BALDWIN — With the world’s largest brown trout sculpture putting Baldwin on the map, the community gathered on Friday morning during Troutarama to officially dedicate and celebrate the art piece. Brown trout were first introduced in North America on April 11, 1884, in Baldwin.

“This is the official unveiling of the largest brown trout sculpture in the world,” said Village of Baldwin President Jim Truxton during the opening remarks. “This is a testimony to what can happen with public and private partnership.”

Although the sculpture was a Village of Baldwin Downtown Development Authority project, it was funded entirely by private contributions, he added.

State Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant, presented a plaque of recognition signed by himself, Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

“I have been waiting for this day for a long time. It is great for the community and as an avid trout fisherman myself, it is amazing how from this point, the brown trout spread across the country. The brown trout represents the cornerstone of this community,” he said.

Booher also spoke, saying how the brown trout has been part of the fabric of Baldwin for 130-plus years and commended the dedication and stewardship of the community, local officials and organizations such as the Pere Marquette Watershed.

Ivan Iler, who created the sculpture, said it was an honor to become acquainted with the community of Baldwin.

“When I saw the proposal for the world’s largest brown trout, I thought it would be such a cool piece to make. The people in the community here is what made the project special,” he said.

Jane Allison, president of the DDA, gave final words.

“Without everybody’s support, we couldn’t have done it. All the partners were very important in this. Not a day goes by someone isn’t here taking pictures or enjoying the park. The sculpture is really beautiful at night when it is lit.

“I want to thank the people in the past, present and years to come who strive to make our community beautiful and prosperous.”

People enjoyed brown trout-shaped cookies provided by Club 37. People still have an opportunity to purchase a brick with their name on it to be placed at the park.