Paul Bunyan Communications Cooperative Celebration Brings Large Crowd Despite Rainy Weather
“We’ve got over 2,500 cooperative members and we serve a big swath of north central Minnesota from Bemidji to Grand Rapids, up to International Falls, down to Park Rapids and Walker. So, I mean, we serve a big region; this is a celebration of the areas that we serve,” says Brian Bissonette, the marketing supervisor for Paul Bunyan Communications.
On average, the annual Paul Bunyan Communications Cooperative Celebration will see up to 7,500 people. The rain didn’t let up today, but that didn’t stop the crowd from filling the venue. The event recruits every single Paul Bunyan Communications employee from far and wide.
“We have about 140 employees. Most are located in the Bemidji area, also in the Grand Rapids area and today is [an] all-hands-on-deck kind of day, and so from our technicians to our customer service people, finance people, everybody that is an employee of Paul Bunyan Communications is here today,” says Gary Johnson, the CEO of Paul Bunyan Communications.
It’s not just Paul Bunyan Communications employees that make the event successful. Many come for the famous fish fry dinner that is provided by Lueken’s Village Foods and prepared by the Bemidji Fire Department and Bemidji High School hockey team.
“We probably have around 20 or so high school hockey kids and then the fire department going hard the whole time getting fish and pumping them out,” says Nathan Mannausau, a member of the BHS hockey team.
During its entire 18 year run, the event has only seen rain twice. Although rain or shine, the activities don’t stop. This year, attendees got to meet the Flintstones.
“Fred, Wilma and Dino Flintstone are here. Crunch from the Minnesota Timberwolves is here. Plus, we’ve got face painters, balloonists, Headwaters Science Center, just a ton of stuff for the kids, and then we’ve got some great local live music that’s been a part of this tradition,” says Bissonette.
The Cooperative Celebration is basically a big party for the community. It’s no wonder the people who stopped to talk to Lakeland News say they keep coming back.
“It’s really nice because people can come and get together with other people and eat food and stuff and talk,” says attendee Joy.
“It was fun! It was cool to see all the businesses and everything gather up together and the fish was really awesome,” says Lindsey Jackson, another attendee.
The Cooperative Celebration is always held on the Wednesday before Memorial Day Weekend. It is always open and free to attend.