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Bigelow's Swampy Days begins today

BIGELOW -- What do a fiesta, a truck pull and BB and the Bullfrogs have in common?

They will all entertain the crowds at Swampy Days today and Saturday in Bigelow.

The festivities begin this evening, with registration for the horseshoe tournament starting at 6:30 p.m. in the city park. More than 20 teams are expected to participate in the tournament, with the competitions taking place at the park's four horseshoe pits. A food stand will be open in the park throughout the tournament, serving items such as walking tacos and Mexican nachos. The foods follow the theme for the evening -- a community fiesta.

Students from WALA (Worthington Area Language Academy) will perform a half-hour show of dance and music in the park, which is expected to begin around 7 p.m., and the Bigelow Booster Club is adding fiesta decorations to the celebration.

Saturday's events begin with children's games in the park from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be old-fashioned gunny-sack races, a balloon toss and -- returning for a second year -- Fear Factor: Swampy Days style. Connie Reitmeier, Booster Club member, said adults are also welcome to take part in the games.

At 4 p.m., the North Central Truck Pullers will begin their first Swampy Days show on land adjacent to the city park. Reitmeier said pullers are still sought for the event, and about 10 different classes are expected. People may sign up to take part in the pull by contacting a Bigelow Booster Club member.

"That will go until they're done with all of their classes ... hopefully, they'll be done by 8 o'clock, when the dance starts," Reitmeier said.

BB and the Bullfrogs, a group of three college-aged men from the Spirit Lake and Okoboji, Iowa, area, will perform '40s, '50s and '60s music from 8 p.m. to midnight.

"They are the youngest oldies band in the region -- nothing hard rock, just the good oldies," Reitmeier said.

Throughout the dance, the Booster Club will announce the winners of raffle tickets sold prior to and during the Swampy Days celebration. The grand prizes are tickets to the Minnesota Vikings preseason games on Aug. 14 against the Oakland Raiders, and Aug. 25 against the Baltimore Ravens at the Metrodome. Those who purchase raffle tickets must be present to win the grand prizes.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the purchase of new play equipment in the city park, Reitmeier said.

"We need to raise close to $3,000 -- we've got a long ways to go," she added.

Bigelow had to have several pieces of equipment removed from the city park -- including a popular slide and a set of monkey bars -- due to the cost of insuring them. Reitmeier said they hope to replace that equipment with a new jungle gym. This weekend's fund-raiser is hoped to cover the cost of the new park equipment, which would be ordered yet this year and installed by next spring.

Members of the Booster Club, with some much-appreciated help from local retired senior citizens, spruced up the grounds by painting the shelter, pump house and restroom facility.

The big project, however, was Chester Yackley's carving of half a dozen trees within the park. The sculptures include an eagle, raccoon family, an assortment of bears and -- in honor of the area's farmers -- an ear of corn.

"We had a lot of bad trees in the park, and (the city was) looking to cut down these trees and get it cleaned up," Reitmeier said. "They started the project, and Mr. Yackley came through and said there were so many nice things that could be put into sculptures."

With the sculptures completed and the new playground equipment to be added next year, Reitmeier said there's one more project Booster Club members want to do in the park -- pour concrete for an outdoor sitting area adjacent to the shelter house. That project may also get completed next year, she added.

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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