2021: The Year in Pictures

From NFL stars embracing the charm of Door County, to labor shortages squeezing restaurants during the busy season, to the accessibility of vaccines for elderly residents in January, this year has been full of ups and downs. Even though we have faced both hardships and joys, the resilience and passion within our community is something to be celebrated. Take a look back at some of the moments that defined 2021 in pictures.

Dillon Gets His Key: AJ Dillon became a Door County fan favorite when he began posting photos from his getaways to the peninsula. The rising-star running back for the Green Bay Packers spoke of his goal of becoming mayor of Door County, but he had to settle for a Key to Door County presented by Destination Door County in November. Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Event: The first Christkindlmarkt – held at Sister Bay’s Corner of the Past – did not disappoint. Over three December weekends, thousands of visitors flocked to the event hosted by the Sister Bay Historical Society. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
DCEDC Honors Entrepreneurs: The Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) presented its annual awards Sept. 22, when (from left) Alexis Fuller of the Door Community Child Development Center, Hoyt Purinton of the Washington Island Ferry Line and Jennie Bexell of Spot and Space were honored during a luncheon at Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay. Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.
DCMC Breaks Ground on Sister Bay Clinic: Brian Stephens, CEO of Door County Medical Center (DCMC), speaks at the groundbreaking of a new, $14.5 million, 30,000-square-foot clinic in Sister Bay. The facility is scheduled to open before the end of 2022. Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.
Dörr Hotel Opens in Sister Bay: Principal owner Chris Schmeltz cut the ribbon on the 47-unit Dörr Hotel on May 27.
Reimagined Eagle Tower Finally Opens: After six years, $3.7 million and multiple setbacks and delays, members of the Friends of Peninsula State Park took the first steps up the new ramp to the park’s new Eagle Tower.
Past and Future Meet at Fall Fest Derby: The return of Fall Fest also marked the return of the Fall Fest Derby in Sister Bay, thanks to the work of Louise Howson at the Sister Bay Advancement Association and Fuzzy Sunstrom. Avery Burress won the comeback edition of the race in the car she dubbed the Sloth. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
Granary Breaks Ground: The Door County Granary project reached a milestone when ground was broken Nov. 19 for the next phase of the rehabilitation. Earlier in the year, plans were unveiled that have already won multiple design awards. Photo by Debra Fitzgerald.
Half Marathon Welcomed Back Eager Runners: Relena Del Toro Ribbons crosses the finish line during the 2021 Door County Half Marathon. After a year’s absence, the race returned with a special fall date in Peninsula State Park, welcoming more than 2,000 participants in the half marathon and 5K. The race will return to its usual May date in 2022. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
Ice Rescue Ends Safely for 66 Stranded Anglers: It was around 9 am on Feb. 4 when the ice broke along a crack that forms where the earlier freezes of the various inlets and bays bump up against the later ice of the open Green Bay water. The area broke into three separate ice floes, with a total of 66 people spread across all three. Photo by Doug Henderson.
Half Iron, Sprint, Kids’ Triathlons Return: Large-scale sporting events returned during the summer of 2021, including the Door County Triathlon. Here, a tough competitor storms to the finish line in the Kids’ Triathlon. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
Labor Shortage Squeezes Restaurants during Busy Season: Door County isn’t the only area to feel the pinch from a lack of workers, nor is the job shortage limited to the restaurant industry. But in the wake of a pandemic that flipped the hospitality industry on its head and forced businesses to get creative to stay afloat when the customers weren’t coming, those same businesses then struggled to stay afloat during one of the busiest tourist seasons on record.
Christening Day Arrives for New Lighthouse Tower: After years of fundraising and planning, the Door County Maritime Museum’s 10-story Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower was christened during a May 22 ceremony. Submitted.
Anschutz Moves Little Sister Cabins, House, Barn: There were a lot of stops and starts along the way, but Paula Anschutz persevered to get several cabins and a home moved from the old Little Sister Resort to two properties she owns. Her work also helped to save the Little Sister Resort barn, which will be moved to the Corner of the Past museum property. The cabins will become workforce housing when Anschutz’s project is completed. Submitted.
Baileys Harbor Purchases Nelson Building: In April, the Town of Baileys Harbor voted overwhelmingly in favor of buying the Nelson Hardware Store property for $1.95 million. Before year’s end, almost all of the money needed to purchase the property would have been raised through donations.
Fish Creek’s Beach Project Finished: After years of missteps, Fish Creek’s beach project finally came to fruition in 2021, with a new ADA-accessible pier completed mid-summer. Photo by Andrew Kleidon.
A New Place to Play: Sturgeon Bay opened its latest public gathering space this summer. Graham Park sits at the foot of the Maple Street Bridge and now boasts ping-pong tables, cornhole and other games at what had been a long-dormant site. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
Beach Expansion Approved for Otumba Park: The Sturgeon Bay Common Council approved an upgrade to expand the beach to more than double its current depth. In addition, the plan included slight improvements to the kayak and canoe launch area and making the space ADA accessible.
Inaugural Northern Door Pride Celebration Drew a Crowd: The first Northern Door Pride celebration was held at the Sister Bay village hall in June, drawing a huge crowd that included many local business owners, workers and youth to celebrate Pride Month. Submitted.
The Power of Collaboration: Two years ago, the women in this picture barely knew each other, but on Dec. 16, they came together to accept a $3.5 million grant from Gov. Tony Evers to transform child care and support affordable housing initiatives in Door County. (From left) Christina Studebaker, Jen Thompson, Cindy Trinkner-Peot, Bridget Starr, Alexis Fuller, Paula Anschutz, Mariah Goode and Amy Kohnle worked together to apply for the grant. Photo by Rachel Lukas.
A Chronicle of Vaccinations: Vaccines became available for elderly residents of Door County in January, and by early summer, the county boasted one of the highest vaccination rates in Wisconsin. But as Christmas approached, Wisconsin hospitals put out the plea for people to get vaccinated as health care workers grappled with a wave of unvaccinated individuals filling hospital beds. In mid-December, Door County Medical Center reached a new high for daily COVID-19 hospitalizations. Photo by Tad Dukehart.

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