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New events, locations for Rivertown Days

There will be some changes when this year's version of the annual Rivertown Days festival, "Have a Ball," takes place next month, July 17 through July 19.

New events will be a performance by the Black Dirt Theater, comprised of area residents Andy and Mandy Langenfeld, and Robin Starch; a demonstration by the Minnesota ZooMobile from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 17; Disc Dogs, the Hastings Military Service and Family Initiative exhibit at the Hastings Veterans of Foreign Wars clubrooms; and a croquet match with the Spiralettes Red Hat Society of Hastings.

The arts and crafts fair has been moved to Levee Park from Pioneer Park; the grand parade will be held at noon Sunday, proceeding from Fourth Street and Pleasant Drive to Fourth and Eddy streets.

One event that has been held for years along the riverfront is missing this year. The Kiss the Pig contest will not be held this year. Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce president Michelle Jacobs said the festival committee discussed the Kiss the Pig contest at length and decided to take a break from it this year. The main recipient of the funds for the past several years will not be able to be at this year's Rivertown Days. Eis, the Hastings Police Department's canine officer, along with every other canine officer in the area, will be at training to be become recertified.

The changing of the arts and crafts fair location from Pioneer Park has been discussed "off and on" for several years, according to Jacobs. The Downtown Business Association is very supportive of the location change. This seemed like the right year to do it, Jacobs said.

"We've always had people come up to the information booth at the river and ask us where the arts and crafts were," she said. "They just assumed they were where all the other activities were.

"This area is more visible, and it is cooler," Jacobs said. "And it is more scenic."

About the same number of vendors can set up along the river as have been set up at Pioneer Park in prior years.

The day and time change for the grand parade came after last year's parade. The 2008 parade was rescheduled from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon because of severe weather.

"There are always several challenges with the parade," Jacobs said. "If you are holding it Saturday night, you have to do it early enough so you can head down to the river for the fireworks; if you're at the end of the parade, that can be a challenge."

For several years, the festival committee moved the starting time up in the hopes that would help people attend both events. The committee decided to hold this year's parade at noon Sunday and evaluate the new date at a later time.

The grand marshals for the parade will be members of military families. The committee continues to accept parade units until June 26.

The Black Dirt Theater is located near rural Cannon Falls and strives to create theater for everyday people, in unexpected settings, that celebrate and nurture the essential beauty of humanity, and inspires people to do the same.

When the Black Dirt Theater performs, the troop brings a portable interactive art gallery featuring new works of art that resonates with everyday life. The goal of the Art Barn, much like the goal of the theater, is to bring art to people, to provide the opportunity for people to be moved by art.

The Art Barn features works in many mediums - painting, carving, song writing, short films and poetry. All pieces are focused on the same theme as the current touring play. The current theme is "Who I am doesn't fit with how I'm living."

The performance time has yet to be set.

The Minnesota ZooMobile is an interactive program that allows a close-up view of animals by bringing the zoo to the people. The Minnesota ZooMobile uses biofacts, theater techniques, story telling and audience participation.

The croquet challenge featuring the Red Hat Spiralettes against the Red Hat Wisconsinite Mamas will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 am. Saturday, July 18, at the LeDuc mansion.

Other events returning again this year are the Edina Realty medallion hunt, Dock Dogs, fireworks display, water ski show, United Methodist Church pancake breakfast, powerboat races, and an appearance by the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band at Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The Chamber, which coordinates the festival, is accepting arts and crafts vendors. Food vendor spots have been filled.

The events and tournaments are listed on the Chamber's website at

rivertowndays. Registration and entry forms can be downloaded.

For more information, contact the Chamber office at 437-6775.