Our view: Come celebrate the West End
September 23, 2022
Driving around town, you’ll find remnants of long-forgotten commercial activity in many neighborhoods, corner groceries and old gas stations that have evolved into residential space, as most commercial activity moved downtown or to the Highway 33 corridor over the years.
The West End of Cloquet is one of those sites. Once the thriving center of Cloquet, it held City Hall, the police station, and many of the most important businesses in town. The original town square was in the West End. So was the train station, and the town’s movie theater. But after Highway 33 sliced through town, the West End morphed into too many empty storefronts and aging buildings, along with a growing number of apartments that threaten to change the character of the historic neighborhood.
But there’s hope. In recent years the West End has seen some signs of revitalization and some new businesses. The neighborhood’s old-world charm is one of the reasons we decided to open our newspaper office there, in the same building that housed the Pine Knot 70 years ago. We’ve seen other neighbors move in, too, in the past few years. You might say that the West End is ready to flourish.
This Saturday, we celebrate the West End for the second year in a row with an event that combines a street fair, car show, food trucks and more. The festivities are the brainchild of our own Ivan Hohnstadt, Pine Knot News advertising manager, and facilitated in part by the West End Flourish grant program. The goal is to bring people down for fun and shopping, show off the neighborhood and showcase artists, musicians, crafters, local businesses and the historic buildings of Cloquet’s original downtown. The event runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Avenues B and C, with a kids’ area in Wentworth Park (plus yoga at The Nest) and a food court in the VFW parking lot.
We applaud this type of activity, even if our applause is somewhat self-congratulatory, because we believe in our neighborhood and we cherish the historical significance of the area. Major events like this West End gathering invite the entire town and region to celebrate a unique, vibrant neighborhood and encourages redevelopment, which benefits the whole area. It’s a truly family-friendly event and, from the feedback we’ve received so far, we expect an even bigger crowd than last year, because there’s even more to do and see.
It’s going to be a great community party, and we hope to see you there.