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Paul Bunyan Days features a little bit of everything

Spectators gather along Highway 34 beneath the famous Paul Bunyan statue and wave as fire trucks from the East Hubbard County Fire District pass by at the end of the annual Paul Bunyan Days parade. Akeley Ice Racing cars make their way along the parade route, revving engines and blowing a little smoke.1 / 8
Hunter Brandenburg, 6, of Akeley, shows off his facepaint artwork. 2 / 8
Akeley Ice Racing cars make their way along the parade route, revving engines and blowing a little smoke.3 / 8
Sophie Anderson of Isanti waits for candy along the parade route.4 / 8
ohn Gedker serves a piece of apple pie with Joanne Biggen, left, and Irene Connlley during the pie and ice cream social by Akeley United Methodist Church at Sunday’s Paul Bunyan Days. 5 / 8
The Nevis Pig Races float makes its way down the parade route through the heart of Akeley.6 / 8
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A group of kids chase large colorful bubbles during the event.8 / 8

Akeley’s 68th Annual Paul Bunyan Days features a little bit of everything each year. Giant bubbles, paintball target shooting, even a guy walking around with a parrot. Bounce houses, various vendors, face painting and food trailers selling fair classics like cheese curds, cotton candy and funnel cakes.

The three-day event celebrates the great axe swinging Paul Bunyan of Minnesota lore, capped off by the grand parade.

The folks from Akeley United Methodist Church were busy Sunday serving up pie and ice cream following church service before the parade. John Gedker scooped the ice cream while Irene Connlley, Joanne Biggen and other volunteers handed out slices of apple, peach, pecan, pumpkin and more homemade pie inside the park shelter. Kids games were happening all around, vendors sold their goods, bounce houses out back entertained, members of the East Hubbard County Fire District sold burgers and brats, and of course, plenty of people shot photos around big Paul Bunyan at the center of it all.

Akeley United Methodist Church started selling pie and ice cream about 30 years ago and back then the social rotated between churches. Over the years the event has evolved and AUMC now handles the pie and ice cream social each year. And they do well as a fundraiser for the church.

"It’s an unusual year if we don’t sell all our pies," Joanne Biggen said.

They brought 27 pies and 30 quarts of ice cream this year.

Irene Connlley enjoys taking part in the event.

"I love the church here," she said. "The church has been a big supporter of the community and the community has always been a big supporter of the church."

Like many small-town churches doing what they can to survive the AUMC is no different as it relies on an aging membership. John Gedker said he loves seeing all the smiles and happy people come through their line at Paul Bunyan Days. "It’s a fun time and a fun day," Gedker said as he dropped another scoop of ice cream on fresh baked pie.

Ray Palis spoke highly of his church co-workers. He credits a core group of 6-8 active women who volunteer at any event that takes place.

"They are the heart and soul, and are at all these events to raise money to keep the church going," Palis said.

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