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'Let's get loony': Contest features calls imitating Minnesota's iconic loon

One could easily believe a raft of loons showed up Saturday in Crosslake Town Square while contestants used their hands and vocal changes to replicate the eerie, iconic sounds.

A participant in a loon calling contest holds her hands to her mouth as she performs a call
Kelsey Soby of Plymouth performs an encore of her common loon call, which earned her first place in the adult division of the Third Annual Loon Calling Contest during Crosslake Days on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The contest is hosted by the National Loon Center.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch
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CROSSLAKE — About a dozen participants wailed, yodeled and hooted to a crowd Saturday, Sept. 24, in pursuit of the top prize for imitating Minnesota's state bird.

Perhaps one of the most widely recognized songs in lake country, the calls of the common loon ring out from area lakes as the migratory waterfowl spend their summers here. One could easily believe a raft of loons showed up Saturday in Crosslake Town Square while contestants used their hands and vocal changes to replicate the eerie, iconic sounds.

Kelsey Soby of Plymouth stunned the crowd with her spot-on rendition of three of the four main calls of the common loon: the tremolo, wail and yodel. Soby's effort earned her a roar of appreciation and first place in the adult division, which included a prize package.

Soby said she spent time as a child at a family cabin near Fifty Lakes and grew up listening to the call of the loon echoing across the water. She said once while training for the swimming portion of a triathlon later in life, she attempted a call toward a loon near her in the water. The bird's reaction — aggressively flapping its wings and moving toward her — led Soby to seek safety on a dock.

"I guess I said the wrong thing," Soby said with a laugh.

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The third annual contest hosted by the National Loon Center in Crosslake during Crosslake Days was a celebration of the wildlife and sounds iconic to the north woods with winners in the 13 and older age group and the 12 and younger group receiving National Loon Center merchandise as prizes.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Related Topics: CROSSLAKECROSSLAKE DAYSNATIONAL LOON CENTER
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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