Celebrate summer at Monona Hay Days

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Enjoy being “in the heart of the great outdoors” at Monona Hay Days, this Friday and Saturday, June 7-8. (NIT file photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Enjoy being “in the heart of the great outdoors” at Hay Days, Monona’s annual summertime celebration, this Friday and Saturday, June 7-8.

“When we choose a theme each year, we try to make it new and exciting,” said Teresa Graham, head of the Monona Hays Committee. “We want to show what a great area we live in, and Monona is in the heart of the great outdoors.”

“We want to make people want to come to Monona,” added Monona Chamber and Economic Development Executive Director Rogeta Halvorson. “We have all these great amenities and recreational opportunities and we want to show them off.”

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.

Festivities 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 hog roast 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 “In the Heart of the Great Outdoors,” will get underway at noon. The route will begin on South Main Street, then travel through downtown, which is new this year.

“It’s a way of encouraging people to come downtown,” Graham said.

Awards and monetary prizes will be given to the top-three floats in the parade. Community members should also watch for the grand marshal and king and queen. These 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, a national anthem performance by the MFL MarMac Young Americans and two routines from the school’s youth dancers.

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. 

The second annual Hay Days tractor pull will begin at 2 p.m. Sponsored by FreedomBank, the pull will include three classes: antique, farm stock non-turbo and farm stock turbo.

Kids will enjoy the inflatables, sand dig and face painting, as well as carnival games like the dunk tank, money machine and shooting gallery. At 2 p.m., they can compete in the sanctioned kiddie tractor pull.

Graham said many new activities have been added this year too. 5C’s “Hidden in Plain Sight” exhibit, as well as an escape room, will be set up at the community center, while vision-impaired go-cart driving will be offered in the community center parking lot.

“You put on vision-impaired simulator gear and drive through an obstacle course,” she explained.

Both kids and adults can try out a 22-foot rock climbing tower, take Cinderella carriage rides offered by Clip Clop Wagon Rides or visit the petting zoo set up by the MFL MarMac FFA. 

From 4 to 6 p.m., there will be a screening of the award-winning documentary film “Decoding the Driftless,” along with a Q&A with filmmaker George Howe. The film will explore the unique geology, ecology and archeology of communities like Monona that are located in the Driftless Region.

“We encourage people to come and watch this beautiful film,” shared Halvorson, adding that the committee hopes holding the screening later in the day will spread Hay Days activities out and keep people in town longer.

Throughout the afternoon, Hay Days attendees can enjoy festival foods, desserts and drinks from street vendors and MJ’s Bar and Grill. 

“We’ve increased food offerings,” Graham said, to include an Asian food truck, pie, sno cones, cupcakes and funnel cakes, as well as brats, burgers, hotdogs, walking tacos, chicken ‘bobs, ice cream floats and shakes and Spring Grove pop.

A beer and wine tent with covered seating will also be set up.

“The Farmersburg Fire Department is running that,” noted Graham, “and they’re hoping to get some money for a new fire station.”

Music will be a big part of Saturday, as well, with three live bands playing in the afternoon and evening. From 1:30 to 4 p.m., the group Triple Threat will perform country favorites. The Bruce Bearinger Band will play classic rock, pop and country from 4 to 8 p.m., then Side Project will deliver classic rock hits during the street dance from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Comfortable seating will be plentiful, said Halvorson,with 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.

“It’s neat to see community members come and sit with friends, have a beer and something to eat, and just talk,” she remarked.

As Hay Days attendees participate in activities throughout the day, and as they buy food and drinks, Graham said they will receive tickets, which they can deposit at the Hay Days information booth for an opportunity to win many great prizes. Tickets will be drawn at 7 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.

Graham said it’s all thanks to committee volunteers, non-profits, clubs, churches, the city and more. 

“This is a community effort. There are so many arms in the community that reach out to help pull this off,” she shared. 

The non-profits, clubs and churches get to take home the proceeds from the activities they run. 

“We pay to bring it in, then they work and get all the profits,” Graham said. 

If any community members would like to volunteer to help with Hay Days, she encourages them to contact the chamber office.

“It doesn’t seem like work,” she assured. “We make it fun." 

For a full schedule of events, see the ad on page 5 of this week's paper or go to the "Monona Hay Days" Facebook page.

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