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In Response: Hibbing working hard to honor Dylan, inspire creativity

As a Feb. 17 column in the News Tribune made clear, Hibbing's history with Bob Dylan is complicated. While he's not the only kid to ever leave Hibbing to chase a dream, he is the most famous — and most successful. There are many others, but time and time again, Dylan rises to the top.

Katie FredeenIn October 2016, when the Nobel Prize Committee announced Dylan would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, a group of Hibbing citizens got together to come up with a way to permanently honor Mr. Dylan for this monumental achievement.

The Hibbing Dylan Project was born, and for the past two and a half years our committee of volunteers has been working diligently to create a public work of art that focuses on Dylan's lyrics and presents them in a new and interesting way.

Our group was instrumental in providing support to Gov. Mark Dayton's office when he traveled to Hibbing to declare Dec. 10, 2016, "Bob Dylan Day" in the state of Minnesota. This event took place in the beautiful Hibbing High School Auditorium, and Dylan's infamous talent-show performance there was mentioned.

Following the governor's proclamation, we hosted a very successful Nobel Prize reception party, the first of many local fundraisers to support our mission. The evening was full of live music and readings from Dylan's book, "Chronicles, Volume One." We felt it was only fitting to host it at the Androy, where Dylan celebrated his bar mitzvah as a child.

Since that time, we have done a lot to raise awareness about the many ways Dylan's career has touched the world. We've hosted several events that have had an emphasis on live, original music. We've held historical events with the support of Dylan archivist Bill Pagel. And we had temporary murals installed in our downtown area.

All the while, we've been working on fundraising and grant applications to help with the estimated $150,000 project. The public work of art is to be situated on the Seventh Avenue side of Hibbing High School, known as Bob Dylan Drive. Initially, the group considered a statue to honor Bob, but the Zimmerman family desired something broader than that, something to honor the importance of education and creativity. As the family said to us, "His face will change, but his words will stay the same."

This project will honor the literary and musical genius of Bob Dylan. Its centerpiece will be a lone bronze chair backed by a steel surround etched with lyrics and writings from Bob Dylan's career. The chair, a common sight in the high school in the 1950s, will face the school and represent the legacy that Dylan left for Hibbing High School students.

Which raises the question: Who will be the next artist to occupy that chair of creativity?

This tribute also will serve as a small open-air stage and amphitheater for students and teachers to utilize. Our intention is to create a space for people to sit and reflect on the many influences that shaped Bob Dylan's music while providing an inspirational space for Bob's fans and students interested in pursuing artistic endeavors.

And when it's done, we hope the writer of the Feb. 17 commentary (Local View: "What's up with Hibbing's chill toward Dylan?") will take another day trip on his Harley and meet up with us at the public work of art.

Katie Fredeen of Hibbing is chairwoman of the Hibbing Dylan Project.


What: Hibbing Dylan Project, a charitable organization

Website:, where donations can be made electronically; the group also can be found on Facebook

Address for donations: Hibbing Dylan Project, P.O. Box 61, Hibbing, MN 55746