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Brownstone Trail to get $1.2 million repair, improvements
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The Brownstone Trail was established in 1996 through a partnership with private landowners who granted public-access easements. Since then the trail has become a favorite of Bay-Area residents and visitors. (Photo contributed by Landmark Conservancy)

A damaged portion of Bayfield’s popular Brownstone trail will be repaired and rerouted as part of a $1.2 million improvement project.

The trail runs on an abandoned rail line leading to Bayfield, and has experienced severe erosion and other factors that forced a section of the trail to be closed with hikers detoured onto Highway 13.

Viking Motors Transit Co., which operates the buses used by the Bayfield Schools, sits adjacent to and upslope of the damaged portion of the trail and in a happy coincidence, co- the firm has been contemplating a site with more room than its current three acres, co-owner Dan Maki said.

“The fact is, we outgrew this property 20 years ago. We fought the good fight, but if you are going to get to the next level, you have to reach a little bit,” he said.

When the Landmark Conservancy approached Dan Maki and his brother Mark Maki about moving the trail onto their land, the two were willing to listen.

A graphic shows where the trail has been closed off and where rerouting will return the trail to its former lakeshore path. (Graphic contributed by Landmark Conservancy)

“We do have a better location outside of town, and that was always the intent, to move the operation out there. We were not aggressively looking to sell, but it was a legitimate proposal,” Dan Maki said.

It took about a year to resolve details, but the conservation organization bought the land, allowing the trail to be rerouted and repaired and the bus company to move to its larger site.

The Brownstone trail has been a Bayfield fixture since the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, which later merged with the Landmark Conservancy, created it in 1996. Landmark now serves 20 counties in western and northwestern Wisconsin. The trail was the result of easement agreements with 22 private landowners and connects the Bayfield downtown area with Pike’s Bay Marina and Port Superior in the town of Bayfield. The trail passes through vistas of Lake Superior and deep forest; it has become a favorite hike for locals and visitors.

Landmark Conservancy Executive Director Lindsey Ketchel that hike was threatened in 2017 when the trail began to erode, forcing the detour onto Highway 13.

“The trail is on an old railroad bed, and the railroad was maintained until 1970, after that there has been zero maintenance,” Ketchel said


Landmark plans a two-step resolution of the issue, first moving the trail up the slope to stable ground and then stabilizing the slope leading to Lake Superior.

Neither Ketchel nor the Maki brothers would disclose the purchase price, but the full cost of the project is about $1.2 million, Ketchel said, much of which will be paid through grants, donations and fundraising efforts.

“We have to the end of the year to secure another $580,000 for the balance of the project,” she said.

The project itself will be spread out over several years and will involve the Bayfield community being invited to engage in both the design concept and layout of the trail and access points through surveys and listening sessions, Ketchel said.

“Our commitment to restoring the Brownstone has never wavered, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked through a complex negotiation,” she said.

The Makis will have five years to transfer the bus company to its new home. Then Landmark will remove remaining buildings and convert the land into a park.

“We will be gathering the community together to hear what they want, ideas like maybe renting bikes from there, things like that,” Ketchel said. “It is an industrial site and it will take some time to bring back to life, but we think in the end it is going to turn into an amazing community resource.”

Dan Maki said he is pleased that the agreement solves a problem for both his business and Landmark.

Mark and Dan Maki, pictured with Landmark Conservancy Conservation Manager Erika Lang, are selling three acres of lakeshore property to Landmark to reroute the Brownstone Trail onto stable ground. (Photo contributed by Landmark Conservancy)

“Things are always getting bigger, better, stronger and faster, and we just outgrew this spot. The timing fit with our intentions,” he said. “We have a really good, committed group of people working here, so we have to stay committed also.”

Bay Area does the ‘Time Warp’ to kick off Pride Month
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When Sophia Douglas heard “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was playing at Bay Theater Friday at midnight, she couldn’t wait to see it.

Even if it took hopping on a ferry from her home on Madeline Island to get there, nothing was going to stop her.

“I love midnight showings of anything and I love “Rocky Horror.” It’s been so long since I’ve seen it,” she said.

She brought best friend Inara Curry of Washburn with her because Curry had never seen the film.

“My friends were like, ‘You have to come.’ I’m really excited about it,” Curry said.

They were among the sold-out crowd that filled every seat Friday night at the Bay Theater in Ashland to watch the iconic film and see Ashland native Dora Diamond perform during the preshow. The screening and a separate show by Diamond, a drag queen, were part of the Bay Area’s Pride celebration.

Warming up

A roar of applause filled the theater when Diamond took the stage, dressed in her hand-stitched costume.

“I’ve been waiting months for this,” Diamond said, drawing more applause. “It’s an honor to have been invited to be part of this. I’ve been a lover of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ for almost 20 years and never in my life thought I would be doing something like this.”

After the formalities were done, she invited Rocky Horror newbies to the stage to play the “virgin games.”

Diamond wrote the letter “V” on them to single them out for not having seen the film and proceeded to spank consenting adults with a whip.

On to the show

Moviegoers adhered to none of the rules typically followed when seeing a film at the theater.

That is because “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not like any other movie.

Rocky Horror newcomers had no idea what to expect as veterans jumped out of their seats to dance along to the song “Time Warp,” yelled profanity at the movie, threw rice, ice and water at the screen, and turned on their cellphone flashlights to simulate lighters in the air — all part of the interaction that has become part of “Rocky Horror” over the decades.

This is the first event of its kind held at the Bay Theater. The fact that it was sold out meant a lot to Manager Jon Huybrecht.

“I did this show in college. So this is very nostalgic to me. It was actually around the time I was coming out of the closet. So for me, this has a special place in my heart,” he said.

Huybrecht is not the only one who holds the move so close to his heart.

“Since its inception, it’s kind of cemented itself as safe haven for queer people to gather together to enjoy the film, be themselves and not have to be afraid of who they are, even if it’s just for 90 minutes,” Diamond said.

Moviegoers dance to “Time Warp” during the midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” (Tom Stankard/staff photo)

The show kicked off a weekend of events celebrating Pride Month in Ashland. The festivities continued Saturday at Kreher Park on the shores of Lake Superior with the second annual Chequamegon Bay Pride Celebration.

A large crowd heard an afternoon of motivational speakers and live music.

“We want to show everyone that we are here together, despite how lonely we sometimes feel. Love is love,” Vince Schueren said in between singing alongside Sean VanZeeland and the Pride Community Choir.

The feeling of togetherness continued through the night at a drag show at Ashland’s Stagecoach Bar and Grill.

Diamond and “frenz” Beth Anne Bodyworks and Kaden Cosgrove entertained over 75 people packed into the bar with live music and entertainment that got people out of their seats and on to the dance floor.

Before singing a final song, Diamond reminded the audience of how important it is to be supportive of LBGTQ+ children.

“Queer children exist. Transgender children exist. When you don’t support queer and transgender children, you are not creating happy children. You are creating an unhappy child. When you start to support children in your community and let them be themselves, that means they can grow up to love themselves and make the world a better place,” Diamond said.

More than expected

When organizers were planning the celebration, particularly the drag show, they were not sure what kind of reception to expect in the Bay Area.

“For the drag show, we wanted it to be a first for the area,” co-organizer Bradley Schaeffer said. “We were hoping for a good amount of people, but the joint just filled up. This is exactly what we were hoping for.”

Diamond was also overwhelmed by the amount of support.

“The love in the room was palpable. It felt so right. The people came out and proved that there is a queer community in Ashland. They are proud to be themselves and be in a city that reciprocates that love,” Diamond said.

Bodyworks said the success proves Ashland is an open and accepting community.

Kaden Cosgrove performs during the Drag Show as Dora Diamond watches on at Stagecoach Bar and Grill in Ashland. (Tom Stankard/Staff photo)

“It makes me excited to see what the years to come are going to be like because that was so supportive and affirming in so many ways,” Bodyworks said. “To me, this is an indicator of broader change that has need to happen for a while.”

Attendees already were talking about next year’s event before the weekend was over, Schaeffer said.

“We’re going to regroup and start planning for next year,” Schaeffer said.

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Big Top free family series kicks off
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For more than 20 years, Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua has offered a series of free family concerts each summer, gifting top shelf entertainment to the community. The 2022 series is as exciting and varied a line-up as Big Top has ever put together, Executive Director Terry Meyer Matier said.

“Some years we have had a global music theme, bringing music, dance and theater from a variety of cultures,” Meyer Matier said. “This year we have a more eclectic series.”

The series kicks off Saturday, June 25 with “Anishinaabe Dibaajimowin: An Ojibwe Story,” a Big Top original musical show featuring regional Native artists. The matinee showing is a roughly hour-long version of the full show (the full show will be on stage that night at 7:30 p.m.).

The seven-show series continues the very next day with the popular Okee Dokee Brothers taking the stage, with their outdoor-based folk songs.

July sees the “ultimate Disney cover band” The Little Mermen and the Michael Franti Acoustic Trio in shows geared toward family fun.

On July 24, Big Top is partnering with the Bayfield Heritage Association for a special showing of the film “The Bayfield Flood of ’42.” The movie chronicles one of Bayfield’s most significant historic events — a flash flood that destroyed downtown businesses and even the city cemetery. In fact, the flood is featured in Big Top’s flagship historical musical, “Riding the Wind,” which chronicles the history of Bayfield in image and song.

Bayfield Heritage Association Executive Director Marisa Lee is excited about the partnership.

“BHA and Big Top go way back, so this is the perfect fit for the Bayfield Flood of ’42 film premiere,” she said. “We love that this event can be free and open to the public, just like our museum and all our events – and it’s actually happening in a venue big enough to invite the whole town!”

In August the Artrageous troupe brings their unique show to Big Top. Artrageous celebrates a variety of art forms, including music, dance, visual arts and more in a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory experience.

On Aug. 14, the Big Top free family series is featuring the Artrageous performing troupe, a multi-sensory experience that bridges art forms of song, dance and visual arts.

The series wraps up in September with the talented duo Lil’ Mike & Funny Bone, featured on the Netflix series “Reservation Dogs.” Lil’ Mike and Funny Bone will put on two shows – one at the Big Top, and special second free show at 4 p.m. at the Ashland Bandshell.

“Sometimes it’s hard for people from Bad River and Ashland to make it to Bayfield,” Meyer Matier said. “So we are bringing the show to Ashland to make this more accessible to more people.”

The BART public transit system is offering free shuttles for the shows, but reservations are required. More information can be found on at

For those who can’t make it to the tent, Big Top is planning on livestreaming the events if allowed by the performer’s contracts.


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