The 2007 Pioneer Horseman Award: Earle Dickinson
Aug. 20, 1928 - Oct. 8, 2006
The Minnesota Horse Council PIONEER HORSEMAN award honors those individuals from past years whose expert- ise and contributions made long-lasting positive changes in the equine industry. The seventh award recipient is Earle Dickinson of Bemidji, Minnesota.
Dickinson was involved in the horse industry from early childhood. His parents, former Senator and Representative Leonard and Agnes Jacobson Dickinson, owned the Buena Vista Ranch just north of Bemidji. They raised draft horses, Quarter Horses and Columbia sheep. Dickinson wanted to be a cowboy. His father bought him a pony named Dixie, a pair of boots and chaps, and a guitar. His life was filled with song. He pursued his education at various colleges including his studies in Agriculture at the University of Minnesota. While there, he sang in the men's choir.
Dickinson showed horses and sheep locally and at the Minnesota State Fair. At the county fair, he would have his team and wagon to give rides and share stories about the older way of life. He also won many ribbons!
Dickinson and his father enjoyed horse trading and all the other aspects of the equine industry: Dickinson was a strong supporter of 4-H throughout his life, attending many shows in which his children and grandchildren participated. He was president of the Beltrami County Fair Board in the 1980's. During his tenure there, the horse programs, both 4H and Open were strengthened and expanded. Later he sponsored many Natural Horsemanship Clinics at his ranch to help others learn more humane and safe ways of handling their horses.
He expanded the Buena Vista Ski Area, alongside the Buena Vista Ranch, and added a Logging Village. He recreated an old logging town which became the site for wagon trains, trail rides, Logging Days and other community events. Along with his father and friend Benhart Rajala, he created the Annual Buena Vista Logging Days Festival. It is an event where live-action logging demonstrations are tied in with old time stories, an induction of
real lumberjacks into the Hall of Fame and the combining of talents of local individuals.
Dickinson drove a covered wagon pulled by his Belgians, King and Jack, in the June 1991 Itasca State Park Centennial Wagon Train (He drove the Little Falls to ltasca State Park leg, and his wife actually walked alongside the wagon for the exercise!) He sponsored many trail rides where he would share stories of cowboys and loggers and share songs of the west. According to Joe Waslaski of Gold Mine Ranch, Dickinson was "a horseman, a woodsman, a logging historian...was loved for his genuine smile, engaging personality, his kindness, his diverse talents and his strong character. He was the archetype of a Minnesota...entrepreneur and a rugged individualist."
His legacy lives on in all of those whose lives were touched by his knowledge and kindness and his love of the equine world.