Not that this would ever be possible with OUR Paul, but…

Giant Bunyan statue stolen

David Hurst dhurst@tribdem.com

NEW CENTERVILLE — It’s a Paul Bunyan tale that Michael Miller would rather not be telling.

But the Rockwood man arrived at his New Centerville shop Friday to find his 7-foot statue of the folklore lumberjack stolen, along with the wooden bench he was resting on.

“It’s going to be hard to miss him,” said Miller, 63, adding that the painted fiberglass statue – not unlike the legendary character himself – was about twice the size as a “normal man,” wore a frontiersman-style hat and blue coat.

He said he purchased the statue from King’s Island Amusement Park in Ohio for about $1,200 and put it outside his Kingwood Road shop a year ago.

It became a bit of a landmark since. Children decorated it for Easter, his daughter, Michele Beener, said. And folks regularly stopped to take pictures alongside it.

“Hopefully it turns up … people are sure going to miss it,” he added, saying some would blow their horns or wave when they drove by.

Anyone with information may call state police at 445-4104.

According to folklore, it took five storks to carry Bunyan as a newborn, and he grew to weigh about 300 pounds – extraordinary for that era.

The Bunyan statue weighed about 175 pounds with its bench included, he said.

The Legend of Paul Bunyan Auditions

Auditions for The Legend of Paul Bunyan, a youth musical, will be held from 4:30-7 p.m. March 20-21 at the Mask and Rose Theater in Bemidji. Students in grades 4-12 are invited to audition. The production will be directed by Cate Belleveau, with musical direction by Karen Bradley.

Those interested in auditioning are encouraged to come with a memorized poem or reading and one song. Dancing will be part of the audition. To sign up for an audition time, email kayakc2@me.com.

Brief History of Paul and Babe

In the early fall of 1937, Bemidji organized its first Paul Bunyan Carnival.

While everyone on the carnival committee had different jobs, Cyril Dickinson of the Dickinson Construction Company was given the job to build a statue of Paul Bunyan.

The statue was modeled after Bemidji’s then-mayor, Earl Bucklen.

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Above the concrete footings (about 5.5 tons) that help support the statue, Paul himself weighs at about 2.5 tons.

 The 18-foot-tall statue is of wood framework above the footings, over which supporting bars form the outline. Steel planks over the bars and covered in cement. The reinforcing of the footings is of heavy steel and continues up through the legs of the statue.

The footings help Paul withstand Bemidji’s high velocity winds. He is touched up with fresh paint every year before tourist season begins.

 Babe the Blue Ox was constructed in 1937 by James Payton. Headwaters Camp, a nearby logging camp, owned a large pair of oxen and the largest was used as a model for Babe.

Originally built to be put on a 1.5-ton truck that would travel around America to promote Bemidji as a tourist destination, Babe eventually was placed next to Paul where it still resides.

When the pair was united, thousands of tourists came every year to be photographed next to them. The National Parks Service recognized these statues as an official cultural resource worthy of preservation, and added them to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

-Delaney Daly, formerly of the Bemidji Pioneer, 2011

Buena Vista Logging Days Fest starts SATURDAY!

Buena Vista Ski Area & Logging Village will host the 29th Annual Logging Days Festival from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. Activities during the festival include log demos, blacksmith demos, crosscut sawing, horse-powered logging, a log scaling contest, sleigh rides, roping contests, a treasure hunt, various crafts, live music and more! Flapjacks will also be provided during the event.

Head on out in your plaid and see the kind of action that gave Paul Bunyan such notoriety! Family tickets are $25, individuals 13 and over–$6, 6-12 years old–$4 and attendees 5 and under get in for free. Call 766-9919 or visit bvskiarea.com for more info.

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