By Christy Walcott
By now you think you’ve got this whole Gaylord thing down – the trails are exhilarating, each season is its own masterpiece and the friendly folks dress up in Swiss garb for one week each summer. While you may be a Gaylord expert at this point, we thought we’d tantalize the trivia fan in you with few tidbits of information you didn’t know. For example…
Where did the Alpine theme come from?
We have the elegant, yet up north Otsego Resort to thank for the Alpine ambiance Gaylord now embraces. Following the development of the Otsego Resort (formerly Hidden Valley Resort), there was a boom in local chalet-style architecture with high peaks and distinguishable lines. Community leaders soon adopted this theme throughout town, hoping to set Gaylord apart from other vacation destinations in northern Michigan. The plan worked and Gaylord is now widely known as “the Alpine Village.”
What’s up with Alpenfest?
Get ready for a quick summary of how a small community came together to create something everlasting. As Gaylord was transitioning more and more into its Alpine identity in the 1960s, the town was also preparing to open a new particle board plant which would give the economy a huge boost. The process used to manufacture particle board was developed by a Swiss businessman. So the town is looking Swiss, the technology coming to a head is Swiss…let’s celebrate in true Swiss fashion! Thus, the birth of our beloved Alpenfest. There’s much more to the story than that and you can read more here.
Why is there an elk herd just a few blocks off Main Street?
To make a long story short, the property is owned by the City of Gaylord and adjacent to scenic Aspen Park. Elk were suggested as an addition to this area to help increase the region’s elk population and also keep the grass down within the enclosure. The animals were obtained through several different avenues, including the former Project Nature wilderness park and Clinch Park Zoo in Traverse City. Some even came from as far away as Colorado. These magnificent creatures are fed a healthy diet (along with a few treats such as sugar beets!), given necessary supplements and even receive veterinary care when needed. As far as their day-to-day lifestyle is concerned, they behave as elk in the wild and graze, fight and mate without intervention.
Why does Gaylord get so much snow?
Did you know there are people out there who think Michigan is FLAT? Obviously, they have never experienced the Alpine Village! With a peak elevation of 1,382 feet, Gaylord is the highest elevated city in the Lower Peninsula. Combine our high elevation with Michigan’s famous lake effect snow, along with a seat right in that fancy snowbelt we’ve all heard about, and you get the ultimate winter destination. Our record snowfall? 205.5 glorious inches of the white stuff in 1970-1971. We can beat that…just wait!
So now that you have the inside scoop on Gaylord, load up your car and head over for a visit. Impress the locals with your Gaylord knowledge and maybe even teach them a thing or two!