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Small towns, big celebrations

Bingo games roasted corn, fry bread and other treats, will be offered all day at the sixth annual Snellman Days, which take place Saturday, Sept. 4 in Snellman. (Sarah Smith/Park Rapids Enterprise)

If you're looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend, look no further -- annual small town celebrations will conclude a summer full fun and exciting events in the lakes area.

Travel north on Highway 59 from Detroit Lakes and you'll run into Ogema, a community that houses about 200 but will welcome hundreds more for Ogema Days to be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4-5.

Go east on Highway 34, but careful not to travel more than 22 miles or you'll go right through Snellman. It's a town with no official population but one that has been dedicated to hosting an annual festival annually for six years.

The owners of the Snellman Store, which is the heart of the town and where everything happens, are sponsoring Snellman Days again on Saturday, Sept. 4.

"It's my bread and butter. I own the store, it only makes sense to promote the little town itself," owner Joanie Anderson said.

A brunch hosted by Gethsemane Lutheran Church will kick off the celebration at 8 a.m. followed by a classic car show then the famous drawing for mayor at noon.

"That's where everybody throws their picks in a jar for a dollar," said Snellman Store co-owner Aune Longfors.

Traditionally, a changing of the guard ceremony takes place when the current mayor passes down the title to the new mayor, but current mayor Eddie Hosch is out of town and will not be available this year.

Still, organizers of the event encourage all residents of the area to "elect" a new mayor, after all the rules are: there are no rules. "It could be somebody from California for all we know," Longfors said with a smile.

Other activities planned include kids games, a flea market, hand-weaving demonstration by Longfors and the most popular of them all -- watermelon-eating contest.

"Being on 34 like it is, we have a lot of people that are just traveling through that just swing in," Longfors said.

And being on Highway 59, Ogema Days, which has been happening for more than two decades, will once again present a schedule packed with activities for all ages.

A community rummage sale will kick off the celebration from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, while the 5K Rod Run is slated to begin at 9 a.m.

A parade down Main Street will start at 1 p.m. with plenty of participants already signed up.

"Anyone is welcome to join the parade," lead organizer Junior Rousu said. "We have many locals who bring their tractors and restored cars. You name it, they'll bring it."

Rousu said organizers decided to bring back a popular activity that he expects will draw hundreds of spectators. The four-wheeler mud run will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday with registration from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information on the mud run, call Zach at 218-204-0545.

Kids games will take place at the park with a bean bag tournament at 4 p.m.

The street dance will end Saturday on a groovy note from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

"We had roughly 450 people at the street dance last year," Rousu said.

Sunday's scavenger hunt and potluck dinner will start at 11 a.m.

Proceeds from Ogema Days will benefit the Ogema Fire Department, Pheasants Forever and the Community Club.