Every year, the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce works hard to bring the best possible Fun Fest it can to the residents of New Richmond and the surrounding area. However, doing so requires a bit of a balancing act.
"Fun Fest has a long tradition, so we are always careful about what we add or subtract. But we've got some nice new additions this year, such as the carnival has added some rides. We've got more marching bands in the parade, which is filling up very quickly, faster than it ever has," said Chamber Executive Director Rob Kreibich.
The 2019 Fun Fest schedule - which runs from Thursday, July 11-Sunday, July 14 - remains mostly the same throughout the four days of the festival: helicopter rides on Thursday; the bean bag tournament, car show and wing eating contest on Saturday; and the parade on Sunday.
"One of the new things we have this year is a class reunion on Friday afternoon. The Class of 1979 will hold one of their celebrations at the Fun Fest grounds. Hopefully that is a start of a trend. We'd love to see more of that every year," Kreibich said. "We've also got more local warm up bands that are performing. We've also added Bad Girlfriends to our lineup on Friday night. We've got music every night, basically from 6 p.m until midnight."
Kreibich is expecting close to 100 units in this year's grand parade, which starts at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. The grand marshal of the parade will be 2019 Citizen of the Year Chuck Olson.
"We are rebuilding our lineup of marching bands and adding one or two more every year if we can. We won't get back to what it once was, but it is growing every year and we are excited about that," Kreibich said. "There is a long tradition around the Fun Fest parade being the premiere parade in the area, so we think moving it back to Sunday, starting it at 12:30 and going back to the old route has helped the word get out and attract more and more bands to come. We know it means a lot to people to see those marching bands."
Marching bands will come from St. Croix Falls, Somerset, Osceola and New Richmond.
"Slowly but surely we keep adding to the parade. We are thrilled with the turnout we have been seeing, and the chairs and the blankets that come out two or three days ahead of time. We like to see that. That is an important part of Fun Fest," Kreibich said.
According to Kreibich, the chamber is hoping the weather will cooperate this year, as the last two years have seen the big tent collapse and Thursday's events called off due to rain.
"We've had, other than the weather, great turnout the last few years. The carnival last year did the best it had ever done, and that was with a rain shortened Thursday. The carnival is a big component and it's probably the best carnival in the area. They've been coming here for 40 or 50 years," Kreibich said. "We are fortunate and lucky to have Christman Amusement."
In addition, this year's Fun Fest will include a church service at 10 a.m. Sunday, led by Faith Community Church.
"We are trying to line up other day-time activities for people to attend throughout the festival weekend. The church service is one of those events, which used to be part of the festival," Kreibich said. "We will also be hosting a couple of private parties on Tuesday and Wednesday at the festival grounds. So if you see activity on Tuesday and Wednesday, know that those are private parties. Since we have everything up, we are just trying to take advantage of that."