April to truly kickoff the season

Published 6:01 am Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring is in full swing here in Austin and summer isn’t far behind.

Along with the usual flare of activities on the horizon, Austin has some new offerings to be excited about this year that are getting underway in April.

So as winter shrinks in the rearview mirror and a chilly start to spring gives way to warmer weather — or so we hope — it’s time to get out and enjoy the many events and offerings the area has to offer.

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 Red Bike

I’ll admit this one had me worried for a simple reason: Mother Nature. After featuring the Red Bike program in the March-April Austin Living, which came out in late February, I fretted the start date of April 15 would be welcomed with a snow storm.

But here we are with 30 bikes ready to be borrowed, ridden around town and returned along with a forecast of mostly warm weather (knock on wood).

After months of planning by Vision 2020 volunteers, Rydjor Bike Shop and Riverland Community College’s automotive program, Red Bike debuted Friday.

So check out one of the 30 bikes at about 11 racks around town. Pick one up and hit the trails, but be sure to return it.

 The summer of Spam

The summer of Spam has almost arrived. After months of construction, the new Spam Museum opens Friday at 101 Third Ave. NE.

The museum will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., though Hormel may later look into the museum being open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays to give the Austin residents a chance to visit after work.

The opening comes about a year after Hormel broke ground on April 21, 2015, on the new Spam Museum downtown on the east side of North Main Street.

So after a hiatus when Hormel Foods Corp. closed the old museum last year, Austin has it’s largest attraction back again.

April 22 will kickoff the soft opening for the museum. A grand opening in conjunction with Hormel’s 125th anniversary is slated for July. That celebration will peak on July 29 when country stars The Band Perry headline a free community celebration concert. The performance is planned at the grassy space between the Mower County Jail and Justice Center and the Historic Paramount Theatre along Fourth Avenue Northeast. An exact time has not been set.

 A new look for the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

OK, we’ll have to wait a year to get a chance to check out the finished $7 million interpretive center being built at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, but the groundbreaking will ensue on Friday, which is Earth Day.

The nature center is replacing its current interpretive center with the new one, which will feature stunning designs, new educational exhibits, and more space for classes and educational opportunities.

While we won’t get to see the finished product until Earth Day 2017 (April 22), this will make it a great year to stop out to the nature center to not only enjoy its natural beauty, but to also check out the progress on the project.

 Looking ahead

These are just a few of the things priming Austin and Mower County for a season of warm weather, but there are plenty more opportunities on the horizon, including many annual events like Vision 2020’s Summer Kickoff, Freedom Fest and the Austin ArtWorks Festival.

Keep an eye out for the Herald’s Discover Summer section, which publishes next month. If you know of an event coming up this summer or a business that would be worth a feature as summer approaches, call 507-434-2235 or email newsroom@austindailyherald.com.