You might call it the de facto summer festival of southern Minnesota’s twin towns.
North Mankato Fun Days each year attracts thousands of people to Wheeler Park for the carnival, and down picturesque Belgrade Avenue for the parade. It is the longest continuously running community festival between Mankato and North Mankato at the moment.
So how does Fun Days stay so consistently popular?
By changing very little about what people like about it.
The parade will run on Saturday like it always does. The carnival will be set up in roughly the same configuration. The beer garden will have beer. The stage will have live music. On Sunday the petting zoo animals will arrive, as will the classic cars and the pedal tractors for the kids’ competition.
But like any good event, there will be a few tweaks to the machinery.
The most visible change this year will be the addition of the Mankato Baltics, and old-tyme baseball team that plays in an old-rules, no gloves, gentlemanly rules league with other teams around the state. They’ll play a game of “base ball” with those chaps the Rum River Rovers on Sunday near Wheeler Park.
As for the live beer garden entertainment, Organizer Denny Kemp says they’ve been striving to keep it as local as possible. That’s how they’re approaching everything about Fun Days, he said, because Fun Days started as gift to the members of the community who helped the city through the great flood of 1965.
Scores of people were needed that year to build dikes and do whatever was needed to keep the raging waters from destroying the city. And when it was over, they decided it was a good time for a party.
“It was a thank you to all those who,” Kemp said.