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Bountiful Blueberry Festival in Lake George

The blueberries were plump and marble sized, so not a single person at the Blueberry Festival went home asking for more. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)1 / 4
Blueberry vendor Debbie Yennie showcases some of the 1,800 pounds she picked in anticipation of the festival, which attracted hundreds of people. She was planning on picking more Saturday night, just so she wouldn’t run out. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise) 2 / 4
Kids and parents lined the street of Lake George in anticipation of the pedal pull tractor pull event, which started a bit late just to get all the contestants registered. A couple hundred parents, aunts and unclesand strangers lined the street to watch the festivities. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)3 / 4
Natalie Martin, 3, of Park Rapids, shows off her ribbon and can of pop that she earned in the pedal pull. Three-year-olds can’t officialy compete but Natalie didn’t mind. She’s Daryl Bessler’s granddaughter. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)4 / 4

Hundreds of people ambled up to Lake George over the weekend to sample a bountiful harvest of marble-sized blueberries.  

“I’ve been picking since the 10th,” said blueberry vendor Debbie Yennie. “This is the best crop we’ve ever had.”  

Yennie and family had picked 1,800 pounds of berries and she was planning on picking another couple hundred pounds Saturday night so she wouldn’t run out.  The 32nd annual Blueberry Festival was a howling success. There were blueberry bars, blueberry pies, blueberry bratwurst, blueberry brownies, blueberry lemonade and heck, even blueberry suet for the birds.  Guests strolled the streets nibbling on blueberry donuts, sipping blueberry drinks and exulting in the anti-oxidants that cleanse the arteries of the rest of the gunk that was consumed.  

Blueberry cookbooks flew off the shelves.  Intermittent rains and periodic hot spells this summer yielded record numbers of large, juicy blueberries.  Forty-one homemade pies disappeared from the Senior Center in less than 10 minutes, reported senior volunteer Iris Olson. Most were blueberry but a few, like the peach praline made by a South Dakota woman, were also snarfed up.  “This is one of our biggest fundraisers,” Olson reported.  Temperatures in the high 80s with a generous side of humidity kept the crowds hungry and thirsty.  The blueberry brats, made by neighboring Laporte Grocery & Meats, were a huge hit.  Lake George firefighters always host a ham and bean feed Saturday night and a blueberry pancake breakfast Sunday morning attended by hundreds.  

Last year, 550 were served for dinner. At press time a head count wasn’t available this year.  Lake George even solicited help from neighboring fire departments to serve.  

“They’re really well paid – all the ham they can eat,” said Lake George Fire Chief Miff Soderberg.  “I’ll try my best,” said recruit Dave Snetsinger from the Twin Lakes Fire Department, who was slicing ham off the smokers set up behind the fire hall.  The annual pedal pull tractor pull event attracted so many contestants it started late to get them all registered.  Contestants as young as three years old were allowed this year, but they only received a ribbon and a can of pop for competing. The first three places of 4-year-olds and older kids were eligible to compete at the state sanctioned event later this summer in Hutchinson.  

Frank Marshall was greasing the wheels while his wife was registering contestants.  “We just want to make sure they’re in good working order,” said the owner of Marshall Chase Pedal Pulls of Grove City. “We’ve been coming here for 20-some years.”  

Looking over the huge crowd, he remarked, “It kinda draws them like a magnet.  “Step up here sweetie,” he told a 3-year-old girl as he helped her up on a tractor.   As the parade wound through town Sunday afternoon, tired residents chalked up another celebration of face painting, bike giveaways and fun to the history books.  And that record crop of blueberries was duly noted as well.