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Ya gotta Regatta

Roger Jackson (from right) helps sailor Quentin Dudley rig his sail as Jeff Adamski looks on Tuesday afternoon on Sailboard Beach in Worthington. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Today, windsurfers from all over the world will gather in Worthington for the opening ceremony of the U.S. Windsurfing Association (USWA) National Championships that are a part of this year's Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival.

"Bring your lawn chairs," said Bill Keitel, one of the founder's of Worthington's Windsurfing Regatta and a USWA board member. "It will be a great chance to meet the sailors who are coming here to race on the shore.

"In the next 24 hours, sailors from Miami (Fla.) who are originally from Argentina will be arriving," Keitel said. "People who five years ago did not know where Minnesota was let alone Worthington."

For the second time, Worthington is hosting the national championships -- bringing windsurfers from both coasts and numerous other countries to the shores of Lake Okabena to do some serious racing.

"The Nationals is a race that stands on its own," explained Regatta Race Director Jeff Hegwer. "If you want to be national champion, you have to be in Worthington. It's kind of like winning Daytona. It's the biggest prize of the year. Because of that, you're going to attract some people you wouldn't normally get, some personalities who are pretty famous in the windsurfing community."

The opening ceremony starts at 7 p.m. today. Members of the U.S. Navy from Sioux Falls, S.D., will present the colors.

"For the Nationals, we thought it would be nice to highlight the Navy because of its close relationship with water," Keitel said.

Then, members of the USWA board of directors from all over the country will be introduced -- a large number of whom will be in Worthington for the Nationals.

Worthington's very own "Amazing" City Band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Eric Parrish, a music/theater professor at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, will sing the Star Spangled Banner and is a featured soloist during the band's intermission.

"This is an exciting thing to showcase local talent," said Cyndi Morrison, music chairwoman for the Unvarnished Music Festival. "They are playing challenging music for this concert. It sounds like it will be spectacular."

At 8:30 p.m., Steve Kaul and the Brass Kings will make their third appearance at Worthington's Unvarnished Music Festival.

"They epitomize all we are trying to accomplish with the Unvarnished Music Festival in that they are innovative and original," Morrison said. "They seemed like a natural to bring back because they were so well received here."

Regatta-goers have the opportunity to hear a wide variety of sounds at this year's festival. Many of the performers have local ties.

"There are very talented musicians in the Midwest that need to be celebrated," Morrison said. "We're happy to say we're bringing people from this area who are successful musicians back here to perform."

Nikki and the Ruemates, a folk-rock style group from the Twin Cities, features Lakefield natives Nikki Matteson and Rich Rue. They take the stage at 5 p.m. Thursday.

"I've heard Nikki and Rich on National Public Radio, and they sound great," Morrison said.

Worthington native and successful harmonica player Noah Hoehn performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. This will be Hoehn's only show at this year's festival because he has other commitments during the Regatta.

Sideline, a local band made up of Paul Larsen, Cindy Anderson, Bill Shoup and Ken Clark, will rock the festival with music from the '70s and '80s at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Jim Langemo, a Canby High School graduate, is set to perform at noon Saturday.

For the next four days in Worthington, Regatta-goers can hear great music on the shores of Lake Okabena, participate in Arts on the Shore, enjoy a wide variety of food and catch the daily racing action.