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Hibbing’s annual Dylan Days celebration to be discontinued

by Jay Gabler

December 29, 2014

Dylan Days, the annual Hibbing celebration of the Iron Range city's most famous former resident, has been put on "indefinite hiatus," with the event's organizing committee disbanding. According to a statement from the committee, they are stepping aside and encouraging fans to focus on the annual Duluth Dylan Fest instead, with some associated events to be held in Hibbing.

"Dylan Days began informally as a Bob Dylan birthday celebration at Zimmy’s in 1991," continues the committee's statement, referring to the recently-shuttered Dylan tribute restaurant. "In 2001, a citywide committee led by the Chamber of Commerce formed to coordinate Dylan Days activities, eventually becoming its own independent non-profit association."

The closure of Zimmy's—an IndieGoGo campaign to revive the restaurant fell far short of its $200,000 fundraising goal—hurt the festival's future prospects. Another factor is the impending retirement of committee co-chair Joe Keyes, who is closing his Howard Street Booksellers at the end of 2014. Increasing time pressure on co-chair Aaron Brown, host of the Great Northern Radio Show on KAXE/KBXE, added to the challenges faced by the committee.

"It remains the hope of the outgoing committee that new volunteers will step forward to continue Dylan Days programming in the city of Hibbing in honor of the town’s most famous son, and the reason for thousands of tourist stops in Hibbing every year," wrote the committee in its statement. "We are transferring our remaining funds to the Hibbing Arts Council for future appropriate use to honor Dylan."

Bob Dylan was born in Duluth in 1941; his family moved to his mother's home town of Hibbing when Dylan was six years old, after his father became ill with polio. Since the 1960s, Hibbing has been the destination of pilgrimages by Dylan fans from around the world. In announcing the end of Dylan Days, the committee cited one of the singer-songwriter's most famous song titles: "The Times They Are A-Changin.'"

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.