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Water Carnival aims high

Big John Whitaker hoists a log weighing 205 pounds during the Beast on the Beach competition Saturday afternoon on the City Beach. The new event is part of the Water Carnival activities. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE1 / 2
Chantal Wilson gives the thumbs up as she was crowned the 2013 Miss Northwest by the 2012 Miss Northwest and 2013 Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh and the 2012 Miss Northwest Teen Sarah Labine during Friday's Miss Northwest pageant. BRIAN BASHAM/TRIBUNE2 / 2

Despite a rainy Sunday that continued on into Monday, the opening weekend of the 78th Northwest Water Carnival was a resounding success, according to 2013 Water Carnival Admiral Matt Boeke.

“The first weekend was great,” he said on Tuesday. “The Miss Northwest Pageant on Friday was a great success, and while the Night Golf was unfortunately rained out, Saturday went very, very well.”

Chantal Wilson of Greenbush was crowned Friday as Miss Northwest 2013.

“I will have some big shoes to fill,” Wilson acknowledged, referring to the fact that both the 2011 and 2011 Miss Northwest titleholders — Siri Freeh and Rebecca Yeh, respectively — went on to be crowned as Miss Minnesota.

Both of these young women were on hand to wish Wilson well as she embarked on her quest continue the streak.

“I’m pretty honored,” Wilson said. “I’m also really looking forward to working with the different groups in the city of Detroit Lakes this coming year, not just to promote my platform, but I’ve been able to find out a lot about the really great things groups like the Jaycees and Rotary and Kiwanis do for the community and would love to get involved with them as well.”

Wilson is serving as a summer intern with the Detroit Lakes law firm of Briggs, Ramstad & Skoyles, in preparation for beginning her second year as a law student at Boston University.

Her platform as Miss Northwest is “The Power of Potential: Realizing Self Worth in the Modern American Girl.”

Essentially, she said, her platform is an attempt to help young women who have been bullied or victimized by abuse and neglect to rebuild their self esteem.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Wilson said.

She is also, of course, getting ready for the 2014 Miss Minnesota competition, which is set for next June.

“The first runner up for Miss Northwest was Michelle Stahlecker of Crookston, while the second runner up was Libby Schmidt (of Detroit Lakes),” said pageant coordinator Cindy Moore, who noted that there were about 200 people in attendance that evening.

But Miss Northwest was not the only title at stake on Friday night.

Detroit Lakes’ own Tianna Schwartz was named as Miss Northwest Teen, while Sarah Wendt of Frazee was named as first runner up.

“It was kind of a shock,” Schwartz said of her reaction when she learned she had won. “I didn’t know what to do at first, but it was really exciting and I just felt super smiley.”

Like Wilson, Schwartz said she intends to continue on to the state competition, though she has not yet decided on her platform.

“I don’t have one yet, but Chantal is going to help me with that,” she said. “It should be a lot of fun. Even if I don’t win I’m really looking forward to it.”

Schwartz will be a junior at Detroit Lakes High School this fall. She said that the Miss Northwest Teen event was her third competitive pageant.

“I’ve done the Miss Vergas pageant twice before,” she said.

Now that she’s won her first title, Schwartz said she will be spending the year representing Detroit Lakes at other area parades and pageants as well as “just getting out there and getting involved in the community.”

Both Schwartz and Wilson have been busy doing just that this week; they were asked to judge both Sunday’s sand castle building contest, and Monday’s Water Carnival Junior Pageant, in which young boys and girls from around the area had the opportunity to compete for the title of Water Carnival Prince and Princess.

“It was fun, but so hard,” she said of judging the junior pageant. “All of the kids were so cute.”

The winners of the junior pageant were a pair of 4-year-olds, Gabriel Englund and Gabriella Frohman.

“There were 32 kids involved,” said Boeke. “That’s double what we had last year (for junior pageant competitors), so it was a very good turnout and a big success.”

The “Sweet Summer Night” downtown shopping extravaganza was also a success on Monday, despite intermittent rains forcing the event to be moved indoors to the Washington Square Mall.

“There were a lot of people there,” Boeke said. “We were very pleased with the attendance.”

Sunday’s Family Day festivities at the DL City Park were also well attended.

“We had a little bit of rain but that didn’t stop us from having some fun,” said Boeke.

But the big attendance winner thus far was Saturday night’s demolition derby at the Becker County Fairgrounds, he added.

“We counted about 1,700 people that came through the gates,” said Boeke. “We were very happy with that turnout, and there were a lot of cars there to put on a show. It was a great night.”

Sunny skies also made for a good turnout at Saturday’s two inaugural events, an arm wrestling tournament and “Beast on the Beach” strong man competition.

“They both went very well,” said Nate Woodard, who was the organizer for both of the first-time events. “We really didn’t know what to expect for a crowd, but it was good.

“We had about 15 competitors for the arm wrestling. There was one team that traveled up from the Twin Cities, and another from Fargo. They came from all over. We also had four competitors for the Beast on the Beach, and probably 100-plus spectators.

“They are both events that will continue to grow, and hopefully get some more competitors next year.”

The fun continues tonight with the annual Bed Races at 6:30 p.m., followed by an ice cream social.

Thursday’s events will include Bingo at the DL Pavilion starting at 5 p.m., followed by the Home Brewing Contest and beer tasting at Zorbaz, starting at 6 p.m. The weekend-long Water Carnival Baseball Classic also gets underway Thursday night at Washington Ballpark.

On Friday, the “legendary water fights” start in the City Park at 7 p.m., followed  by a Party in the Park celebration featuring music  by Tim Eggebraaten.

“Then we roll into Big Saturday, with a ton of events capped off by the Bash on the Beach featuring John Michael Montgomery,” said Boeke. “The day starts with the fun run at 7 a.m. and goes all the way to 1 a.m. on Sunday.”

Speaking of Sunday, that’s the day of the Water Carnival’s signature event, the Parade of the Northwest, which gets underway at 1 p.m.

The parade will be followed by a water ski show on Little Detroit Lake and inflatable games in the City Park.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454