This year’s Water Wars champions traveled 560 miles simply to participate.
Joy Ramsel, Garrett Ramsel and Sheri Sullender plan their August summer vacation around Legends & Logging Days Water Wars.
They made the trek from Missouri to Park Rapids solely for Thursday’s competition. They are members of Charlie’s Boat & Marine No. 1 team – and this year’s victors, repeating a 2015 win.
Joy’s father, Mike Ramsel, works for Charlie’s Boat & Marine. He owns two cabins on Two Inlets Lake. That’s where they stay when they visit Park Rapids.
They are joined by Brent Johnson, who travels from Illinois to participate. He is the team captain.
Troy Van Kempen is the only team member who actually works at Charlie’s boat business.
They all met five years ago when owner Charlie Kellner shouted out that he needed a Water Wars team.
“We just kind of found each other on the street,” Joy recalled.
“They needed another team. I thought, ‘I’ve got swim trunks, let’s go!’” Johnson recalled.
They’ve competed together ever since. This year, Charlie’s Boat & Marine had two teams in the field.
In the championship round, they duked it out with Citizens National Bank’s team for the traveling Loony Trophy. Citizens National Bank previously won in 2016.
“You’ve missed this, haven’t you?” said Butch De La Hunt, president/CEO of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, as he held up the trophy before the finalists launched into a lengthy, chilly, watery battle.
Teeth chattering and shivering, Johnson was speechless when asked the secret to their success. All he could manage was “brrrrrrrrrr.”
Northwoods Bank and Foxy’s Bar & Grill were the other two teams that advanced to the final four.
De La Hunt thanked downtown retailers for closing up Main Avenue for the event, which drew hundreds.
Water Wars was followed by 2nd Street Stage’s concert, featuring Corey Medina & Brothers, a crowd favorite. The festivities kicked off Legends & Logging which continues Saturday (today) at the East 40 Tractor Grounds.
The Run to the Rapids classic car show also takes place Saturday in downtown Park Rapids.