Probably the last thing on the mind of Remy the dog was to travel back in time in Brainerd.

The owners of the 10-year-old Pomeranian had something else in mind, however, when they carried the pooch Saturday, Sept. 18, as participants of the Downtown Brainerd History Walk.

Brainerd natives Damon Grilz, front center, his wife Elizabeth, right, and their dog Remy look around during a tour Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, during a Downtown Brainerd History Walk.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd natives Damon Grilz, front center, his wife Elizabeth, right, and their dog Remy look around during a tour Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, during a Downtown Brainerd History Walk. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“They have little pamphlets around the downtown area — we go to the co-op a lot — so that's how we saw it was happening,” Elizabeth Grilz said before the tour’s start. “And we just are very invested in learning more about Brainerd and thought this would be a good opportunity.”

Visit Brainerd began offering a walking tour of downtown Brainerd that starts and finishes at the marketing organization and visitor’s bureau office on Laurel Street. Saturday’s walking tour with local historian Carl Faust was part of the city’s week of events celebrating its sesquicentennial.

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“We scheduled four tours specifically for the sesquicentennial, but we were offering tours throughout the summer,” said Holly Holm, a destination services specialist with the nonprofit corporation representing the tourism and hospitality businesses of Baxter and Brainerd.

The remaining three guided tours recognizing Brainerd’s 150th anniversary will take place Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday as part of a weeklong celebration of other planned events.

RELATED: Sesquicentennial celebration starts Sept. 18

“I think there has always been a lot of interest when it comes to history week, and this is just a special year because of the sesquicentennial, of course,” Holm said of the tours, with proceeds funding the Brainerd History Group’s legacy project of providing signage and historical markers.

Visit Brainerd’s walk is an abbreviated version of the more encompassing Downtown Brainerd History Walk, a self-guided tour created by Faust. Holm came up with the idea to focus solely on the 600 and 700 blocks between Front and Laurel streets.

“We have a lot of last-minute people coming in for the tour, so kind of typical. You know a lot of people just kind of wing it and don't make plans specifically, so we're happy to have them and excited that they’re here,” Holm said of the almost 20 people who took part in Saturday’s event.

Elizabeth Grilz, her husband Damon and their dog Remy were among those who paid $10 each to go on the tour and who received a complimentary pass for admittance to the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library in downtown Brainerd.

“And it will provide us with a competitive edge in the Stride and Seek,” Damon Grilz said of the Saturday, Sept. 25, sesquicentennial event scavenger hunt for teams of two that will be given a series of clues and challenges to earn points.

“It’s good to know a little bit more about the city,” said Elizabeth Grilz, a Brainerd native like her husband who plans to enter the run/walk event that costs $35 per person to enter with proceeds to support efforts to save Brainerd’s historic water tower that is in need of repairs.

The 28-year-old fitness instructor and fitness studio owner graduated from Brainerd High School in 2011, where she met her husband, a 27-year-old husband who works as Ascensus and is also a Brainerd native.

“It’s just kind of nice to know the reason why certain things are where and why things are set up the way they are … like the amount of just giant buildings that were once here and are now gone, like the hospital that's used to be by the train where the bridge is,” Damon Grilz said.


“It’s just kind of nice to know the reason why certain things are where and why things are set up the way they are … like the amount of just giant buildings that were once here and are now gone, like the hospital that's used to be by the train where the bridge is.”

— Damon Grilz of Brainerd


The group tour includes brief sidewalk stops at historically relevant sites. Faust will stop and talk about the significance of the buildings around town, the people who built them and the unique historical stories surrounding them, according to Holm.

“History is fun to read about, but it’s more fun when you can get out in the field and discover things and start putting two and two together and one thing leads to another,” Faust said as he guided the tour.

RELATED: Historical Society closes for October

The Downtown Brainerd History Walk was developed in 2008 to help Brainerd celebrate the state’s sesquicentennial. A tour booklet was made that can be checked out from the Brainerd Public Library, or the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library.

For more information or to make a reservation for the Downtown Brainerd History Walk, call 218-825-0410 or visit visitbrainerd.com. For more information on the city’s sesquicentennial celebration, visit www.ci.brainerd.mn.us/596/150-Years.

Holly Holm of Visit Brainerd
Holly Holm of Visit Brainerd

Brainerd Sesquicentennial Celebration

The celebration for Brainerd’s sesquicentennial kicked off Saturday, Sept. 18, with a week of special events to follow in honor of the city’s 150th anniversary. Here are upcoming events:

Monday, Sept. 20: City hall open house and history display — 4-6:30 p.m. at Brainerd City Hall.

Tuesday, Sept. 21: Rotary Park pavilion dedication — noon to 1:30 p.m. at Rotary Park.

Here for Good Market — 3-7 p.m. on South Seventh Street.

Funny Faces ping pong races — 4-6 p.m. at Visit Brainerd.

Brainerd History Walk — 5:30 p.m. beginning at Visit Brainerd.

Wednesday, Sept. 22: Business After Hours sesquicentennial celebration — 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Rumbly Hall.

Brainerd trivia night — 7-9 p.m. at Rumbly Hall.

Downtown Discount Days — All day in downtown Brainerd.

Thursday, Sept. 23: Brainerd History Walk — 3 p.m. beginning at Visit Brainerd.

A Celebration at NPC — 4-8 p.m. at Northern Pacific Center.

Downtown Discount Days — All day in downtown Brainerd.

Friday, Sept. 24: “The Crossing” dedication — 5 p.m. on East River Road

Historical museum grand opening — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Crow Wing County Historical Museum.

Historic Courthouse open house — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse.

Downtown Discount Days — All day in downtown Brainerd.

Saturday, Sept. 25: Stride and Seek — 8:30 a.m. to noon at Notch 8.

Downtown history walk — 10:30 a.m. beginning at Visit Brainerd.

Sesquicentennial bash — noon to 4 p.m. in Gregory Park.

Jaycee’s StreetFest — noon to 12 a.m. on Front Street.

Downtown Discount Days — All day in downtown Brainerd.

Sunday, Sept. 26: Flapjack Festival — 8 a.m. to noon on Front Street.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.