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Duluth, Hibbing to celebrate Bob Dylan's 80th birthday with year of events

The St. Louis County Board is expected to proclaim it the "Year of Dylan."

Minnesota's own Bob Dylan is turning 80 this month, and his homeland has an entire year's worth of celebrations planned for the occasion. 

Dylan, who was born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, turns 80 on May 24, and the St. Louis County Board on Tuesday is expected to proclaim the year that follows "The Year of Dylan" in the northern Minnesota county.

This comes after the Duluth Dylan Fest and the Hibbing Dylan Project - along with Visit Duluth, Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce, Iron Range Tourism and the Minnesota Discovery Center - decided the "achievements of Bob Dylan, spanning over 60 years, can best be acknowledged by a 'Year of Dylan,'" according to Duluth Dylan Fest.

So they've teamed up to offer a variety of "Dylan-esque" events over the next 12 months, bookended by Dylan's 80th and 81st birthdays, which will be celebrated both in Duluth and Hibbing. 

To start the Year of Dylan, there will be a groundbreaking of the Dylan Monument at Hibbing High School on May 22, as well as music at Dylan's boyhood home in Hibbing. 

Also marking Dylan's birthday week is the Duluth Dylan Fest, running May 22-30, which will include concerts, tours and more (some in-person, some virtual). Some events are free, while others require tickets. 

In addition to the aforementioned celebrations, one of the Mesabi Trails 2021 Bike Tours will be Dylan-themed with music and the unveiling of a "special addition" to the trail near Hibbing. The Minnesota Discovery Center is also planning a Dylan-themed concert and display in August. 

More events will be held throughout the year, courtesy of the Duluth Dylan Fest and Hibbing Dylan Project. 

Year of Dylan proclamation

On the St. Louis County Board's agenda for Tuesday, May 4, is a proclamation declaring May 24, 2021-May 24, 2022, the "Year of Dylan." 

The proclamation says Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth and lived in the city until 1947, when he moved to Hibbing, noting the Grammy-winning musician referenced his education in Hibbing during his Nobel Lecture after receiving the Nobel Prize in literature in 2016. 

"He went on to become one of the most influential artists in many genres, combining 60 years of writing, singing and recording hundreds of songs which were performed by himself and numerous other musicians," the proclamation reads.

The proclamation adds, "His work is so highly regarded that it is being taught as a separate course in numerous colleges and universities."

The hope for the Year of Dylan is to benefit the tourism industry in St. Louis County during a challenging year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, county board documents show.

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