American Birkie Museum
Receives $50,000 Donation
The Tony Wise Museum of the American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wis., opened in August, has received a total of $50,000 in donations from the Johnson Bank (Johnson Financial Group) and the Samuel C. Johnson family.
The American Birkebeiner Museum celebrates the origins of the race in 1973 through lively, stateof-the-art exhibits, hands-on activities, a three-dimensional Birkie Trail model, and much more. Visitors can even re-enact the Birkebeiner legend by donning replica historical costumes in front of a diorama of the Norwegian mountains.
Now in its 44th year, more than 250,000 participants have skied in Birkie-week events since 35 skiers massed on the start line in 1973.
“The Lumberjack World Championships (LWC) were also founded by Tony Wise. Events like the LWC and the Birkie have increased tourism in the region, putting the communities of Hayward and Cable on the map,” said Craig Hokanson, current regional president of Johnson Bank.
The Birkie was the vision of Tony Wise, who dis- covered skiing during World War II. He later founded the Telemark Ski Area near Cable, Wis. in 1947; by 1973, a crosscountry-ski race developed in the north woods near there. Wise called the race the American Birkebeiner, patterned after the Birkebeiner Rennet ski race in Norway. Wise's vision shaped a community, a sport and brought the world together with the founding of the Worldloppet in 1979, an international sports federation of cross-country skiing marathons. Since then, more than 2.6-million skiers have started Worldloppet races.
The American Birkebeiner Museum celebrates the origins of the Birkie race, now in its 44th year.