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Darris Snelling and (from left) Mitch Voehl decorated the boat donated by Ron Vought to carry the Riverfest royalty in parades. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

Boat float to ferry Windom royalty in local parades

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WINDOM -- The Windom Riverfest committee had discussed having a float for the community's royalty to use in local parades for years.

With the help of numerous individuals and organizations, it finally has a boat float to cruise down the streets.

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"It's been something that's been on the table for quite a while," said Denise Houston, Riverfest co-chairwoman. "It's been a long time since we've had an established float for our royalty in other parades, and it's a nice display to go to other communities and to remind other communities of Riverfest."

While the Riverfest Committee was talking about getting a city float, Windom resident Darris Snelling also noticed that Windom's parade vehicle wasn't quite like those from neighboring towns.

"Everyone else had a float, and Windom just had a car with a couple girls in it," Snelling said. "We haven't had a float for years, and I thought we should have something like everyone else."

In October, Snelling joined the Riverfest Committee and started working with other committee members to create a float for Windom.

Riverfest Committee member Mitch Voehl took the lead on the project and began looking for a boat or pontoon that would work for the float.

"Our theme is Riverfest, and all of our activities are located at the Cottonwood Lake in Windom," Voehl said of the group's choice to use a boat for the float. "In essence, the basis of the themes are always water-oriented, and it's something that is unique and special."

The next step was finding a boat someone was willing to donate.

"I knew of a fella (Ron Vought) that did sandblasting and different work on his farm," Voehl explained. "I called him to see if he could donate some time and materials if I could come up with a vessel. As it turned out, he already had a boat and offered to recondition the boat and get it ready for Riverfest."

Vought had a boat that had been sitting in his grove and was willing to help get it parade-ready.

"We are very thankful for the effort that Ron Vought put for the unit -- not only offering to donate it to us, but doing all the work to make it parade-ready," Voehl said. "Without him, things wouldn't have gone as well as they did."

With some sandblasting, a fresh coat of paint and the help of community members and local businesses like Schwalbach Ace Hardware, CarQuest, Runnings, and Dick's Welding and Wooden Pallets, the boat is finished and fit for Windom's royalty.

"We all got going on it, and we worked on most of it together," Snelling said. "We also had some people give different things for us to use.

"If you ask people, they will help. If you don't ask, they don't help," he added. "I'm glad that the people came together and that different companies came together to help us out. I'm really grateful."

Snelling also volunteered to drive the float in local parades and already has plans to improve the boat, including adding a new sign.

"Right now, we took a piece of Plexiglas for the names on it, and I hope we can put a banner on eventually, and we'll probably get a tarp that will fit the boat, too," he said. "That's probably the main thing that we'll improve as the years go by."

The Windom Riverfest Committee is proud of its new float, and Houston said they hope it will remind people of Windom's festival.

"It's another way to show our pride in the community and establish that we're here, and it's another fun festival for people to go to, and it reminds people to come to our festival," Houston said.

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.

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