As Steamboat Days 2013 draws near, Winona residents and visitors will be in for a few small, but noticeable, changes according to Steamboat Days committee members.
The events will largely be the same, with improvements and additions here and there, explained Monica Hennessy Mohan.
To start with, two drill teams will be coming in from Chicago this year, according to Fred Benning. A new drill team, the New Generation Fancy Drill Team, will be joining the parade this year, and the South Shore Drill Team will be returning, he said.
Along with the car show, there will be a car auction held by a Spring Grove auction company, Mohan said. They will be auctioning off 130 classic, antique, and collector cars, she added.
A karaoke contest is a new addition to the beverage garden this year, according to Aaron Repinski. It will showcase local skills in the tri-state area, he said. “The crowd will be the judges; it’ll be performance-based, so it’s not necessarily the person with the best voice that will win,” Repinski explained.
The kiddie carnival will be changing locations this year, and will now be adjacent to the main carnival in the movie theater parking lot, according to Mohan. This move is one of a series of small relocations taking place this year, she said.
Accoding to Mohan, the food vendors will be one block farther north this year, between Second and Third streets, which will put them next to the biggest relocation this year: the beverage garden. The beverage garden, formerly housed in the parking lot at the Levee, will now be at the parking lot at 2nd and Center streets. “It just made sense to have it a little closer to the carnival and all the food vendors,” Mohan said. The beverage garden will also be in one tent this year, large enough to shelter the band. Hopefully that will prevent any rained-out concerts, she added.
According Repinski, these location changes are meant to give more access to downtown and, hopefully benefit the businesses in the area as well. It will make everything centrally located, he noted.
The biggest change of the festival is regarding the beverage garden, which will be serving strong beer and wine this year, Mohan stated. This change was allowed due to a city ordinance, that was changed last winter, regarding temporary liquor licenses, she explained. Formerly the only alcohol allowed to be served was, “3.2 beer and 3.2 flavored beverages, and it was changed to have strong beer and wine, so that is what we are going with,” Mohan said. There will be more variety, now that it is not limited to 3.2 beer, and the wine will be a new option for people, she added.
All residents and visitors should be aware of one other change this year: Second Street will be closed to traffic from Lafayette to Main, Mohan said. “We feel that would be a little safer for people going between the beverage tent and the carnival, and the food vendors,” she said. Traffic will be rerouted to Fourth Street for the duration of the festival, she explained. The street will close Sunday night, June 16, and likely reopen Tuesday, June 25.
“This year, logistically, will be a much nicer festival,” Repinski said.
Luke Merchlewitz is Grand Marshal for the 2013 Steamboat Days parade and Debbie Greenwood is Harbormaster.