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VIDEO: Lakes are now awake

Five-year-old Katherine Anderson of North Oakes had fun at the pony rides. She was in town to visit her grandfather. (Photo by Al Edenloff)1 / 5
A steady stream of onlookers checked out the Vintage Car Club's "Show 'n Shine" during Awake the Lakes at Big Ole Central Park in Alexandria Saturday. (Photo by Al Edenloff)2 / 5
Grant Haugen checked the ribs for the Runestone Detachment of the U.S. Marine Corps, one of 14 competitors in this year's Rib Fest. (Photo by Al Edenloff)3 / 5
Rose City BBQ once again won the Rib Fest's professional division. Members included Terry Goodwin, Joan Goodwin, Brent Goodwin, Tracy Goodwin, Kenny Ruckheim and Tanya Ruckheim. (Contributed photo)4 / 5
The winner of the Rib Fest amateur division was the SAVE Tobacco Store (also known as Borgy the BBQ Butcher of Eagle Bend). Team members included (front row, left to right) Jake Weishair, Dylan Milbrett, (back row, left to right) Sharon Milbrett, and Steve and Barb Weishair. Not pictured: Dan Milbrett. (Contributed photo)5 / 5

"By the time we're through, the lakes will be awake," predicted a member of the band, Contention, that played during Rib Fest Saturday night.

The music was among many highlights of this year's Awake the Lakes - Alexandria's kick-off to the summer season hosted by the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and main sponsors, Massman Automation Designs and Elden's Fresh Foods.

The weather, with overcast skies, temperatures in the upper 50s and a brisk wind, wasn't exactly summery, but organizers were very pleased with how things went.

"The good news is that it did not rain," said Coni McKay, Chamber director. She added that when she searched for photos to put on the event website, she had to go back to 2009 to find photos where Awake the Lakes crowds weren't drenched or wearing winter coats.

The Rib Fest included 14 competitors who served up tasty ribs for $2 a bone.

The crowd devoured just about all of the 4,000 pounds of ribs that were provided at wholesale cost by Elden's Fresh Foods.

The winning rib cookers, as determined by a panel of judges, were Rose City BBQ in the professional division and SAVE Tobacco in the amateur division.

The Rib Fest is going through some changes by transitioning over from the Chamber to a new non-profit group.

The Chamber simply didn't have enough staff to handle the event, McKay noted, so this year it was turned over to an independent contractor, Amy Hennessy. "She did a great job organizing all the details," McKay said.

The goal is to have a non-profit group take over next year's Rib Fest.

"We want it to continue," McKay said. "I think it's a huge draw for our area and it could be a bigger draw for visitors outside the area."

Besides the ribs, other highlights of Awake the Lakes included a vintage car show, "Breakfast with Big Ole," a farmers' market, petting zoo, sidewalk sales, a motorcycle ride to benefit Habitat for Humanity, a dunk tank, high school robotics team demonstrations, fireworks and stock car races.

A committee is already working on new ideas for next year's Awake the Lakes events, McKay said.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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