by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Sweltering heat didn’t stop area residents from enjoying the 152nd annual Stiftungsfest celebration over this past weekend.
Organizers packed in the fun over the three-day event, which featured plenty of activities to enjoy and take part in.
On Friday, the free firefighters challenge event proved to be a great way to cool off for contestants, while about 100 spectators got misted as well.
Members of the Waconia Fire Department won the contest, which involved filling and transporting water buckets, by clocking times of 2 minutes, 30.4 seconds and 2:16.9.
Plato took second with times of 3:06.9 and 2:46.6, while the NYA Explorers took third with times 4:16.2 and 4:03.8.
Waconia Assistant Fire Chief Randall Sorensen, who captained the six-member team this year, was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It’s more work than people think,” he said. “You’re carrying 7, 8 gallons of water. And then trying to move without running, because otherwise you get penalized.”
The Waconia team has won the event several years in a row, he added, with him as they person on top filling the large water bin in the past.
“The guy up on top makes a difference and the guys carrying it, how full the buckets are,” he said. “You get a system set up where you are constantly moving and transporting water.”
Celebratory splashes of water were in abundance for the participants on all sides.
NYA firefighter Steve Noll said participation among the departments was somewhat down this year, something he hopes will change in the future.
“Next year hopefully we’ll get the obstacle course going again,” he said. “We always have a good crowd turnout. Always.”
A key positive was the participation of the members of the NYA Explorers program, who did well given their inexperience, according to Kevin Raether.
Events continued into the night and onto Saturday, where the Sheepshead card tournament got things started.
Larry Richter of Victoria decided on a whim to take part in the tournament for the first time on Saturday with 72 participants.
“I grew up playing the game and don’t play it much anymore,” he said, eager to rekindle his skills.
His experience was a bit different from Ross Mason, 65, who first heard about the game in 1978 from his math students at Central High School.
“I learned it from my students,” he said, adding he has played it ever since. “I just like to play cards.”
For Harvey Ziermann Saturday’s tournament gave him yet another reason to play as he enjoys the card game almost every day with a regular group of friends at Heldt’s Bar in Mayer.
Ziermann first learned the game when he was younger and the thrill has not lessened.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You learn every hand is always different. There’s never any two hands that are the same. There’s only one hand that is perfect.”
More events filled the day and the rest of the weekend, highlighted by the coronation of Miss Stiftungsfest on Sunday afternoon.
With past Stiftungsfest Royalty Lexi Erpenbach, Haley Peterson and Devan Mellgren on hand, not to mention Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh and Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen 2013 Corrina Marie Swiggum, the 2013 royalty was named.
Kayla Leonhardt won Miss Congeniality, while Mariah Lueck won second princess, Meagan Sons won first princess and Anna Willems won the title of Miss Stiftungsfest 2013.
Willems, the daughter of Bob and Jill Willems, said she was shocked at hearing her name.
“I thought it was fake, I didn’t think it was real,” she said.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.