Maple Grove Days festival celebration

"The Best" certainly sums up what is in store for people and their families at Maple Grove Days this weekend. So smooth on some sunscreen, wear the best walking shoes find the stroller and lawn chair and come out for a weekend of fun- filled events celebrating the city of Maple Grove, Thursday to Sunday, July 12 to 15.

Maple Grove Days is not only an annual celebration, but is the city’s largest festival and voted "Best Community Event" by residents in the Maple Grove Magazine. Each year the attendance grows with more than 30,000 people attending in 2011.

The Maple Grove Community Organization (MGCO) is the driving force behind this summer festival and with the help of the City of Maple Grove was started in the 1988 with a proposal from then Commissioner, John Garritsen. The mission was to form a committee to explore the need for a city festival. Today the group has over 30 members and meets throughout the year to plan and organize city family events.

"Maple Grove Days generates hundreds of volunteers every year and that count does not include the many city employees who perform duties preparing for the festival and those on hand throughout the entire weekend assisting to ensure its success and our safety," said Deb Syhre, president of MGCO.

Syhre also says, "The success of Maple Grove Days reflects this area’s growing population and how prolific the Maple Grove business district has become."

It all started with a simple parade in Grove Square and has grown to a four-day festival. Originally, Maple Grove Days was named "Pierre Bottineau Days" according MG Historical Society representative. The namesake, Pierre Bottineau, was an infamous fur-trader born in 1817 in North Dakota. He later settled in several other places including Maple Grove.

The Maple Grove Days parade continues to be appropriately named the "Pierre Bottineau Parade" and the parade namesake will be portrayed by Kurt Palmer. Political units and a plane flyover will start off the parade at 6:10 p.m. again this year followed by the remaining parade units at 6:30 p.m.

Syhre states MGCO functions as a catalyst and an umbrella for the other organizations involved in Maple Grove Days events. Included in the list of participating organizations are the Maple Grove Lions, Maple Grove Rotary, Maple Grove Ambassador Program, Maple Grove Historical Society, Weaver Lake Conservation Association, Maple Grove Arts Center, Maple Grove Mom’s Club, MSRA Ignitors Car Club, Girl and Boy Scouts, area churches, school organizations, 40 Winks Foundation and many businesses who contribute time, Sponsor dollars and products to the event.

"Our mission is to provide the residents of Maple Grove a sense of community, by encouraging other groups to join us," she said. "We feel we have reached our goal and thus making our events truly a celebration of Maple Grove."

In addition to Maple Grove Days each July, other MGCO activities are Halloween Family Fun, Breakfast with Santa and Holiday Lighting Contest in December, and new last year the Sleigh Bells and Sparkle Parade.

"We try to add something new each year to Maple Grove Days and look for ways to improve events from previous years," said Syhre.

Look for the all new Pickleball Tournament and Volleyball Tournament. And of course the many old and favorite events from past years like Corn Hole Tournament, Capture the Flag game, Alley Jamz Bowling, and the Friday night outdoor movie under the stars. This feature movie can be enjoyed by the whole family.

There’s lots of opportunity for competition, lots of great prizes to win and of course the fun of just competing. The Seventh Annual Tennis Tournament will take place this year with four days of competition. The cooperation between the Maple Grove Crimson Tennis Association and MGCO brings this event to MGJH and MGSH tennis courts.

Youth can participate in the Junior Golf Tournament at French Lake Golf Course, and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. Each year the Medallion Hunt generates lots of excitement as the MG parks are searched high and low for the Bronze Maple Leaf. The finder wins a $500 prize from the Lookout Bar and Grill. Racing events abound with the Rice Lake Classic, Kids Fun Run and 40 Winks Foundation Bed Race by the MG Rotary.

The Maple Grove Ambassador Scholarship Program will crown three new ambassadors at coronation Friday night at Maple Grove Senior High School. Following the coronation the celebration heads to the Osseo Legion for Gala in the Grove as the community welcomes the new ambassadors, alumnae and friends and supporters of this scholarship program.

Since 2003 the Business Expo has been held in the Maple Grove Community Center, it has seen an increase in growth of exhibitors, from 80 to over 130 and also growth in attendance. Last year more than 8,000 people attended this event. Joyce Deane and Pat Bedell, long-time members of MGCO, have been instrumental in the success of the Business Expo. The Expo fills the upstairs halls, rooms and maze area and spills over to fill the lower level gymnasium. It also includes the location to take a break and get a piece of pie and coffee at Jan’s Pie Shoppe. Just down the hall people can place a bid at the Showcase Silent Auction. The auction items are a collection of donations by local businesses and organizations, as well as items from around the metro area.

The festival offers over 40 different activities for all visitors to enjoy. At the community center, children can run from game to game and participate with carnival rides, fun fair food and hands-on activities like the petting zoo or climb through the indoor maze. Some special events are offered outside the community center area, including the Weaver Lake Fishing Clinic and Intro to Geocaching at Weaver Lake Elementary.

Nothing says community more than a Farmers Market or a Sidewalk Sale. People can visit these vendors and support local businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs.

Pick up he "Button of Savings" at the community center for extra shopping savings. The Maple Grove Days Art Fair is located on Main Street. Maple Grove Arts Center and MGCO will host this event, offering the same top quality product art enthusiasts have enjoyed in the past. Take time to check out the learning opportunities for the young artist at the Maple Grove Arts Center.

Last year over 800 people visited the beautifully landscaped gardens offered on the Garden Tour check out the five residents’ homes on the tour this year and the Perennial Gardens at the Town Green. With master gardeners available to assist visitors with questions, this event continues to grow in popularity. Tours are Sunday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Be respectful to homeowners and their property while visiting the gardens.

An important addition to the festival the last few years was the placement of the offsite parking and free shuttle buses at the Maple Grove Transit Station. With assistance from the city of Maple Grove, an efficient route provides riders the opportunity to disembark at four locations – the Transit Station, Main Street/Arbor Lake Parkway, Community Center on Vinewood Lane, and Main Street/Lakeview Drive. The shuttle will be available from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is free to all. With limited parking, this is the perfect solution to making all the stops without fighting the traffic.

Fireworks are a huge draw for Maple Grove Days. People gather early Saturday evening and take their "spot" on the hillsides flanking West Arbor Lake. Be sure to adhere to the 500-foot fall zone for safe seating. Spectators can listen to BOB106.1 as the music features the sights and sounds of the fireworks.

People can visit the website or check out the Osseo-Maple Grove Press, Maple Grove Days Edition, for more information and join us this year at any or all of the events offered during the festival.