Bemidji, Minnesota is a county seat. It, like several others I saw during this trip, has it's small, or in this case, looming civic treasures. There is what remains of the courthouse. Unfortunately the original historic structure has been marred by modern additions. There are several charming older homes, a modest Carnegie Mellon library and, what, as we were informed by the elderly man in the visitor's center, is the biggest roadside attraction in the state, a massive statue of the folktale hero Paul Bunyan and his blue bull Babe.
It is a photo op, pure and simple. You pose by the giant statues, get your picture taken, perhaps grab a bite to eat and continue on your way. A nicely built man, I could tell he was not a local due to the flatness of his stomach, offered to take me and my travel buddy's photo together. He was from Minneapolis and traveling the state capturing photos of local color for a Minnesota themed cookbook.
Lunch that day was at an establishment that advertised itself as a "pub". As we scanned the menu on the sidewalk someone passing by recommended it as a good place to eat. We stepped inside. An assortment of characters lined the bar. There was a group of redneck looking men, drunk, loud and wearing identical black tee shirts from a rock band tour, a trio of vastly overweight men waiting for their wives to return from shopping at the lakefront art fair taking place that afternoon, a crew cut man, who might have been considered attractive until alcohol grabbed hold of him leaving behind sagging skin and a loose, jiggling spare tire around his midsection. Apparently the woman he was with overlooked these shortcomings as she grabbed his ass upon his return from a restroom visit.
There was a small stage, the place occasionally features live entertainment. A corrugated sheet metal and garage sale cast offs decorating scheme completed the redneck atmosphere. We ate, attempting to act as butch and heterosexual as possible, then hightailed it out the door.