Living in Minnesota during the winter months means spending more time indoors doing one’s best to keep warm and out of the elements. While remaining inside comes with the territory for Minnesotans, others have been making an effort to change that winter mindset and to encourage people to get out and enjoy all that the state has to offer during its coldest days.
For the fourth consecutive year, Explore Minnesota – the state’s tourism promotion office – in partnership with Monopoint Media, has launched Checkpoint Minnesota. Known as the “statewide scavenger hunt,” the program is spotlighting 10 travel locations across the state, including one in Redwood Falls.
According to Anne Johnson, Redwood Area Chamber and Tourism executive director, the swinging footbridge in Ramsey Park has been selected as one of the 10 Checkpoint destinations scavenger hunt participants are invited to visit in the state.
“This is such an exciting opportunity for us,” said Johnson.
The scavenger hunt actually began Dec. 15, and Johnson said there have already been a number of people who have made the trek to Redwood Falls and into the park to see the bridge and have their photo taken next to a sign set up designating the site as part of Checkpoint Minnesota.
According to Explore Minnesota, this is the only state that hosts a winter-themed scavenger hunt that encompasses a variety of destinations and attractions statewide. The locations are scattered around Minnesota from Baudette and Nisswa to Chanhassen and Rochester.
According to Johnson, the sites are selected by Explore Minnesota, adding one can’t apply to be part of the scavenger hunt. The Redwood Falls location is the only one selected for this year’s hunt in southwest Minnesota.
Thousands of people participate in Checkpoint Minnesota each year, as Explore Minnesota entices people with prizes. More than $45,000 in awards is offered, including winter gear, footwear, getaway packages and more.
Johnson added local prize packages are also being offered.
“We have a great park that is well maintained by a dedicated staff,” said Johnson, adding volunteers, such as the Friends of the Park, have done so much to improve the park for those who visit it.
Johnson said the park’s road is kept clear throughout the winter, and she expressed her appreciation to the city and its staff for its efforts to make the local destination accessible to visitors.
“This is going to be great exposure for our fantastic community,” said Johnson, adding the hope is that people who visit the Checkpoint Minnesota site in the park will be so impressed with what they see that they will want to come back. “We want people to see the park in the winter and wonder what it might be like at other times during the year.”
There was no cost for the community to be involved in the scavenger hunt other than what is already being done to keep the road open for those who want to visit.
Information is being offered on the Explore Minnesota Web site, and Johnson said she and others in the community are doing what they can to spread the word.
Each individual who registers at checkpointmn.com automatically earns a prize by reaching their first checkpoint. A map of the locations and other information can also be found at that site.
Johnson said data is being collected during the scavenger hunt, which continues through Feb. 12, 2017, that will indicate where they are coming from. That data can help the community as it makes plans for future tourism efforts.
“Being part of this is so much bigger than anything we could have done on our own,” said Johnson.