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NR area shows off parks, recreational offerings

Parks and recreation employees from across Wisconsin grabbed a bite to eat at Mary Park in New Richmond Thursday as part of the 2010 Summer Tour, put on by the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association.

Parks and recreation officials from across the state converged on New Richmond last week to take part in the 2010 Summer Park Tour.

The event, put on by the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association, showcased various parks in the St. Croix County area. About 45 communities from around the state sent representatives to this year's tour.

The last time New Richmond hosted the annual state tour was in 1992, when the city partnered with Hudson.

"Every year a different community is asked to host the tour," explained Joe Kerlin, New Richmond parks and recreation director.

This time, New Richmond city parks officials partnered with St. Croix County Parks officials to show off the various facilities and activities offered in this part of the state.

"You get to kind of show off your community," said Dave Mehls, site manager for New Richmond's Hatfield Regional Park and chief organizer for the tour event. "You also get to see how someone else does things in their parks departments."

Plus, by the end of July the "busy time" for most parks and recreation people is winding down and they're looking forward to getting away from their schedules for a short time, Mehls said.

"It's just nice to kick back and socialize a couple of days," he said.

Mehls said he worked hard over the past year to coordinate the event, including setting up the lodging and finding the sponsors for the tour.

"It's a lot of work, but it really pays off in the end," he said.

Mehls, Kerlin and Marie Barriault-Bannink communicated with Door County officials, who hosted last year's tour, to get some ideas for the New Richmond event.

The tour's agenda kicked off Wednesday, July 21, with an afternoon Minnesota Twins game, an association business meeting and a welcome social at the New Richmond Heritage Center. The group was able to enjoy that evening's Hillside Series concert as well.

Thursday's schedule included tours of Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls, a boat cruise on the St. Croix River and a lunch at Mary Park in New Richmond. The lunch provided sponsors with an opportunity to meet with the parks and recreation officials and show off some of their specialty products.

Friday's events included tours of The Centre in New Richmond, Willow River State Park, Homestead Parklands County Park and Hatfield Lake Regional Park.