West St. Paul Days 2018


West St. Paul Days 2018 - A Special Section published by Lillie Suburban Newspapers
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Celebrating the Wonder Women in West St. Paul

In a year of superhero movies, Celebrate West St. Paul Days is celebrating the superwomen in the community for 2018. 

Part of the inspiration, says Jessi Keller, the festival’s royalty director and secretary, is “our lovely past royal ladies and how much we enjoy watching them grow into the leaders of tomorrow,” as well as “some of our fabulous business women in West St. Paul.” One of these women is being honored as parade grand marshal this year. 

“It’s not just a pageant,” adds Jennifer Baltes, festival vice president, about the royalty program. “We don’t do pageants in our program. We are about community service and volunteerism and giving back to where we live.”

Running Wednesday through Sunday, May 16 to 20, at various spots in the city, West St. Paul Days President Dave Wenda says the event is the first of the area summertime festivals.

“We’re the kickoff to summer,” Baltes says. 

“Which is good,” says Wenda, “because we aren’t competing against anybody, so we get a lot more of the other cities coming here.”


Act like a kid again

There’s a lot more going on at the carnival than food, photos and bouncy houses — it’s open Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., at Signal Hills Shopping Center, 1201 S. Robert St.

Ticket deals for carnival rides include a rate of $1 each or 25 tickets for $20; or on Friday and Sunday, pay $20 for unlimited rides. 

Stop by Dunham’s, 173 Lothenbach Ave., on Friday, May 18 for the Street Dance. The dancing goes from 7 to 11 p.m., and the band MoJo Monks will be playing. While it is free admission, donations to Celebrate West St. Paul Days are appreciated. 


Still a Grand Parade

With a rainy Saturday last year, the parade took an interesting twist. Those who were already lined up and ready at Heritage E-STEM Magnet School took the parade indoors.

“We had all the people in there — let’s have small parade,” Wenda says.

This time around, with hopes of sunny skies, the Grand Parade is on Saturday, May 19.

Starting at 1 p.m., the parade takes a familiar route: Beginning at Charlton and Butler avenues, the parade will go down Butler to Smith Avenue, and then down Smith to Annapolis Street, and finally end at the intersection of Annapolis and Charlton streets. 

Before the parade, visit the free, community-wide workout in the park. Taking place at Harmon Park, 230 Bernard St. W., it runs from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Bring a buddy to this free workout; pre-registration is required and can be done by visiting try.anytimefitmn.com/free-workout-west-st-paul.

The workout is geared to those of all ability levels and will include a demonstration of exercise and a full-body, dynamic warm-up.


Let’s try this again

Due to last year’s rainy festival, the number of grand marshals this year has grown. The two tapped as last year’s grand marshals — Neil Baker and 2017’s Klondike Kate, Kristen Oster — will get their chance again to be recognized in the parade. 

“They’ll be participating, being at the head of the parade this year, because we would never want anyone to miss that experience,” Baltes says.

With all of the festivals Baker contributes to — his Buttonworks shop moved to Robert Street in 1984 and does t-shirt and other promotional products and countless buttons for city festivals — Wenda says it felt right that it was his turn to be honored by West St. Paul. Baker will appear with his wife Lucy.

Oster, a West. St. Paul resident, was set to be last year’s celebrity grand marshal.

“It’s one of those things that doesn’t happen often, and when you have a celebrity in your city, you want them to be there to have the applause and show them off to everybody,” Baltes says.


Some new recognition

This year’s new grand marshal is Pat Link, who, until recently, owned Signal Hills Barber.

Link grew up in West St. Paul and attended Henry Sibley High School. She still cuts hair at the shop and has been there for 40 years.

She started working there when she was 20 and bought it 25 years later. She now works part time.

“I went to three days a week, which was wonderful,” Link says, adding she works Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Link says she was surprised by the invitation to be a grand marshal this year.

“I think it’s a real honor. I’ve been in the parade with my business over the years, but never as grand marshal,” she says, adding that her favorite part of the parade is seeing so many people she knows.

“Now I’ll have five little grandkids of my own there,” she says. “That will make it fun.”

Instead of another celebrity grand marshal this year, there will be a Special Volunteer Recognition. That honoree will be Wayne Ball, who started West St. Paul’s fast pitch softball tournament 50 years ago. He’s still running it to this day.

“Something like this is such an accomplishment,” Baltes says. “Giving back to your community for one year, much less 50 years — it’s a huge thing and deserved to be recognized.”

Ball started the tournament in 1968, and for the last half century, teams from all over have come to town the third weekend in July to compete.  

“Other people were having tournaments, so I said, ‘Why can’t we?’” Ball says. “Once you get into it, you can’t get out.”

Ball’s son, Dan, decided to approach Baltes about his father being recognized after others brought up the idea. 

Ball says his family’s favorite part of the festival is the parade. “I’m just debating whether I should come as a clown, or what,” he jokes.


Back again

The Harmon Park Festival is back this year for Saturday, May 19, from 2 to 10 p.m. Done in partnership with the South Robert Street Business Association and the City of West St. Paul, there will be a variety of activities for all to enjoy after the parade. 

Stop by the park at 230 Bernard St. from 2 to 5 p.m. for some bingo sponsored by the South Robert Street Business Association. 

Rather than a band this year, there will be a DJ at the festival. 

“That’s more of a recognition that we want to reach out to our community and have all sorts of music and not just one kind,” Baltes says. “A DJ really just gives us that opportunity to recognize that West St. Paul is really diverse.”

Once again there will be beer, wine and pull tabs for those of age, and concessions will be available courtesy of St. Matthew’s Mens Club and the Taste of Love Bakery. 

There will be a display for kids to learn about the community and how to help keep their neighborhood safe, put on by the city. It will include a fire truck and police car for kids of all ages to check out. 

The night will end with a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m., sponsored by the South Robert Street Business Association. 


And the barn will rock

Following the Grand Parade on May 19, head to Dodge Nature Center, 365 Marie Ave. W., for the annual Rock the Barn Festival. 

From 3 to 7 p.m., join a tour of the barn where you’ll meet live animals up close. Enjoy live music mixed with activities like face painting, raffles and more. Your child will get to experience a day of farm life by taking part in farm chores and old-fashioned games. 

Get the early bird special ticket pricing by buying before noon on May 17 — early tickets are $6 per person or $25 for the family. Tickets at the gate will cost $8 per person or $30 for the family. This event is free for kids 2 and under. 

Proceeds from the event support Dodge Nature preschool scholarships. For more information visit www.dodgenaturecenter.org or call 651-455-4531.


A royal farewell

Due to a lack of applications, there is no 2018 royalty program. 

“We plan to use this time off to reach out to more young people in the community and let them know that Celebrate West St. Paul Days is all about helping our youth become the leaders in our community,” Keller says. “We are here to help them grow into the best people they can be.”

There will be a farewell featuring last year’s royalty to close out the festival on Sunday, May 20, from 1 to 4 p.m., at St. Croix Lutheran High School, 1200 Oakdale Ave. There will be snacks and beverages following the program, and no RSVP is needed. The cost is $5, or free with a Celebrate West St. Paul Days button. 

The outgoing royalty will come back next year to participate in the festivities and crown new royalty. 

Baltes says after this year’s festival kickoff dinner, she was welling with emotion because of the support shown. “Seeing everyone come together as a community ... it was a beautiful event because you could really feel the community,” she says.   

Wenda says at the end of last year’s fireworks display, which was moved to Sunday because of the rain, he couldn’t believe how many car lights came on in Heritage Park’s parking lot.

“I couldn’t see the cars up there until after the fireworks, and 100 lights came on,” Wenda says. “More people came out than what we thought.”

For a full list of events and information visit www.celebrateweststpaul.org.



Click here for more information on the many West St. Paul Days activities!


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