Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Calling all loons

(Reprinted from Ironwood Daily Globe)

MERCER, Wis. -- Loons from all over came off the lake Wednesday and made their way to Mercer for its 29th annual Loon Day.

The biggest day of the year for Wisconsin's self-designated Loon Capital met its job requirements, drawing thousands to Mercer's downtown. Locals, their from-out-of-town relatives and art vendors from around the Midwest flocked to peruse more than 250 art booths, mingle outside Mercer restaurants and hear the annual loon calling contest.

This year's grand prize contest winner, Grace Burzinski, 12, and her family came from St. Louis to attend Loon Days. Burzinski's family travels north annually to visit her grandparents in Ironwood. Burzinski said she's gained most of her loon-calling skills while visiting the area; she listens to and then mimics families of loons on Echo Lake. When she's away from the Northwoods, Burzinski listens to loon calls on the Internet to practice.

Burzinski was the trophy winner for the 12 to 16 age group. Kendra Tutt, 10, of Mercer, was the 7 to 11 age group trophy winner; Mitch Pierce, 6, of Mercer, was the 2 to 6 age group trophy winner; and Mary Grogan, 41, of Hainesville, Ill., was the 17 and up age group trophy winner. Ribbons were also awarded for first, second and third places in each age group, in addition to the trophy winners.

"I listen to the tremolo call a lot online because it's the hardest to learn," Burinski said.

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