Deerwood Celebrates 150th Anniversary With Festivities – Brainerd Dispatch

DEERWOOD – The number of people in Deerwood is about to increase a lot more.

The Town of Deerwood will kick off a four-day celebration beginning Thursday, July 7 in honor of its 150th anniversary.

“I hope the whole street is lined in blue,” said Jeff Bordwell, who along with his wife Joella will be selling t-shirts commemorating the 150th anniversary of the city’s founding.

Planned celebratory events in Deerwood include open houses, parade, family activities, fireworks, farmers market, food vendors, entertainment, dancing, live music and more .

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful celebration, and I hope people kind of appreciate what we have to offer in the auditorium and in the city,” Bordwell said.

Deerwood Mayor Mike Aulie added: “And we’ve put together a sort of self-guided tour where people can travel around Deerwood a bit in the area and see some of the landmark things that date back to the 1800s, early 1900s.”

Mike Aulie, Mayor of Deerwood

Bordwell is involved with the Cuyuna Iron Range Heritage Network, a non-profit organization established in 1989 as the Cuyuna Country Heritage Preservation Society. Its members collect and preserve physical artifacts that document life on the Cuyuna Range.

“We’re kind of the source for a lot of the history of Deerwood…and we’ve pulled some of this archived information into our office – these photos and things – for an open house that we’re going to have in the office. ‘auditorium that’ I’ll be running, basically, Thursday through Saturday,” Bordwell said.

Deerwood is located approximately 18 miles northeast of Brainerd in Crow Wing County. Deerwood is defined by a 3 square mile area that includes several lakes, and the town has a population of 526, according to the 2020 census.

“Deerwood has always changed and adapted to the times and that dates back to the early 1900s,” Aulie said.

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Town of Deerwood. Brainerd Dispatch photo file

Noted for its heritage and rural charm, the area was known as Withington from 1871 to 1881, leading it to be confused with Worthington in southwestern Minnesota. Famous for its population of white-tailed deer, “Deerwood” was considered a suitable replacement for the name of the community.

“The railroad put Deerwood on the map, just like it did with Brainerd,” Aulie said. “We have a real-time link with Brainerd. Brainerd was a year ahead of us when it came to technical creation.

The Deerwood area boomed as the Northern Pacific Railroad wound its way through the area with an expansion from Carlton to Brainerd. The first depot was built in 1871, and as new settlers arrived the village grew and gave rise to the Cuyuna Range, according to town officials.

“At the turn of the century, Deerwood had a population of almost 1,000 people at the time, due to people moving to the area for different things,” Aulie said. “Tourism – from the beginning – has played a big role here.”

Aulie has been Deerwood’s mayor for more than a dozen years and has long been preparing for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration, which officially begins with the ceremonial opening at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Deerwood Auditorium.

“We’ll have scouts who kind of do a presentation of the color and read the oath of allegiance and we’ll have some of our lawmakers and other area mayors there,” Aulie said. “I’m going to give a kind of Deerwood history…and then we’ll have a time capsule.”

TNT Industries Inc. manufactured the time capsule and is a family business in Deerwood with over three decades of experience in metal fabrication.

“We will put things in the time capsule that will be monitored in the auditorium,” Aulie said. “We won’t be sealing it (or) mounting it on Thursday night because we’re going to want to put elements of the celebration itself, so that will happen later.”

Saturday will be when most of the 150th anniversary events take place, including the 10 a.m. parade on Forest Road.

“Deerwood is not a big city, so the parade will only last five or six blocks,” Aulie said. “It will start at the west end of Forest Road and end just past the auditorium… but then we have different musicians and entertainment scheduled every hour from 11am to 4am.”

The fireworks will begin at dusk Saturday, with parking and viewing also available at TNT Industries on County Road 12.

“They will be kicked out of Serpent Lake and should be pretty much visible from all over town,” Aulie said.

Bordwell said: “It will be quite a special day with entertainment and food vendors coming. Some of our Farmers Market we have in Crosby – some of those vendors will also be coming to Deerwood around this time.”

Thursday July 7

  • 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.: Pizza lunch at the Deerwood Legion
  • 7:00 p.m.: Opening Ceremony at Deerwood Auditorium (with history presentation, brief program, time capsule and refreshments)

Friday July 8

  • All-day self-guided tours of historic sites (with map available at Deerwood Auditorium)
  • 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: Open House at Deerwood Auditorium (with exhibit, historians, opportunity to reminisce with others, and refreshments)
  • 10 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Open house at Deerwood Bank (with display, free gifts)
  • 10 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Doors open at the Depot Museum (located behind the old Crosby Super One)
  • 4 p.m.: Jambalaya Feed at the Deerstand
  • 6 p.m.: Open-air dance at the Deerstand

Saturday July 9

  • 10 a.m.: Parade along Forest Road in Deerwood
  • 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Family activities in the Splash Pad Park, Deerwood Auditorium and Fire Hall area
  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Farmer’s Market
  • 10am-4pm: Catering and entertainment
  • Dusk: fireworks launched from Serpeant Lake near Deerwood swimming beach

Sunday July 10

  • Morning Services at Deerwood Church
  • 8am-11am:. Breakfast at Deerwood Legion

FRANK LEE can be reached at 218-855-5863 or

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