Mayor Duke wants your vote!: Aug. 19 Cormorant Days celebration to include inauguration festivities
Cormorant Days, the annual celebration that brings upwards of 2,000-3,000 people to the tiny Becker County village on the third Saturday in August of each year, is still a few weeks away — but Mayor Duke has already hit the campaign trail, seeking re-election.
"He's world famous," says Karen Nelson, a member of the Cormorant Days planning committee. "He even has his own Facebook page."
The 11-year-old Great Pyrenees became the village's elected mayor during the 2014 Cormorant Days celebration, and has been re-elected by a landslide every year since.
"We're hoping that will be the case again this year," says Tammy Odegaard, another planning committee member, as she proudly displayed her "Mayor Duke 4 Fur-Ever" t-shirt, noting that the "4" in his campaign slogan represents the fact that he is seeking his fourth consecutive term in office.
It's a pretty safe bet, since everyone seems to love the community's adorably, fluffy, four-legged ambassador extraordinaire, who has graced the pages of both National Geographic and Scholastic magazines, appeared on television as a guest on Steve Harvey's talk show as well as on the World Dog Awards, and rode in a plethora of parades (including Detroit Lakes' own Parade of the Northwest).
He's even left his mark — err, pawprint — in the literary world: Duke will have a chapter of his own in an upcoming book by Georgia Nagel, titled Pet Talker. Nagel, who is known locally as "The Pet Sitter," has cared for the pets of area residents "in absentia" for the past 16 years. She will have some copies of her book available for sale during the Cormorant Days celebration, and Duke has been recruited to give the book his personal stamp of approval.
"It's a stamp that was created from his actual paw print," says Cormorant Pub owner Tricia Maloney.
"We didn't want him to have to keep getting his paw inked," Nelson explained.
A portion of the proceeds from Mayor Duke's book signing at Cormorant Days will benefit the Humane Society of the Lakes, Odegaard added.
The success of Duke's re-election campaign will be known several days in advance of the event, Odegaard said, because the votes will be counted on Monday, Aug. 14, with the winner to be announced the following Saturday.
Because the Cormorant village does not have an elected council, the mayor's position is strictly an honorary one: As such, area businesses and restaurants are unabashedly charging $1 per vote, and there is no limit on the number of votes that can be cast by a single person, other than the size of their wallet. In other words, ballot box stuffing is encouraged.
As evidence of their confidence that Duke will be victorious, Cormorant Days organizers have already begun making plans for his inauguration at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 19, on the stage erected in the Cormorant Pub parking lot. As has happened each of the past three years, the oath of office will once again be administered by Cormorant Township Supervisor Steve Sorenson.
"If Duke wins, several community organizations will be making him an honorary member during the inauguration," said Odegaard.
The Cormorant Lions, Cormorant Sportsman's Club, Cormorant Area Art Club and both the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts troops are just a few of the organizations slated to participate, she added.
Of course, the mayor's inauguration is only one of the more than 30 events planned for the ever-growing Cormorant Days celebration, said Maloney, adding that a plethora of other festivities will take place in the pub parking lot, from horseshoe and bean bag tournaments to live music from area musicians Laina Nelson and Jacob Woody, and a bike giveaway.
Odegaard was excited to talk about the community's first-ever Church Choir Competition, which will take place at 1 p.m. on the Front Porch Stage of the Cormorant Community Center.
"Each choir will sing a couple of songs, in the hope of winning one of the cash prizes for their church," she said. "First place is $500, second is $300 and third is $200."
One popular returning event will be the Great Toy Giveaway, which is set for 3:30 p.m. in the pub parking lot.
"I bet we spent $800 on toys for the kids last year," said Maloney.
Those kids who bring a donation for the Becker County Food Pantry will get to go to the front of the line, ensuring that they will get first choice of the toys to be given away this year, Odegaard added — which means that the event also raises food and cash for a great cause.
The Cormorant Lions Club will be celebrating the centennial of Lions International with a variety of raffle prizes to be given away during its annual pancake breakfast, which takes place from 7 to 11 a.m. inside the Cormorant Community Center.
Other events will include a kids' pedal tractor pull at 10 a.m., a Little Miss Sunshine Pageant at 10 a.m., free kids' crafts (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and minnow races (10:30-11:30 a.m.), and a comedy/magic show by Jeffrey Salveson at 1 p.m.
Another new event this year will be live music in the Cormorant Pub parking lot from 4-7 p.m., featuring the Two at a Time Band.
"We wanted to see if we couldn't extend the day a little later," said Maloney, adding that most festivities will begin wrapping up by 5 p.m.
"It's a family day," explained Odegaard, noting that most families will begin packing up and heading home by that time.
For a complete schedule of events, please visit the Cormorant Village Facebook page. To learn more about Duke, visit his personal page, "Mayor Duke of Cormorant Village."