With rain much of the day Friday, temperatures that dipped into the thirties overnight, and a brisk Saturday morning, it was no wonder turn-out was down for Prairie Harvest Days’ “Spooktacular” festival October 3rd and 4th.
Still, most of the town bundled up and came out for the Saturday morning parade, which featured an “Adam’s Family” float and another bearing a rock band featuring the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Phantom of the Opera.
Life-long resident and farmer Murray McKenna enjoyed the honor of riding as Grand Marshal this year, accompanied by his wife. This is the only reason we didn’t see Murray atop the antique tractor he routinely rides in the parade.
The festival Queen chosen this year was Brittany Olszewski. The little prince was Evan Lemme, and the little princess was Charlie Bagby.
The park filled with revelers as the sun came out Saturday afternoon. Area organizations and churches raising funds with various booths found customers. The food vendors saw long lines at lunchtime, and the kids had their carnival rides. Ryan Swaar, Prairie Harvest Days committee chair, notes that the carnival did bring several large inflatables that couldn’t be set up due to weather concerns.
Swaar regrets that the dip in temperatures kept some away from this year’s celebration, but noted that the crowd Saturday was still equal to what would have been a record turnout only six or seven years ago.
It was the hope of bringing visitors in from outside Mason City that led to this year’s date change. “There were six other festivals scheduled in the area on the third weekend in September,” Swaar says. “We won’t have a date for next year until after discussions with the school and others, so that’s open to discussion. There are other festivals most fall weekends, but we want to give Mason City a chance to showcase itself to outside communities.”
Drawing patrons from other communities is what Swaar believes will allow Prairie Harvest Days to grow, and area fundraising organizations to bring in more money.
Swaar stresses that cooperation and communication are important aspects of planning each year’s festival. “There are people with good ideas, and we need to be sure those ideas reach the committee members. In addition, if there are any problems, they need to be brought to the committee. The community needs this festival and the festival needs the community.”