Up Yonder officially opens with Cook County Snowmobile Club kick-off party
Kalli Hawkins

Up Yonder officially opens with Cook County Snowmobile Club kick-off party

A nostalgic building in Grand Marais has officially reopened.

Under new ownership and a new name, the familiar Harbor Light building opened its doors on Dec. 16 to host the Cook County Snowmobile Club membership kick-off party. 

The event drew in over 200 members of the community and featured a live band, raffle tickets, food, drinks, and a shared excitement for the return of a cherished establishment. 

“It ended up being an incredible turnout, and the funds raised for our trails in Cook County were the most we’ve made on a kick-off party,” said Malorie Brazell, the event coordinator with the Cook County Snowmobile Club. 

She added, “We are very appreciative of everyone that came out to support us and to many local businesses for their sponsorship.”

The Harbor Light building was bought by Cassidy Gecas, manager of the Gunflint Tavern, and renamed Up Yonder. 

Following the purchase from the Rude family, Gecas and the Up Yonder crew have been hard at work remodeling the existing building and grounds. 

The entire property will act as a restaurant, event center, and campground. 

While a few final design projects are yet to be completed, Up Yonder opened with much fanfare and celebration from the community. 

“It’s nice to have a building in Grand Marais with the capacity to hold an event like that, and it was fun to be the first ones to help ring in Up Yonder,” Brazell said.

Brazell said that working with Gecas and the Up Yonder crew was a great experience. “He’s incredibly helpful and responsive with everything from accommodating the band, working out details, and they put a lot of work into making things happen for us.”

During the membership party, the Cook County Snowmobile Club had nearly 150 people sign up for a membership. Brazell said that roughly 15% of the individuals who signed up during the event were new members joining the club. 

In addition, individuals who signed up for membership could vote for board members and officer positions. The Cook County Snowmobile Club has 15 board members who conduct various tasks to keep the club running and operational such as trail clearing, grooming, and safety. A list of the full officers are below:

  • Forrest Parson, President
  • Jorey Brazell, Vice President
  • Sam Wallner, Treasurer
  • Stephanie Radloff, Secretary
  • Randall Knudson, Trail Administrator/Groomer Operator
  • Shawn Williams, IT
  • Tony Everson, Groomer Operator/Manager
  • Malorie Brazell, Events Coordinator
  • Kali Blomberg, Trout Derby Coordinator
  • Jordy Kirk, Board Member
  • Devyn Deschampe, Board Member
  • Marice Zimmer, Board Member
  • Ashley Berglund, Board Member
  • Gary Radloff, Board Member
  • Kia Gruber, Board Member

Overall, Brazell said, “It was a fun and successful event. It’s always great to see everyone and hear the excitement of the snow season coming.” 

She added the night was filled with “lots of stories and conversations about all things winter. It set the tone for the season ahead.” 

Looking ahead to the exciting snow season, the Cook County Snowmobile Club is hosting three drag races this winter. The first is at Skyport Lodge on Jan. 21, the second is at Hungry Jack Lodge on Feb. 18, and the last is at Poplar Haus on Mar. 11. 

Brazell said the club also has its annual Fun Run event on Feb. 4, with stops at Skyport, Trail Center, Hungry Jack Lodge, Poplar Haus, Big Bear Lodge, Gunflint Pines, and Gunflint Lodge. 

Last but not least, the annual Trout Derby event is on Mar. 4 on Gunflint Lake. Visit the website or Facebook page to check out all Cook County Snowmobile Club’s events this winter. 

Photos from the event: