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Revved up for River City Days

Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce staff Marion Fitschen, left, Tammy Wadley and Patty Brown are gearing up for their busiest weekend of the year: River City Days. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia

The time has come again for the summer tradition of River City Days to takeover Red Wing. The 2017 festival is Friday, Aug. 4, to Sunday, Aug. 6.

Since its inception 35 years ago, the weekend community festival has had two very clear goals, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce President Patty Brown said: to highlight Red Wing and provide family fun entertainment.

"It really began as an event for locals, then it continued to grow," Brown said.

Throughout the festival's history, configurations of set-ups, activities and entertainments have changed and adapted to the times, Brown said.

"We're open, we keep it fresh and we add to it every year," she said.

In addition to the biggest live entertainment lineup the festival has seen in recent year, River City Days 2017 has a few new events scheduled. Brown said some of the highlights are the American Motorcyclist Association Hillclimb Grand Championship taking place at the Athletic Field Saturday and Sunday, a "first to burst" watermelon rubber banding competition and several expanded tournaments.

"All the tournaments have grown," Brown said. From bean bags, disc golf, 3-on-3 basketball and human foosball, there are activities for everyone.

"It's so fun to see people getting involved and having fun," she said.

The chamber acts as the umbrella organization, Brown explained, raising funds for the three-day festival.

"We're thrilled we can provide this live entertainment for free," Brown said.

Behind the scenes, there are a lot of regulations that need to be followed to pull off a large festival.

"We cover the insurance and logistical services for the weekend, not to mention the staging, lighting, tents, parade, entertainment and all the legal requirements it takes to cover the festival," she said.

Popular events from years past, including a carnival, are tougher to manage due to costs and stricter insurance regulations.

"We keep looking at the carnival," Brown said, "but it is expensive and involves multi-year contracts. Many carnivals don't allow outside food vendors, too, so would we want to do that to our local businesses? That would be another cost beyond the price tag."

There has been a bump in nonprofit organizations volunteering and participating in River City Days, Brown said. In fact, more than ever before.

"With their help we were able to broaden our offerings of family friendly activities," she said.

Brown estimates that there are easily 100 volunteers who help make the festival weekend run smoothly.

"We've got great entertainment, lots of activities and good fun for the whole family," Brown said. "We really strive to make this a community event that all are proud of and get involved with local businesses and residents."

For more information and River City Days schedules, visit www.rivercitydays.org.

Brown also encourages anyone with ideas for the festival to engage with chamber staff.

"We're always looking for new ideas, if you have thoughts please email us," Brown said.

Chamber staff can be reached at frontdesk@redwingchamber.com.

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