'Our Season' offers view of area resorts
Family owned resorts have added to the rich fabric of life in the Park Rapids area since the turn of the 20th Century.
A new book, "Our Season," interprets the story of local family-owned resorts in photos and text, providing a glimpse into the lives of owners and vacationers.
Students at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) stayed at three local resorts for one week in May 2011 to photograph owners preparing for the season. They returned in mid-August to capture the buzz of activity as families settled in to enjoy a week at the lake.
The students' goals were to document a way of life resort owners have shared since the turn of the 20th century, document the resort experience families still enjoy, record the legacy of resorts as an important aspect of community life in small towns like Park Rapids, and help future generations understand and value the resort tradition.
The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with MSUM students in creating "Our Season."
"We hope this project will raise awareness of the impact and significance of resorts in our community," said Katie Magozzi, Chamber executive director.
"Our Season" identifies current resort owners in the Park Rapids area, creating a directory of who these owners are and how many resorts there are here.
Resorts play a significant role in boosting the local economy, providing seasonal employment to a diverse group of residents, paying property taxes, attracting visitors who in turn spend money in retail businesses, spending money themselves to maintain and/or build resort cabins and other facilities, and often opening their doors to other groups during the off-season.
Resort owners have become strategic partners in local efforts to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and understand and support the importance of being good stewards of our lakes.
A number of the area's resort owners have taken leadership roles in statewide organizations and help strengthen the community's position in maintaining and developing community recreational assets, such as the Heartland State Trail.
They also help community organizations promote events and cultural opportunities resort guests may enjoy. A number of resort owners have served on local school boards, the county board of commissioners and township offices and provided leadership in service clubs and civic organizations.
Resort owners obviously want good roads and have been among those in the forefront of efforts to make broadband services more accessible in the greater Park Rapids area.
Because of the number of visitors resorts attract to the area, counties provide large numbers of water safety patrol officers during the summer and have added equipment and upgraded public safety communications systems to cover snowmobile and ATV trail users.
"In promoting and providing this book, the Chamber is reminding area residents and educating others on the value of resorts in the greater Park Rapids area," Magozzi said. "Resort owners are anxious to have their story told in the community, but have not found many ways to do so. Some were eager to participate in this project, generously providing cabins and their time to make it work," she said.
"In addition, by raising the profile of local resorts through promotion and marketing of the book in combination with planning to host the Governor's Fishing Opener in May, we hope the community will build a stronger relationship with resort owners and resort owners may feel a stronger connection with the community," Magozzi said.
The Blandin Foundation provided financial support to the publication of "Our Season" and the MSUM students and others donated their time to this project, making it possible for all proceeds from the sale of the book to benefit the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber.
It is available at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber office or may be ordered online at www.parkrapids. com.