Lanesboro's weekend: wind, snow, tourists
LANESBORO — Snow still dusted the bluffs Saturday as Lanesboro marked the unofficial start of the summer tourist season with the annual Ibsen Festival at the Commonweal Theatre.
"It's ironic that the Ibsen Festival was moved from February to April because of bad weather," said Robbie Brokken, gallery director at the Lanesboro Arts Center. "I was actually having difficulty driving here today."
This was the 14th annual Ibsen Festival, which was moved to April a few years ago. Weekend attractions included a variety of cultural events, in addition to the opening performances of the Commonweal's production of Henrik Ibsen's play "An Enemy of the People." The festival is supposed to help draw people to Lanesboro at the start of the tourism season, and merchants Saturday said that, despite the strong winds, snow and temperatures in the 30s, visitors did show up.
"We had people in that I see once a year, every year for Ibsen Fest," Brokken said. "They made it here."
"We've had the biggest crowd today of any of the weekends we've been open this year," said Bill Morman, who owns the River Trail Picnic Basket cafe in downtown Lanesboro. "It's not what I had hoped for, but considering the number of people we had today, it was worthwhile being open."
With most shops and restaurants still open only on weekends, Lanesboro is gradually gearing up for the busy summer season.
"At the start of the year, it's kind of slow and you get ready," said Dave Applen, owner of the Windy Mesa shop. "All of a sudden the people will come and it's here."
The Ibsen Fest helps pull some people to town early in the season, he said. "For retailers, it brings a little more people," Applen said. "The tourists are great for us."
"There are more people here because the Ibsen Fest is happening," said Frank Wright, who makes and sells wooden spoons in his shop around the corner from the Commonweal. "I would guess if the weather were fabulous, there would be even more."
Saturday night's opening performance of "An Enemy of the People" was virtually sold out, and the Pedal Pushers Cafe near the theater was busy an hour before showtime. But during the day, the bicycle trails were empty and visitors turned up their collars up as they hurried from shop to shop.
"I wouldn't want to be riding my bicycle today," Morman said.
Ibsen Festival weekend convinced local merchants there's a good tourist season ahead, if only Mother Nature will lend a hand.
"It's been slower than normal so far this year, because the weather has not been cooperative," Morman said. "But the people are coming back."