by Dennis Dalman
The Sauk Rapids Community Ambassadors’ Pageant will kick off the start of the 12th annual three-day Sauk Rapids River Fest.
The festival, which runs June 25-27, features lots of family fun: a parade, music, competitive running competition and food, food, food galore at the River Days event.
The Ambassadors’ Pageant will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 25 at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.
Hosted by the Sauk Rapids Community Ambassadors Organization, the pageant chooses young women to represent Sauk Rapids at various civic and public events throughout the year. In doing so, the women can learn new skills, make new friends and represent the city with charm. The pageant promises “glamour, entertainment, excitement.”
This year’s ambassadors are Chelsey Haffner, Kaitlin Janson and Kayla Keller.
There is a nominal admission fee to attend this event.
The Rapids River Days Parade is set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26. It boasts more than 85 units this year, including more than a dozen high-school marching bands that will face competition from judges along the parade route. The parade will start on along 6th Avenue near Pleasant View Elementary School and end near the Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School.
Once again, the Tanner’s Team Foundation will sponsor a fundraising walk/run in honor of a Sauk Rapids boy, Tanner Fuls, who lost his battle with cancer almost five years ago when he was only 11 years old.
Registration for the event will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Bob Cross Park near the Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School. The 1k race, for children 10 years old and under, will start at 8:20 a.m. The 5k race, for people 10 and older will start at 9 a.m.
There is a fee for adults and a separate smaller fee for kids 10 and under.
Tanner Fuls, the son of John and Cindy Fuls, was diagnosed with myelodysplactic syndrome when he was only 10 years old. After a grueling regimen of treatments, including a bone transplant, radiation and chemotherapy, an infection developed and he was placed on a ventilator. Later that night, his blood pressure dropped and he died.
Tanner is described as a “vibrant, positive, kind-hearted” boy who never complained, despite all the pain and setbacks he had to endure during his treatments.
Tanner loved sports, especially hockey, which he played on the Sauk Rapids Storm team. When he was ill, he was thrilled to meet football player Brett Favre and even had a chance to plant a flag on center ice at the start of a Minnesota Wild game.
As of April 2015, the Tanner’s Team Foundation has helped 79 families by granting them a total of $52,000.
The culmination of Sauk Rapids River Days is its sprawling, fun-filled music-and-food fest from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 27 at Municipal Park along the Mississippi River.
Dozens of food vendors offer everything from burgers and brats to shish-kabobs and gyros, from kettle corn and mini donuts to sweet-potato fries and wontons, from meatball sandwiches and milkshakes to quesadillas and pork-chop-on-a-stick.
A long list of available foods is enough to make anyone’s mouth water – or cause instant indigestion.
Aside from the staggering variety of foods, the festival will also feature music. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Kevin Lange and the Mississippi Drivers will perform. The Receders will take the stage from 1:30-4 p.m. followed by the Honey Badgers from 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Another popular attraction at the River Days Food Fest is the Minnesota Strongman Man/Woman Competition.
As the music plays and people enjoy the foods, other events will go on all day, including pony rides, camel rides, face painting, caricature drawings, Party Time bouncing toys and an obstacle course.
One of the most popular attractions annually at the festival is the Strongman Man/Woman Championship Contest from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Muscle-bound contenders will wow the crowds with Pony Keg Toss, Stone Load Race, Axle Clean and Press and other feats of strength, all of the categories qualifying the contenders for state championships.
A free shuttle service to and from the festival will be operated all day from the Pleasant View school parking lot, the Mississippi Heights School parking lot and the parking lot under the Sauk Rapids bridge.