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Look for a howling good time at Harvest Fest in Wolf Lake

For 29 years now, the tiny southeast Becker County community of Wolf Lake has held a weekend "homecoming" for past and present community residents every August.

"The Wolf Lake Harvest Festival was started by a group of Wolf Lake citizens that felt we needed a celebration to wrap up the summer with a fun celebration," said event organizer Leann Groth.

"The goal was to make it a bit of a showcase of the Wolf Lake area and encourage more folks to move to the community -- and also to make it a 'homecoming' opportunity for the folks that grew up or spent time in the area, but no longer live nearby," she added.

This year's Harvest Festival gets underway on Friday, Aug. 17, with the annual Miss Wolf Lake Pageant, where a new Miss, Junior Miss and Little Miss Wolf Lake will be crowned.

The pageant starts at 7 p.m. in the Wolf Lake Community Hall. It will be followed by a street dance featuring music by the Wolf Pakk Band, starting at 8:30 p.m. outside the Community Hall. There will also be a beer garden as well as a cash bar, and off-sale liquor will be available as well.

Saturday will have a full slate of events, starting with the 5K Walk Run, which gets underway at 9 a.m. on Main Street. The Wolf Lake Rescue Squad will host a community blood drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will also be free blood pressure checks available.

The Harvest Fest Scavenger Hunt gets underway at 10 a.m. Saturday.

"A bale of straw is broken open and dozens of pieces of candy and coins are hidden in the straw," Groth explained. "Scavengers keep all that they find, and back-to-school prizes are awarded to the person that finds the most, the least, and the 'special treat.'

"This is the scavenger hunt from my childhood," she added.

More kids' games will also get underway at 10 a.m. inside Christ Lutheran Church, and the festival coloring contest ends at noon (pick up coloring forms at Lakes Area Cooperative anytime during regular business hours between now and Saturday).

A pie-baking contest begins at 11 a.m. in the Community Hall.

""This is the first year of the Wolf Lake Pie-Baking Contest," said Groth. "We're hoping the talented bakers in the area will provide our judges with a very tough decision. Then, after our winner is chosen, we're going to sell pieces for $2 each until they're all gone."

The Community Hall will also be the site of the Lions' Ham Dinner. Serving begins at noon and continues through 1 p.m.

The main event, the Harvest Festival Parade, officially gets underway at 2 p.m.

"Of course the Wolf Lake Parade is a great way to showcase your business, organization, or to just have fun tossing out candy!" Groth said.

Prizes will also be awarded for most patriotic entry, best clown, etc.

One half hour after the parade ends, the annual Mud Run gets underway.

"The northwest corner of the main intersection in Wolf Lake has a natural slope that allows us to have a mud-related activity," Groth said. "The 'Mud Run' originally started as an ATV race and the track went around the swamp that's naturally there.

"With the increasing popularity of the traditional car-based mud runs, we have evolved to racing cars on a straight track -- then we have ATV participants race the same track," she continued.

"There are two passes for each vehicle and the fastest average time wins. There are several categories: Stock, modified, powder puff and open for the cars, and 2- and 4-wheel for ATVs."

Immediately following the Mud Run, a "Finnish 5 Card" Tournament gets underway at the Wolf Lake Liquor Store.

"This is a fun card game, derived from whist," said Groth. "Players are dealt five cards and regardless of who takes tricks 1-4, the winner is the person that takes the 5th trick in the hand."

The day's festivities conclude with a second street dance starting at 8:30 p.m., in front of the liquor store and community hall. Saturday's dance features live music by Rock Bottom.

Then on Sunday, there will be a full day of horseshoe and co-ed softball tournaments.

Registration for the horseshoe tournament gets underway at 8:30 a.m., followed by the singles competition at 9 a.m. and doubles at 1 p.m. Cost to participate is $10 per person, per event.

And of course, there's lots of softball. "The Co-Ed Softball Tournament on Sunday has a long history of fun," said Groth.

"Usually held the weekend after most state softball tournaments, it gives players one last chance to have some fun before hanging up the spikes for the winter."

At 2 p.m., the Park Rapids Community Band will give a concert in the picnic shelter. The concert is slated to last about half an hour.

Last but not least, the festivities will conclude with a prize drawing starting at 3 p.m. The top prizes is a Ruger Hawkeye, 270 Winchester and a $100 gift card; second prize is a 42-inch plasma television; third prize, $300 in lawn furniture; and fourth prize, $50 cash. Tickets are $1 each, and you do not need to be present to win.

For more information about the Harvest Festival, please contact Leann Groth, 612-309-7059, or Andrea Yliniemi, 218-564-4619. The festival also has a page on Facebook, with a complete event schedule and more details on additional happenings as they develop.