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Water Carnival: Get ready for summer's biggest celebration

In its 78th year this summer, the Detroit Lakes Northwest Water Carnival provides 10 days brimming with entertainment, activity and fun for all ages! Join the community, the Detroit Lakes Jaycees and many other local sponsors in celebrating the lakes and other wonderful features of the area from July 12-21.

Friday, July 12

The festivities kick-off the first Friday at 7 p.m. with the Miss Northwest Pageant held at the Historic Holmes Theatre. The newly crowned Miss Northwest will move on to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant. The Miss Teen Pageant will also be that night.

A game of night golf begins at 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 13

The day begins with the Detroit Lakes Midsummer Bike Tour around the lakes area. Bikers can choose to participate in the 15-mile family ride, or take on the challenge of the 30- or 45-mile loops. A kids’ version of the ride is also offered.

Ride for the Future, a motorcycle ride takes through the area, zooms off from the City Park at 9 a.m.

New to the Water Carnival this year is the “Beast on the Beach” event, which provides contestants a chance to showcase their strength and speed at the Pavilion with competitions for time, repetitions, and endurance.

The Demolition Derby, a returning favorite, revs up at 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds. The spectator fee is $7 to take in daring drivers and exciting crashes. 

Sunday, July 14

Sunday’s activities cater especially to families, with Family Day in the Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Worship at 10:30 a.m. with Young Life in a non-denominational service at the Pavilion.

After the service, stay at the Pavilion for a ship building contest with the Jaycees. All materials will be provided, and a ship race on the lake will follow.

Other activities include “water walking balls,” trolley rides, balloon tosses, and a watermelon feed. There will even be frog jump and turtle races, and a “Toddler Trot” where you can pit your little one against his or her peers in some exciting baby racing!

Monday, July 15

For youngsters a little too old for Sunday’s “Toddler Trot,” try out the Junior Pageant at the Pavilion. It will begin at 6 p.m., and showcase the talents of 4- to 6-year-old boys and girls.

Also check out “Sweet Summer Night” in downtown Detroit Lakes from 5-8 p.m.

Tuesday, July 16

The Farmer’s Market will hold its regular hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Peoples Park.

Flex your muscles at the Tug-O-War competition with divisions for both men and women beginning at 7 p.m. on the Pavilion Beach.

The Dance on Detroit runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, July 17

Keep your eyes peeled and bring your sharpest detective skills to the Great Admiral’s Hat Hunt for a chance to win hundreds of dollars in prizes.

The search starts at 4 p.m., and all clues will be hidden within the Wednesday edition of the Detroit Lakes newspaper, leading to a secret location somewhere within city property.

Proudly sport your Water Carnival button and receive a free ice cream cone while watching the Bed Races at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 18

Get your competitive juices flowing with some intense games of Bingo from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Pavilion and the chance to win some fantastic prizes!

Zorbaz sponsors a Home Brew Contest from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The 17th annual American Legion Baseball Classic starts up at 8 p.m. and will provide entertainment throughout the weekend with teams hailing from all over the upper northwest.

Friday, July 19

Inflatable games will keep everyone active and entertained from 3 to 9 p.m. in City Park.

Prepare to get soaked at the Water Fights, a classic Water Carnival event. Bring your team of six people at 6 p.m. to City Park and battle it out with fire hoses in this single elimination tournament. Stay afterwards to enjoy Party in the Park with music from Tim Eggebraaten, dancing, and fun for all ages.

Saturday, July 20

Wake up bright and early to enjoy a beautiful walk or run along the shores of Detroit Lake. Registration opens at 7 a.m. in the Pavilion, and the race will begin at 8 a.m. Registration includes a race shirt and goodie bag.

Test your balance with a stand up paddle boarding race, beginning at 10 a.m. in the lake.

Admire some bikes in the motorcycle parade. Bikers will begin the procession at 10:30 a.m., starting at Holy Rosary and heading to the Pavilion. Immediately following is the pet and doll parade for all ages.

Ronald McDonald will be in the Band Shell in the City Park right after the pet and doll parade.

While in City Park, check out the classic car show in the parking lot, just north of the Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. enjoy a beer garden and DJ on the beach.

Test your hand-eye coordination with a bean bag tournament starting at 11:30 on the Pavilion Beach. Teams of two can register and compete for prizes and the title of bean bag champions!

Hungry from participating in the incredible amount of activity on Saturday? Check out the chili cook-off beginning at 11:30 a.m.!

Bash on the Beach starts the party at 7:30 p.m. with performances by Troubadour and John Michael Montgomery.

Sunday, July 21

Inflatable games will be offered in the park from 8 to 11:30 a.m.

Cap off an exciting Water Carnival with the Parade of the Northwest at 1 p.m. through the streets of Detroit Lakes.

After the parade, gather on the sands of City Beach to marvel at the aquatic talents showcased in the water ski show.

For even more Northwest Water Carnival fun and a complete schedule of the events and information about registration, visit