Are you ready? With Memorial Day weekend now in the books, you kind of need to be. Summer now. And here in Duluth and in the Northland that means busy-busy, our time to shine, to play, and to cash in before the next year's deep freeze roars its return. It's weekend after jam-packed weekend, get there, do that, do more.
With an abundance of attractions and summer events, Duluth welcomes 6½ million visitors every year, a majority of them during summer months. They drop nearly $350 million annually on hotel rooms, restaurant meals, and drinks at bars. Their spending generates a local economy-boosting - stabilizing, really - $11.5 million in "tourism tax" revenues.
We love 'em. We need 'em. We gotta have 'em. So we'd better be ready for 'em.
While remembering to have some fun ourselves, too, of course.
That can start with the Lakewalk, Skyline Parkway, a Glensheen tour (glensheen.org), boat-watching (harborlookout.com), and more any time.
The Duluth Superior Film Festival (ds-ff.com) is Wednesday through Sunday.
The wooden-bats Northwoods League's Duluth Huskies (northwoodsleague.com/duluth-huskies/) throw out the first pitch of the season Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at historic Wade Stadium.
One of the nation's best marathons, Grandma's Marathon (grandmasmarathon.com) - always a calendar highlight in Duluth - is June 16.
The following weekend is the CHUM Rhubarb Festival (chumduluth.org/rhubarbfestival) and Park Point Art Fair (parkpointartfair.org), the latter featuring 120 juried artists.
Duluth's Fourth Fest (visitduluth.com/fourthfest) long has boasted it has Minnesota's largest fireworks display; there'll be free music, too, beginning at 5 p.m. at Bayfront Festival Park.
The Duluth Airshow (duluthairshow.com), another definite can't-miss highlight of summer around here, is also another "largest in Minnesota." Grab your sling chairs; the show returns to Duluth International Airport July 7-8 and this year is to feature the United States Air Force Thunderbirds Jet Demonstration Team.
The first of eight Greater Downtown Council-sponsored movies in Leif Erikson Park blows up on the giant, blow-up screen July 13 (downtownduluth.com). The first night's feature film is "Dirty Dancing."
West Duluth's ever-popular, beer tent- and street dance-featuring Spirit Valley Days (spiritvalleydays.com) is a party from Aug. 1 through Aug. 5.
The following week, from Aug. 10 through Aug. 12, the 30th annual Bayfront Blues Festival (bayfrontblues.com) takes the stage at Bayfront Festival Park. It's one of the Upper Midwest's oldest and largest annual outdoor music events, according to VisitDuluth, with nearly 20,000 fans and 30 acts.
The 2018 Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival (lakesuperiordragons.com) is Aug. 24-25 on Barker's Island in Superior. Its paddling raises money for the good done in Duluth and Superior by Twin Ports Rotary clubs.
The nation's only legal drag race on a public street returns to Garfield Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood Sept. 8 and 9 (kernz.com). More than 110 vehicles are expected to burn rubber while another 350 are to be featured in a car show that also will include live music and vendors.
The Duluth Hot Air Balloon Festival follows Sept. 14-16 back at Bayfront (kernz.com).
And the Northshore Inline Marathon (northshoreinline.com) - the nation's largest inline skating event (again, according to VisitDuluth) with 2,500 skaters - follows Lake Superior's shoreline from Two Harbors to Duluth on Sept. 15.
Phew! Got all that? And those are just the highlights. And only during our (mostly) ice-free months. The weeks ahead, during our critically important season of chaos and revenue-generating, the calendars are simply packed.
We couldn't do summer any other way. We couldn't afford to.