Detroit Lakes’ ultimate summer celebration, the multi-day Northwest Water Carnival, will be making big waves again this summer after the 2020 event was sunk by COVID-19 crowd restrictions.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a plan for this year’s carnival, set to take place July 9-18.
“We’re super excited to bring it back,” said Annette Korth, a leading organizer. “This was only the second time in 86 years when we didn’t have a Water Carnival. It’s a staple to our community.”
The 2021 carnival will be the 85th one in Detroit Lakes’ history. The longstanding event is put on by the local Jaycees club, which Korth is a member of. Korth and another Jaycee, Mandie Tretbar, are this year’s Water Carnival Admirals, meaning they’re the primary people in charge.
The two reached out to the City Council Tuesday seeking support for the permits and licenses needed for the carnival, and the council was happy to oblige.
While some of this year’s individual Water Carnival activities may be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Korth said the event as a whole will not be postponed again: “We’re going to have a Water Carnival, no matter what.”
A wide range of events are on the schedule for this year, which is essentially a holdover of last year’s event schedule. All the smaller group activities that are traditionally part of the carnival -- like the water fights, kids’ games, bean bag tournaments, tug-o-war on the beach, etc. -- will for sure take place, Korth said.
Larger group events, like the kick-off party on West Lake Drive and the Bash on the Beach lakeside concert, are still tentative, with the hope that state restrictions on group gatherings will be loosened or lifted by then. Korth said they’ll make a final decision about those larger events -- whether to have them or not, and what if any restrictions will be in place if they do -- by June 1.
The demo derby remains tentative for now, as well, she added -- but the big Parade of the Northwest is a definite go.
“People are spread out and not all in one area,” she said of the parade. “And many of the (carnival) events aren’t so huge that we feel we can’t have them… So if anything, it (the pandemic) would affect the music and the demo derby.”
The Jaycees will be making an official announcement next Friday, March 19, about the lineup for this year’s Bash on the Beach, and will also begin offering online ticket sales that day at dljaycees.com.
Korth said additional information about the carnival, including a full schedule of events, will be updated on that website by the end of May.
Anyone interested in learning more about the carnival, or who would like to volunteer to help with the activities, is invited to an open meeting at Hub 41 next Thursday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. Korth said the Jaycees will be making plans for the carnival then, and the public is welcome to attend.
“We’re always accepting volunteers,” she said. “You don’t have to join (the Jaycees) to help out. Any little bit helps.”
Volunteers are essential to the Water Carnival’s success, assisting with everything from Bingo calling to beer tent sales. Whatever people are willing to do, Korth said, the Jaycees will take their help.
For those who are willing and able to do more, the club is always looking for new members, too. Korth said memberships are down right now, which makes it more difficult to put on big events and thus jeopardizes things like the Water Carnival.
“We are hurting, as are other organizations in town,” she said. “We would love to have more members.”
The Jaycees is open to people ages 18 to 40. The club meets regularly on the first Thursday of every month. For more information about the Jaycees or this year’s carnival, visit the Northwest Water Carnival Facebook page or the Jaycees website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Annette Korth at 218-234-9012 or Mandie Tretbar at 320-444-5603.