the world around me.

“I’m sad to let it go, but it’s time.”

Meanwhile, here in Dylan’s birthplace, the show will go on. Duluth Dylan Fest will include some of Hibbing’s signature events, such as a singer-songwriter competition and a bus tour of Dylan landmarks that will incorporate the Central Hillside home where the musician lived with his family before heading to the Iron Range for the rest of his childhood.

“We want to honor Hibbing and take on a couple of things that are important and carry the torch,” said Zane Bail, co-chair of Duluth Dylan Fest, which has paired with the Hibbing-based event in the past.

Personal factors for all three members of the Dylan Days steering committee made it impossible for the Hibbing-based festival to continue in its current form, Brown said.

Linda Stroback Hocking and her husband Bob Hocking closed Zimmy’s, the restaurant-memorabilia hub-Dylan Days headquarters, in early 2014; Joe Keyes and his wife Mary Palcich Keyes are retiring and closing Howard Street Booksellers. Brown’s schedule has become more demanding with his Great Northern Radio Show.

Hibbing’s Dylan Days traces its roots to an informal, modest birthday celebration at Zimmy’s in 1991. The formal Dylan Days event started in 2001. The best year, according to Brown, was in the mid-2000s when the Minneapolis studio musicians who played on “Blood on the Tracks,” had a reunion show. In recent years, the festival drew a couple hundred fans — including visitors from Australian, England and the Netherlands.

This past year, attendance dipped a bit more.

“When Zimmy’s was open, part of the experience of Dylan Days was coming here and interacting with other Dylan fans in a Dylan environment,” Brown said. “Without Zimmy’s, that got diluted. We had a hard time recreating that magic.”

Duluth Dylan Fest starts May 17, 2015, and will be a weeklong event. One new feature: local musicians such as Marc Gartman, Sarah Krueger and Teague Alexy will cover “The Basement Tapes.” There will be the popular Blood on the Tracks rock ‘n’ roll train ride and a concert benefit for the Duluth Armory, Bail said.

“There are people from around the world who make the pilgrimage to Duluth and Hibbing and we just want to make sure we have an action-packed fun-filled week of entertainment for them,” she said.

Brown said he is hoping someone will come along with new energy and new ideas to put toward a Hibbing-based Dylan festival. Until then:

“We have a lot of confidence in the people in Duluth to continue the legacy of Bob Dylan in Northern Minnesota.”

Brown said he doesn’t know how he will spend May 24, 2015 — Dylan’s 74th birthday — but it won’t be on a bus tour.

“I’ll be at home in the woods with my family,” he said. “Probably have a Bob Dylan CD — ‘Blood on the Tracks’ — playing in the background just to remember why I used to do that.”

Advertisement