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Akeley's Paul Bunyan Days celebration kicks off Friday

Akeley's giant statue of Paul Bunyan is ready to welcome visitors to the 71st annual Paul Bunyan Days. (Enterprise file photo)

The 71st annual Paul Bunyan Days festival welcomes visitors to Akeley June 28-30. Many of the festivities take place in the area surrounding the tall statue of Paul Bunyan on Hwy. 34 known as Paul's Patio.

Peg Davies has been coordinating the event for the past seven years. "My favorite things are the kids' games, musical entertainment and the fun that people have," she said.

Asked about the highlights of this year's festival, Davis said, "If you have children, come for the games and the youth dance. We also have the treasure hunt again this year. For adults, come to the fish fry, ice cream socials and the dance with billy d and the crystals. We have some great button prizes this year. There is a 5-foot tall bear carved by Paul Albright, a smaller bear carved by Kory Haisman, a paddle board and more."

Paul Bunyan Days buttons are $2 each or three for $5 and available at area businesses. They admit the wearer to all free activities throughout the weekend.

The festival kicks off with a Lions Club fish fry from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Paul's Patio Friday night, followed by bingo at the Akeley Senior Center from 7:30-10 p.m. A youth dance with music by Kidzone will be held at Paul's Patio from 8:30-11:30 p.m.

The Akeley Municipal Liquor Store is sponsoring an adult street dance with music from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. by Racoon Antlers. Nate's Fish will take the stage from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., followed by the Red Devils Army Band 34th Infantry Division from 9:30 to 11 p.m.

Saturday morning starts off with a new event. Audrey's Purple Plaid 5K Walk/Run begins at 9 a.m. to raise funds for Audrey's Purple Dream, a local organization supporting those with cancer and their families.

"We only have 16 people registered so far, but we expect a lot of registrations next week," event organizer Shannah Pidde Geimer said Monday. "I expect lots more this week as the weather is looking great for it!"

The route starts on the Heartland Trail right behind the Paul Bunyan Museum and goes east to Hwy. 64 north. It U-turns there and goes back to Pleasant Ave. NE, where runners will turn right and go as far as the city limits sign where they will make another U-turn and head back as far as Crow Wing Lake Drive, then run past the Akeley beach and campground. When they reach the Heartland Trail, runners will return to the museum. All finishers will receive a medal.

A pancake feed fundraiser for the United Churches of Nevis and Akeley will be held at Paul's Patio from 9 to 11 a.m. Other highlights Saturday include kids' games from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. a treasure hunt from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m, a cake walk from noon to 1:30 p.m., the kids' fishing contest at the pier from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. and a pie social at Paul's Patio from 2 to 4 p.m..

Billy d and the crystals will be playing for the Saturday night dance at Paul's Patio starting at 8 p.m.

An ecumenical worship service will be held at Paul's Patio at 10 a.m. The festival will conclude Sunday with the kiddie parade at 12:45 p.m. followed by the grand parade at 1 p.m. An ice cream and pie social will be held after the parade with music by Frankly Country.

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