Grand Marais Preparing for Uptick in Tourism for Independence Day

Many of the normal Grand Marais events have been canceled, but the fireworks celebration is still expected to happen on the Fourth of July.

GRAND MARAIS, Minn. – Many cities and towns in the Northland rely on tourism to help keep them going.

People at businesses in Grand Marais say they are looking forward to a warm Fourth of July weekend to help jumpstart their season.

Businesses have been doing what they can during the pandemic to stay afloat.

Now, in the height of the tourism season, they are taking precautions to stay safe while encouraging people to come to the city.

“We’re just happy to see new faces just not our own,” said Jean Spry, the general manager of Joynes Ben Franklin.

This week, masked faces walked around Grand Marais ahead of Independence Day.

Many of the normal Grand Marais events have been canceled, but the town is still seeing an uptick in tourists.

Over at the Joynes Ben Franklin which sells apparel and gifts, they are requiring masks to keep people safe.

“We just politely tell them that we love our community and we are protecting our community and that’s the only way we can be open is if any of us get sick we are done we are toast for a while,” said Spry.

They also check their staff’s temperatures before allowing them to work each day.

Spry thinks the store is ready for the tourists to come.

“This is going to be a really good weekend for us we need it we are excited and a little bit anxious because of what it might bring in our staffing,” said Spry.

Across the street, at the Blue Water Cafe, owners Dan and Melodee Riddle says things are steadily picking up for them.

Normally they hire international students and are now operating at just 8 staff out of 28 with only 50 percent dine-in capacity.

“It’s nice to have people in town cause it’s been a real pressure point for a lot of businesses can’t do things the same way…we couldn’t open full time if we wanted to cause we don’t have enough staff,” said Riddle.

However, the Riddles hope with a lack of things to do around the state, people might pick Grand Marais as a destination.

“All the everything has been canceled in the states all the normal summer fair or fairs have been canceled so I have a hunch probably more people pushing up this way just for something to do,” said Riddle.

The hot temperatures this week, Sydney’s Frozen Custard, also in Grand Marais, has been busy.

The walk-up, takeout shop has custard, wood-fired pizza along with other savory goods.

They said they have had lines out to the street so far this summer and are excited about the days ahead.

“With Fourth of July coming up that’s kind of the start of our big push of the year to see things ramping up almost normal obviously there are some things different but the way that business is picking up and the tourists are coming into town it’s a really nice feel to be back out and at it again,” said Ryan Bottger, the assistant manager at Sydney’s.

As the summer season will surely look much different in Grand Marais, for now, some businesses are happy with the tourists they have had so far.

“I know a lot of people were worried about this town being a tourism town what people were going to do what this summer was going to bring and so far it’s been a pleasant surprise,” said Bottger.

Despite the cancelation of many events, the Grand Marais fireworks are still shooting off at 10 p.m. over the harbor, the city is still strongly encouraging social distancing.


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