Free land, cable and beer: the tiny state goose capital wants you to settle down

Notice to waterfowl hunters who dream of approaching the northern and western marshes. The Goose Capital of Minnesota will grant you seven-tenths of an acre within its city limits if you move there and build a home there.

That’s right: zero down payment, zero interest, and zero payments on a spacious 100-foot by 300-foot lot in Middle River, a town of 300 people located between Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge and the famous wildlife management area of Thief Lake. It is a 182 square mile collection of breeding grounds and habitat for ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, deer, bears, wild turkeys, grouse, wolves and more.

The incentives don’t stop there. As part of the Civic Growth Program launched in 2018 and expanded last year, the welcome package sponsored by this outdoor-minded community also includes a one-year membership in the local Sportsmen’s Club, free building permit, two years free municipal water and sewer, free electrical hook-up, three months cable TV free, a $100 gift certificate to the local tavern, and a free 12-month subscription to The Honker, the community newspaper.

“Residential land is available! says the city on its website. “Don’t just feel at home, make Middle River your home!” »

Josh Smith, president of the Border Bank’s Middle River branch, said three of the first four free lots were taken. In the spring of last year, the city council added four more lots, all located in the northeast corner of town. Free land is available based on annual income criteria such as $107,000 or less for a family of three or more. For a one- or two-person household, the income eligibility threshold is $93,100 per year or less.

Smith said the city’s incentive program is designed to sustain itself by capturing new property tax revenue and spending the money on buying more lots.

“We’re trying to grow the community,” said Smith, who is also president of the Middle River Sportsmen’s Club.

Smith and Middle River resident Jason Cervantes said more families are needed to keep the town running smoothly. In 2018, the Greenbush-Middle River School Board dealt a blow to the community by voting to close the Middle River campus and transport all students from Middle River to Greenbush. The decision always stings.

Middle River’s population has plummeted by more than 50 percent since 1970, according to U.S. Census data. the city by investing in the annual Middle River Goose Fest and reinventing the city. school building as Airbnb accommodation for hunters, seasonal workers and others., a news, arts and culture website, recently featured the school makeover noting that guest accommodation includes the gym, library, cafeteria and playground. The layout has been described as a “family style hostel”.

Smith said Middle River’s biggest calling card is, by far, the Goose Fest. The annual celebration is timed to coincide with the opening weekend of the end-of-season goose harvest, attracting over 3,000 revelers and growing. There is an opening ceremony, parade, car races, live music, beer garden, live theater, craft sale, flea market, food trucks, games for children and a goose weighing contest.

The city’s flagship gathering was recognized in 2017 as “Event of the Year” by state tourism officials at Explore Minnesota. The Fest is a symbol of Middle River unity and civic pride. City leaders want to cultivate these attributes by adding more families. In favor of the town, Smith said, is its location just 22 miles north of Thief River Falls, a resilient employment hub with employers like Arctic Cat and Digi-Key Electronics.

“It’s a really great community to raise a family in and I mean it,” said Cervantes, a community volunteer who guides military veterans and local youth on hunting and fishing trips throughout the year. The non-profit group he volunteers for is called Middle River Veterans. Outside.

Cervantes understands Marshall County inside and out through his full-time job as a deputy sheriff. In his opinion, Middle River ranks #1 in the county for livability.

“It’s a tight-knit community…it’s more personal here,” the MP said. “If there is a problem, the community comes together.”

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