Two large events that traditionally have been held in Duluth will be moving to other cities in 2022 – the Festival of Sail and the Society of Mining Engineers Minnesota Regional Conference. 

At the Two Harbors City Council meeting last week, Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson noted several tourism promotions in the works, including the likely arrival of tall-masted ships for summer of 2022.

“We have the tall ships issue in motion right now. We are bringing the tall ships to Two Harbors and planning next summer to have that event here,” Swanson told the council.

There definitely is buzz about the Festival of Sail again returning to Lake Superior in 2022. On Facebook, it's been posted that the dates will be announced soon. Craig Samborski, organizer of the event, has promised details within the next month but specifics of the event remain in the final planning stages.

The SME conference will be held at the new Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia. Formerly, it was held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC), although it included bus trips to Iron Range mines and processing plants.

Scheduled April 11-13, it includes live presentations by key mining engineers and executives along with banquets and product displays in a trade show format.

Dan Hartman, the DECC's new director, acknowledges the SMA event was among his largest customers. But he added that having a new convention venue up north helps everyone in the region by bringing in more visitors. Given its massive size, Hartman said, the DECC still offers an advantage unavailable elsewhere in Northeastern Minnesota.

Somewhat unknown is the impact related to the likely closure of Harbor Drive, which wraps between DECC Arena and the waterfront. He said the city is working quickly to restructure that area to accommodate outdoor events. Reconstruction of the dock wall will also prepare the site to better accommodate cruise ships.

"It's going to be a fantastic spot to see the Lift Bridge and harbor operations," Hartman said. 

Although a final design is yet to be adopted, the $14 million project, to be funded by a federal grant, will likely be constructed next summer, which is also when the 2022 Festival of Sail is scheduled. 

"A lot of good events have been discussed in the past for Canal Park but could not be accommodated. Now, we'll have a space for them," he said. And the new path to Bayfront Park "will be a really good connector."