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Stage set to celebrate

Blankets, tape and stakes, chairs and more line Second Street, and parts of Main Street, saving places for people to watch the annual River Falls Days Parade. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.

River Falls is again gearing up for River Falls Days. This year's celebration will look just a little bit different, said Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Communications Specialist Meghann Witthoft.

"I'm most excited about the integration of the main stage activity," Witthoft said. This year both daytime kids activities and evening live music will be performed from the main stage.

Witthoft said this will bring the festival together and make it "feel more connected."

There will not be merchant vendor booths on Maple Street, Witthoft said. Instead, local businesses will be promoted with a Downtown Businesses Special Event, she said. That will be noon to 3 p.m. Friday, and Saturday. Local businesses will offer specials or activities for visitors.

"The Downtown Businesses Special Events comes as members of our Downtown Retailers Group were searching for a way to get involved with the celebration and offer specials and activities for attendees," Witthoft said, "as we would no longer have the merchant vendor area on Maple Street."

Participating businesses will have signs on their doors or in their windows.

From 1-4 p.m. Saturday there will be a nonprofit booth area in City Hall Plaza. Eleven nonprofits will offer kids' activities and games, as well as information on services and resources. Witthoft said activities could include face painting, coloring pages, puzzles and contests. The nonprofits represented include River Valley Trails, Our Neighbors' Place, NCCM Transformation Foundation, River Falls Gymnastics Club, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Friends of the Kinni, Kiap-TU-Wish (Trout Unlimited), River Falls Soccer Club, River Falls Youth Football, Options for Women — River Falls, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Sporting World.

Also new this year:

• Kids activities will be moved to the main stage in Heritage Park.

• Some "strolling performances" by a juggler, and a musician have been added on Saturday.

• The children's water fight and Bike safety rodeo are now taking place on Maple Street as well.

• River Falls Days buttons this year will give people entry to the Sunday evening raffle, and Saturday evening band performances free of charge.

• The bench press competition has been moved from Saturday to Sunday, and will be at the Main Stage in Heritage Park.

• The Beer Garden will now open at noon Friday.

Some returning favorites include the beer garden, which will have a happy hour from noon to 6 p.m.; Live music, the medallion hunt, and the parade.

This year's parade will feature a mix of returning favorites and new floats, Witthoft said. The parade lineup had reached capacity by Tuesday, she said, at 120 entries. Some returning entries will include citizen of the year Bill Rasmussen, six marching bands including the River Falls High School Marching Wildcats, The River Falls Royal Ambassadors, and more.

See a full schedule in the River Falls Days wrap-around on this week's paper, or online.

P hotos and videos of River Falls Days will be posted at riverfallsjournal.com.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849