The Shared History of Pan-o-Prog Lakeville, Airlake Industrial Park, and APPRO Development

It’s nearly time for the area’s biggest and best summer celebration: Pan-o-Prog!

Did you know that Lakeville’s Panorama of Progress Festival (Pan-o-Prog) and Airlake Industrial Park share a history? It’s true! APPRO Development is tied to that history as well.

If you’re not familiar with Pan-o-Prog, it’s an annual community event that has been held in Lakeville, Minnesota since 1967. Its beginnings are rooted in the success of the Airlake Industrial Park, and APPRO Development’s connection to the Airlake Industrial Park dates as far back as the mid-1960's.

Read on to learn all about how the Airlake Industrial Park began, its ties to Pan-o-Prog Lakeville, and how APPRO Development fits into the puzzle.

The History of Airlake Industrial Park (and the Appro Development Connection)

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Maynard Johnson, the visionary of the Airlake Industrial Park project, worked at the former Bloomington-based Hitchcock Industries from 1946 until his retirement in 1990. He and fellow executives at Hitchcock brought his vision to life, designing and building an industrial park that would spur economic growth in the south metro area for decades to come.

At 1,500 acres, the Airlake Industrial Park is one of the state's largest industrial parks. Over the years, it has attracted hundreds of companies — from start-ups to large corporations — and played host to thousands of employees. It stands out from other industrial parks in that it offers both a railroad connection and Airlake Airport.

Jack Matasosky, founder of APPRO Development, was hired at Hitchcock Industries back in 1978 by Maynard Johnson himself. Since the 1980s, APPRO has led multiple projects at Airlake Industrial Park (originally located in what is now the Aircraft Resource Center building). The APPRO team helped build some of the original hangars at the Airlake Airport, as well as buildings in the Airlake Industrial Park.

In addition to his role as general manager of Airlake Industrial Park, Maynard Johnson helped start the Pan-o-Prog festival and served as the festival grand marshal in 1983. 

How Pan-o-Prog Lakeville Began

Pan-o-Prog came about in 1967, largely due to the success of the Airlake Industrial Park. 

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At the time, the village and township of Lakeville had recently merged, and the JFK Elementary School was only a few years old. The city was growing, and community leaders — including Jerry Erickson, owner of Erickson Drugs, and John and Jerry Ingram from Ingram Super Value — were looking for a way to celebrate the city’s progress. They approached Carl Hitchcock, the developer of the new Airlake Industrial Park, about how to promote all that was happening in the city. 

Along with other local leaders and members of Hitchcock Industries (including Maynard Johnson), they helped organize the first Panorama of Progress celebration — a two-day festival held August 19-20, 1967. A highlight of that inaugural festival was an air show at the new Airlake Airport featuring the Blue Angels. 

Festival events have varied over the years, with some of the most notable being the longest beard contest, kiss the pig, and the infamous cow-chip throwing contest. But the event that has most stood the test of time has been the Pan-o-Prog parade (fun fact: the Pan-o-Prog parade has never been canceled due to rain!). Another tradition from the first festival that exists to this day is the selling of Pan-o-Prog buttons as a way to promote and raise funds for the festival. 

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Somewhere along the line, the festival was moved from a two-day event in August to what we have today — a weeklong celebration in July. 

Throughout the many changes since its inception in 1967, Pan-o-Prog has endured as a way to celebrate local growth and advancement as well as a unifying event for the community.

This year’s Pan-o-Prog Lakeville takes place July 6-14 — mark your calendars! 

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