Celebrations and Lighthouses

Episode 13 Show Notes

(September 2018) On the one-year anniversary of Bayfield County Wild, Co-hosts Nancy Christopher and Mary Motiff, director of Bayfield County Tourism, have some fun with Mary Grant, the owner of the Keeper of the Light Gift Shop and coordinator for the Annual Apostle Islands Lighthouse Celebration. It’s also the 20th Anniversary of the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center, so let’s get this party started!


Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center’s 20th Anniversary Celebration 

For 20 years, the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center (NGLVC) has been keeping the history of the area alive on its 150-acre site on County Hwy. G, just south of Washburn. Run by six, partner organizations – the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the University of Wisconsin Extension and the Friends of the Center Alliance, the NGLVC is hosting a day-long event on Sept. 29 packed with activities for everyone.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., you can sign up to participate in a native grass planting on the property. There will be book signings by area authors and a visit by the artist who painted the huge mural on the back wall of the center. In addition, a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for the new exhibit documenting the Center’s $2 million Energy Renovation Project. U.S. Fish & Wildlife staff will lead guided hikes on the boardwalk trails. Plus, there will be Junior Ranger activities hosted by the National Park Service and appearances by Smokey the Bear. There will also be face painting and prizes for scavenger hunts.

Throughout the day, visitors will have a chance to participate in voting for the winner of an art contest where artists submit photos of artwork that has been inspired in some way by the Visitor Center. The artwork can be anything from paintings and drawings to pottery or woodcarvings or whatever medium the artists choose. Artists who want to enter can find out more on the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the NGLVC Facebook Events page. The artist with the most votes will win a cash prize.

Visitors won’t want to miss “Who Goes Bump in the Night,” an evening hike on the NGLVC’s boardwalk to listen to the owls and other night critters.

The NGLVC is open 7 days a week, except holidays. Many of the exhibits are interactive with local personalities featured in interviews portraying commercial fishermen, loggers, Native Americans and others, and sharing stories of the past. For those who have an interest in Lake Superior, shipwrecks or lighthouses, there is a great collection of books, some with rare titles, in the Gift Shop. And you don’t want to miss the breathtaking views from the NGLVC’s five-story Observation Tower with spotting scopes.

Apostle Islands Lighthouse Celebration

From now through Sept. 15, the community is celebrating the largest collection of lighthouses located in a national park in the United States. The celebration includes guided cruises to all six lighthouses. Every lighthouse is different, so every cruise, conducted by Apostle Islands Cruises, is a different experience.

Mary Grant coordinates all of the cruises from her Keeper of the Light Gift Shop in Bayfield. She says her favorite lighthouse is on Sand Island. After the cruise over to Sand Island, you’ll take a two-mile hike through beautiful, old-growth forest to get to the lighthouse, which built with Brownstone that was quarried from the island.

The “Showplace of the Apostle Islands,” according to Mary, is the Raspberry Island Lighthouse. It’s the easiest lighthouse to get to (although there are quite a few steps once you arrive) and is a duplex with furnishings from the early 1900s. This is a living history exhibit, where your guide dresses up as the Keeper and gives you a tour of the lighthouse from his perspective.

There are very few Lighthouse Keepers left. New technology has made it no longer necessary to have working lighthouses, which for many years served as beacons to safely guide mariners through the waterways surrounding the Apostle Islands and into the protected waters of the bay.

Mary says there are lots of great stories about the lighthouses the guides love to talk about. One haunted tale involved a cruise to Raspberry Island, where during the tour, the group heard cries from a young girl coming from the Assistant Keeper’s quarters. When they asked their tour guide who was crying next door, the guide assured them there was no one there. When the group returned from their cruise, they learned there was an Assistant Keeper who lived on the island with his family, and one of his children was a girl about the same age. Needless to say, they were all quite spooked.

Mary tells another story from Michigan Island, where the head keeper and his assistant went on a fishing trip. They left behind the Keeper’s wife and three children. Gone for several days, the wife, who was raised in the city, had to figure out how to milk the cow. You’ll laugh at how she made it work.

The lighthouse tours run daily through September 15. If you love lighthouses, you will want to stop in at Mary’s Keeper of the Light Gift Shop, which is a lighthouse specialty store. As part of the celebration, there is a photography presentation by Mark Weller and a live musical performance called “Lake Songs & Lighthouses” by Warren Nelson, performed at the Harbor View Event Center in Washburn. For more information about the lighthouse celebration, visit lighthousecelebration.com or call 715-779-5619.

September Events

The celebrations continue with the following events:

Now through Sept. 15: Apostle Islands Annual Lighthouse Celebration

Sept. 1: Port Wing Fish Boil

Sept. 6: The Great Emergency Pig Out, which is a pig roast hosted by the White Winter Winery to benefit first responders. Live music and lots of great food.

Sept. 7: One of the Big Top Chautaugua’s House Shows, “Wild Woods & Waters.”

Sept. 8: Cornucopia Art Crawl featuring local artists.

Sept. 21 - 23: Annual Red Cliff Cultural Day

Sept. 22: Chicken Sh**ing Fundraiser for American Legion 516 in at Chopper’s Bar & Grill in Grand View.

Sept. 29: Fall Color Ride Bike Tours in Washburn. Guided tours by the North Coast Cycling Assoc. (Note: this event may be moved to October so check the website for updates)

Sept. 28 - 29: Cable Area Fall Fest in Cable, WI

October Preview

Take in all the color of Bayfield County with the apple harvest, fall festivals and corn mazes.

If you want to learn more about Bayfield County, be sure to subscribe to our podcasts. Get a little WILD at travelbayfieldcounty.com, and don’t forget to explore our interactive map.

Affiliate Notes

Mogasheen Resortn - Located among Cable’s scenic, nationally-known trails, the Mogasheen Resort’s traditional environment features comfortable cottages and cabins with breathtaking sunsets on Lake Namekagon. Boat rentals are available right on site for fishing, kayaking and more.

Bayfield County Rustic Yurts - Enjoy all that nature has to offer while staying in a cozy yurt near Bayfield and Cable. Explore thousands of acres of forests, as well as miles of maintained, non-motorized recreational trails. Peace and quiet are yours here, with the wonders of the North Woods surrounding you.

Legendary Waters Resort & Casino - On the shores of Lake Superior in Red Cliff, the hotel offers 47 deluxe rooms and premiere suites, each with a Lake Superior and Apostle Islands view. The Casino has 24/7 entertainment, featuring all your favorite slot machines and table games.

Tri Lake Timbers - Tri Lake Timbers, in Iron River, has a variety of beautiful cabins with access to snowmobile, ATV and hiking trails galore. In the summer, relax on the swimming beach or rent a pontoon or fishing boat and get out on the water.