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Parkfest to bring locals together

Parkfest is the city’s way of kicking off summer by bringing locals together at the park where a free picnic supper is available, as well as inflatable games for the kids. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

It’s being called “the kickoff to summer” — the 7th annual Park Fest in Detroit Lakes is right around the corner.

The event is being held at the City Park and Pavilion down by the beach on Thursday, May 15, from 4 to 7 p.m.

“Parkfest started when we were capital for a day as part of Minnesota’s sesquicentennial — the 150th anniversary celebration,” said Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston, who says Detroit Lakes was one of only five “capitals for a day” picked by the governor. “So we created a big celebration down by the beach and park, and we had so much fun that we said, ‘let’s do this again; this was awesome.’” 

Dubbed a sort of “dream child” of the mayor’s and run by volunteers, Parkfest is sponsored by the City of Detroit Lakes and is free and open to the public.

Arvig is sponsoring big, inflatable bouncy games and bounce castle and slide for the kids.

“And then we’ll also have what we call ‘the big truck hoot and toot,’ where we’ll have a snowplow, ambulance, city work vehicles, the big cherry picker — whatever is available and not working. Kids can tour and see what it’s like inside those big vehicles and maybe get to sit in one,” said Johnston.

Mosaic Mania will also be on display at the park. This is a project that Detroit Lakes elementary school students have been working on where they learned how to hand make mosaic glass windows. Those will be for sale through a silent auction.

At 5:15 p.m., there will be a free picnic consisting of simple, picnic-style food including hot dogs and chips.

“We usually get around 500 to 600 people for that,” said Johnston, adding that the Detroit Lakes School District helps with food prep to ensure there is enough for everyone.

At 5:30 p.m., Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk will take the stage for a Parkfest welcome, followed by live music at 6 p.m.

Detroit Lakes High School students Alexa Anderson and Dillon Spurlin will be singing.

“A lot of people know them from the last couple of high school musicals,” said Johnston. “Dillon played Danny in ‘Grease’ and Alexa was Rizzo, so a lot of people remember them from their characters.”

Inside the Pavilion, various organizations from businesses to non-profits will have booths set up with information.

“And the beauty of the Pavilion is, if it rains, we can always move everything inside,” said Johnston, adding that Parkfest has experienced a little bit of every kind of weather over the past seven years.

“But the neat thing about people around here is we may be in our rain slickers and sweatshirts, but we’ll be at the park,” laughed Johnston.

While so many activities around Detroit Lakes often centers around tourism, Johnston says this is one event that is not necessarily promoted outside of the area. “It’s just kind of designed for the local residents — to bring all the locals together, get a chance to see the Pavilion and just have a good time,” she said, adding that Parkfest is also one of those things that is fun for all ages.

“We get strollers to seniors,” said Johnston. “It’s a good time to sit out in the park and enjoy. And the beach is beautiful, the sand is prepped, the marina is out, so we hope everyone will come on out.”