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Carnival makes a big splash

The DL Jaycees, including member Jenni Seelye, soaked the crowd at the end of Sunday's Parade of the Northwest. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

After 10 days jam-packed with fun in the sun, 2014 Northwest Water Carnival co-admirals Nick Omberg and Tom Winters are ready to hand off the reins to their successors, Nate Woodard and Alma Alaniz, who will preside over next year’s 80th annual event.

“It went perfect,” said Omberg of this year’s water carnival run, which concluded on Sunday with near-record crowds having turned out at event after event.

“The crowds were up at every event we had,” he added. “We heard lots of compliments at all the events this year.”

In fact, Saturday night’s Bash on the Beach had a ticketed attendance of 2,000, as lakes area residents turned up in bigger numbers than ever before to hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band perform.

“The Bash has been steadily growing each year,” Omberg added. “This was our largest attendance to date.”

“Our goal every year is to get bigger and better. I think we accomplished that this year,” said Omberg. “But of course you can’t do that without a successful year prior, and last year was a great success. That left us with a nest egg which allowed us to make some bold decisions for this year.”

One of those “bold decisions” was to add a “dealership grudge match” to this year’s demolition derby, held during the opening weekend of the carnival. Local auto dealers put together the cars that faced off in the “grudge match,” with the winner taking home a trophy that will hopefully travel between winners of the event in future years.

The “grudge match” no doubt contributed to the record crowds in attendance for the derby — though the weather undoubtedly played its part as well.

“Everything we do is so weather-dependent,” Omberg said, referring to the fact that most NWC events are held outdoors. “We couldn’t have been more fortunate.”

None of this year’s water carnival events were halted by rain; in fact, the only raindrops to be seen this past weekend fell well after The Roosters had concluded their Friday night concert in the city park.

The concert followed a highly successful bed race competition that resulted in over $7,000 being raised for the United Way’s Food 4 Thought Backpack Program, according to United Way Executive Director Luann Porter.

“The generosity of our community continues to amaze me!” Porter exclaimed.

Saturday’s Chili & Salsa Cook-Off also drew big numbers, Omberg said, in both the number of competition entries and the number of bowls sold to hungry taste-testers after the cook-off was completed.

Though the weather played a large role in the Northwest Water Carnival’s success, Omberg said the biggest factor was the contributions of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees members, who sponsor the annual event.

“Everyone stepped up,” he said. “Tom (Winters) and I both felt a big weight had been lifted off our shoulders, because we knew with the group we had, everything would be taken care of.”

And it was, he added. “It was seamless. The whole week went really well. There are always a few little things that could be done a little bit better, but overall I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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