NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty Fun Days is back!
The fun-packed weekend is back on schedule, the parade is back on Dubuque Street and, hopefully, the non-profit organizations that count on Fun Days as their prime fundraising opportunity will be back in the black.
The annual community event, to be held June 9-12, is in its 34th year, and organizers have made some changes, tweaked a couple of the traditions and took a few money-saving steps, all in an effort to keep Fun Days vibrant and alive.
Thirty-three years ago, North Liberty’s benevolent organizations such as the Jaycees, the Optimist Club of North Liberty and the American Legion initiated Fun Days both as a way to bring people in the community together and also a concentrated occasion to raise the funds that allow them to do the good work they do for the families and children of North Liberty. Recently, however, four consecutive years of rains, tornado warnings and cold weather– and even a cancellation of the entire event during the floods of 2008– began to wash away everybody’s bottom line, and significantly dampen spirits.
It has been a struggle for some of the organizations to maintain the programs and community causes they have so generously supported all these years, and all are hoping 2011 Fun Days is a rousing success.
Fun Days activities are completely planned and orchestrated by volunteers, noted Fun Days Committee Chair Randy Mosier.
“Absolutely nobody makes any money personally through Fun Days,” said Mosier.
And many people don’t realize the bucks they drop at Fun Days do not stop there.
“Everything made is donated back to the community.”
Entities supported by Fun Days proceeds, given through the non-profit organizations, have included North Liberty Youth Baseball and Softball, Babe Ruth baseball, the North Liberty Community and Recreation Center, the North Liberty Community Library, the North Liberty Volunteer Fire Department, the North Liberty Community Food and Clothing Pantry and programs that benefit the city’s elderly and disadvantaged populations, such as food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts for children whose families are in need.
In addition, Fun Days funding has helped to upgrade amenities at Penn Meadows Park, such as improvements to the ball fields, covers over the dugouts, two shelter houses, and some of the park’s electrical provisions. The bleachers used by ball game spectators were actually built for the traditional Fun Days tractor pulls, and are borrowed back for that event each year.
The Fun Days planning committee is asking the community to come out in force, and support the nonprofit organizations in their missions to do more good things for more good people.
To make things more attractive, Mosier said prices will go down for certain things.
“We are dropping our cover charge for the bands from $8 to $5,” he said. Friday night, from 9 p.m.–2 a.m., local favorite cover band Two Buck Chuck will rock the stage. On Saturday, it’s country night with Black Diamond, also playing from 9 p.m.–2 p.m.
Friday evening will still be parade night, with floats and music and old time cars cruising down Cherry Street with this year’s theme of Lazy Days of Summer. However, the parade procedure is a bit different this year.
For starters, parade participants must pre-register. There is no fee, but registration is intended to help organize the parade lineup, and make the whole process go more smoothly, Mosier said.
And to end, the parade route has been officially moved back to Dubuque Street. It’s an important change, Mosier said.
“We are definitely looking forward to having it back on Dubuque,” he said. “We really think that when the parade route was on Front Street, it hurt our attendance at the food tents, dance and carnival. We just didn’t see the influx of the crowd after the parade was over like we used to.” Dubuque Street offers more space for spectators to sit, easier turning radius for large floats and other vehicles, and wider streets for increased safety.
The North Liberty council voted to move the parade route to Front Street in 2008 because some residents of a Dubuque Street subdivision were unable to get to their homes during the parade, and emergency vehicle access was a concern.
The addition of a through-street has alleviated those concerns, said Mayor Tom Salm.
“Since the north-south roadway connecting Arlington Ridge is complete, that provides a detour and an access for the folks east of the parade route,” Salm said. If that had not been completed we probably would still be on the alternate route.”
Parade registration forms can be found on Facebook or at North Liberty City Hall, and must be returned by June 3. Volunteers for parade traffic control are still needed, Mosier noted.
Another big Fun Days change is the scheduling of the Truck and Tractor Pull; traditionally on Sunday, the pull has been moved to Saturday evening, and will be over by 7 p.m.
“We are kind of putting all our eggs in the one Saturday basket,” said Mosier. A new outfit will be conducting this year’s pull; East Central Iowa Pullers Association will be in charge of the massive machine match-up. The location in Penn Meadows remains the same.
Returning to Fun Days is Saturday’s City Wide Garage Sales, the morning pancake breakfast, the classic car show, and the usual games and activities like bingo, the duck chuck, a kids’ tractor pull and the skillet toss. Also returning is the four-day carnival (with wristband night once again on Thursday), operated by the family-owned Superior Equipment carnival of Clarence, Iowa. Superior has run the Fun Days carnival for about 18 years, and they are experienced and professional, said Mosier.
“Are the rides safe? I guarantee it,” he emphasized. “When they come in to set up, every piece of equipment is inspected by state inspectors.”
The carnival will also have something new, Mosier added.
“There is a brand new big ride, that has never been seen here in Iowa,” he said. “Anyone who likes the wild rides will love it.”
Sunday’s schedule is similar to that of previous years, with the carnival, the fire department waterball fights and bingo.
Removed from this year’s schedule are the chalk drawing contest and the Sunday night fireworks show.
“Fireworks are very expensive to put on,” Mosier explained. “We love the fireworks, but we decided we just can’t take the financial risk this year. Maybe in a year or two, we will be able to bring them back.”
If all goes well, Fun Days will be back on track in many respects, Mosier said, but the most important thing is that people understand the money they spend in June benefits the community all year long. It’s why he and fellow committee members, including former chair Darrell Jurgens, have held planning meetings beginning in February, and put in up to 150 hours in a week’s time before and after Fun Days, for so many years.
“That’s what keeps you going; we have a great time together, and enjoy doing Fun Days, but you also know you are doing something good for the community, and providing the opportunity for people to have fun as they kick off the summer.”
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done,” Mosier concluded. “We just need people to come out and enjoy the weekend.”
For more information, visit the Fun Days Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NLFunDays , or call 319-471-0875.