Easter Fun Day, aeromodelers show drew big crowds to Detroit Lakes' Washington Square Mall

The 21st Annual Aeromodelers Swap and Show might have been a big draw on its own — but this year, it coincided with the Washington Square Mall's Easter Fun Day on Saturday, April 1.

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Easter Fun Day at the Washington Square Mall was the place to be on Saturday, April 1, 2023. More than 250 kids — and their parents — took part in the festivities, which included a "make and take" craft event outside Detroit Lakes Floral (pictured) as well as a free movie at the theater and a cupcake decorating event at La Barista.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — The Washington Square Mall was the place to be in Detroit Lakes this past Saturday, April 1, as the mall hosted not just one, but two big events: Easter Fun Day and the 21st Annual Aeromodelers Swap and Show.

Easter Fun Day, which was held between 9:30 and 11:30 that morning, included a "make and take" crafting event at Detroit Lakes Floral and a cupcake decorating event at La Barista. There was also a free screening of the 2022 animated feature, "Lyle, Lyle Crocodile" at the mall's movie theater, Cinemagic Cinema 7.

"I would say we had about 250 kids, and then you have to add in the adults," said Washington Square Mall Manager Dawn Livdahl. "La Barista had (made) 400 cupcakes, and they sold out."

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Remote-controlled planes of every shape, size and description lined the hallways of the Washington Square Mall this past Saturday, April 1, 2023, for the 21st Annual Aeromodelers Swap and Show. A total of 20 pilots signed up for the show, which was down from past years due to snowstorms in the area restricting travel from Bismarck, the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The crowds that showed up for the pre-Easter event also enjoyed taking in the Aeromodelers Swap and Show, which was celebrating its 21st year at the mall. Unfortunately, the number of entries at the show was down a bit from previous years due to the weather, according to Paul Johnson, one of the event's organizers.

"We had 20 entries," said Johnson, noting that "about half" of the pilots who signed up had brought multiple planes. "It went better than we expected considering the weather. We had the tables and exhibit spaces filled."


Heavy snowfall in other areas of the state, as well as intermittently icy roads, caused those who would normally come from Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Bismarck or other distant communities to stay home this year, Johnson noted.

In a typical year, about 35-40 pilots would register for the show, and usually, they would even bring other types of remote-controlled or control-line vehicles, like cars, boats, etc. This year, however, the entries were mainly planes, Johnson said.

"You never really know what you're going to get from one year to the next," he added.

Johnson said that the reason why the show is usually held in Detroit Lakes — which does not currently have an aeromodelers club — is that it's a "central hub" for the clubs in the area, including Perham (which he belongs to), Park Rapids, Fergus Falls, Alexandria and Fargo.

"This is the first year that the weather has had any kind of impact on us, so we've been pretty lucky," he added.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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