50th anniversary of Pioneer Days June 6-8

This year’s festival promises to be even more special as St. Francis celebrates Pioneer Days’ 50th anniversary.

This also happens to be the first year that the St. Francis Area Chamber of Commerce has been in charge of planning Pioneer Days, so in addition to the countless “regular” activities that residents look forward to every year – the parade, live music, fireworks and carnival rides – city residents will find a few extras this year.

One of those new events is a 50-year historical display of Pioneer Days at Woodbury Park on Saturday, June 7 from noon to 4 p.m. The display of memorabilia from St. Francis is made possible by the many hours of research put in by St. Francis native Deanna Bahr of Highland Money Management. Bahr spent hours at the Anoka County Library and at the Scotsman in Cambridge, looking through their collections of newspapers from the past to find articles and photos related to St. Francis Pioneer Days.

The display is a complement to a keepsake booklet resulting from Bahr’s same research, “It Began With A Bridge.” The 28-page book features notable information, photos, and more from Pioneer Days past, including a collection of previous years’ button designs.

“It’s packed with some really fun information, such as the year that Pioneer Days didn’t have a parade,” said Bahr. “Or that one year they had a pillow fight, and other fun things like that. One of my favorite things in the book is former mayor Ray Jones’ favorite memory of Pioneer Days — something people will have to buy the book to find out.”

The book will be available for purchase at area businesses (Village Bank, Casey’s, County Market, St. Francis Bottle Shop, Patriot Lanes and the St. Francis City Office) the week before Pioneer Days, as well as at the Chamber information booth in Community Park during Pioneer Days, with all proceeds going toward Pioneer Days. (Incidentally, the chamber was still missing a few button designs for the book as of press time, from the years 1969-75, 1977, 1978; if you happen to have one of those buttons, the chamber would love to hear from you so it can be incorporated into the display. Please email [email protected].)

You can purchase your 2014 50th year Pioneer Days button and coupon book for $5 at area businesses, including Casey’s General Store, County Market, St. Francis Bottle Shop, Patriot Lanes, City of St. Francis, St. Francis True Value and Village Bank. Pioneer Days buttons can be used for admission to the St. Francis Ambassadors Coronation program on Saturday June 7 starting at 3 p.m. in Community Park.

Pick up your T-shirt featuring the 50th Anniversary Button design at the Chamber booth at Pioneer Days.

Don’t forget to take part in the annual Medallion Hunt, which begins June 2, with clues posted daily at County Market, Village Bank, and through the St. Francis Area Chamber of Commerce’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter.

Bahr said she is thankful to all of the original residents — some of whom have passed away — who had put so much time and effort into Pioneer Days.

“A big thank you should go out for the kindness of family members of those who lived here at the time who found the keepsakes they had put away in memory of Pioneer Days,” Bahr said. “Whether it was newspaper articles, buttons, pictures, or a tablet of names of those who attended the first years, they were probably the biggest help.”

The 2014 Pioneer Days kicks off on the afternoon of Friday, June 6 with free hot dogs and root beer at Village Bank from 1-4 p.m. Carnival rides will begin at 5 p.m. in Community Park, as will the St. Francis Friday Nite Rally, featuring street rods, customs, classics, trucks, and motorcycles at St. Francis City Centre Mall parking lot. Get your $10 tickets for five carnival rides in advance at Casey’s General Store, County Market, St. Francis Bottle Shop, City of St. Francis, St. Francis True Value, and Village Bank.

Meanwhile, there will be no shortage of live music, with Cedar Creek Band and Super Stew performing in Community Park from 5-9 p.m., the Papa Nut Band playing at the St. Francis American Legion from 7-11 p.m. and the Killer Hayseeds from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Patriot Lanes Bar & Grill. Or you can enjoy DJ music at Beef O’Brady’s starting at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 7 will bring the bulk of fun activities, including the all-day St. Francis Lions Club and Killebrew Root Beer softball tournament and 5K Run/Walk, both starting at 8 a.m. Enjoy the petting zoo, pony rides, turtle race, and bed races before the 1 p.m. Grand Parade.

After the parade, a horseshoe tournament will be held at the St. Francis American Legion, or opt for bingo, brats, and beer at the fire station. The St. Francis High School Alumni All-Class Reunion will take place at Woodbury Park right after the parade until 4 p.m., and don’t forget the St. Francis Has Got Talent contest at the Big Tent Community Park.

At 10 minutes after dusk the fireworks show will begin, followed by live music by the Killer Hayseeds at Patriot Lanes Bar & Grill.

Sunday brings breakfast at St. Francis United Methodist Church from 7-11 a.m. The St. Francis Lions Club and Killebrew Root Beer softball tournament continues, and there will be a 40/8 Flag Retirement at the St. Francis American Legion at 11 a.m.

And don’t miss the noon water balloon fight with area fire departments or the 1 p.m. Kids’ Power Pedal Pull in Community Park or the Garden Tractor Pull at the Legion.

All in all, the 50th Pioneer Days celebration is likely to be one of the most memorable yet.

For a complete list of Pioneer Days activities and to find registration forms, please visit www.stfrancischamber.org/pioneerdays