The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 6, 2013

A festival for the fish

Catch Waterville's Bullhead Days beginning on Friday

By Sarah Zenk Blossom
Special to The Free Press

---- — Each June, Minnesotans consume 14,000 servings of fried bullhead sold from a concession stand at Waterville’s Bullhead Days festival. Local residents run the stand.

“People save the bullheads all winter long,” said Sue Myers, Bullhead Days organizer and president of the Chamber of Commerce. “They clean them all by hand and freeze them. I think it’s two or three fish on a plate with bread and butter,” she continued. “People come from miles around for their bullheads.”

The Bullhead Days event runs Friday through Sunday this year. There is a full calendar each day, with events for all ages and interests, including an ongoing carnival run by Family Fun Shows of Mankato. Friday evening is the Miss Waterville pageant, as well as the Junior Miss Waterville pageant for elementary school children.

“This is the 57th Miss Waterville pageant, but only the 49th Bullhead Days,” Myers explained. “The name changed to Bullhead Days after the first few years.”

Fireworks are scheduled for 10 p.m. over the lake on Friday evening.

Saturday features a hot dog eating contest, a kids’ tractor pull, and a kids’ fishing contest. Saturday morning is also when the Sakatah Challenge takes place. This event includes a 5k walk, 10k run, and 11-mile bike ride offered to all who would like to participate. In the evening, a euchre tournament with 100 percent payout will be held at Main Street Lounge; there will also be a bean bag tournament held there on Saturday.

Sunday morning features a community hymn sing, followed by the grand parade. After the parade, a raffle drawing will take place on the main entertainment stage while a balloon artist helps to entertain the kids in the audience.

“The Chamber of Commerce is selling raffle tickets for $1, and the grand prize is $500, second prize is $250, and third prize is $100,” Myers said.

An ongoing medallion hunt offers a $150 prize; the only “catch” is that the winner is paid in “Bullhead Bucks,” which can be spent like cash in any of the Waterville stores. Myers cautioned that Bullhead Bucks cannot be spent in neighboring communities. One year, a winner spent Bullhead Bucks in a nearby town, and when the shop owner tried to exchange the Bullhead Bucks for American currency at the Waterville Chamber of Commerce, Waterville representatives had to explain that the Bullhead Bucks policy is strict on this matter.

Though they must be spent in Waterville, Bullhead Bucks can be spent at any time during or after the event. Clues for the medallion hunt will be posted in the window of the Lake Region Life office.

Ongoing events also include meat raffles by the Lions Club, Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments, Bingo and kiddie Bingo, karaoke contests, and shows for both adults and kids on the main entertainment stage.