Project 412 to bring troll to new park in Frazee

This is one example of Thomas Dambo’s trolls. The Danish artist will be building six in the area, five around Detroit Lakes and one at Wannigan Regional Park in Frazee. The building process will need volunteers to help build the troll and help feed the troll makers. Volunteers can sign up at under the Get Involved tab.

By Robert Williams


Phase I plans of Wannigan Regional Park, ranging from the funding process to the masterplan, were on display Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Frazee Event Center with multiple speakers explaining to nearly 100 attendees about the process of bringing the park from a pipe dream of the Frazee Community Development Corporation to the nearing reality of the park officially opening later this spring.

Widseth Landscape Engineer and Wannigan Regional Park Project Manager Jillian Reiner gave presentations both in-person and to the group assembled at the Wannigan Park Open House Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Event Center in Frazee.

“It’s been a really fun project, so far,” said Widseth Landscape Engineer Jillian Reiner.

Reiner is the project manager from Widseth Engineering who has been in charge of Phase 1 planning for the park.

Reiner had multiple displays that allowed visitors to see a breakdown of funding for future amenities. In Phase I, there is $2.4 million at stake for basic infrastructure projects like trails, shelters and restrooms, but also includes RV and primitive camping spots, which will be key to help fund the park into the future.

The grant applications for that money have been submitted and a group led by Karen Pifher of Creating Community Consulting will be at the capitol making a big push for approval from regional legislators.

Executive Director of Project 412 Amy Stearns also addressed those who attended the Wannigan Regional Park meeting last week.

The largest of the grants, $1.44 million from The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, will be pursued later this summer in July.

“That’s what we’re hoping will fund a good chunk of the main structure of that RV camp and another large structure-pavilion,” said Reiner. “It’s kind of a matter of putting our faith in the ring now and see how we do.”

While funding is not guaranteed, Reiner was positive and optimistic in her remarks. The earliest funding approvals will begin coming in May.

For now, the big plans remain on the conceptual side, but are ready to move straight to engineering once the funds begin arriving.

Contributed graphic
One of a number of photos and graphics displayed at Wednesday’s open house was a breakdown of potential funding opportunities that will be up for approval by the legislature later this spring for Phase I operations at Wannigan Regional Park. Much of the requested funds are for basic infrastructure projects like trails, shelters and restrooms, but also includes RV and primitive camping spots which will be key to help fund the park into the future.

One project that is on schedule is the North Country Trail expanding to the park in May.

The North Country National Scenic Trail ( stretches 4,800 miles across eight states, making it the longest National Scenic Trail in America.

According to Trail representative Hank Ludtke, the trail itself has already been mowed and a kiosk is installed.

Other plans this spring are planting, foot trails around the park, a light at the trailhead with security cameras to officially allow the park to be open to the public. Securing the site prior to that is a top priority.

The park will be officially opened in a limited capacity to foot traffic only, no pets, camping or fires with parking outside the main gate.

Reiner also went over the master plan of the park that was updated in October. The master plan gives an overall view of how much is planned to be completed in Phase I.

There were photos available of what the future shelters will look like, mostly made from natural materials.

Executive Director of Project 412 Amy Stearns gave an enthusiastic speech about one of first art installations coming to Wannigan Park by Danish artist Thomas Dambo this May and June.

“We are bringing a troll to you in Frazee; this troll is going to be crazy and it’s going to be awesome,” Stearns said. “I love the talk about when Wannigan is going to be opening, you are going to be open when you have a troll!”

Dambo has built 127 trolls around the world, none in Minnesota.

“We are going to have six in this area,” said Stearns. “One is going to be a beautiful Wannigan and it’s going to be amazing. We need volunteers to help build the troll, people to help bring lunch to the troll makers. We would love to have this be a Frazee-built troll.”

Dambo, a former rapper in Denmark, creates a story that goes along with each of the trolls. The story has yet to be revealed, but it will tie all six area trolls together.

“His whole philosophy is for people to get outside, enjoy nature and see the beautiful area we live in,” said Stearns.

Dambo was recently named a top five art exhibitionist in the world in 2023. Number 1 was the sphere in Las Vegas. 

“This exhibition is going to be big and other places that have done this have warned me that we are crazy building six,” Stearns said. “Of course, we’re a little crazy in Frazee and DL. We’re going to have a lot of visitors. I told people that I would tell you how excited everyone in DL is about Wannigan. What a treasure this is for our region.” 

Stearns also described Project 412, which is named after the 412 lakes in the surrounding 25-miles of Detroit Lakes. 

“That really includes the Frazee area so much; we are thrilled with the Wannigan Regional Park that you are building,” said Stearns. “It’s going to be an awesome asset for the whole 412 region.”

To volunteer for the troll project visit and select the Get Involved tab. They also have Instagram and Facebook pages: project412mn.

More information on Wannigan Regional Park can be found at