By Lauren Perry
The Caledonia Argus
At the start of every July, the small town of Eitzen erupts with a patriotic celebration that brings as many as 8,000 people to its streets. First organized by the Eitzen Lions Club in the late 1970s, the club still maintains the responsibility of orchestrating the two-day event, which begins July 3, and concludes after the final fireworks on July 4.
Although the event itself lasts only two days, “Planning for next year will begin July 5,” Eitzen Lions President Richie Meiners said. “It’s an all year thing.”
The annual festival has had a long history of bringing fun, family activities to the table, and this year is no exception. The festivities will begin July 3 at 5 p.m. with the opening of the beer tent, food stands and flea market, followed by “Outback Entertainment” lasting until 12:30 p.m.
Thursday’s events kick off at 7 a.m. with a breakfast served until 10, a Bean Bag tournament starting at 2 p.m. and “Thoroughbred Entertainment” from 8 to 12 p.m. There’s no need to leave your kids at home, either! There are many events that will cater to the younger age groups, including “Kaptin Kirby” train rides for several hours following the parade, adult supervised kids’ games at 3:30 and free face paintings, balloon animals and magic tricks.
The Fourth of July Family Fun Fest is a historic celebration in Eitzen and has been celebrated there since 1976. Over the years, many events have evolved into traditions, bringing in thousands of people from Eitzen’s surrounding communities. Fireworks, fired off at dusk, and the Grand Parade held at noon are two perennial events that define the Family Fun Fest. This year, attendees can also expect to see the Demo Derby, which was not celebrated last year. “We needed to work out a few things and give everyone a rest,” Meiners said.
It is no mystery why people rush to the beautiful streets of Eitzen to celebrate. With the perfect combination of music, food and friends, celebrating Uncle Sam will never have been more fun!