Festival kicks off Tuesday

Milaca will be writing a new chapter in festival history with its storybook-themed parade during the 2014 rendition of the Gateway to the Northland Festival.

Considered a favorite highlight of the year for many Milaca residents, the festival is sure to delight people of all ages with a week of activity.

The festival is sponsored by the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce and kicks off Tuesday, June 17, with the annual Little Miss & Mister pageant. The little ones will begin vying for their crowns beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Rec Park Band Shell.

The festival takes a break on Wednesday but resumes Thursday with a full slate of activity.

They’re getting going early Thursday morning when Kids Day kicks off the festival schedule at 9 a.m. at Maple Ridge Mall, off of Highway 23, east of Highway 169.

The food, games and prizes continue until 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Maple Ridge Mall businesses.

The Gateway to the Northland Parade, billed as one of the largest parades in Central Minnesota, will kick off at 5:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than in the past.

There are 22 bands scheduled to march in this year’s parade, including the Milaca High School Band, the Milaca Junior High Band and the Milaca Fifth Grade Band. The Milaca Alumni Band, which brings parade-goers back to the days of the Milaca Indians, will also perform.

The parade will have a storybook theme this year, so be prepared to see hints of fairy tales, princesses and other characters. There will be prizes for the best themed floats.

Another festival highlight will be the return of a carnival to the festival.

J&K Amusements will be bringing its carnival and rides to the southwest corner of Teal’s parking lot. Teal’s will sell discounted pre-sale carnival tickets until 1 p.m. Thursday.

Jiggers will be hosting a beer garden Thursday through Saturday in Teal’s parking lot, too.

On Friday, a 5K run will keep the festival moving. Registration begins at 5 p.m. The race begins at 6 p.m.

Milaca’s first “Amazing Race” Northland Edition, open to 10 teams, is set for the adventurous types on the morning of Saturday, June 21.

Sponsored by the Milaca Chamber of Commerce, the race will pit two-person teams for what is expected to take the entire day. Interested teams can contact Tami James at 320-282-7437 for more information or to register. The teams will consist of partners much like in the TV show, but they will only have to travel and find clues in the Mille Lacs County area. Entrants can expect to get dirty, wet and have to travel for the adventure, according to the chamber.

If getting wet in an all-day race isn’t your style, maybe getting wet in a water ball fight is. The annual water ball fight will feature area firefighters trying to win the championship title for their fire departments. The battle runs from 6:30-9 p.m. in Teal’s parking lot.

The festival winds down with Saturday night’s street dance. Also held in Teal’s parking lot, the tunes of DC Express will liven up downtown Milaca from 9 p.m. to midnight.