All trails lead to Monona Hay Days June 8-9

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Tractors will be an integral part of this year’s Monona Hay Days celebration, held June 8-9. There will be a kiddie tractor pull (shown here), as well as a tractor show and, new this year, a tractor pull open to three classes. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

All trails will lead to Hay Days, Monona’s annual summertime celebration, this Friday and Saturday, June 8-9.

Held a week earlier this year to avoid conflicts with other area events, organizers hope even more people will be able to attend, said Monona Chamber and Economic Development Executive Director Rogeta Halvorson.

“We’re looking forward to seeing new people and seeing people enjoying themselves,” she said.

Of course, the multitude of Hay Days events will also be a large draw. From a parade and kid’s activities to live music and good food, the weekend will offer something for the whole family.

Activities will kick off Friday night, with the Monona Fire Department’s popular Glow Run. The pre-glow party and registration will start at 8 p.m., then the race at dusk. The Smith and Bulldog Childcare Centers will offer a walking taco supper beforehand, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Saturday’s events begin with a pancake breakfast benefitting the Butterfly Garden and Trails, held at the community center from 7 to 10 a.m.

The parade, with the theme “All Trails Lead to Monona,” will get underway at 11 a.m. The route will begin on South Main Street, then turn right onto Iowa Street at the four-way stop, then take another right at Egbert. Awards will be presented to the top three entries.

New this year, people are encouraged to watch for the parade grand marshal and king and queen. The individuals will be recognized at the Hay Days opening ceremony, held in downtown Monona immediately following the parade. The opening ceremony will also include a presentation of Quilts of Valor to area veterans.

Following the opening ceremony, attendees are free to enjoy a variety of activities downtown, including tractor and classic car and truck shows, a bean bag tournament, photo booth, bingo in the community center and community health check-ups. New this year will be a trivia booth. Put together a team of up to six players and compete to win cash prizes.

Kids will enjoy the dunk tank, inflatable bounce house and obstacle course, chalk painting and face painting, as well as carnival games like the money machine, pie in the face, cow bag toss and shooting gallery. At 1:30 p.m., kids can compete in the sanctioned kiddie tractor pull.

Starting at 1 p.m. will be the first Hay Days tractor pull. Sponsored by FreedomBank, the pull will include three classes: antique, farm stock non-turbo and farm stock turbo. 

“We got some bleachers from the school to set up along Egbert Street,” Halvorson noted, adding that the street offers a good set-up for both watching and pulling.

Hay Days volunteers have been working with Watson Tractor Ride organizers to recruit entries, said Halvorson, but more are welcome to join the fun. People can visit the Freedom Agency Facebook page for more details or contact Erik A. Helgerson at FreedomBank-Monona at (563) 539-2015. Halvorson said she hopes attendees enjoy this new event.

“We’re always trying to come up with something that will draw in new people,” she quipped.

Throughout the afternoon, Hay Days attendees can enjoy festival foods, desserts and drinks from street vendors and MJ’s Bar and Grill. Shakes, brats, Spring Grove pop, sno cones, walking tacos, gourmet cupcakes and funnel cakes are just a sampling of what will be available, said Halvorson. A beer tent with covered seating will be set up on the street in front of MJ’s.

Music will be a big part of Saturday, as well, with DJ music playing downtown from noon to 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., local favorite Smoking Gun Showdown will entertain with a mix of country and rock hits. Test your own singing skills with Good Time Karaoke, held outside MJ’s from 5 to 8 p.m. The popular band 88 M.P.H. will then take the Hay Days stage from 8 p.m. to midnight, offering a selection of blues and classic and modern rock songs during a street dance.

Comfortable seating will be plentiful, said Halvorson,with two additional large tents available for people to sit and relax under. There will also be a number of picnic tables. People can even bring chairs to sit in, if they would like.

As Hay Days attendees participate in activities throughout the day, Halvorson said they will receive tickets, which they can deposit at the Hay Days information booth for an opportunity to win many great prizes.

“Everything you buy, everything you do, you get tickets,” she said. “If you win, you get more.”

Tickets will be drawn at 5 p.m., and people must be present to win.

Halvorson said she’s proud of how Hay Days has developed in the past few years.

“We’ve been growing and growing,” she remarked. “We’ve grown in size and involvement. There are more tractors, more floats. We’ve got a ton more sponsors and volunteers.”

Many local non-profits help run Hay Days activities and food stands.

“The non-profits come and help, and they get to take home the profits. Then the community comes and has fun,” Halvorson said. “You can do or watch. Everybody wins. It’s just a really nice event for the community—it’s our signature event.”

To learn more about all the Hay Days events, see the ad on page 8 or visit the “Monona Hay Days” Facebook page.

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