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Editorial: Summer season kicks off for Park Rapids area

 Summer is upon us in the Park Rapids area with a full calendar of events falling into place.  Hiking enthusiasts head to Itasca State Park this weekend for a National Trails Day hike. Next Saturday, athletes converge on Park Rapids for the Lakes to Pines Triathlon, and pet-lovers will participate in the Tails on the Trails Walk-A-Thon to benefit Headwaters Animal Shelter.  

Things get rockin’ and rollin’ in June and carry on all summer with weekend events throughout the area including popular draws such as Paul Bunyan Days in Akeley, Emmaville’s annual “Centennial”, Midsummer Festival in Menahga, Muskie Days in Nevis and the Lake George Blueberry Festival, and Taste of Dorset.  The 2nd Street Stage free concert series kicks off June 18 with the band Black River Revue. This downtown draw is growing in popularity and takes place every Thursday, 6-8 p.m., on Second Street.  

The series continues each week through Aug. 20 with funky names like the Fattenin’ Frogs, Natty Nation, Urho, and the Woodpicks to name a few who will take the stage.  The downtown district certainly comes alive as the specialty shops and overall unique shopping and dining experience helps bring people to town. People spend money and that’s great for the overall health of the city.  The Downtown Business Association is working to promote Main Street (technically Avenue in Park Rapids) but “Main Street” is more than the name. It’s a romantic, realistic and vital small town concept that goes beyond the downtown district and encompasses the entire community.  This is certainly not a new concept or area of business emphasis but in this day and age of online shopping, physical and technological mobility, searching for the best deal, business groups like the DBA are working harder than ever to get people to shop local. And part of that is to offer unique experiences to get people to town and stay in town. People spend money.  

The July 4 celebration has grown in reputation with the fireworks show arguably the best in the state, with strong donation support by local business, individuals and organizations. The annual PBR Bull Ride is back to the July 4 weekend, and this year added a full rodeo for the Thursday night performance.  The Bite of Park Rapids takes place in July and features local restaurants selling “bites” of food at this downtown event. Attractions this year include a NASCAR simulator, bounce houses, food vendors and three bands.  Also in July, there’s the ever-popular and wildly successful Nevis Pig Races.  

The Northern Knights Car Club’s Run to the Rapids rumbles into downtown Park Rapids in August with classic cars, shined up and on display down the middle of Main.  Legends and Logging Days also takes place in August at the Park Rapids Antique Tractor and Engine Club’s East 40 Grounds.  Closing out the summer is the All School Reunion set for Aug. 13-16. Kick-off for that event, held every five years, is Aug. 13 with bands Incredibly Real and Tree Party performing downtown.  Stick around, there’s a lot to do. Enjoy this summer.