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A group of tubers approaches a bridge over the Ottertail River near the end of the ride.

Music, tubing, fireworks ... or just hanging on the beach

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Music, tubing, fireworks ... or just hanging on the beach
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Music, tubing, baseball, a Freedom Fest and of course, fireworks -- it's all part of this weekend's Independence Day celebrations in the lakes area.


Tubing companies hoping for good weather

Tubing enthusiasts, rejoice! Assuming Mother Nature finally decides to cooperate, all three tubing companies along the Otter Tail River will be up and running throughout the holiday weekend, and beyond.

K & K Tubing, Charlie's Ottertail Tubing and Ed's River Run are all open for business seven days a week throughout the summer -- when the weather cooperates, which it hasn't been doing very often.

"It's been very slow this year," said Cathy Pihlaja, one of the owners of Charlie's.

"The weather's been so much against us, we just can't believe it," said Roger Klemm, owner of K & K. "People are wanting to go, but it's been so cold and rainy, we just haven't had them coming out, because of the weather. I can't blame people for not wanting to come out -- it's too cold."

Nevertheless, if the weather does decide to cooperate, all three companies will be open throughout the weekend. K & K starts sending buses down to the river at 9:30 a.m., while Charlie's starts sending shuttles out at 10 a.m.

Ed's River Run is located right on the river, so no shuttles are necessary to get to the site -- just pick up your inner tubes and go.

"We usually open at 9 or 10 a.m., and we'll be out of tubes by 2 p.m.," said owner Ben Garlie, who is in the process of taking over the business from his grandfather, Ed Enger.

Each trip down the river takes approximately an hour and a half to two hours to complete, said Pihlaja.

Garlie said that as the water level starts going down late in the season, it can take longer than two hours.

"For this time of year, the water level is pretty good," he said.

Each of the businesses has different restrictions about what tubers can or can't take with them on the river, so be sure to call ahead and check to see what the requirements are.

For instance, Charlie's doesn't allow either glass containers or Styrofoam coolers to be taken on the river -- and as a deterrent to littering, Pihlaja said, they also require guests to leave a deposit for the use of other types of coolers. The deposit will be returned when the guests return with trash in tow.

Though not required, Garlie also cautioned that it's a good idea to "wear shoes."

Volleyball Beach Blast

Not interested in tubing? Then how about a little volleyball? The 9th Annual Volleyball Beach Blast will be held this year at the Roadhouse, located at 11740 Co. Hwy. 5 near Lake Park.

Organizer Chad Wertz said there will be both coed and men's doubles categories this year, but the event will only take place on one day, Saturday, starting with check-in at 9 a.m. Call Wertz at 218-850-1972 for more information.

Detroit Lakes Angels

Washington Park in Detroit Lakes will also be a busy place on Saturday, as the annual Angels Alumni Game between past and present players takes place at 3 p.m.

Then, at 7 p.m., the Detroit Lakes Angels will take on the Frazee Flames.

Live music throughout the weekend

Detroit Lakes' Zorbaz restaurant will offer live music every night, Wednesday through Saturday. Little perform live on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, while the Otherside Blues Band will entertain crowds on both Friday and Saturday nights. Doors open at 8 p.m. for all shows.

The Lodge on Lake Detroit will host the latest in its Live at the Lodge series this Thursday, July 2. Enjoy the sounds of jazz duo Russ Peterson (sax) and Jordan Christianson (piano) from 7 to 10 p.m., in the comfort of the Lodge's fireside lobby. Additional outdoor seating is available on the lakefront balcony, and drinks may be purchased from LoLa D's lobby bar throughout the event. There is no cover charge.

Start off the weekend right with music at the Sandbar on Thursday night, featuring a young rock band called Doctor Salty playing from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.

At Long Bridge, owner Brian Johnson said they'll have three bands rotate performances over the four days, Thursday through Sunday. Local acts Tim Eggebraaten and Island Time, along with Sunny Days Beach Band, a band from Key West, Fla., will play in shifts from 6-10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 2-6 p.m. on Sunday.

GB Leighton will be at Lakeside Tavern on Friday night, starting at 9 p.m., during their ninth annual Bash on the Beach. Lakeside will continue with more music on Saturday night as well, as Scarlet Haze takes the stage at 9 p.m.

At Zorbaz, Donny & the Groovetones perform live on both Wednesday and Thursday nights, while the Otherside Blues Band will entertain crowds on both Friday and Saturday nights. All shows start at 8 p.m.

Beachfront Bar and Grill will host Tripwire on Saturday night from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.

Boat parades

There are also a plethora of boat parades going on at lakes throughout the area on Saturday.

The Lake Seven (Scalp) Lake Association will host its 7th Annual July 4th Boat Parade, starting at 11 a.m. The parade begins at the public access; boats should arrive 15 minutes early for parade instructions, including parade line-up and pre-parade photos.

The boats will travel clockwise around the lake. Over $150 in prizes will be awarded to the Most Patriotic, the Most Original and the Most Spirit/Enthusiastic. The boat parade is open to the public. You do not have to decorate your boat to enter into the parade.

Long Lake boat owners are invited to be a part of the annual July 4th boat parade, starting at 2 p.m. and traveling clockwise around the lake. Get out your best red, white & blue and come join in the fun! Call Cheri at 847-4673 or e-mail her at for more information.

Several other boat parades are also planned; check with your lake associations to see where and when.

Strawberry Lake holiday celebration

Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat will host a July 4th celebration including a noon picnic at the beach, outdoor concert, boat parade and fireworks over the water. For more information, call 1-888-593-2882, 218-983-3217 or visit

Frazee FreedomFest

In Frazee, FreedomFest will be a family-focused event in Lions Park, starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Co-coordinator Lori Thorp said the event, which has been running in Frazee for the last several years, has stayed small, but is like a "fun, old-fashioned Fourth," complete with picnic foods like hot dogs, shaved ice and cotton candy, and family games, including a massive tug of war, and a kids' watermelon-eating contest.

At 6:30 p.m., a "patriotic ceremony" is scheduled with local veterans and a national anthem performance.

The real fun starts at 7 p.m., when the kids are split into age groups and try to see who can finish a wedge of watermelon first.

"They just chow down ... it makes for really, really cute pictures," Thorp said.

Immediately following the watermelon-eating contest, it's male versus female in a tug-of-war. First will be boys versus girls, Thorp said, then men versus women, and then everyone will have a round together.

Finally, she said, people are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs to view the Frazee fireworks at Lions Park at dusk.


Shady Hollow Flea Market is open three days to celebrate the Fourth of July, July 3-5. Saturday's Fourth of July festivities include a Kiddie Parade at noon (participants welcome), La Ditzy the Clown, coloring contest, a bike giveaway, prizes and more. Located 5 miles south of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59.

The Lakes Area Farmers Market will also be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the DL City Park.

And visitors at DL's Washington Square Mall will be able to enjoy the McLaughlin Boat Show, which opens today (Wednesday) and continues through Tuesday, July 7 during regular mall hours.

Outdoor theater

You still have three more chances to catch Detroit Lakes' first-ever Shakespeare in the Park production, "Taming of the Shrew," at the Detroit Lakes City Park Bandshell. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with a final Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. All performances are free and open to the public, though there will be a free will offering taken. For more information, contact Historic Holmes Theatre Events Coordinator Vicky Williams at 218-844-4221, Ext. 106 or e-mail

Fireworks on the Beach

As the sun begins to fade below the horizon on Saturday, grab your blankets and lawn chairs and find a comfortable slice of sand as Detroit Lakes' famous City Beach fireworks light up the sky, starting at dusk, around 10:30 p.m.

(Detroit Lakes Newspapers summer intern Courtney Sinner contributed to this article.)

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 15 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454