Kandiyohi County Courthouse in Wilmar
Location of the city of Willmar
within Kandiyohi County
in the state of Minnesota
|• Total||15.95 sq mi (41.31 km2)|
|• Land||14.15 sq mi (36.65 km2)|
|• Water||1.80 sq mi (4.66 km2)|
|Elevation||1,142 ft (348 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||19,674|
|• Density||1,385.9/sq mi (535.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0654177|
Agricultural expansion and the establishment of Willmar as a division point on the Great Northern Railway determined the growth of the community. The first settlers arrived during the 1850s attracted to the fertile land and an abundance of timber and game. The Dakota War of 1862 left the township abandoned for several years. The advent of the railroad in Kandiyohi County in 1869 brought new settlers. Many were of Swedish and Norwegian origins; hence the predominance today of residents of Scandinavian heritage. In 1870, Leon (Chadwick) Willmar, a Belgian acting as an agent for the European bondholder of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, purchased the title to Section 1 of Willmar Township. Willmar was established as the county seat in 1871 and was incorporated as a village in 1874 and as a city in 1901.
Willmar was the site of The Great Willmar, Minnesota Raid, a famous bank robbery by the Machine Gun Kelly gang on July 15, 1930. They robbed the Bank of Willmar (now Bremer Bank) of about $70,000, and wounded 3 people during the robbery.
From 1977 to 1979, Willmar was the site of the Willmar 8, a famous strike of female workers confronting sexual discrimination at a local bank. The story of the strike was featured in mainstream media and made into a documentary.
Willmar native and composer, Bradley Joseph, often references the past when he names his songs and his music is frequently reminiscent of his rural Minnesota roots. "Wind Farmer" was inspired by childhood visits to a relative's farm near Olivia, and his company, Robbins Island Music, is named after a city park in Willmar, says Anne Polta of the West Central Tribune.
Willmar is home to the annual Sonshine Festival, a Christian music festival.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.95 square miles (41.31 km2), of which 14.15 square miles (36.65 km2) is land and 1.80 square miles (4.66 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 19,610 people, 7,677 households, and 4,538 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,385.9 inhabitants per square mile (535.1 /km2). There were 8,123 housing units at an average density of 574.1 per square mile (221.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.9% White, 4.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.4% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 20.9% of the population.
There were 7,677 households of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.9% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.10.
The median age in the city was 33.8 years. 25.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.1% were from 25 to 44; 22.2% were from 45 to 64; and 15.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,351 people, 7,302 households, and 4,461 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,549.9 people per square mile (598.4/km²). There were 7,789 housing units at an average density of 657.8 per square mile (254.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.12% White, 0.90% African American, 0.46% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 8.52% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.86% of the population.
There were 7,302 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,455, and the median income for a family was $45,415. Males had a median income of $31,575 versus $22,158 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,515. About 8.4% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under the age of 18 and 8.0% of those 65 and older.
Since October 15, 1989, the rural city has experienced a large influx of immigrants from Latin America and Northeast Africa, mostly due to the demand for labor at the Jennie-O poultry plant. In 2001, the city was recognized as an "All America City" by the National Civic League, in part for its success as growing numbers of immigrants became part of the community.
Also in 2005, the city received attention from national media after several Somali high school students gave Willmar High School its first Cross-Country State championship in twenty years. The team won the state tournament and attended the Nike Nationals consecutively in 2005 and 2006. Following the success of the team, the city gained attention from Sports Illustrated. Subsequently, NBC Nightly News conducted a story documenting the changing face of the rural city and its relative acceptance of the new makeup of its citizens.
Willmar is home to Ridgewater College Willmar est. 1996, a community and technical college has a sister college in Hutchinson. The college enrolls over 5,221 students. and provides a moderate range of programs, in addition to providing access to some four-year programs through relationships with universities in the MnSCU system.
- Dan Anderson – psychologist
- Karlyn Kohrs Campbell – academic
- Bonnie Henrickson – head women's college basketball coach at the University of Kansas
- Roy C. Jensen – farmer and poltician
- Dean Johnson – politician
- Carl O. Jorgenson – politician
- Bradley Joseph – composer and recording artist
- George Nelson – astronaut
- Alec G. Olson – politician
- Earl B. Olson – founder of the Jennie-O Turkey company
- Kenneth L. Olson – United States Army soldier
- Albert E. Rice – politician
- Marion Ross – actress
- Henrik Shipstead – politician
- Curt Swan – illustrator of Superman comics from the 1950s to the 1980s
- Rick Swenson – dog musher and Iditarod participant
- Buck Zumhofe – wrestler
- West Central Tribune
- La Gran America (Trilingual newspaper)
- Seasons of Minnesota
- Refer to UHF-TV Inc.
- WRAC TV - Willmar Regional Access Channels 8/18/19 - City of Willmar -
Pay television services
|KKLW||90.9 FM||Willmar, MN||Christian Contemporary|
|KBHZ||91.9 FM||Willmar, MN||Religious|
|KKLN||94.1 FM||Willmar, MN||Rock|
|KRVY||97.3 FM||Willmar, MN||Adult Contemporary|
|KQIC||102.5 FM||Willmar, MN||Hot AC|
|KLFN||106.5 FM||Willmar, MN||Classic Hits|
|KWLM||1340 AM||Willmar, MN||News/Talk|
|KDJS||1590 AM||Willmar, MN||Oldies|
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Fedo, Michael (2002). Pocket Guide to Minnesota Place Names. Canada: Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-87351-424-6.
- May, Allan. "George "Machine Gun" Kelly: The Bank Robber (ch. 5)". CrimeLibrary.com. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- The Wilmar 8 California Newsreel
- Polta, Anne (2007-02-08). "Continuing Journey: Bradley Joseph sustains music career with songwriting, recording". West Central Tribune. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Willmar, Minnesota.|
- Official Website
- The Official Willmar Lakes Area Community site
- The Official Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
- Official website of the Willmar Public School District