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(Echo Press file photo)

Big Ole to leave Alexandria?

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Alexandria's famous Big Ole Viking statue will sneak out of town this weekend to go to Bemidji where he'll attend the 75th birthday of his buddy, Paul Bunyan.

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Just kidding.

Conservation Minnesota distributed a tongue-in-cheek "news release" Tuesday that contained the Big Ole scoop as a way to promote Bemidji's Legacy Destination Weekend, June 15-17.

Here's the full release:

State traffic officials are urging motorists to plan extra travel time this coming weekend as the always busy Father's Day Weekend happens to fall this year on the 75th birthday of Bemidji's famous Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues. 

As with everything else in his life, Paul is planning a rather large birthday party this year. The invite list includes most of the state's famed state statuary. The Paul Bunyans from Akeley and Brainerd are expected to attend, as are Herman the German from New Ulm, the Jolly Green Giant from Blue Earth, Iron Man from Chisholm and Big Ole from Alexandria. 

"These giant statues all working their way toward Bemidji this weekend could cause some major gawker slowdowns," said Hy Wayman of the State Department of Traffic. "And don't get me started on the potential damage to the ditches and medians where they walk. It's going to be a nightmare. We tried to talk Paul into holding his party online, but he insisted that his 75th be a really big party with all of his friends there to celebrate with him."

The party is part of Bemidji's Legacy Destination Weekend, which will be taking place all around the city starting today and running through Sunday. There will be all sorts of events as a part of the popular Bemidji Library Book Festival this week, performances at the Paul Bunyan Theater, and a free movie shown lakeside at dusk. Those seeking outdoors adventure can choose to partake in a bog walk or archery class at Lake Bemidji State Park, a canoe trip along the Mississippi or a chance for kids to fish for free on Friday.

The Legacy Destination Weekends are jointly sponsored by Conservation Minnesota, Minnesota Citizens For the Arts and Explore Minnesota as well as a number of host community organizations. They were created to draw attention to all of the ways that the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which the voters approved in 2008, has impacted local communities.

The most current schedule of events for the big birthday/Legacy Destination Weekend is available at www.visitbemidji.com.

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