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Star Prairie gears up for 44th annual Ox Cart Days

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From canoe races and car shows to bingo and bean bag toss, the 44th Annual Ox Cart Days is set to be another entertaining weekend.

Held from Aug. 16-18 and hosted by the Star Prairie Lions Club, the festival has withstood the test of time, routinely attracting people from around the county.

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This year, the celebration will get an early start Thursday with a 5K or 10K walk/run and a 6 p.m. performance by Trigger Happy, a local country music band. The performance will be sponsored by New Richmond EMS and the Lions Club to raise funds for the St. Croix County K9 Unit, which will stage a demonstration after the run.

"Anyone who is interested in the K9 unit should attend," said Chris Boardman, chairwoman of Ox Cart Days. "It's an absolutely fantastic performance."

The fast pitch softball tournament will kick off Friday's festivities, beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing throughout the weekend. After 7 p.m. bingo, the first street dance will feature New Skinny, a rock band based in Hudson.

The much-anticipated bean bag toss tournament will begin Saturday at 11 a.m., followed by the opening of the dunk tank at 12 p.m. According to Boardman, the tank is one of the most consistent crowd-pleasers at the festival.

"It's mostly local people sitting in the dunk tank," she said. "We've had teachers, police officers, local bartenders and members of the softball teams volunteer. It's a very big draw."

Saturday's lineup also includes the tried and true Classic Car Show from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Community Center on Bridge Avenue. The Blue Lion Fun Factory, including a bounce house, slide and carnival games, will be open all day at the park.

With concession stands offering hamburgers, hot dogs, walking tacos and pork chops, attendees can grab a bite to eat before the band Fifty Fifty closes out Saturday night with its 8 p.m. performance.

As the festival winds down on Sunday, a pancake breakfast will be offered in the bingo building before the 9 a.m. church service hosted by Bethany Lutheran at the ball park.

The afternoon's main event will be the grand parade at 2 p.m., led by grand marshals Bruce and Patsy Johnson.

The parade's conclusion will mark the beginning of the Miss Star Prairie coronation at 4:30 p.m., when current Miss Star Prairie Miranda Murphy will pass on her crown to one of six hopeful candidates. The winner of the Medallion Hunt will also be announced at Sunday's coronation.

Finally, the grand prize raffle drawing will end this year's Ox Cart Days at 7 p.m. The winner will receive $500, and all of the proceeds from the raffle will support the Star Prairie Lions Club.

Although the festival is the Lions Club's main fundraiser, Boardman said Ox Cart Days is really a celebration of the town and a tribute to the area's close-knit community.

"The biggest and best part of Ox Cart Days is the amount of people that come out and support it," Boardman said. "Without the help of community members, volunteers and local businesses, we couldn't pull this off. For that, I am proud of my community."

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Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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