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Edgerton celebrates 65th Dutch Festival

Friends Jaden Van Hill, Edgerton, and Matthew Huisken, Minneapolis, square off in the Gladiator Joust as part of Edgerton’s Dutch Festival Saturday. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

EDGERTON — Blonde, blue-eyed Paetyn Hunter, a sunny 3-year-old from Edgerton, nibbled sausages and munched pancakes Saturday morning in Edgerton’s nearly new fire hall as her mom, Kendra Hunter, tucked into her own well-earned plate of hotcakes after completing the Dutch Fun Run 10K less than an hour earlier.

“We really like the parade, too,” said Kendra, anticipating the evening’s highlight, while Paetyn beamed, licking her sticky fingers.

Paetyn’s favorite part?

“Candy!” she chirped.

It was that kind of Saturday in Edgerton, full of family, fun, food and activities — all part of the town’s 65th annual Dutch Festival.

“This is good for the town,” agreed Brian Gilbertson, an Edgerton Volunteer Fire Department member whose position as principal of Edgerton Public School brought him to this close-knit municipality about eight years ago.

“It shows community spirit, and a lot of people come home and get a chance to catch up with old friends.”

Edgerton native Aaron Spronk, 22, a 2014 graduate of Dordt College, was doing just that. He’s been home for the summer, though will soon start work in Marshall as an agronomist with Hefty Seed Co., and invited a college running pal, Tim Bierma, to join him in the Dutch Fun Run.

“Some things about the Dutch Festival are different than they used to be, but the changes are good, and there’s a new, younger committee, so that should keep it going,” observed Spronk.

Bierma, of Sioux Center, Iowa, was appreciating the Dutch Festival even more after claiming the top male finisher’s spot in the fun run’s 10K, clocking a time of 36:55 on the overcast but humid morning.

It’s unlikely Bierma will be back to defend his title next year, though.

“I’m leaving in September or October to spend two years in southeast Asia with a Christian organization called The Navigators,” said Bierma, who ran track and cross country throughout his college years with Spronk.

Other activities taking place Saturday included a kids’ pedal tractor pull, a craft fair and bean bag tournament at the city park, inflatables for kids, a sidewalk chalk art contest and a fireworks display following the Great Frontier Bull Riding — an event Spronk admitted he always enjoys as part of the Dutch Festival.

Huck Tinklenberg, a 29-year member of the Edgerton Volunteer Fire Department and its current assistant chief, was delighted to show off the city’s fire hall, which was completed in 2013 and was being used for only the second time as the site of the Dutch Festival’s sausage and pancake feed.

“It works very well for the pancake breakfast,” he affirmed, looking out over the airy space filled with picnic tables at which appreciative diners ate the fresh fare Tinklenberg’s fire crew had begun preparing around 4:30 a.m.

“We were hoping for about 500 people, but we had 500 plates and had to go buy more, so I think our number today is higher than that,” Tinklenberg said of the strong turnout.

An Edgerton native and an owner of Country Lumber, Tinklenberg said the 24-member fire department and the city’s ambulance crew were grateful the city recognized the need for a new fire hall/ambulance service building.

“We were running out of room,” he said. “This pancake feed is a real good thing for our service to do in terms of PR, and it’s one way we give back to the community and help the Dutch Festival.”

Orey Fey, Edgerton, coordinated the Dutch Fun Run, which involved participants’ choice of a 5K or 10K run. Race assistants Denise DeKam and Fey’s mother, Jan Fey, estimated there were about 40 5K runners and 10 10K runners lined up for the 7:30 a.m. start.

Among them were Worthington runners Damon Onnen, 41, and Tim Meyer, 50.

“I never used to be a good runner, but then I started training for the Turkey Day 10K, and now I run to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off,” laughed Onnen.

“I like doing these small-town runs,” said Meyer of the Dutch Fun Run. “Getting a 5K in keeps you motivated and ready for the next race.”

Indeed, Meyer is primed to participate in this fall’s Turkey Day 10K for his 26th consecutive year.

Jan Fey, for her part, was content to record the runners’ results and consider her options for the remainder of the Dutch Festival weekend.

“I’ll take in the other events, and I enjoy the craft show,” she said. “But I’m a walker, not a runner.”

Dutch Fun Run results: Men’s 5K, first place, Dillon Mulske, 20:52; second place, Aaron Spronk, 21:15. Women’s 5K, first place, Megan Walhof, 23:45; second place, Haley Spronk, 27:20. Men’s 10K, first place, Tim Bierma, 36:55; second place, Matt Jirele, 38:24. Women’s 10K, first place, Meredith Moore, 46:13; second place, Kendra Hunter, 52:46.