By Nicole Brodzik
The Spirit of the Lakes Festival is ramping up it’s family friendly atmosphere for 2017 with the addition of a mini golf showcase and the incorporation of the Guns vs. Hoses charity softball game into the festival.
This will be the second annual charity softball game between the Mound Fire Department and Orono Police Department, but it will be the first time it’s being added to the Spirit of the Lakes line up.
“Deputy Chris Fischer from Orono came to me and asked if we could sponsor,” Spirt of the Lake Board Member Gwen Wood said. “It just seemed like a great fit to help kick off our festival. They’re both family and community oriented events that help charities so we thought it was a win for everyone.”
That game will take place on Wednesday, July 19 at WRA fields in Minnetrista and will also feature the kiddie parade that ran on Thursday evening last year.
Fast forward to Saturday morning for a new take on the traditional business showcase. In previous years, the event consisted of sponsor businesses setting up tents through Surfside Park with giveaways and information on their products and services. This year, the Spirit of the Lakes board members decided they wanted to have more interaction between festival goers and their sponsors by creating Mini Putt by the Bay. Each sponsor will be set up at one of the 18 holes on the course and mini golfers will get their putters from the sponsors before putting the hole that sponsor designed and decorated.
“People used to just walk between the booths on the way to the food court,” Wood said. “We wanted to have more interaction between people and give the sponsors a way to have more fun with it by decorating their own holes.”
The mini putt course will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and admission is free for all attending the festival.
The only events that have an admission fee over the weekend festival are the 21 and up wine tasting and Meet Your Makers Craft Beverage Fest. Meet Your Maker features local breweries, wineries and distilleries with samplings of their products from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday at Surfside Park. Last year was the first time the event added distilleries and Wood said she thought it added an extra element to the event.
“I think we had a really good mix last year,” she said. “It wasn’t too crowded and people really to have that one-on-one interaction with the brewers and distillers that made it really fun and special.”
The wine tastings will be on Saturday afternoon, with one session at 2:15 and one at 4:15. Tickets for both of those event can be bought at Harbor Wine and Spirits in Mound for $20 in advance, and if there are tickets left for the Meet Your Maker event, they can be bought at the event for $25.
One event that will be changing times for 2017 are the Al and Alma’s Boat Cruises. This year, there will be two sessions to head out on the lake on Saturday morning. The first will take off at 9:15 and then second will leave the docks an hour later. Wood said that even though the boats will be running around the same time as the parade, she thinks it’s a great opportunity for people to get a chance to take a ride on the cruises without a large price tag.
“It’s first come, first serve, but anyone with a wrist band gets a free ride,” Wood said.
She added that people who plan to take the boat trips should be aware of traffic detours in and around Mound when finding parking for the cruises, or any other part of the festival.
For people looking to get a free t shirt and spend the day at the festival, Wood said they are still looking for volunteers to help run this year’s Spirit of the Lakes. To sign up, visit http://spiritofthelakes.com/volunteer/