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Ox Cart Days celebrates 40th

The 2008-09 Star Prairie Royalty, who will give up their crowns at the coronation on Sunday, are (front, left to right) Princess Kayla Grahovac, Little Miss Marrisa Viebrock and Junior Miss Eden Burke; (middle row) First Princess Erin Aherns and Princess Morgan Olson; and (back) Miss Star Prairie Diana Kleine.

What started as a simple fundraiser for a village park has ended up being a lasting community celebration in Star Prairie.

Ox Cart Days will celebrates its 40th anniversary when the local festival runs from Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 20-23.

"I think the whole community takes a lot of pride in Ox Cart Days," said Chris Boardman, Ox Cart Days chairperson. "We work hard to stick together and to keep the celebration going."

The beginning

The Star Prairie Lions Club held the first "Oxcart Day" on Sept. 13, 1969.

The celebration got its name from the book "Oxcart Days," written by early settler Wallace Silver about Jewelltown (now known as Star Prairie).

The one-day affair was designed to raise money for a community playground. The funds raised totaled about $2,500.

The day's events included a horseshoe tournament, pony rides, a turkey shoot, game booths, food stands and a kiddie parade. A barbecue chicken dinner was served. A historical display was set up in the Masonic Hall (above the village hall) including vintage oxen yokes.

That evening there was a special community program, which included a performance by a barbershop quartet.

A street dance followed.

President of the Lions Club in 1969 was Ronald Everts, a former principal in the New Richmond School District, who gathered a planning committee to organize the first Oxcart Day.

On the committee were David Peterson, Martin Schwan, Don Schwan, Jerry Wendt, DuWayne Larson and Doug Krueger.

"In that first group of Lions Club members we had about 35 members, and all of them worked extremely hard," said David Peterson, who operates Dave's Service Station. "Everybody gave 110 percent."

He recalls the first Oxcart Days being set up on the street next to the Post Office and there were plenty of people in attendance.

"It was a great time," he said.

He couldn't remember which year it happened, but in the early years Peterson came to Oxcart Days straight from his cousin's wedding in Glenwood City. A couple of locals put up several hundred dollars to have Peterson sit in the dunk tank in his tuxedo.

"The very first guy who threw hit it and I went in," he said with a laugh. Still, the money went toward park development, which everyone in the community seemed to support.

The first ever kiddie parade grand prize winner was Bryan Kunze, who still lives in the community.

Medallion hunt

Derek Gibson of Star Prairie found this year's medallion on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 4:30 p.m. The medallion was buried shallow in some mulch under a tree in River Island Park. Gibson will receive $125 for his find.

The schedule

Boardman said plans for this year's celebration are going well.

"As always, we could use a few more volunteers," she said. "But I think people are really looking forward to this year, especially considering it's our 40th year."

There were a few changes to this year's festivities, including the re-scheduling of the annual Park Party to Thursday.

"That will make it a four-day celebration this year," she said.

A new waterworks and inflatable amusement business will set up to entertain kids for the weekend.

And the Lion's Club is planning a special 40th Anniversary Ox Cart Days float for the Sunday parade.

"We've never had our own float before, except the one for the royalty," Boardman said.

Thursday, Aug. 20

Star Prairie Fish & Game River Island Park Party, 3-11 p.m. Food, kids activities, music and more.

Friday, Aug. 21

6 p.m. Fast pitch softball tournament

8 p.m. Bingo

8 p.m. Street dance featuring Stampede

Saturday, Aug. 22

8 a.m. Fast pitch softball tournament

11 a.m. Bean bag toss tournament, entry fee: $20 per two-person team

11 a.m. Kids bike race (helmets are mandatory). Registration is at Saratoga Park: $3. Sponsored by Mason Chiropractic.

11:30 a.m. Chicken dinner by Bethany Lutheran Church

1 p.m. Auggie the Clown

1 p.m. Canoe race. Entry fee: $10 per person. Sponsored by Apple River Inn.

3 p.m. Karaoke contest by Prairie Dawg Productions. Limited to 20 contestants. Entry fee: $5 for ages 16 and older; $3 for ages 15 and younger. Prizes: $50 cash for ages 16 and older; $25 cash for 15 and younger.

6 p.m. Bingo

8 p.m. Street dance featuring Arch Allies

Sunday, Aug. 23

8 a.m. Pancake breakfast in bingo building

9 a.m. Fast pitch softball tournament

9 a.m. Bethany Lutheran Church Service at Ball Park

10:30 a.m. Registration for kiddie tractor pull: $5.

11 a.m. Kiddie tractor pull

11 a.m. Queen's Tea at River Island Park

1:30 p.m. Kiddie parade

2 p.m. Grand parade

After Parade -- New Richmond Middle School Marching Band Concert at Ball Park. Sponsored by GTK Services.

3:30 p.m. Pie and ice cream social

4:30 p.m. Queen coronation

5 p.m. Bingo

7 p.m. Grand prize raffle drawing

(Event schedule is subject to change without notice.)

For a full story, see this week's New Richmond News.