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Carrie Snyder, Published August 07 2013

It's 'the magic in Perham' that makes it different

PERHAM, Minn. – Perham doesn’t quite fit a mold.

I’ve found during my recent visits to area small towns that some are full of older people trying to preserve their town, and some have young people who move to the community to rebuild it. Perham, on the other hand, has a little of both.

“We have the perfect combination – agriculture, industry, commercial and tourism,” said Kelcey Klemm, city manager. “It’s the magic in Perham that makes us different.”

People of all ages walk the streets of Perham. Some residents have made this town in Otter Tail County their home for years, and some young parents have recently moved in to raise their children here.

There also are many tourists, from all over the Unites States and even from Europe, who visit for the quaint shops and the Perham International Turtle Races.

The population of Perham is officially listed at 3,000, but the town serves as a job center for more than 3,200 people.

KLN Enterprises – locally owned by the Nelson family and the parent company of Barrel O’Fun Snack Foods, Tuffy’s Pet Foods, Kenny’s Candy Co. and Nutheads Chocolate Factory – provides employment for about 1,200 people and has been in operation for 40 years.

“The desire of the Nelson family is to remain in Perham and to continue to support the community,” said Wayne Caughey, chief financial officer for KLN Enterprises.

The community takes pride in its recreational facilities and education, and in the past has shown its “magic” through local fundraisers. Its school system has been honored in the past for high performance, its hospital has been named one of America’s Top 100, and its public library has been honored as one of the country’s Top 100 libraries.

“It’s a town full of projects that emanate from fundraisers and sweat equity,” said Economic Development Authority Director Chuck Johnson.

This small town, chock full of community pride and with a bright future, truly is “magic.”

What makes your town special?

The Forum is looking to visit small towns within 60 miles of the Fargo-Moorhead area to periodically showcase in a photo story what makes your town unique.

Send us a short essay, no longer than 500 words, on what makes your town distinctive from other towns.

Essays can be sent to photographer Carrie Snyder at csnyder@forumcomm.com.