The city of Brainerd recently honored a Brainerd native for his efforts in bringing free, accessible classical music to the Brainerd lakes area.

Brainerd City Council President Dave Pritschet and Mayor Ed Menk July 30 presented the city of Brainerd's Tower Award to Scott Lykins, founding executive and artistic director of the Lakes Area Music Festival.

Monday, Lykins said it was an honor to be recognized for something that has meant so much to him over the past nine years. Without community support from donors and volunteers, the festival wouldn't be possible, he said.

"It's one of those things that shows how much the community values the presence of the Lakes Area Music Festival," Lykins said. "While this award is an honor for me, it is also a testament to everyone that makes the concerts possible."

This summer, the festival moved its office from the Franklin Arts Center to a space on Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd. It was appealing to have an office closer to Tornstrom Auditorium at Washington Educational Services Building, Lykins said, and exciting to be a part of a changing downtown Brainerd.

"We're very excited to have our new neighbors be the Crossing Arts Alliance," Lykins said. "And have that strip on Laurel Street turn into a celebration of the arts."

Menk, owner of E.L. Menk Jewelers in downtown Brainerd, said it was great for the festival to move its office to downtown Brainerd. Its proximity to the Crossing Arts Alliance says a lot about the culture in the community, he said.

"It's a good fit for our community to honor those that do well for us," Menk said. "He deserves all the accolades he can get for doing this. It's a selfless thing."

Lykins is a deserving recipient, Pritschet said, because of how he grew the festival from a handful of free concerts in an area church to a three-week festival. The arts culture the festival brings to Brainerd is significant, he said, and the community concert features the talents of local musicians. Menk and Pritschet presented Lykins with the Tower Award prior to the community concert on July 30.

The festival brings renowned musicians and culture to the community, Menk said, and provides it at no cost to the community. It brings people to the city for events and casts the community in a positive light, he said.

"He's done a lot for our community through this effort," Menk said. "Without asking for anything in return."

Lykins is a 2004 Brainerd High School graduate. It's great to see someone from the community return and give back to their hometown, Pritschet said.

"That grit, determination, work ethic and that willingness and that desire to give back, is the thing that I find most impressive," Pritschet said.

Success breeds more success, Pritschet said, and the festival's success is going to draw more attractions to the city. Brainerd is normally known for fishing and the outdoors, he said, not classical music.

"It brings so many people together, it's just astounding," Pritschet said.

Former Mayor James Wallin, who died in office in 2015, designed the city's Tower Award in 1990, calling it the most prestigious award the city gives.