On Thursday, Katie Fredeen drove by Hibbing High School and, as she said, flipped her lid — in a good way. The construction fencing was up around the spot where ground will be broken for a public art installation that celebrates Bob Dylan.
“That makes it a lot more real,” she said.
Hibbing Dylan Project has been in the works since 2016 when Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature. In the past four years, a group of volunteers has worked to create an easily accessible monument to the artist who graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959 — a process that has ranged from fundraising upward of $150,000 to gaining permission to use the likeness of the Nobel medal on the piece.
The ground-breaking is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hibbing High School, near the intersection of East 22nd Street and Seventh Avenue East, which is also known as Bob Dylan Drive. There will be music by the Bluejackets’ band and choir, and local musicians. A celebration will follow at the home where Dylan grew up, 2425 Seventh Ave. E., with music by Greg Tiburzi — a musician who will also play Monday, on Dylan’s 80th birthday, on the porch of the Central Hillside duplex in Duluth where Dylan spent the first half-decade of his life.
Construction is expected to run through the summer with a dedication in mid-October. The kickoff of the Hibbing Dylan project also marks the beginning of the “Year of Dylan Celebration,” which is expected to include concerts, a Dylan-themed bike tour, and more — running into late May 2022.
Saturday is also the start of Duluth Dylan Fest, which runs through May 30 and includes concerts, poetry, and lectures both online and in-person.
The art installation is a wall with brick and stonework that matches the high school with the Nobel Prize’s signature Alfred Nobel coin and the words: “The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.’”
On the opposite side there will be lyrics to approximately 50 songs spanning Dylan’s career, written into stainless steel, and a bronze chair that serves as a metaphor: Who will be the next to fill it?
“The whole space is very intentional,” said Fredeen, the president of the committee of 10 that includes Bill Pagel, who owns both of Dylan’s childhood homes, and her father, Larry Furlong, who was a childhood friend of the musician.
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Hibbing has spots for Dylan pilgrims looking for connection, but there are limitations to these spaces — whether it’s off-hours or the fact that it’s private property:
The Hibbing Public Library has been collecting Dylan memorabilia since 1991, according to the city’s website, and it has a copy of Robert Zimmerman’s birth certificate, his early works, and pieces donated by the late John Bushey, the Dylan-ophile from Duluth and longtime host of KUMD-FM 103.3’s “Highway 61 Revisited”;
The high school auditorium, where Dylan’s band, the Golden Chords, played a show and, famously, got the plug pulled on the gig;
And there is the house: Pagel, a collector who has worked to restore his Duluth property to its original Zimmerman-era aesthetic, bought the slate-colored Hibbing house about a year ago.
Zimmy’s was a restaurant with Dylan memorabilia on the walls and where, back in the day, Dylan’s former Golden Chords bandmate LeRoy Hoikkala was willing to stop by and tell a tale or two.
“We get people all year-round and usually I talk to them,” Linda Stroback-Hocking, the restaurant’s owner, said on Dylan’s 70th birthday. “If I think it would enrich their world, I give LeRoy a call.”
But Zimmy’s closed in 2014.
Fredeen is hoping the art installation will offer fans a place to stop and have an experience.
“I think the city has needed it for a long time,” she said. “We hope it’s a sticky place where they really stop and look at the lyrics and reflect on them.”
Not to mention the inspiration a place like this could provide to another Hibbing High School student.
“When I walk by this and it’s done and there are kids out there picking at a guitar, picking out a song, I’ll know we’ve achieved what we wanted to do,” she said. “A space to explore that music and feel more connection to that tradition.”
How to celebrate Bob Dylan this week
9 a.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Tour of Bob Dylan Sites in Duluth, starting at the Armory Arts & Music Center Annex, free
1 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Project ground-breaking for art installation, Hibbing High School, Hibbing, followed by music by Greg Tiburzi in the lawn of Dylan's childhood home, 2425 Seventh Ave. E., Hibbing
5-6 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: "Highway 61 Revisited" radio show on KUMD-FM 103.3
7 -8:30 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Bob Dylan Revue Livestream concert from Sacred Heart Music Center, free
1-4 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Acoustic jam session, bring your voice and instruments, Earth Rider Festival Field, Superior. Tickets
7-9 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Hard Rain: Bob Dylan and the Band Tribute Band Livestream from the Sky Line Lounge in Ballwin, Mo. Free
8-9 p.m.: The Current: Duluth Local Show, hosted by Brittany Lind, features Dylan and Dylan covers
1 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Bob Dylan front porch birthday party with music by Greg Tiburzi, 519 N. Third Ave. E, free
5-6 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: "Highway 61 Revisited" radio show KUMD-FM 103.3
5-8 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Party with music by Cowboy Angel Blue, Earth Rider Festival Field, Superior. Tickets.
5 p.m.-5:30: Duluth Dylan Fest: Happy Hour with Heaven's Door Whiskey: A look behind Bob Dylan's whiskey brand and stories, Zoom, free
7 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Song From the North Country Songwriter Contest Announcement Livestream on Zoom, free
6-8 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Greg Tiburzi Sings Dylan, Valentini’s Bistro, free
6:30 p.m.-8: Duluth Dylan Fest: Dylan Fest Poetry Contest Reading Event livestream, Zoom, free
6:30-8 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Livestream from 2104 with Luke LeBlanc, free
6-9 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Duluth Does Dylan Concert, Earth Rider Festival Field, tickets
1:30-3 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: John Bushey Memorial Lecture by Dave Engel, author of “Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues: Dylan in Minnesota,” livestream from Teatro Zuccone, free
5-6 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: “Highway 61 Revisited” on KUMD-FM 103.3, free
6-9 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Bob Dylan Revue Concert, Earth Rider Festival Field, tickets
2 p.m.: Duluth Dylan Fest: Songs from the North Country Songwriter Contest Showcase featuring Shane Nelson, Earth Rider Festival Field, tickets
5:30-6:30 p.m.: Dylan Fest livestream with Danny Fox, free