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'It's a great way to celebrate'

People gathered along part of Maple Street, and in Heritage Park and the City Hall Plaza last year for River Falls Days. The celebration will be held in the same location again this year. And this time, a few regular events will relocate close to the rest of the festivities. (Submitted photo)

July has arrived, and with it comes River Falls Days. This year's celebration starts Thursday, July 13 and runs through Sunday, July 16.

"River Falls (Days) is such a fun, fun event because it's the one opportunity throughout the year when the community can come together and share what a great place we choose to live, work and play here in River Falls," said Chamber CEO Chris Blasius. "It's fun to see old school students gathering together and having a reunion, it's fun to see the families come together and enjoy the kids' activities and the parade, friends gathering to celebrate. It's just a super-enjoyable event and a great way to celebrate."

Chamber Event and Membership Coordinator Marissa Ostern is celebrating her first River Falls Days with the chamber, just one month into her time as Event and Membership Coordinator.

"There are some new locations for several events during this year's annual festival. For starters, Blasius said, the races this year have a new start and finish location, and a new route.

The two-mile and 10K races this year will start at City Hall. Blasius said the change was for a couple of reasons. The first is convenience, as shirts and race bags won't have to be transported to Glen Park this year. Parking for the race was also very congested at Glen Park. City Hall, she said, was more convenient.

Another reason was safety.

"After having a conversation with the police department, they recommended that we reroute the race so that we don't have to cross Main Street and Cascade Avenue, since those roads are so busy."

Also new this year, the music will be starting in the afternoon, rather than the evening, Ostern said.

"We will have a band prior to the parade," Blasius said. "So starting at 4 p.m., we will have live music down at the beer gardens."

The chamber is encouraging people to come and listen to the band Old School in Heritage Park before the parade.

"You will have plenty of time to get back before it starts. Promise. Guarantee," Blasius said.

The kids' water fight, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, will also move to a new location this year. Instead of Second Street, the water fight will be at the City Hall upper parking lot. Blasius said that move is because Second Street gets "pretty congested" during River Falls Days.

The regularly scheduled teen dance, led by the River Falls High School SOS club has also moved to the City Hall upper parking lot this year.

In addition to new locations, River Falls Days will be adding some new flavors this year.

There will be a new food booth serving barbecue food. There is also a Jimmy John's eating contest set for Friday evening.

A new wine and beer sampling event is set for Sunday, featuring local breweries, Rush River and Swinging Bridge, as well as 65 Vines and Belle Vinez wineries. A $4 ticket can be exchanged for three samples — each of whichever wine or beer the ticket-holder chooses.

Of course this year's River Falls Days will bring back many old favorites, including the parade, which, while nearly full, does have a few slots remaining before it will reach the cap of about 130 floats.

"But we have, for the last several years, turned people away," Blasius said, "so don't wait too long to get your float in."

At about 130 floats, the parade usually lasts about two and a half hours.

Other returning favorites include the dunk tank, arts and crafts market, carnival, Sunday car cruze and fireworks.

Highlights

River Falls Days Highlights include:

Thursday

7 p.m. - Royal Ambassador Coronation

Friday

9 a.m. - Medallion hunt

11 a.m. - Food booths

11:30 a.m. - Dunk tank

4 p.m. - Live Music by Old School.

6:30 p.m. - Parade, Main to Second Street

2 p.m. - Fighting Fish vs. Minneapolis Angels

8 p.m. to 1 a.m. - live music featuring Rural Route 5, and Devon Worley Band

8:30 p.m. - Jimmy John's eating contest. Call the chamber office to sign up (715-425-2533)

Saturday

8 a.m. 10K and Two Mile race, starting at City Hall Plaza this year. Kids' fun run at 9:15

10 a.m. - Children's water fight

10 a.m. - Children's activities and petting zoo at the library, followed by the Kiddie Parade at 10:30 a.m., followed by a meet and greet with the Royal Ambassadors.

11 a.m. - Food booths open

11 a.m. - Carnival

11:30 a.m. - Dunk tank

3 p.m. - Live music featuring Steve Heath Band

5 pm. - Live music featuring Woodshop

7 p.m. - Fighting Fish vs. Spring Valley

7 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Live music featuring Bad Habits Brass followed by Sweet Siren.

Sunday

10 a.m. - Outdoor worship service at First National Bank of River Falls Field

11 a.m. - Live music featuring Beebe and Keeley

11 a.m. - Local Wines and Brews sampling

11 a.m. - Car cruze, Main Street.

11 a.m. - Children's art tent

Noon - 3 p.m. - Carnival

1 p.m. - Lion's Club Great Duck Race

6 p.m. - Fighting Fish vs. Hudson

Dusk (about 10 p.m.) - Fireworks display at Hoffman Park

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048
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