Ox Cart Days festival preview with seven days of fun

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Ox Cart Days’ 2021 summer festival is literally right around the corner August 16-22 and, with over 100 events and seven days of fun to be had, it just keeps getting bigger and better. There are even some class reunions, too, with the Mount Saint Benedict Class of 1981 Reunion and Crookston High School Class of 2001 Reunion to name a couple. And the contests, competitions, and giveaways to win prizes, cash and even scholarships? They can’t be beat.

    There were a couple unfortunate postponements recently announced due to the drought and city water restrictions which include the Bremer Bank ATV/UTV Mud Run and Crookston Fire Department/Association Water Wars. Fire Chief Tim Froeber even told the City Council that if we didn’t receive any rain they might have to cancel the fireworks, too. Was Monday night’s rain enough, Froeber? We hope so.

    While we’d like to write a story about each and every upcoming event, we just cannot squeeze it all into this edition. So, first, we are going to refer you to the Ox Cart Days’ website www.crookstonoxcartdays.com for the full updated schedule of events with dates, times and locations (that include Google Map links!) and then encourage you to attend as many as you’d like with your $5 button. You can still get buttons while they last at Hugo’s, Erickson Embroidery, True Value Hardware and the Chamber.

    Here are some highlights of events happening August 16-22 in Crookston over Ox Cart Days:

    • Monday, August 16 - Start of the Kid’s Lemonade Stand Contest with locations/dates/times posted on the Ox Cart website and social media, start of the Summer Arts Safari Youth Theater at Highland Elementary with performances Friday, August 20 and Saturday, August 21; start of event week sales with local retailers, and the big kickoff event at the Crookston Eagles Club. The Taste of Crookston will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Eagles with food samples from local restaurants, businesses, organizations and clubs with sponsor United Valley Bank. Buttons are required and tickets are $1 each or 12 for $10, and each sample costs one ticket. Don’t forget to vote for People’s Choice. See the “Taste of Crookston hosted by Ox Cart Committee” Facebook page for the full list of tasty treats that include items like Bang Bang Shrimp, Mardi Gras Dessert Pizza, Banana Split Dessert and Birdseed Salad.

    • Tuesday, August 17 - Downtown Crookston Development Partnership food truck pop-up downtown with Erickson’s Smokehouse, Ox Cart Days Cookout at Hugo’s, Little Miss Crookston and Junior Miss Crookston pageants, Hugo’s Supermarket Sweep Contest, and Mark Anderson Memorial Comedy Open Mic Night, plus the ongoing lemonade stands, youth theater and event week sales with retailers. The Mark Anderson Memorial Comedy Open Mic Night will be held from 7-10 p.m. at the Crookston Inn with Mark’s family and Crookston Inn/Scobey’s Pub & Grub as hosts. Bring your funny-to-you jokes for the Dad Joke Contest, listen to local comedy from those brave enough to step up to the mic, and honor the longtime KROX radio host. Plus, there will be drink and food specials, and prizes too.

    • Wednesday, August 18 - DCDP food truck pop-up with Joe’s Diner, Crookston Gun Club Open House/Trap Shoot Demo, Ice Cream Social, Veteran’s Recognition Ceremony, Dewey Thorbeck Book Signing, Ox Cart Days Road Rally, Medallion Hunt First Clue, Youth Dodgeball Tournament, Wild Wednesday Trivia and the week’s recurring events. First, the Medallion Hunt, which has been sponsored/hosted by the Times and University of Minnesota Crookston for a few years, is back with a shiny new medallion made by Times employee and Melbye Trophies owner Carl Melbye and $200 to the person/people who find it first. The first clue will be read at the Ice Cream Social at UMN Crookston UTOC Arena and posted online with both the Times and KROX, plus daily clues will be released in the afternoon with local media until it’s found. Second, the Ox Cart Days Road Rally is like a scavenger hunt meets Amazing Race meets the Crookston community. Organizer Mark Ecklund created the event which begins at 3 p.m. at UMN Crookston UTOC Arena with sign-up from 3-4 p.m. and then forms need to be turned in at Drafts Sports Bar & Grill by 5:30 p.m. The competition includes completing as many tasks as you can to win prizes. Christian Brothers Ford is the sponsor and there will be tasks involving them and their business, too. For participants: You must have permission to be on private property to complete a task and your entire group must be in each photo for proof of completion. Have fun and “race” to the finish line with as many points as you can.

    • Thursday, August 19 - Food Truck Fest begins at the Downtown Square with Drafts Sports Bar & Grill, Little Bangkok, Care and Share Grill-Out, Bucklin Concessions, Ohana Shaved Ice and Mamma Munchies, plus there’s $1 family movie matinee at the Grand, Youth Treasure Hunt at Benedictine, Ken’s Airboat Rides on the river, Circus-themed Entertainment, Rib Fest, Kid’s Tractor Pull, Irish band “Connemara Patch” on the Lions stage and later at the Irishman’s Shanty, photo booth selfie station, misting station, C-Town Mini Golf, outdoor kid’s games, Neighborhood Bible Time and Games, Lip Sync Contest, “Elvis” performance at the Inn, beer gardens by the Shanty and Drafts, plus the recurring events. Circus-themed entertainment, you said? Yes. There will be trapeze performances by Twin Cities Trapeze, fire breathers/dancers and stilt walkers by Down to Earth Aerials, balloon animals by Jeffrey Salveson, cotton candy by Nexus Church, and more all sponsored by Crookston Eye Clinic from 5-7 p.m. on Ash Street near the Downtown Square.

    • Friday, August 20 - Crookston Fire Pancake Breakfast at the fire station, Crookston Blue Line Club Golf Scramble at Minakwa Golf Course, Hawaiian-themed cookie decorating and noon meal at the Golden Link Senior Center, horse-drawn carriage rides, Bounce House Bonanza, United Way of Crookston Beach Bash with “Island Time” steel drum band, United Way lemonade stand and kids activities, Beer Tasting with 6+ guest breweries hosted by Drafts, Wine It Up Tasting Event by Scobey’s and Johnson Brothers, Community S’mores with custom fire tables, a visit and surprise from Hershey’s, UMN Crookston Golden Ticket giveaway, Minneschlagen Schlagfest, Hawaiian shirt contest plus leis and Potato Oles giveaway, Outdoor Solutions VIP Lounge, “Loon” Movie Premiere at the Grand, Miss Crookston Scholarship Pageant, Miss Tootsie Pageant, and recurring events with the finale of the Kids Lemonade Stand Contest and winners announced. A visit and a surprise from Hershey’s? Let’s talk about that one. A little over a month ago, Hershey’s Chocolate Company noticed the Times’ article about the custom fire tables built by Travis Oliver and his Crookston High School Industrial Technology students for the s’mores event, and wondered how they could get involved. First they were thinking of sending chocolate. Then it turned into a potential visit. Now it’s going to involve a multi-day visit, interviews, “B-roll” of the community, photos, video, presence at the event which starts at 5 p.m. at the Downtown Square, and chocolate. How much chocolate? A PALLET of chocolate… to the tune of 40,000+ full-size bars. If you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering why this writer didn’t lead the article with that. The Ox Cart committee is still hoping for some element of surprise is why. SURPRISE! National attention is a pretty big deal for this festival that’s referred to by some people as a “Cinderella story.” UMN Crookston even jumped in and is sponsoring a Golden Ticket giveaway in the s’mores kits to win a college scholarship, maroon and gold swag and Chamber Bucks. You read that right. You could literally win a college scholarship by eating s’mores. How cool is that?

    • Saturday, August 21 - Goat Yoga and Mimosas, Ox Cart 5K and Little Tykes Run, Art/Craft/Vendor Show, Classic Cruisers Car Show at the Inn and Cobblestone, Crookston Farmers Market, Kids Parade at Benedictine, Tri-Valley Bubble Station, Minnesota National Guard Rock Climbing Wall and Black Ops Obstacle Course, Happy Joe’s Pizza Eating Contest, Blue Line Club Drop and Shoot Fun Booth, Drafts Cornhole Tournament, Build a Buddy Workshop, Kid’s Beanbag Contest, Just for Kix dance performances, CHS Hall of Fame, Crookston Talent Contest, Torchlight Parade, Street Dance with Snake Oil, 80s Costume Contest, Glow Party, and Fireworks. Goat Yoga and Mimosas is a stand-out this year with Syncopal Acres bringing their goat friends, Joy Hillukka teaching yoga and Drafts serving up mimosas from 7-10 a.m. at the Downtown Square sponsored by Erin LaPlante State Farm. Who wouldn’t want to wake up with Goat Yoga? And then how about ending the night with rock tribute band Snake Oil sponsored by Adams Heating & Cooling from 9 p.m. to midnight downtown with fireworks in the background, a glow party and 80s costume contest all around you. Will you be up for Sunday events after that 17-hour party? We sure hope so.

    • Sunday, August 22 - Video Games on the Big Screen at the Grand, Rotary Duck Drop with assistance from Crookston Fire, Grocery Bingo, Wood-Fired Pizza and Outdoor Concert at Wesley United Methodist Church, plus C-Town Mini Golf, outdoor kids games, and one more day of bounce houses. Plus, a new event that was just added for kids ages 10 and under, “Bikes, Trikes and Scooters.” Kids: Bring your bikes, trikes and scooters (non-motorized) to the Downtown Square and enjoy an open ride on Ash Street. Decorate your ride, ride with friends, and have fun on the closed street.

    And hats off, cheers, and all good things to the Ox Cart Days festival committee who has turned this week into the "'Biggest Small Town Festival in Minnesota!" A special shout-out to Libby Boucher, Nell DeBoer, Missy Ricord, Dan Erdman, Mark Ecklund and Sheila Menard for all their hard work and dedication.

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