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Brian Korthals/Daily Globe America Vergara leads a Zumba class from the main stage Saturday morning during Worthington's Regatta celebration.

Worthington Regatta is a hot place to be for Zumba, food, art and more

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WORTHINGTON -- Only some of the action during the annual Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival happens on Lake Okabena.

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And in this event's 13th year, one of the hottest shorefront activities was an open Zumba class, led by certified instructor America Vergara at 11 a.m. Saturday, and again at 1 p.m. Sunday.

"Come on, show me you can shake it," urged Vergara as she energetically demonstrated the Latin-based dance moves to about 40 participants before a large crowd of amused on-lookers under Saturday's mid-day sun.

Several men of a certain age gamely joined in the workout, which Dana Larson, a Zumba enthusiast and 31-year-old mother of three, said felt "more like a party."

In a town as diverse as Worthington, the Zumba hour offered a dose of culture for some and a taste of home for others.

"This is my music," breathed Sheny Benitez after a fast-paced number. "It gets me moving, and I love it."

Benitez, now a longtime Worthington resident, is a native of Guatemala. She works out at Anytime Fitness and walks her dog regularly, but about two months ago Benitez added Vergara's Saturday morning Zumba classes at BenLee's to her routine as well.

On the other end of the spectrum was blonde, blue-eyed Jennifer Weg, who typically runs or walks for fitness but says of Zumba, "This gets a little -- no, a lot -- of rhythm, and some culture, into my workouts."

Even retired Worthington teacher Dorothy Hagemann tried a bit of Zumba after watching the smiling, sweating participants for a while.

"I like to dance, and if Steve Dudley can do it, I can do it," Hagemann said.

A couple of over-heated male Zumba dancers literally jumped in the lake following the Saturday session, where they were in good company with underwear-clad toddlers, kids in shorts and others in more traditional swimwear.

Many attendees strolled along Sailboard Beach bearing large cups of fresh-squeezed lemonade, undeterred in their enjoyment of the refreshing beverage by $3 and $5 price tags.

A good number of people also tried out a new-to-Worthington food vendor -- the Kettlekorn Kastle folks from Crooks, S.D., who sold not only kettlecorn and caramel corn but also handmade ice cream in flavors ranging from vanilla to pina colada to strawberry cheesecake.

"We've been doing this for a year, and we travel to festivals like this around the region," said Myron Scharkey. Scharkey, his wife, Carole, and a family friend worked hard to keep the crowds supplied with their sweet treats over the weekend. "We have the most elite kettlecorn set-up in the Midwest," Scharkey shared with pride.

The Scharkeys were impressed with Worthington's regatta and music festival, and are already making plans to come back next year in June and also for King Turkey Day in 2013.

A more low-key but no less enthusiastic operation was just across Lake Avenue next to the Nobles County Mobile Dispatch Unit, where teens from St. Matthew Lutheran Church's youth group, along with adviser Bill Knigge, were serving up lunches to registered windsurfers.

"We do this as a general fundraiser, but this year our group is going to Colorado and the inner city of Minneapolis," Knigge said. The youth group provided chips, bananas and water along with about 80 of their "famous" hoagies; they have had the gig for six or seven years, Knigge noted.

"Our secret ingredient is that the kids all wear smiles when they make the hoagies," Knigge revealed.

Stained glass and jewelry, sold by Gail Gruis of Fulda, were among the artists' offerings along the lakefront during the weekend.

A returning vendor, Gruis said she liked the new positioning of the craftsmen's tents, which were placed closer to the main stage and food wagons this year than previously.

"It's a bit loud, but there has been more traffic," she said as she stood among her colorful, kiln-fired jewelry and mosaic creations. Gruis's stand also carried craft items she makes from recycled glass and wine or beer bottles.

"They can be used as spoon rests, candy or relish dishes--whatever people want, or some can be hung for decoration," Gruis said, giving suggestions for her unique items.

One standout piece in Gruis's booth was a fused glass plate with a multi-colored Southwest theme incorporating a cactus, desert flowers, birds and clouds.

"The design just came to me one day when I was making something else," she said.

And so it is with the Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival: a popular summer community event with a regional draw that came about because some people were doing "something else" -- windsurfing.

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