When the Minnesota State Fair gets underway at the end of this month, it'll have a special visitor - all the way from the Iron Range. And, it's something that hasn't left the Range since 1996.

Anyone who's visited Virginia, Minnesota knows that there's a lake in the middle of the city; on that lake rests a landmark that isn't easy to miss.  While Duluth has it's Aerial Lift Bridge and many cities have their skylines, Virginia is home to a massive loon.

Since 1982, the mash and paper mache loon has called Silver Lake home - providing an iconic visual for Virginia to use as it's signature.  The look itself stands twenty-feet tall, 8-feet wide, and 21-feet long.  For a large portion of its life, it was maintained by a community organization; upkeep these days rests with the City of Virginia.

Historically, the loon is brought out of its winter storage in time for the annual Land of the Loon Festival in town.  Over the years, city leaders used it as a marketing piece - bringing it by trailer to a variety of different festivals and events across the state.  But, for a variety of reasons, that hasn't happened for many years. In fact, the massive loon last left Virginia in 1996.

But that's all about to change!

City crews are getting the loon ready to travel - by trailer - to the Minnesota State Fair.  According to a story done by KARE-TV, the loon will be used as part of a campaign push by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to educate and train the general public about the dangers of lead contamination; loons are especially harmed when lead contaminates their habitat.

In advance of the trip, the loon has been loaded onto a trailer and is being cleaned up a little.  It's even become a viral story on various Iron Range Facebook pages:

Watch the video put together by KARE-TV to see the preparations going into the project:

You can see the gigantic loon from Virginia, Minnesota as it "rests" for a week and a half in the Twin Cities at the Minnesota State Fair.  The 2022 Minnesota State Fair runs August 25 through September 5.

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