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Midsummer fundrasier celebrates a milestone

Posted 6/19/24

TOWER- Sen. Grant Hauschild keynoted this year’s Midsummer fundraiser for the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center, which packed the Herbert R. Lamppa Civic Center this past Saturday evening. …

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Midsummer fundrasier celebrates a milestone


TOWER- Sen. Grant Hauschild keynoted this year’s Midsummer fundraiser for the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center, which packed the Herbert R. Lamppa Civic Center this past Saturday evening. Hauschild, with support from state Reps. Dave Lislegard and Roger Skraba, was instrumental in passage of a $100,000 earmark for the center in this year’s tax bill. The funding, along with a $25,000 matching grant from a separate IRRR fund, will help with the final interior renovations, completion of a heating system, new wiring, and finished bathrooms in time for an anticipated project completion next year.
“This is a grassroots community effort,” Hauschild said, noting this project highlighted the importance of connection, community, and culture.
Hauschild said while the internet gives the illusion of a connected world, most of these connections are superficial. “We need true connections in our community,” he said. “Community gives us a sense of belonging. When we come together as a community, it helps solve problems.”
The third piece to connecting our communities is culture, he said.
“Culture is what breathes life into the world,” he said. “It is our history beyond our own identity.”
Hauschild said the Iron Range has its own unique culture, forged from the immigrant experience of its community members.
“We need to experience new ideas and cultures to create a strong community.”
“This year’s Midsummer really fit in with this description by Sen. Grant Hauschild,” said Elaine McGillivray, chair of the cultural center board.
“This year’s event was one of our best ones in that regard, not to mention the amazing finale program led by Jan Kimes.” 
Mary Batinich, president of the board, said specific parts of the project to be done by this fall include finishing the floors in the Halunen Lobby and Abrahamson Gallery, both on the main floor, along with finishing the walls in the gallery area. The two bathrooms will also be completed. Other parts of the project include installing a sprinkler system, finishing the ceilings (which need to wait until the sprinkler system is installed), and connecting the heating and cooling system. Most of the plumbing work is already completed, Batinich said.
Batinich was excited for all the work that has gone into the project. She was also happy with this year’s Midsummer.
“It’s becoming a social event of the year,” she said. “We are bringing people together.”
What the annual event will look like next year is still undecided. With the “retirement” of musical director Jan Kimes, board members are looking to perhaps reimagine the annual fundraiser, because even though the major construction project will be completed, ongoing funds will always be needed for maintenance and upkeep.
“My hope is that next year’s event meets the same goals, and personally, I hope it’s still a dressy event,” said McGillivray.
This year’s Midsummer fundraiser for the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center featured highlights from the past 12 years of Midsummer performances, all written and directed by Jan Kimes (and her late husband Bill). The two dozen members of this year’s Midsummer Singers performed songs that evoked the themes of past Midsummer shows, and included show-stopping solo performances by Steve Solkela, Amanda Chen, Lynn Scott, Scarlet Stone, Deb Prutsman, Henry Dougherty, and Ryan and Linda Bajan.
The cultural center is hosting a slate of events throughout the summer, including a chamber music concert that is part of the Northern Lights Music Festival on Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $15 and can be purchased at the door.
More information about events can be found at Many events and concerts are by freewill donation.