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Hibbing, sans locals, celebrates native son at Dylan Days

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Bob Dylan
Folk singer and songwriter Bob Dylan plays the harmonica and acoustic guitar in March, 1963. He was born in Duluth, Minn., in 1941 as Robert Allen Zimmerman.

Bob Dylan turned 72 this week, and the Iron Range town of Hibbing is again celebrating its most famous son this weekend. 

Its annual Dylan Days celebration kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday.

Dylan Days started as an informal birthday bash in 1991 at Zimmy's in Hibbing, a Dylan-themed bar and restaurant. The local Chamber of Commerce took it on as an official festival in 2001. It features a singer-songwriter contest, writing workshops, a bus tour and of course live music. 

Festival co-chair Aaron Brown said the event has drawn as many as 500 tourists, including what he calls Dylan "pilgrims." 

"The people get a genuine experience," Brown said. "They experience a Range town exactly as it is, the locals don't put on airs, we don't do anything different, and what people like the most is that we let people experience the town and have real conversations."

But Brown said they still struggle to attract locals. 

"For the most part Memorial Day weekend is the weekend that most people in Hibbing leave Hibbing, and go out to lakes and cabins and fishing and camping, and they're replaced in town by people from all over the world," Brown said.

The festival follows Duluth's Dylan Fest, which ended Thursday. The singer was born there, but spent most of his childhood in Hibbing.