Looney Daze kicks off with Miss Vergas pageant
A summer tradition that's been going strong for more than 40 years now, Vergas' annual Looney Daze celebration gets underway this Thursday, Aug. 10, with the Miss Vergas Scholarship Pageant.
Eight candidates have emerged to try and succeed last year's Miss Vergas, Amy Kalina. The pageant is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Vergas Community Center.
Candidates vying for the crown this year include:
n Lindsey Boller, 19, a senior at Detroit Lakes High School, and the daughter of Patti Boller and Joe Boller, both of Detroit Lakes. She will perform a vocal solo for the talent portion of the competition.
n Angela Brown, 19, a freshman at Northwestern College in St. Paul, and the daughter of Walt and Janice Brown, Detroit Lakes. She will perform a vocal solo for the talent portion of the competition.
n Amanda Hanson, 19, a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-Superior is the daughter of Chuck and Barb Hanson, Fergus Falls. She will also perform a vocal solo for the talent portion of the competition.
n Summer Jordan, 18, a senior at Detroit Lakes High School, and the daughter of Kylee Schwartz and Pete Jordan, both of Detroit Lakes. She will perform a tap-dance routine for the talent portion of the competition.
n Kayla Kleinschmidt, 17, a senior at Frazee High School, and the daughter of Ron and Diane Kleinschmidt, Vergas. She will perform a dance routine for the talent portion of the competition.
n Sarah Lysaker, 18, a freshman at Northwestern College, St. Paul, and the daughter of Dawn and David Lysaker, Pelican Rapids. She will perform a flute solo for the talent portion of the competition.
n Tiffany Peterson, 17, a junior at Frazee High School and the daughter of Verne and Lori Peterson, Frazee. She will perform a vocal solo for the talent portion of the competition.
n Shaynee Schultz, 17, a senior at Frazee High School, and the daughter of Emma Wartman and Kyle Schultz, both of Frazee. She will perform a dance routine for the talent portion of the competition.
"My mother, Shelley Bun-kowske, is director and founder of the Miss Vergas Pageant and has been doing it for 21 years," noted daughter Melissa Bunkowske. "I am in charge of the Princess Altona pageant, which we have been doing for the past eight years. It pays homage to the original name of the town and has 14 candidates this year."
The Princess Altona Pageant is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Vergas Com-munity Center, followed by the annual street dance from 9 p.m.-1 a.m., featuring the music of Oc-tober Road. Other Friday events include all-day rummage sales, merchant sidewalk sales and the Methodist Church Flea Market, which all get underway at 8 a.m.
The pace begins to pick up a bit for the weekend, with a wide variety of events planned, both old and new.
"We try to add a few new things every year," commented Melissa Bunkowske, who currently serves as president of the Vergas Community Club.
This year's firsts include a 30-piece patriotic band set to play Saturday afternoon, and a new food court, complete with canopy.
A long-running Vergas tradition, the Loon-Calling Contest, returns to Looney Daze again this year, and is set to take place 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12.
"We get people from all over the country," said Bunkowske. "We always give a prize to the contestant that has come from the furthest away and we get people from Arizona to out East."
Another Looney Daze main event is the hunt for the Legendary Long Lake Loon's emerald egg. Clues are given at Looney Daze events, and the person who finds the egg wins a "Loon's Nest of Prizes," worth about $500. With clues given throughout the festival's many events, it has become a highly sought-after treasure hunt for young and old alike.
In its third year, the Road Rally has really taken off. Starting with only five entries the first year, it is an event that has continued to grow and grow, said Bunkowske. "People dress up and really get into it. It has become just a lot of fun."
The Road Rally starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and features themed-teams and decorated cars competing for everything from best-dressed team to best set times. For more information about Looney Daze go online at www.GoVergas.com and www.VergasMN.com.
Looney Daze schedule
Thursday, Aug. 10: 7:30 p.m. -- Miss Vergas Pageant at the Vergas Community Center:
Friday, Aug. 11: 8 a.m. - Area Wide Rummage Sale, Vergas Merchant Sidewalk Sale and Methodist Flea Market; 6 p.m. - Princess Altona Pageant; 9 p.m.-1 a.m., Vergas Looney Daze Street Dance (October Road).
Saturday, Aug. 12: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Fine Art & Craft Fair on Main Street; flea market and area wide rummage sales (maps available at Goodmans's Market); 8 a.m., 5K Run/Walk, Methodist Flea Market, food booths open; 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Lion's Bingo; 10 a.m.. Junior Royalty Pageant; 12 p.m., Looney Egg Drop, Pig Roast and Kiddie Rides (the latter at Al's Stop and Shop); 12:30 p.m., horseshoes by the beer gardens, kids' games on the baseball field, Road Rally signup; 1 p.m., Road Rally; 2 p.m., Loon Calling Contest; 3 p.m., 30-piece patriotic band performs by the beer gardens; 5:30 p.m., "Color the Streets of Vergas"; 6:30 p.m., Children's Karaoke Contest -- with adult contest to follow.
Sunday, Aug. 13: 7-11.a.m., Vergas Lions' Pancake Feed at Vergas Community Center; 8 a.m., registration for collectible car show; 10:30 a.m., joint church service for St. John's and St. Paul's Lutheran churches at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, with lunch to follow; 10 a.m.-1 p.m., collectible car show; 2 p.m., Vergas Looney Daze Parade, followed by prize drawings; 3:30 p.m., Turtle Races on Main Street.
(Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporters Jackie Jenson and Pippi Mayfield contributed to this story.)