Pepper Fest began in 1954 as a way to raise funds to build North Hudson Elementary School and has turned into an annual event to assist community organizations throughout the St. Croix Valley. Proceeds from the volunteer-run, nonprofit festival are donated to local youth, school, community and service organizations. This year's Pepper Fest is Aug. 18-20. Events include:
Children's Fishing Contest — The contest will run 5 p.m. to dusk Friday, dawn to dusk Saturday, and dawn to noon Sunday. Please bring to Pepper Fest Park for measurements. Fish must be alive; $30 cash prize for first place and $20 for second-longest fish.
Microbrew and Wine Tasting Competition — Back this year is a microbrew tasting competition and wine tasting. Featuring local micro-breweries and vineyards, This event is 5:30-8 p.m. Friday Aug. 18. Tasting flights are $10 each.
Parade — The Pepper Fest Grand Parade is 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The parade begins at the intersection of Lemon and Michaelson streets, running west down Michaelson Street and then south on Sixth Street (Highway 35) to St. Croix Street.
Bands — On the main stage, the bands featured for 2017 will be Jeff Loven (sponsored by Kozy Korner) on Friday, The Roger Allen Band on Saturday and The Dweebs on Sunday. Beer garden entertainment will include Trandy Blue from 5-7:30 p.m. Friday; Robert Elwood from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday; Jawsy from 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday; and Kyle Koliha from noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Royalty and Candidates — Come meet the royalty — King Eric Anderson, Queen Emma Newman and princesses Shannon Baier, Morgan Kallenbach and Claire Courtney; and the 16 candidates vying for a position on the 2018 Royalty at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18. Introductions and fishbowl questions will take place on the main stage. The coronation will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, on the main stage; where the 2018 king will be announced, the 2018 queen and princesses will be crowned, and the 2018 button will be revealed.
Food/Pizza — Everyone's favorite homemade Italian food will be available at the main food tent from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The pizza booth will feature Kozy Korner pizza on Friday, Carbone's Downtown pizza on Saturday, and Green Mill on Sunday.
Foot Races — The 37th annual Pepper Fest Foot Races will be Sunday, Aug. 20. The one-mile Family Fun Run will begin at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K and 10K (both chip-timed) will begin at 8:30 a.m. All participants for the one mile will receive a medal. Plaques will be awarded for the top male and female finishers in the 5K and 10K. Register online at www.getmeregistered.com/pepperfest. Registration closes Aug. 14.
Craft Sale — New this year, a craft sale will take place 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday in the south tent. Come shop and enjoy a variety of handmade crafts made by local artists.
Pancake Breakfast — Pancake breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Pancake breakfast is a freewill donation benefitting the Hudson Area Senior Center.
Kids Mini Medallion Hunt will be at 11 a.m. Sunday. The Tractor Pull will follow, beginning with registration at 11:30 a.m. Located in the street in front of the Village Hall — come watch and cheer on the competitors. The event is open to children and adults. All participants must wear shoes, no bare feet.
Cooking Contest — The amateur food cooking contest is noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, in the south tent. Categories include adult and under 14. Adult categories are appetizer, main dish and dessert. The under 14 category is chef's choice. Each dish must contain peppers. Only one entry per person. Only entrees with recipes included will be allowed to display and compete. If needing electricity: power cords must be supplied by contestant. Registration forms can be found on www.pepperfest.org and should be filled out prior to contest start. Cash prizes.
Eating Contests — New! Youth Spaghetti and Pepper Eating Contest will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday. Youth can test their skills eating spaghetti or peppers. This contest is free; parent/guardian must sign waiver.
Championship Spaghetti Eating Contest will take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Located on the stage, teams of five can compete by eating 1 pound of spaghetti each. Teams can sign up at the main stage. Fee: $25. First place: $150 and championship T-shirts. Second place: $50.
Championship Hot Pepper Eating Contest will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Also located on the stage, teams of five can compete by eating 1 pound of hot peppers each. Teams can sign up at the main stage. Fee: $50. First place: $300 and championship T-shirts. Second place: $100.
Bean Bag Tournament — Held 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Signup will begin at 12:30 p.m. Limited to 24 teams. $10 per person, $20 per team. Winning team will get T-shirts.
Dart Tournament — Held noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21. $10 per person. Cash prizes.
For more information, visit www.pepperfest.org and follow Pepper Fest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.