The long list of summer events has been shrinking while some events cancel and others revamp their offerings to provide for social distancing in the face of COVID-19.
The Wadena County Ag Society is one group trudging forward to put on events this summer. The group was under the gun to complete some major projects at the grandstand this week. The volunteers put up a walkway between the grandstand and bleacher area and as of Monday night were continuing work to construct a wheel fence in front of the seating areas.
The wheel fence is simply a woven wire fence that rises about 12 feet up from the bottom of the grandstand. It acts as a barrier in case of a wheel falling off of a racing enduro or demolition derby car. The walkway offers a far better in and out of the grandstand areas.
Wadena County Ag Society secretary Kylene Lehmann said the projects provide for a safer setting and allow the events to qualify for insurance.
The Ag Society board discussed during their recent board meeting the need to have hand sanitizer, signage and social distancing practices in place to ensure they could hold an event that met their COVID-19 plan.
Wadena County Fairgrounds
While the main event, the Wadena County Fair, with all its impressive grandstand lineups were cancelled for June, many of the big events are planned to make a return July - October. They include:
- Wadena County Ag Society Enduro Series: July 12, Aug. 9 and 23, Sept. 13 and 26. The July 12 event starts at 2 p.m. and the cost is $12 per person. The concession stand will also be open.
- Wojo Rodeo: August 7 & 8
- Demo Derby: September 12
- Truck/Tractor Pull: Sept 19
- Fear Factory Haunted House tentatively October 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 30 & 31.
Verndale Days, July 25
You can still wear your straw hats and sunbonnets to Verndale but the major events like the Raider Run, evening parade and afternoon activities in the park will not be gathering crowds as usual.
Event organizer and Verndale Mayor Raye Ludovissie shared that they will continue on with two big events including a fireworks display at dusk and a street dance put on by the Verndale Municipal Liquor from 9 p.m. to midnight. The dance includes live band Aitas.
Verndale City Clerk Melissa Current shared that if things get dialed back in terms of the governor's executive orders, they may have to cancel the street dance, but the fireworks have been paid for and will be happening as planned.
Ludovissie shared that the big celebration was impacted because businesses that the event depends on for donations were closed or seeing reductions do to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it was unethical for organizers to request donations during the economic downturn. The fireworks were already paid for so that part of the event could go on. It also became difficult to plan a major event with so much uncertainty about what they would be able to have while respecting health guidelines.
Bluffton Hometown Days, Aug. 14
The Bluffton Hometown Days Committee is planning an event with reduced capacity. Event organizers say fireworks will fly at dusk but other parts of their annual event will see steps to provide for social distancing.
- New York Mills Summer Fest August 7-9
- Otterfest August 8
- Henning Festival, August 15
- Ottertail Polka Daze September 4-6
Major events cancelled
- Hewitt Pickle Days
- Deer Trails Day
- Sebeka Red Eye River Days
- Menahga Midsummer Celebration
- Vining Watermelon Days
- Tri-County Health Care Block Party, was scheduled for July 14.
- Wadena Lions Summer BBQ in the Park, was scheduled for July 16. Event organizers say the event could make a return later in the fall if possible.
- Old Wadena Rendezvous, was scheduled for Aug. 8-9.
- Tri-County Health Care Golf Classic, was scheduled for Aug. 10.
- Wadena Rotary Corn and Chicken Feed, was scheduled for Aug. 13.
- Pig & Wing Challenge, was scheduled for August 15.