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Echo Press Editorial: Nothing to do? Read this!

This weekend is one of those times that showcases what’s great about small towns.

Call it a strong sense of community – a time to reunite with familiar faces and meet new people too, a time to kick up your heels and have some fun, a time to celebrate where we live and what makes us stand out.

It’s also a weekend that shatters the often repeated putdown that “there’s nothing to do” in small towns. Take your pick:

First off, the Osakis Festival is under way. It includes fun for all ages – music, dancing, friendly competitions, games for children, oodles of food, a “shocking” Taser demonstration, the grand opening of a skate park and more. Activities will be taking place all weekend long at the Pollard Community Center and Park Osagi. Don’t forget about the Grand Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Then there is the popular “Awake the Lakes” celebration in Alexandria this Saturday. The popular Ribfest is back (you’ve got to try the amazing secret recipes prepared by professional and amateur chefs), along with a live band, beer garden, fireworks, kid-friendly activities, Corvette cars on display, a 5K run and more. All the action takes place on Second Avenue (rain or shine) by Big Ole Central Park. The fun starts at 9 a.m. and the Ribfest serving begins at 5:30 p.m. The eighth annual Habitat for Humanity Motorcycle “Ride to Provide” is also part of Saturday’s festivities. Registration for the 125-mile ride begins at 10 a.m. at Apol’s Harley Davidson.

Also on tap this weekend is the Vikingland Band Festival. It’s been a proud tradition in Alexandria for 30 years, attracting a crowd of more than 20,000 spectators who line Broadway to watch some of the finest marching bands in the state and beyond. This year’s event will also feature an appearance by the Alexandria Alumni Band. Listening to the multi-generational band play the school song while thousands clap and cheer is an emotional experience not to be missed. Twenty-two other bands will also march this year. It all begins at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday.

There are several other events taking place this weekend as well:

If you’re into classic automobiles, check out the Vintage Car Club’s 26th annual Car Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds this Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’re a runner, you can sign up for Alexandria Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Lakes Area Endurance races at the YMCA on Friday night and Saturday. Events include a one-mile fun run, a 5K, a quarter-marathon and a half-marathon. You can still register at the Y on race day. More information is on the website,

If you like to eat and want to support an organization that helps those struggling with addictions turn their lives around, attend LifeRight Outreach’s seventh annual hog roast fundraiser Saturday between 2 and 5 p.m. at 1906 Sixth Avenue East.

This is a weekend jam-packed with community events that will define your summer. If you’ve never taken part in these celebrations before, now’s your chance to discover how small-town life delivers big-time fun and excitement.