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Welcome to Perham! Community paints tiles for future park mural

Rebecca Umland hosted the kickoff tile painting event for the new and upcoming welcome mural on Saturday, Sept. 17.

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Rebecca Umland smiles at the tile painting kickoff event on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — As a tourist town, people come and go from Perham often, and folks like local Rebecca Umland want to make sure they feel welcomed. A while back, when she was working with the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce, Umland came across a grant from West Central Initiative, which offered up to $500 to communities who wanted to be more welcoming to new arrivals.

"I ended up talking with (Chamber Executive Director) Nick Murdock and (City Manager) Jonathan Smith, and just in talking to them, we came up with doing this welcoming mural to Perham," Umland shared.

This isn't going to be just any typical mural, however. The mural will be located on the wall of MN Tru North, facing NP Park, and will be painted by a to-be-determined local artist. Hexagon tiles — chosen due to their honeycomb shape for the Perham Yellowjackets — will flow through the painting. These tiles, provided by Interiors by Winkels, will be painted by community members and visitors alike to showcase just what Perham is all about.

So, with this idea in mind, Umland applied for the West Central Initiative grant and received $500 to get this project on its feet. She hosted the kickoff tile painting event on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 17, where adults and children alike got to flex their creativity and show off their painting skills.

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A group of people smile and laugh with one another at the tile painting kickoff.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Umland hopes to get people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the tile painting, so everyone knows they're welcome in the Perham community.

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"The grantor, West Central Initiative, is about the different aspects or the different types of people that live in our communities," she explained. "We want to make sure (the mural) is very inclusive and welcoming for all types of people. The goal is to get a variety of people."

Umland is currently working on reaching out to different community organizations and spreading the word so everyone willing can put their creativity into the mural. While the next tile painting event has yet to be scheduled, Umland hopes to be able to set some up during Oktoberfest when the streets are bustling with folks searching for fun.

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A set of tiles sit completely painted, ready to become a part of the welcome mural in the future.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Due to the number of tiles and the amount of work to be done to the wall prior to painting — such as flattening it — Umland said they don't have an exact timeline for the project's completion just yet. As of right now, the goal is to have the mural done by mid-summer 2023, but it should be done by the end of summer 2023 at the latest.

For future tile painting events, watch the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce's event calendar, which can be found at perham.com . If you're interested in donating toward this project, reach out to Chamber Executive Director Nick Murdock at director@perhamcc.com or 218-346-7710.

"Everyone tourist-wise that comes in (to Perham) touts how great and welcomed they are by the people here," Umland said. "I've been told everyone is so nice, and I can say that is true first-hand … That aspect is something to be proud of — knowing that people that just come in general are welcome."

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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