The museum named after one of Superior's hometown heroes is getting ready to celebrate a milestone in its history.  The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center will recognize it's 20th anniversary with an event in September.

Billed under the name "Soaring Into Our Twenties", the Bong Historical Center's birthday celebration has a full slate of events scheduled over the course of three days - September 22 through September 24. In addition to half-price admission to the museum, there are other fun things planned.  According to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] - they focus on the letter "B":  "bikes, Betties, bags, barks, and beers".

The 20th anniversary events will kick off with an invitation only evening at the Museum for "family, staff, museum members, and volunteers" on Thursday, September 22 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Here is a run down of the public events for the next two days of the festival.

Friday, September 23:

  • Half price museum admission all day
  • Vintage Military Weapons Show - happens from 12:00 Noon until 7:00 PM
  • Social Hour - runs from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
  • A recounting of the life of Richard I. Bong will take place from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM.  This will feature historians Mike O'Conner - author of "America's Ace of Aces" and John Anderson - a documentary filmmaker, who put together "Shooting Star: The Story of Richard I. Bong"

Saturday, September 24:

  • Events for this day are hosted by the Border Town Betties
  • The inaugural "Maverick and Goose Top Gun Shootout" bean bag tournament will happen starting at 9:30 AM.  Registration is open to the first 32 teams to pay; cost is $35 per team with a complete, one-hundred percent payback prize.  Winning team gets $800.
  • A motorcycle and kids bicycle show will happen from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM.  There'll be prizes awarded for the best vintage, custom, and best military-themed motorcycles for adults.  The kids will complete for the "most patriotic pedal powered bike".
  • A "Puppy Parade" will happen from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

The entire event wraps up with a launch party for Warrior Brewing Company's new Patriot IPA - called the "Ace of Aces".  The IPA will be available for sale from 12:00 Noon until 7:00 PM.

Complete details about any of the scheduled events, registration, and more can be found on the website for the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.

The name Richard I. Bong holds a lot of history for our area. Born in Superior and raised in Poplar, Bong had returned to Superior - and was attending the Superior State Teachers College (the present day UWS) when he enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program.  Bong went on to serve the United States in the Army Air Forces during World War II.  He became "one of the most decorated American fighter pilots and the country's top flying ace".

In the years following his death, tributes and memorial plans were created.  Early on, a Lockheed P-38 Lightning - like the one flown by Richard Bong - was installed with an outdoor memorial plate off Highway 2 near Poplar.  Time and weather took its toll, and the plane was moved in 1988 - indoors - to the Minnesota Air National Guard Base in Duluth.  It was there that it received repairs and restoration.

It was during the planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II that the idea for the present-day museum came about.  The Richard I. Bong Heritage Center opened on September 24, 2002 - on what would have been Bong's 82nd birthday.

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