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the old cast of Lanesboro’s farmers and stone millers have been replaced. First with a revolving stock of starry-eyed tourists, and then with it, a colony of artists who aim to stay put. These new characters bring new money into Lanesboro, and they keep the storefront doors open wide.

The newcomers are drawn to Lanesboro because of its mummified main street, a perfectly preserved downtown. The strip is a direct result of years of economic hardship, which left room for absolutely no rebuilding. It was not until the state invested in transforming the railroad tracks into a bike trail that the city found its path to a new, revitalized future.

Lanesboro’s bikers, campers, honeymooners, and retirees drink up the scenic views on their drive to town—land peppered with vestiges of the old farming community—and they make plans to attend the galleries, theaters, and eateries that whisper hints of fashionable urban influence. The town has enjoyed many years of growth. Yet some with roots stitched deep into the surrounding farmland miss the old Lanesboro, and resent the portrait propped up for the enjoyment of tourists.

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“Some say it isn’t real. It’s a pretend town made for people who visit and not for the people who make a life here.”

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SCENE FROM DOWNTOWN LANESBORO.

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A VIEW OF MAIN STREET.

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L: SPUD BOY DINER EXTERIOR.    R: SPUD BOY DINER INTERIOR / PROPRIETOR, GORDON TINDALL.

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SCENE FROM DOWNTOWN LANESBORO.

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L: LANESBORO PASTRY SHOPPE.   R: RENOVATION OF AN OLD SPACE FOR A NEW BAR, HIGH COURT PUB.

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SCENE FROM DOWNTOWN LANESBORO.

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SCENE FROM DOWNTOWN LANESBORO.

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RIVER RATS OUTFITTERS.

cb-intro1_02“This way of life is not just a novelty down in the corner of the state. The idea of nostalgia is so interesting, so pervasive. People come here and they see the historic buildings and they love feeling like they’re a part of this beautiful nostalgic town. And then there are the people who are nostalgic for the Lanesboro that was before all the tourists came and they yearn for that more simple, realistic, authentic life too.”  

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THE LANESBORO ARTS BUILDING WAS ONCE A GENERAL STORE, SUPPLYING THE TOWN WITH DRY GOODS, FABRIC, AND CANDY. THE BUIDLING WAS ERECTED IN 1879. A GROUP OF ARTISTS OPENED THE GALLERY IN THE 1990s.

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COURTNEY’S DESK. COURTNEY IS PART OF A TEAM BRINGING FUNDING TO THE LANESBORO ARTS CAMPUS. IT IS AN ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPEMENT INITIATIVE BASED ON THE BELEIF THAT THE ARTS HAVE THE POWER TO TRANSFORM SPACES AND DEFINE COMMUNITIES.

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THE LANESBORO ARTS JURIED SALES GALLERY FEATURES WORKS BY OVER 90 ARTISTS FROM MINNESOTA, IOWA, AND WISCONSIN. ABOVE: LINDA LEWIS.

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COMMONWEAL THEATER.

 

cb-intro1_02“I could ultimately see myself doing community art and building community through the arts in small towns as my life’s work. I love the idea of being able to use creative thinking and art to revitalize communities and make space for people to come together. I feel like the arts are a permission giver. And so you have to be totally transparent about your agenda. If you support an idea, and you want to help someone make their idea a reality, you have to be completely transparent about what it’s going to do for you, and not just take advantage of them.”

“My post office box symbolizes a real authentic connection to place. It’s such a communal space and it’s a place where people have to acknowledge each other and people come together in community and that type of interaction is what makes small towns so special.”

 

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COURTNEY’S P.O. BOX.

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THE LANESBORO POST OFFICE.

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COURTNEY AT THE SALOON. THE SALOON CATERS TO THE LOCAL POPULATION, BUT IS HAPPY TO SERVE A TOURIST TOO. 

cb2_0060_DSC07855THE LANESBORO DENTIST.

 

 

 

“But I am still feeling pulled to this idea of having an authentic relationship with my roots, which are agriculture and good old boys, and very much connected to the land and the generations that have been here for many years.”

cb2_0038_DSC07996 COURTNEY’S FAMILY RAISES CATTLE. cb3_0002_DSC07982 AN OLD TRACTOR FOUND ON BERGEY LAND. cb2_0026_DSC07913 THE LANESBORO GRAIN COMPANY, NO LONGER IN OPERATION. cb2_0022_DSC07868 A LANESBORO HOME, RIGHT OFF MAIN STREET. cb2_0003_DSC07835THE AMISH COMMUNITY IS A HUGE PART OF LANESBORO’S FARMING AND TOURISM INDUSTRIES.

cb-intro1_02 “The barn was destroyed in a storm a couple of years ago and my family was just devastated because it was kind of the symbol of agricultural families. But after the barn fell, we could actually see the view into the valley and the gorgeous fields and forest behind it. Do I make a parallel to the idea of Lanesboro having to become a ghost town in order for people to really see the potential, and respect the past, but also see the potential in what lies beyond it? That is kind of the metaphor I just say to make myself feel better because I miss the barn, but yes.”  

    cb_0001_DSC08007 VIEW FROM THE BERGEY FAMILY FARM. cb2_0037_DSC08004  VIEW FROM THE BERGEY FARM. cb-barn4  VIEWS FROM THE BERGEY FARM. cb2_0017_DSC07977  COURTNEY’S FATHER, JERRY (ALLEN) BERGEY. cb2_0059_DSC08044  COURTNEY’S FAMILY HOME. Untitled-3  COURTNEY IN HER FAMILY HOME. farm-s COURTNEY’S GRANDFATHER, ROGER HANSON, MOWING THE LAWN. cb2_0034_DSC08059  COURTNEY’S GRANDMOTHER’S FIGURINE DISPLAY. cb_0004_DSC08162  COURTNEY’S GRANDMOTHER, GLORIA GARNESS BERGEY. cb_0003_DSC08098  VIEW FROM COURTNEY’S GRANDMA’S HOME. cb_0005_DSC08100 VIEW FROM COURTNEY’S GRANDMA’S HOME. cb_0000_Layer-1  VIEW FROM COURTNEY’S GRANDMA’S HOME. gm  A BERGEY FAMILY PORTRAIT. cb_0002_DSC08154 PHOTOS FROM THE PAST ON THE BERGEY FAMILY FARM. cb2_0011_DSC07973 THE BERGEY FAMILY FARM.

Further Reading

Related Opportunities

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Humans of Lanesboro
Small town life according to the people living it.
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Art Organizations Doing Right by Rural Minnesota
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VIA Holly Harrison
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Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications
Walker Art Center
VIA Rishi Donat
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VIA Pollen

Contributors

Marie Ketring
Marie Ketring is a filmmaker and photographer currently attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She specializes in crazy schemes and risky ideas. Her most current projects include long road trips and farm visits. She loves working for small nonprofits with big ideas. Marie’s favorite kind of gig is anywhere that has food so she can secretly sneak a bite before gettin’ back to the hustle.