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Luverne eyes destination city status: Award-winning photographer to present prairie images as idea for branding

LUVERNE -- For the past several years, the community of Luverne has worked to position itself as a destination city. The beautiful Blue Mounds and its bison herd have attracted people to this corner of southwest Minnesota for generations, but tod...

LUVERNE - For the past several years, the community of Luverne has worked to position itself as a destination city.

The beautiful Blue Mounds and its bison herd have attracted people to this corner of southwest Minnesota for generations, but today’s community leaders are looking to capitalize on some of their lesser known assets - parks, trails and recreational amenities, a military museum, Touch the Sky Prairie, historic buildings and business development.
The city completed a downtown revitalization project, with its latest work focused on the U.S. Highway 75 corridor. New restaurants and a hotel have opened, new trails are mapped out, the hockey arena has expanded and the Brandenburg Gallery attracts visitors from across the country.

Now, the time has come to decide what’s next.
“Are we going to do the destination branding? That’s the big thing,” asked Luverne Area Chamber Director Jane Lanphere.
The Luverne Initiatives For Tomorrow (LIFT) and Luverne Area Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting an annual social and celebration next Monday at the Historic Palace Theatre. Guest Presenter is photographer Brian Peterson, co-author of the recently published “Minnesota: State of Wonders,” an award-winning book that celebrates the abundance and diversity of the state’s natural beauty.
Peterson, a native of Duluth, captured images in Rock County during the summer of 2014, and will share not only images from the book, but a concept for destination branding.
“When we think of living in Minnesota, we don’t think we have a natural wonder to draw to,” Lanphere said. “He will open our eyes and address the prairie as a natural wonder.
“Brian will … show slides of the prairie and he’ll talk about what he saw,” she added. “He was completely amazed by what the prairie could offer.”
Lanphere said Peterson’s presentation will introduce just one idea for LIFT and the community to consider. At the end of the night, she wants to ask the people of Luverne to voice their thoughts - should they continue to move forward with a focal point on branding their community, or are they happy with things as they are.
“Brian is providing a concept for destination branding,” she said. “Do we have the energy to move forward, hire a consultant and lay out the plans for a destination?”
If they do move forward, Lanphere said, the question then becomes what the focal point should be.
“Should we build on Ken Burns’ The War? Should we build on our farming community? The Palace Theatre?” asked Lanphere. “There’s a lot of discussion on what we could identify the community as.”
If the community decides to move forward with destination branding, Lanphere said LIFT will begin the search for a destination branding consultant and begin a process that could take years to fully develop Luverne into the destination local leaders dream it to be.
Tickets for Monday’s event are available by calling the Luverne Area Chamber at (507) 283-2061.
“We welcome people to come,” said Lanphere. “We think this spills over to everybody. We want to work cooperatively with other communities.”
Refreshments and appetizers will be served from 6 to 7 p.m., with a brief update on ongoing projects in Luverne to start at 7 p.m., followed by Peterson’s presentation. Tickets must be reserved in advance.
Peterson co-authored “Minnesota: State of Wonders” with Star Tribune Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg. Peterson’s photographs have been published in the Star Tribune, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and ESPN. He will host a book signing following the presentation.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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