Fairly fun

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2002

Summer is the perfect time for celebrating. The weather is warm, the days are long and people want to be outside if the mosquitoes aren't too thick.

This summer, the city of Austin is putting everyone in a party mood with a variety of fairs, festivals and city-wide celebrations.

The SPAM Museum Jam Celebration

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The first event of the summer also is expected to be the biggest: the official opening of the SPAM museum which will take place the weekend of June 15-16.

Julie Craven, director of communications at the Hormel Foods Corp. says it will be "quite a party; were expecting a pretty good crowd."

Holly LaVallie, director of the Mower County Convention and Visitors Bureau says area hotels have been booked up for months.

"It's undoubtedly going to be the biggest event of the summer," she says.

"It's a great, great attraction."

Part of the appeal of the museum's opening is the sheer number of activities taking place during the two days.

The first day, Marion Ross from "Happy Days", Barbara Billingsley of "Leave it to Beaver" and Debra Jo Rupp from "That 70's Show" will greet fans and share their favorite SPAM recipes.

The SPAMettes also will perform as will Beatlemania and Booker T. and the MGs. For families, magicians, comedians and musicians will perform children-oriented shows.

The second day, most activities will have a World War II theme and the atmosphere of the day will be "much more respectful," Craven says.

Tom Brokaw, news anchor for NBC will be on hand to dedicate a memorial in honor of World War II veterans and commemorative Air Force planes will be on display at the Austin Airport.

For younger children, clowns, comedians, magicians and musicians will perform.

Craven says she is encouraging people to check the museum's Web site, www.spam.com, for more information and a complete schedule of events as some of the activities may change in the next few weeks.

Freedom Fest in the Heartland

Freedom Fest in the Heartland will be Austin's Fourth of July celebration this year and will be four action-packed days of fun for all ages.

From July 4-7, old-fashioned games and contests and demonstrations by groups such as the Jane Taylor Dancers, the Austinaires, the Martial Arts Fitness Center of Austin and scores of other entertainers fill the schedule and should appeal to people of all ages.

And of course, there will be fireworks on several different nights.

The festival will have its more serious moments, as well.

The Americans Standing Together March will take place July 7 and will pay tribute to freedom and the country's heroes.

The same evening, a candlelight ceremony will be held honoring the firefighters, police, medial personnel, postal workers, veterans and all other American heroes.

LaVallie says Freedom Fest "is definitely something to be excited about. It will draw in not only the regular Fourth of July crowd, but also new people who will want to see what it's all about."

For more information, call 437-3448.

MS Bike Tram Tour

Also in July, bicycling enthusiasts will ride through southeastern Minnesota and along the Mississippi River in support of Multiple Sclerosis research and programs.

From July 21-26, thousands of bikers will ride the 300 miles between Faribault, Austin, Lanesboro, Wabasha, River Falls and Lake Elmo.

This is the tour's first year passing through Austin and LaVallie says it will bring "lots and lots of business for the area and its shops because it will bring thousands of people through who wouldn't normally come here."

For more information about the bike tour, visit its Web site at www.mstram.com or call (612) 335-7973.

Mower County Fair

This year, the fair dates have been set for Aug. 6-11. In addition to the usual fair foods, animals and 4-H projects, fairgoers will be able to see motocross racing, demolition derbies and rodeos.

Musical guests range from the Gospel Festival to Elvis to the Mouldy Figs and Six Mile Grove.

4-H alumni will be able to gather for a centennial reunion and the annual Fiddler's Contest will be on Aug. 11.

Also appearing are members of the Heartland Story Tellers and the Rak Sharki Dancers and Friends.

For more information, visit the fair's Web site at www.mowercountyfair.com.

Call Amanda L. Rohde at 434-2214 or e-mail her at :mailto:amanda.rohde@austindailyherald.com