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The Looney Daze flea market is one of the festival's many attractions. This year's market starts at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Photo by - Brian Basham

Vergas goes a little 'Looney'

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Vergas goes a little 'Looney'
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Every August, the Vergas community comes together for a "looney" town celebration.

Vergas Looney Daze runs Aug. 9-12.

"For a very small community, it's a great way to bring people together," said Marlette Anderson-Otto, chairperson for Looney Daze. Anderson-Otto is a member of the Vergas Area Community Club, which sponsors the event.

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"The Vergas Area Community Club is predominantly business owners and other people who support the community," Anderson-Otto said. She's the owner of Quiet Cricket in Vergas.

"I have a vested interest in keeping the community alive," she said.

Vergas' entire main street supports Looney Daze, Anderson-Otto added.

Looney Daze is one of the community club's three fundraisers, along with the Maple Syrup Festival and Twelfth Night. All of the proceeds from these fundraisers are put back into the community by the club, Anderson-Otto said.

The community club supports projects that promote tourism, beauty and other aspects of the community, she added.

While Anderson-Otto is in her first year as chairperson for Looney Daze, she says that's just a title.

"(The event) is produced by many, many people," she said. "It's people who are willing to give back to the community, that's the only way it can happen."

While Looney Daze will of course offer its traditional events - such as the Miss Vergas and Princess Altona Pageant, the Road Rally and the Loon Calling contest - there are also some new events to look forward to.

For the first time ever, Looney Daze is presenting the Minnesota Zoo-mobile as the main stage entertainment on Saturday, Aug. 11 at noon.

"The Minnesota Zoo-mobile is huge for us," Anderson-Otto said.

The Zoo-mobile has visited some local schools, but Anderson-Otto said it's nice for them to visit an event like Looney Daze.

"It's good for kids," she said. "They show some animals, and they talk about the interconnectedness that we all have to the planet. It's about education."

Anderson-Otto added that all of the musical acts this year are new, except for The Fat Cats, who traditionally play at Looney Daze. They'll be playing at the street dance from 8 p.m. to midnight on Aug. 11.

The new musical acts include The Beat Goes On multicultural percussionists, jazz music by Blue Barry & Jazzy Frank, and music by David Lee. They'll be playing throughout the day on Aug. 11.

Anderson-Otto also mentioned that while there are some new events, the traditional Looney Daze favorites surely won't be overshadowed.

The festival's signature loon calling contest is on Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. in the main stage area; registration starts at 1 p.m.

"It's people using their voices and hands in imitation," Anderson-Otto explained. "They do a nice job. Some of the kids are very good, and well, some of the adults are very good too."

Like the loon calling contest, most of the Looney Daze events are made for people of all ages to enjoy.

Another one of the festival's family-friendly events is the Looney Daze Parade.

"Small-town parades are always limited by budgets, but well attended," Anderson-Otto said. "Everyone loves a parade."

She said the Looney Daze organizers are still looking for people interested in participating in the parade. Those interested can call her at 218-342-2700.

Anderson-Otto is excited for Looney Daze, and thanked all of the community members who support the event.

"Thanks to everyone who are willingly giving up their time or working the day of the event," she said. "It's been just tremendous community support."

For a complete Looney Daze schedule, visit www.vergasmn.com.

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