History hero honored: Fert Faust is 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the Year
A partnership between Brainerd Community Action and the Brainerd Jaycees, the Distinguished Service Awards honor outstanding residents and organizations in various categories.
Carl Faust was bummed when he didn’t get to do a Brainerd History Walk Tuesday, Sept. 28.
More commonly known around town as Fert, Faust went to Visit Brainerd Tuesday afternoon under the impression he was going to be a tour guide for a family reunion group from Illinois. Instead, he was surprised with the news of being named the 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.
Friends and family members who had been hiding in the back of the Visit Brainerd store trickled out as Faust spoke about Brainerd’s recent sesquicentennial celebration after being told the city was working on a video to wrap up last week’s festivities.
As Faust talked of Brainerd’s history, his love for the city and its rich past became apparent, revealing a glimpse of why he earned the Distinguished Service Awards top honor.
A partnership between Brainerd Community Action and the Brainerd Jaycees, the Distinguished Service Awards honor outstanding residents and organizations in various categories, including nonprofit, volunteer, community service and — of course — citizen of the year.
It was Faust’s passion for history and for Brainerd itself that made him this year’s choice.
“I’m just blown away by the Citizen of the Year because what I am doing here, to me, is just natural and is just plain fun and what I like to do,” Faust said.
Faust was a key component of establishing Brainerd’s downtown history walks in 2006, taking tour groups throughout the city and explaining the historical significance of various buildings and other locations. He served as co-chair of the first Brainerd History Week in 2014 and has been involved in the annual event ever since. Among his projects this year was finding the city’s uninstalled 1971 centennial plaques and getting them reinstalled around town, along with other informational signs.
Faust also runs a website — fertfaust.wixsite.com/brainerd-history — where he shares his knowledge of Brainerd’s history.
“He truly wants every person to love Brainerd as much as he does,” a nomination letter for Faust stated. “Fert does all these things with enthusiasm and a sense of humor, making history FUN! Fert is also a character. He is proud to be a member of the elite team of Grand Elbows. He is the ‘go to guy’ when you need historical information. He is a collector of many things and especially loves bricks and lanterns. And I don’t think he has ever gone a day without wearing his Grain Belt Beer belt buckle. His personal quirks and community passion make him the ideal candidate for Citizen of the Year.”
Holly Holm, destination services specialist at Visit Brainerd, spoke of a participant on a recent history walk tour who said Faust was an amazing tour guide and had apparent passion.
“I think that sums it up,” Holm said. “... We just want to say thank you for all that you do. We know that you are heavily involved behind the scenes — probably a thankless job a lot of the time — but we are all here today to say thank you.”
For Faust, who was disappointed not to be giving a history tour Tuesday and joked he would do it anyway whether anyone followed or not, said he has already gotten all the thanks he needs.
“My thanks is all those poles we’ve got in the ground with history markers,” he said.
A Distinguished Service Awards banquet to honor this year’s winners is set for Oct. 21.