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Christmas festival turns Biwabik into 'Hallmark movie town'

The Iron Range city has hosted Weihnachtsfest for 38 years.

A green handmade wreath sits around the neck of a large moose statue.
Honk the Moose stands in Biwabik's Carl Schuster Memorial Park adorned with a giant wreath in honor of Weihnachtsfest, the city's annual Christmas celebration.
Contributed / Sarah Stachovich
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BIWABIK — Have you ever wanted to gather with a large group of people to sing carols and drink hot chocolate in a park right before fireworks go off like it's the end of a Hallmark Christmas movie?

Biwabik's got you covered.

This year Weihnachtsfest is back in full force after a few years of pandemic-related adjustments to the format. The German-named Christmas festival runs Dec. 3 mostly in and around Carl Schuster Memorial Park downtown. Organizer Sarah Stachovich said it's the way most Biwabik folk start their holiday season.

A woman dressed in a costume stands in front of a small structure labeled "Candy Haus."
A volunteer with Weihnachtsfest prepares to work at the Candy Haus booth at Weihnachtsfest in a past year
Contributed / Sarah Stachovich

"It's kind of a time for all of the Biwabik folks and their family members to get together and celebrate the beginning of Christmas," Stachovich said. "There's just about everything, from craft vendors to ethnic food to Christmas music playing on the loudspeakers throughout town."

The festival kicks off at 10 a.m. with craft vendors opening up around town. There are food options ranging from Swedish meatballs to sauerkraut and brats to porketta and, of course, Christmas treats.

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There's entertainment and music in the park's pavilion into the late afternoon along with children's activities in the Kinderfest area, including arts and crafts and possibly a visit with Santa Claus.

"And make sure you visit Honk the Moose and see his Christmas wreath," Stachovich said. "I just ordered a 48-inch wreath that goes around his neck."

Honk is a life-size statue of a moose which commemorates the 1935 children's storybook "Honk the Moose," based on true events in the city around the turn of the century.

"We put a big bow on him too so he looks all fancy," Stachovich said.

The Zenith City's Christmas season kicks off this weekend with a parade and a lights display. Grab your calendar and peruse our guide to what's coming up.

As dusk approaches, festival-goers will start to gather around the gazebo in Shuster Park to sing carols together and light up the displays in the park. The town used to wrap its several large trees with lights but found that squirrels would often bite through the wires and ruin the displays.

"Now we've got Peter, who is the genius behind our LED pixel lighting display," Stachovich said. "I've heard that this year's display will even incorporate some music into it, so that'll be fun to see."

Holiday lights line the outside of a gazebo.
Holiday lights line the outside of the gazebo in Carl Schuster Memorial Park in Biwabik during a past Weihnachtsfest.
Contributed / Sarah Stachovich

After the lighting and carols, it's time for the fireworks which can be viewed from the park.

"I know this is going to sound corny, but it's really kind of like having your own little Hallmark movie town," Stachovich said. "That's what it feels like, because everything is decorated and people are out and milling about, it just feels like a movie."

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For more information about Weihnachtsfest, visit facebook.com/weihnachtsfestMN.

Santa Claus digs in his bag for a gift for two young boys.
Santa Claus stops to hand out gifts to two young boys on the streets of Biwabik during a recent Weihnachtsfest.
Contributed / Sarah Stachovich

Related Topics: BIWABIKCHRISTMASIRON RANGE
Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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