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Pioneer Fest revived under new management

Have a daytime picnic with your pooch during Pioneer Fest on Aug. 16. Food, beer, special sales and a tractor pull will all be on site. Black Powder shooting demonstrations will be going on during Pioneer Fest, free of charge.

A little bit vintage and a lot of country describes this year’s Pioneer Fest, coming up on Saturday, Aug. 16, from 11 a.m. to midnight at Pioneer Park in Perham. 

Now under new management by the History, Arts and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County, the festival is being revived and refreshed with input from the public.

The popular evening concert and dance established in years’ past will continue this year. The headliner will be The Dan Brekke Band. Brekke, a young rising star featured at Jasper’s Theatre in Park Rapids, provides a stomping good time, rousing crowds with his lively version of “Orange Blossom Special.”

Opening the evening will be Oakland After Hours, by Jeff Oakland of New York Mills. Other musical guests will entertain when the indoor/outdoor beer garden opens at the Grandview Ballroom at 5 p.m.

Daytime activities between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. will include a tractor pull and antique tractor show, classic cars and a vintage and antique doll sale, bake sale and beer stand. Families are invited to bring their dogs along during the day to explore the 25-acre park and have a picnic.

“Fun, free activities, especially those where you can bring your dog, are getting hard to find,” said Darla Ellingson, CEO of the History, Arts and Cultural Association. “We’ll have free outdoor games like bean bags and Frisbee; you can bring a picnic, or buy lunch here.”

 The Lakes Country Mountaineers will be having their annual rendezvous campout next door, and guests of Pioneer Fest are welcome to view black powder shooting demonstrations throughout the day.

“Many people have asked about our rumored antique doll sale,” said Ellingson. “It will take place inside the café building starting at 11 a.m. Everything is priced to sell below our researched value, so collectors will want to come early. Bargain hunters – check later in the day for additional discounts.”

Outside alcohol is not allowed in the park. Dogs should be kept on a leash and away from tractors, and owners will be expected to clean up after them. Dogs are not allowed in buildings, on black powder shooting grounds or in the evening beer garden.

There will be stations where participants can give input on future festivals and activities at Pioneer Park. With community input, organizers hope Pioneer Fest will grow again in future years.

Pioneer Fest 2014 daytime activities have free admission. There is a $5 donation requested for admission to the evening concert, dance and beer garden. Hot dogs, snacks, dessert, pop, beer and wine coolers will be available for sale during the day, and barbequed brats, burgers and snacks will be for sale in the evening, along with a full bar.

For more information, contact Darla Ellingson at or 346-7678.