Editor's note: This article is from the Tribune's 2021 Water Carnival informational pullout section, published July 6 and available free on newsstands today, or online in full HERE.
As Detroit Lakes revels in celebrating its historic Sesquicentennial this summer, the Northwest Water Carnival -- the community’s pinnacle summer event -- is making history of its own, with two women Admirals at the helm for the first time in the carnival’s 85 years.
Those women are Annette Korth and Mandie Tretbar, both active members of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees club, which organizes the Water Carnival. The club selects two Admirals every year to serve as leaders of the event.
As the 2021 Admirals, Korth and Tretbar are overseeing a packed event schedule that begins Friday, July 9 with Kegs & Eggs (with KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show, at the City Park Pavilion) and ends July 18 with the annual Water Ski Show on Detroit Lake.
In-between are more than 60 fun events spread out over 10 days, most of them happening on or near the City Beach and Park area, and all of them working together in celebration of one of Detroit Lakes’ most beloved and beautiful resources -- the water.
The community has cherished its Water Carnival since 1935, when the Jaycees first started it. This year, it’s safe to say the appreciation is amplified, as COVID-19 forced cancellation of the 2020 carnival and it was sorely missed.
Korth and Tretbar said they’re eager to see the carnival and community back in full swing this summer, with people of all ages enjoying the Water Carnival while also paying homage to the city’s history as part of the 150th celebrations (for more on that, visit dl150.com)
For both Admirals, the Water Carnival sparks fond memories.
Korth is a born-and-raised Detroit Lakes native who says growing up here was a fun experience, with the carnival being a yearly standout.
“My first Water Carnival was when I was just two months old,” Korth laughs. “Water Carnival has always been a highlight of living here, and something I have loved sharing with my own son. It’s truly a family celebration full of fun events and opportunities to connect with the community.” Korth recalls the traditional Sawdust Dig, where treasures were buried in mounds of sawdust and kids spent time digging and finding them. This event is now the Sand Dig, happening on the public beach and with children excitedly digging to unearth treasures hidden in the sand, souvenirs of the Water Carnival for years to come.
Other standout events happening this year include an Xtreme Tippy Cup competition, inaugural City-Wide Garage Sale, Water Balloon & Egg Toss, and several kids’ events, including the Junior Pageant, Bean Bag Tournament, Turtle & Frog Races, and Pet and Doll Parade. Those, along with the annual Pup Plunge (a contest where dogs leap into the lake off of a dock), Bingo in the Pavilion, and many more daily events, are sure to make the Water Carnival’s triumphant return a success.
Bash on the Beach will surely contribute to that success once again, too. The Bash started 10 years ago and is a two-night, adults-only affair featuring national musical acts that perform on a stage set up at the City Beach. This year, Clay Walker, Terri Clark, Troubadour and SLAMABAMA will round out the lineup.
Tretbar commented, “Without the Jaycees, there is no Water Carnival, and we’re thrilled to be bringing a stellar list of events to attendees.”
Proceeds from some events, such as the Xtreme Tippy Cup competition, will go to Stomp the Stigma, a nonprofit organization that promotes mental health awareness and diminishment of social stigma around mental illness.
Detroit Lakes has a Junior Chapter of the Jaycees, meaning all members are 40 years old or younger. It has been a Junior Chapter since its launch in 1935 and was originally a men’s-only service club. Women started joining in the 1970s as many service groups shifted to be co-ed and expand membership. Today, the local chapter actively seeks members as well as volunteers; volunteers may be of any age.
Korth and Tretbar agree that, although they are busy mothers and working professionals, there is still always time to volunteer and give back.
“We want our kids to grow up seeing us serve others, and also want them to attend Water Carnival,” Korth said. “When we start our children early, in terms of witnessing service and engagement, they inevitably want to help.”
For a full list of Water Carnival activities and more information about the Jaycees, visit DLJaycees.com