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Ellsworth festival: "Big Dreams in a Small Town"

ELLSWORTH -- Panther Pride will be in full force during Ellsworth's Family Fun Days celebration this Friday through Sunday, cashing in on the theme, "Big Dreams in a Small Town."

Mary DeBoer, Ellsworth Optimist Club member and parade organizer, said there will be plenty of maroon and gold as the town celebrates its heritage -- and its boys basketball team, which was the state Class A runner-up in March. The entire team will serve as Grand Marshals for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. parade. There are an estimated 60 entries expected for the annual parade.

Events in Ellsworth begin Friday night with a pork feed under the tent downtown, with serving to start at 5 p.m. That evening, a handful of young girls, ages 6 to 9, will vie for the honor of Little Miss Ellsworth. The pageant will be at 7:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium, followed by "The Price is Right."

Based on the popular television game show, the Ellsworth version will dole out prizes -- both cash and items donated by area businesses -- to lucky contestants. There is a fee to enter "The Price is Right," DeBoer said, adding that it includes a ticket to the ice cream social following the game show.

Saturday kicks off with the 10th annual three-on-three basketball tournament, with games both inside the high school gymnasium and outside on the school grounds. The competition gets under way at 9:30 a.m. and continues for most of the day.

Carla Schilling is organizing the tourney, which typically hosts about 50 teams from throughout northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.

"It's a good thing for the kids to do," Schilling said, adding that there are five divisions each for males and females. "It's pretty stiff competition."

As the basketball games wrap up, the Ellsworth Legion will call bingo numbers under the big tent downtown from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, and games and rides on the Midway will go from 6 to 10 p.m., breaking for the 7:30 p.m. parade.

Mike Werner said the Midway this year will include kiddie rides and inflatables such as an obstacle course, baseball throw, equalizer, slide and jumping gym. There will also be a dunk tank on the Midway, and Ellsworth Optimist Club members will staff games of skill before and after the parade.

Bands will also perform under the big tent both Friday and Saturday nights downtown.

On Sunday, the inflatables will be moved to the city park, near Parkview Manor and the ball diamonds, and will operate from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

The city park is where most of Sunday afternoon's events take place, including baseball games at 12:30 p.m., amateur Olympics at 2 p.m. and the big ticket drawing at 4 p.m. That morning, a pancake feed -- sponsored by the Ellsworth Fire Department -- will be served from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the school cafeteria. Proceeds from the free-will breakfast will go to help fund a new community fire hall.

The school will host a community worship service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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