top of page





Bovey, Minnesota was a historical jewel in the Iron Range and is known for its rich mining history beginning in the early 1900's and as the home of world-famous photograph & Minnesota's official State picture "Grace". We profile the history of the Grace photo that was taken by Eric Enstrom in his Bovey studio back in 1918. Bovey was bustling in the early 1900's. A major highway led through the town's center and past the Renaissance Revival designed Bovey Village Hall which still stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Opposite Bovey Village Hall was the Bovey Mercantile store, the biggest hardware store in Northern Minnesota at that time. Now known as Annabella's Antiques, the store was discovered to have a couple of underground tunnels which have spawned legends over the decades as to what the tunnels' purposes were. To a backdrop of early 30's speakeasy/jazz styled re-enactments, we interview residents who lived in the area through the Depression era who have a first hand account of the lively happenings in Bovey and surrounding areas.


An Ode To Itasca's Very Own Hollywood Starlet

Hollywood movie legend Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids, Itasca County. A standing tribute to this vivacious performer's Hollywood career and life, the world's only Judy Garland Museum is a labor of love by its dedicated staff & supporters. Visitors can see Garland’s personal treasures, photos, props and costumes from various films including The Wizard of Oz. Taking pride of place, next to the world’s largest Wizard of Oz memorabilia collection, is the original carriage from the film (said to be worth around $2 million), and once owned by President Abraham Lincoln. Every year, the museum holds the Judy Garland Festival which has been hosted in the past by Hollywood stars like Mickey Rooney and Jane Powell. The museum also incorporates the beautifully restored (and outfitted) white house in which Garland grew up as a little girl. This episode showcases the myriad of activities staged during the festival, interviews with fans, Judy Garland experts, museum staff and cast members of "Over the Rainbow", a History Theatre (Minneapolis) production telling the life story of Garland.


Discover the Vibrant Festivals of Itasca

Summer is a magical time for Itasca County with many events & festivals being held throughout the area. Nestled amongst the trees, by a pristine lake sits the Itasca County Fairgrounds, known as the most picturesque fair grounds in the whole of Minnesota. Annually, the grounds come alive with the Itasca County Fair featuring colorful amusement rides; the sweet smell of cotton candy, hot dogs, the sound of livestock exhibitions and the roar of the stock car races. An equally vibrant town event, Tall Timber Days closes the streets of downtown Grand Rapids for family shows, lumberjack competitions, street dances, and lots and lots of food! Weekend of Wheels roars in at the end of July for over 15,000 vintage car enthusiasts and observers alike. Celebrating community and the wild rice that still grows abundantly in the area's lakes and rivers, the Deer River Wild Rice Festival, the world's largest celebration of the grain, features activities like parades, amusements, live music and the traditional Ojibwe Pow Wow. After 100 years, one of Minnesota's longest-running events, Bovey Farmer's Day, still continues every Labor Day with a vibrant carnival, street dance, live musical entertainment, flea markets & a glow-in-the-dark 5k run!


Discover the tastes of Itasca

We accompany a local Itascan caterer on a detailed tour of the local cuisine & dining experiences available in Itasca County. From private sunset dinner events on an alpaca farm to a fine dining experience at a local restaurant & even a sampling of authentic spicy Mexican delights. Hola! The audience will be taken on a tour of the local Farmer's market to showcase the regional organic and sustainable fresh produce that the area is well known for. To highlight agritourism, we end this episode with a tour of a produce farm owned by the Fideldy family who, other than their apple orchards and blueberry patches, are well known for their delicious and award winning maple syrup.


Home Is Where The Art Is

Itasca is known as a vibrant county teeming with everything artistic, hosting world famous music artists and performance groups at the Myles Reif Centre, to local artisan showcases at MacRostie Arts Center including monthly highlight - the "First Friday Art Walk". The theatrical community also thrives with local groups like the Grand Rapids Players who stage their vibrant productions seasonally. There are craft stores aplenty; a few that call the historic Old Central School home. The beauty of the arts community in Itasca is that it is experiential. There's something for everyone to partake in. After visiting a local pottery studio, we drop in on a local metal artisan & sculptor, who treats us to a tour of his stunning collection of life-sized sculptures displayed throughout his property.


Historical Family Resorts and A Touch of Old Hollywood

The Itasca County area became well known as a major resort area in the early 1900's and still remains to this day. We visit two resorts that have been family-owned for generations; with one offering recreational amenities for its corporate and family clientele including a picturesque lake-side golf course, and the other that sits on Wabana Lake - equally as stunning with wondrous stories of yesteryear and counting Hollywood stars among their past guests. From there, we glide across Wabana & Trout Lakes and arrive at the historical Joyce Estate - one of Minnesota's unique & historical sites, operated by the Chippewa National Forest. The Joyce family helped pioneer the regional lumber trade in the early 1900's. As you stroll through the majestic grounds of the Joyce Estate, imagine the roaring twenties, the time of prohibition and women's suffrage. Heir to the family fortune, David Gage Joyce of Chicago built the estate with native logs and stone between 1917-1935. It consists of 4,500 acres of forest, eleven lakes, 26 miles of shoreline and 40 buildings. The estate boasted its own seaplane hangar, nine-hole golf course, clubhouse, tennis court, bathhouse/sauna, library and advanced amenities for its time like a hot water system, telephone line and electric lighting. The Joyce family was well known for hosting lavish parties with no expense spared, flying out-of-state guests in on the family's seaplanes for the week-long, lively gatherings.


Life on the great Mississippi River

Debuting in 1956, Mississippi Melodie Showboat was a vaudeville-styled variety show that took place every summer until 2015 in Itasca County on the only outdoor live theatre stage that existed on the entire Mississippi River. The show began with a steamboat rolling up the mighty river, carrying cast members to the open stage, just as the sun would set over the banks of the Mississippi. The steamboat served as a backdrop for the remainder of the show. We take the audience behind-the-scenes as we follow four Showboat members during the months of cast rehearsals, at the final dress rehearsal through to the big opening night, capturing the spirit of the community through their eyes.


Experience the rich history of Itasca


The Itasca Historical Society is the go-to archival center of Itasca County. Their extensive b&w photographic collection is unparalleled in this county. There is an abundance of stories to discover, from Native American history to Roosevelt's CCC camps, to women in the mines. The exhibits preserve the lush history of the people and places of this great county whose roots are deeply embedded in logging! Today you can experience the history of this county's origins at the Forest History Center where you are transported into the tranquil life of the forest. Inside features include exhibits, multimedia presentations, and film screenings. Going through the rear exit, we take a step back into yesteryear and encounter performers in 19th century clothing in an old logging village. This is more than a place to learn about the history of life in the forests. It is about engaging your senses in a serene environment:- have a picnic, go on a hike through the marshes & reeds on elevated boardwalks and encounter the beautiful wildlife that inhabit the 170 acre property.


Life Is In The Land

So often, little thought is given to the upkeep of our natural surroundings and the labor of love that a given few carry out on behalf of its citizens to ensure our quality of life.  The Land Edition takes the audience behind-the-scenes to tell the story of the unique Itasca landscape that we so enjoy. It explores the relationship Itasca County citizens enjoy with the natural world and the leadership the county government has provided in stewarding its most valuable 'gem' ... the natural world that sustains them so it can be enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike.

Home: Project




Itasca Conversations is an in-depth extension of the Gems of Itasca series which lets you take a closer look at the people, places, and stories of Itasca County. From its fine dining venues and burgeoning art scene, to its inspiring community leaders and rich history, the Itasca area is full of opportunity and excitement! Join us for some one-on-one time with the people and organizations behind its Gems.
The entire series will be presented through the voices of the people of Itasca, and the film style of this piece reflects that perspective. This is an on-the-streets, close-up look at what makes this area such a great place to live, work, and play.
The first episode in the Itasca Conversations series features Dr. Lee Jess, who helped start Tall Timber Days, one of the area's most-attended public events. The doctor recounts the formation of the event, giving us a taste of what it means to be a part of the vibrant Itasca community.
Stay tuned as we continue to unveil and share the heart of this one-of-a-kind area through Itasca Conversations!

This series is proudly sponsored by: Itasca County - The Land Department, The Judy Garland Museum, Grand Rapids State Bank, Itasca Economic Development Corporation and Miner Cub Foods.

Home: Project

Gems of Itasca was produced by
A+B Productions and is a community development project in the form of a short-form series showcasing the artistic, cultural and historical gems of the county of Itasca, Minnesota, U.S. This rural narrative was released in May, 2014 and is told through the eyes and the voices of the community, leading the audience through the experiences that are richly unique to the Itasca County region. The goal of this project is to help the community bolster and boost its online presence and visibility in order to help stimulate economic and cultural development in the area and is made possible through the sponsorships of the community stakeholders and businesses whose goal is to further the growth of the community.

Deep in the forests of Northern Minnesota amongst 1400 pristine lakes, lies the county of Itasca, named after Lake Itasca, found to be the true source of the mighty Mississippi River. With 16 cities and a population of around 46,000, the county spans 2,927.78 square miles (7,582.9 km2). 

Filming commenced in June 2013 and wrapped at the end of September 2013, for a total of 52 days. Post-production for the 8 episodes took place over 6 months and was launched with a red carpet corporate and media event in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in May 2014. The series was released online via a social media marketing campaign and has been utilized for tourism, economic and business development by many local businesses and non-profit organizations.

This project is 100% community funded and was made possible by corporate & private sponsors. For business sponsorship and advertising opportunities, please contact A+B Productions at

Plan your trip to Itasca:


Home: Contact
bottom of page