Loon calls resonate in Ely

TOP BOYS LOON CALLERS were Ezra Stevens, Russell Stevens and Benjamin Larson. Photo by Pam Roberts

by Tom Coombe -

One winner repeated and two new champions were crowned at the 33rd annual loon calling contest in downtown Ely.
Loony Day didn’t attract as many participants as in recent years- only 14 people were brave enough to try their loon calls before an appreciative audience of about 60 people outside Piragis Northwoods Company.
But quality trumped quantity on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. with Ely’s Lucy Dunn winning the girls division for a second consecutive year.
Russell Stevens, just six years old, won a small boys division, while an Elyite - Micah Larson -carried an adult division for those age 12 and older.
For three decades, the coos and trills of loons have resonated from the courtyard outside Piragis Northwoods Company, and the business treated all participants and spectators to ice cream cones.
Two audience members won prize packages while the loon calling contestants competed for medals and prizes.
Lucy Dunn topped her 11-year-old sibling Anna in the girls division with another Elyite, seven-year-old Brynn Larson, taking third.
The boys division had an Oregon flavor, with Russell Stevens winning and his four-year-old brother Ezra in third.
In between was Benjamin Larson, 5, of Ely.
The adult division had the most participants including Laurie Laitala of Minneapolis, who competed two decades before as a child.
Micah Larson had the call that most impressed the team of judges while his mom, Paula, took third.
Second place went to Charlie Herder of Mound.
Protected a bit from the hot sun by a canopy that extended from the deck at the Chocolate Moose, participants came one-by-one to the microphone held by longtime contest judge and emcee Steve Schon, then stuck around to pick up their free ice cream cone.
During the initial event, loon callers stood on the back of a pontoon boat on First Avenue East, but the contest has been at its current home for almost all of its existence.
Loony Day is sponsored by the Ely Echo and Piragis Northwoods Company and the Ely Chamber of Commerce.