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Hastings to celebrate 39th Rivertown Days

This year's Rivertown Days button was designed by Megan Schmidt and features the Hastings bridge. Photo courtesy of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce

The 39th annual Rivertown Days put on by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and its volunteer committee will be July 21-23. Kristy Barse, chamber president, said the event has evolved greatly over the past four decades.

"It started out as a community celebration," Barse said. "It was really for the Hastings residents, just a time in the summer to do a community festival. As it continued to grow, it gained a lot of attention from visitors and it became a visitor event, too, because it's right on the river — it's a beautiful location."

As its size and scope grew, Rivertown Days also increased its meaning to Hastings.

"It's a time to celebrate the town," Barse explained. "It takes, just during the weekend alone, over a 100 volunteers to pull off. So it's a huge opportunity for community organizations to come together. It's also an opportunity for people to notice that we are here, we are at this beautiful location, that we're a part of Dakota County but we're also this hidden gem.

"Rivertown Days is also important to our local economy. It fills our restaurants and stores around town with visitors and former residents returning home for the weekend."

There are two new additions to Rivertown Days this year that Barse said that have chamber members very excited.

"The Twin City Power Boat Association is doing high-speed power boat races on the river," she said. "They are doing races from 2-5 p.m. on Friday and then Saturday are the finals, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those boats can get up to 135 mph, so it's going to be really, really cool because the city has just recently finished the Hastings RiverWalk, and that's going to be the best viewing area," he said.

The course will start at the public docks in Jaycee Park, then they'll race to the train bridge and back.

"We also have a ninja warrior course in Jaycee Park. Conquer Ninja Warrior from Woodbury is coming down and they are setting up a big obstacle course for the whole weekend. It's $2 to try out, or you can buy a $15 wristband, and the wristband also gets you into a competition on Saturday, there will be a youth and adult competition."

Barse said that each year the chamber's goals including raising a set amount of sponsorship money that organizers know it will take to hold the event. They also try and sell 10,000 Rivertown Days buttons each year.

After the event is done, the chamber and volunteer committee evaluates how the event went and what improvements need to be made. They then take August off before starting back up again in September.

Despite the massive logistics that go into holding Rivertown Days, Barse said that the biggest challenge she, the chamber and the committee face is keeping things fresh.

"There's a lot of communities that do a summer celebration and we are competing with a lot of them, especially around this area," she said.

The vast majority of activities will take place at Jaycee Park and Levee Park Friday to Sunday, July 21-23, with others events scattered throughout the city. Rivertown Days will be kicked off by Edina Realty's Medallion Hunt that will start on Monday, July 17, as well as an amateur photography contest sponsored by Mac McGoon Portrait Design Studio where submissions are due July 12.

This year's Rivertown Days Button designer is Megan Schmidt.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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