In wake of Nobel Prize, Hibbing group looking for ways to honor Bob Dylan
Craig Hattam says he was only brainstorming when he commented in a Facebook group that Hibbing should have a statue of Bob Dylan, in the wake of the Iron Range-raised musician receiving a Nobel Prize.
A few days later, Hattam signed into Facebook to find that support for the idea was snowballing, people were volunteering to help raise money and he had been chosen to lead a statue committee.
“I’ve learned now in the last six weeks to not mentally brainstorm in public or on Facebook,” the retired Hibbing teacher said with a laugh.
But he’s enjoyed the work so far and feels he’s found a way to serve the community by stewarding the newly formed Hibbing Dylan Project in honor of the iconic singer-songwriter — who was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, raised in Hibbing and graduated from Hibbing High School.
Hattam’s idea to honor the newest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, however, hit a hiccup a few weeks ago. He said he learned that Dylan’s family was supportive of the community honoring the musician, but preferred he was honored through education instead of installing a Dylan statue in the city.
The Hibbing Dylan Project has now started to take shape under the umbrella of the Hibbing Arts Council while it seeks its own independent nonprofit status. It’s also in the beginning stages of deciding how it will honor Dylan through education.
But first, the Hibbing Dylan Project is throwing a Nobel Prize party celebrating Dylan’s career with live music and cocktails. The party begins at 5 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 10, at the historic Androy Hotel in Hibbing. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased in downtown Hibbing at American Bank, Custom Lettering, Moxie and Security State Bank. A PayPal link to purchase tickets online can be found on the Hibbing Dylan Project’s Facebook page.
“It’s been my experience that whenever Dylan fans gather, they always have a story to tell. In our case in Hibbing, maybe it’s a story of what they remember of Bob when they were in high school or the stories that have been told and passed down from classmates and neighbors,” said Hibbing resident Katie Fredeen, a member of the Hibbing Dylan Project.
The party will feature both musicians covering Dylan songs and songwriters performing their own original work, which will set the tone of celebrating him and keeping a “positive Dylan vibe” going, Fredeen said.
To also celebrate Minnesota’s native son, Gov. Mark Dayton is scheduled to be in Hibbing on Dec. 10 to proclaim it Bob Dylan Day in Minnesota. The Nobel award ceremony is that day in Stockholm, though Dylan said last month that he would miss the event "due to pre-existing commitments."
After Hattam floated the statue idea on Facebook six weeks ago, about two dozen people showed up for the Hibbing Dylan Project’s first meeting. The Hibbing Dylan Project began as an informal group, but they’re hoping to become an independent nonprofit organization in the early part of 2017, Fredeen said.
The ideas have evolved since that first project meeting, Fredeen said. Hattam said he made his statue comment because of how little there is in Hibbing to honor Dylan; in addition to focusing on education, he said he still would like to see something in Hibbing that Dylan fans can visit when they come to the city.
“I think there’s a lot of people, not just myself, that feel it’s time we do something about Bob Dylan, get a little more serious about doing something about Bob Dylan in Hibbing,” Hattam said.
Although they’re in the early stages of narrowing down how they’ll honor him through education programs, the Hibbing Dylan Project’s mission is to honor Dylan, his career and the bridges he’s built through his music, Fredeen said.
She said the group is supportive of the change from a statue to enhancing arts education because there’s a lot of emphasis for students to pursue interests such as sports, but some students aren’t interested in sports and instead want to express themselves as musicians and writers.
“He’s had such a phenomenal reach and a phenomenal run of his career. It’s just incredible,” Fredeen said of Dylan. “We want our work to be meaningful to fans from across the world, but also to spark that little bit of inspiration that might exist within students here in Hibbing. Maybe someone will go on and step into the shadow that he’s cast; just light that little spark and see where it’ll go out into the world.”
The Nobel Prize ensures Dylan’s music will live on for generations, Hattam said, noting that people still read work written by Sinclair Lewis, another native Minnesotan who received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
“There’ll be a time when the people alive when he was doing his songs will no longer be around, but his work will be here. So I think that it’s time that we look at that sort of history. At some point, our history is going to become the heritage of the people in this area,” Hattam said.