Nickle Dickle Day returns to Waconia on Saturday, Sept. 14

NDDlogoCMYKA half marathon, pickle contest and collector car auction are among the new attractions planned for the 52nd annual Nickle Dickle Day, which is organized by the Waconia Chamber of Commerce and will be centered at City Square Park and enjoyed at numerous other locations in Waconia on Saturday, Sept. 14.
“We’re just so excited. Nickle Dickle Day is always a great opportunity for Waconia to shine,” said Kellie Sites, president of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, who noted that depending on the weather, approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people are expected to enjoy the family-friendly activities of Nickle Dickle Day.
2013 marks a special year for several Nickle Dickle Day activities — including the Waconia Community Ed Fun Runs, the medallion hunt, and the St. Joe’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament — that are turning 20 this year.
Cheer on your friends and family members during the annual Fun Runs, which start and end at Bayview Elementary School. The Fun Runs start with the Half Marathon, which is new this year, at 7:30 a.m. The 10K Run starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K Walk / Run begins at 8:10 a.m. The Tickle Runs start at 11 a.m.
At the park, browse the classic car and truck show, visit the 130 arts and crafts booths and enjoy food, fun and games from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In terms of entertainment, the Wendinger Polka Band will perform at 8 a.m. followed by Chopper from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The 3rd annual Nickle Dickle Day Pie Eating Contest will be held at 12:30 p.m. and the medallion hunt presentation will occur at 1 p.m. Traveled Ground will perform from 2 to 5 p.m.
“The classic car show led by Mike Keveany and his team of volunteers is an important part of Nickle Dickle Day,” Sites said. The car show is considered to be one of the largest annual shows in the area.
On a related note, the inaugural Collector Car Auction presented by Waconia Imports will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at 1st and Elm streets across from Waconia Lanes. Pre-registration is available to buy or sell with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Mary’s Wish and the Waconia Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about this new event, contact Kenny at (952) 442-4040 or email
The pie eating contest is presented by the Waconia Patriot and co-sponsored by the chamber, Ground Round, American Family Insurance and Sunny Days Therapy. Mackenthun’s Fine Foods donates the pies.
The event is a fundraiser for local schools. After two youth pie eating contests, the main event pits teachers from six Waconia schools who are vying for a $500 first place prize for their school and a traveling trophy. The other five schools will receive $100. Last year, Tracy Hartmann of Clearwater Middle School won the event.
Around town, check out the Friends of the Waconia Library book/DVD sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the library and head over to 1st and Pine streets from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to enjoy the Waconia-West Carver Rotary Club’s duck races. Visit the Waconia Farmers Market at 10 a.m. to see winners of the new pickle contest.
“We’re very excited about the new pickle contest,” said Sites, who explained that the chamber had a great response from the community’s pickle makers. “Registration is closed for all four categories — dill, sweet, spicy and miscellaneous pickled food. If the weather’s nice, Dilly the Pickle will be walking around.”
The annual St. Joe’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament starts at 11:30 a.m. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the tournament, the Nickle Dickle 3-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest sponsored by BIG Athletics will be held at St. Joseph Catholic School in Waconia. The doors open at 5:45 p.m. and spectators are encouraged to arrive early. Admission is $5. Organizers are expecting a sellout crowd and there are no pre-sale tickets.
The 3-Point Contest will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. with the dunk contest to follow. Several top players from the metro area will be competing, including Tommy Gove, Jacob Herd, Anna Schmitt and Kendall Eder of Waconia High School and Joe Henel, Colton Stenerson, Jack Mugford, Anna Hanson and Sarah Menzuber of Holy Family. Waconia graduates Joe Drapcho and Alex Chandler will also be competing.
In the 1st Street area, the Minnesota National Guard will operate a free inflatable obstacle course and rock climbing wall. A DJ will be providing music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and mechanical bull rides will be available for $5 apiece. A new paintball shooting gallery will be set up in the area as well.
As always, many businesses throughout Waconia will offer specials and sales on Friday and Saturday.
“There’s always new crafters … have your Christmas list ready,” said Sites, who thanked everyone that buys a beverage from the chamber booth because the beverage sale is an important fundraiser for the chamber. “Don’t miss all of the sales at the shops on Friday and Saturday, which is the reason for Nickle Dickle Day in the first place. Nickle Dickle Day souvenir bags will be available at three locations … go shopping and fill up the bag!”

20 Years of Fun Runs
As noted, several Nickle Dickle Day activities are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.
2013 marks the 20th annual Nickle Dickle Day 5K, 10K and 1/2 Mile Tickle run. This year also marks the first time that a half marathon will be offered as part of the Fun Runs, which are organized by Waconia Community Education in conjunction with the Waconia Chamber of Commerce.
In 1994, the 5K Fun Run was created by then Waconia Community Education Director Tim Litfin as a way to attract more people to Nickle Dickle Day and to showcase Waconia, specifically the new high school and the residential developments between the high school and the fairgrounds.
The 5K proved popular and it was an easy decision for organizers to add the 10K and Tickle Runs a few years later.
Today, the Fun Runs continue to grow in popularity under the leadership of Tiffany Nelson, the current director of Waconia Community Education. In fact, the Fun Runs have grown by almost 700 participants over the past five years. According to Nelson, there were 937 runners in 2008 and 1,631 runners in 2012.
“Since I’ve been with at the chamber in 2006, Tiffany Nelson has been the coordinator for Community Education with the Fun Runs and she does an excellent job,” Sites said.
For Nelson, the Fun Runs are one of her favorite events that Community Education puts on.
“It’s a real community event,” she said. “I think running has just become popular over the years and more and more families come out to run together and then enjoy the rest of the events at Nickle Dickle Day.”
The theme for the 2013 Fun Runs is “Some 1 Has To Run This World.”
As noted, all of the runs start and end at Bayview Elementary School and the half marathon starts at 7:30 a.m., the 10K starts at 8 a.m., the 5K starts at 8:10 a.m. and the 1/2 Mile Tickle starts at 11 a.m.
It’s not too late to participate in the Fun Runs. Registrations for the run are accepted at the Community Education office or online at or One can also sign up at Bayview on Nickle Dickle Day. For more information, contact the Community Education office at (952) 442-0610 or Nelson at
“The run is a great way to start off your Nickle Dickle Day,” Nelson said. “After the run, participants are encouraged to go to City Square Park and enjoy all of the festivities of the day!”
A Renewed Effort
It’s no coincidence that the Fun Runs, the medallion hunt and the St. Joe’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament (see related story in last week’s Patriot) are all turning 20 at the same time.
Introduced in 1994, these activities — along with expanded vendor, entertainment and food offerings — were instrumental in paving the road for the Nickle Dickle Day that people know and love today.
The effort was the result of hard work by the chamber and the newly-formed Nickle Dickle Day Committee, which was led by chairman Tim Litfin, who served in that capacity from late 1993 through 2004.
“The strength of the wonderful committee worked tirelessly and continued to churn out great ideas, to carry out the work, the mission, and move the event forward and grow it immediately,” said Litfin, who said the festival’s new direction resulted in immediate, dramatic increases in attendance. Litfin estimated that more than 10,000 people attended in 1994 and more than 15,000 people were attending the festival by 1998.
The success of the “new” Nickle Dickle Day was appreciated by members of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, including Richard Dupont, who admitted that heading into the 1994 Nickle Dickle Day, many of the chamber’s board members felt Litfin and his committee might have bit off more than they could chew with all of the expanded activities that had been proposed for the festival.
“(However, Litfin’s) enthusiasm and superior organization skills helped propel this event to the magnificent monster that it’s become for the city of Waconia,” Dupont said. “Hundreds of volunteers have chipped in to keep Nickle Dickle Day growing and alive in the past two decades.”
As the owner of Domino’s Pizza in Waconia, Dupont recalled that he once was the only business or group selling food on the street in downtown Waconia on Nickle Dickle Day.
“Now I can barely find room to set up my tables to sell pizza by the slice,” he mused. “The day has become one of great excitement for people of all ages. It makes me proud to be a business owner as well as a resident of the Waconia area.”
Litfin remains proud of the work he and the committee members did all those years ago.
“I love Nickle Dickle Day and have poured hundreds and hundreds of hours into the event through the years, as have tons of great local people,” Litfin said. “It’s an event that our town should feel good about.”
• To learn more about Nickle Dickle Day, see the insert in this week’s Waconia Patriot or visit
• Organizers ask that people leave their pets at home due to the large numbers of people at the event. In addition, organizers ask that people also adhere to car show etiquette by not touching or brushing against the cars.

Contact Todd Moen at