July 17, 2006
Watertown's 150th Anniversary Celebration
By Jenni Sebora
One hundred and fifty years ago, Watertown was founded and quickly became a bustling town along the Crow River.
Today, it still is and will pay homage to its origins through a 150th anniversary, Sesquicentennial celebration, during the Rails to Trails Festival, July 19-23.
A multitude of activities and events are planned for people of all ages to enjoy throughout the festival’s longevity, which actually begins on July 17 when the first clue in the search for the Golden Spike is released. Clues are given out daily until the Spike is discovered.
The lucky finder of the Spike will receive $200 in Caleb’s Cash, in honor of Watertown founding father Caleb Lewis. Caleb’s Cash is redeemable with Watertown chamber merchants.
A multitude of people and organizations joined hands in the planning and organization of this special anniversary celebration as well.
The Rails to Trails Festival was started in 1993 as a community celebration, and the folks involved in this along with Watertown Chamber of Commerce and the Sesquicentennial committee, the local Lions club, Watertown Fine Arts Council, among other community members all played roles in producing this anniversary celebration.
Aside from the Golden Spike treasure hunt, the annual golf tournament will kick off the festival on Wednesday, July 19 at River’s Edge Golf Course, and the events just keep rolling, with the majority occurring at Highland Park.
Musical entertainment will be in great supply during the festival’s reign as two tents will be set up to showcase the entertainment. One tent will feature more child and family oriented entertainment including the well-known Teddy Bear Band, which is co-sponsored by Watertown-Mayer ECFE and Watertown Area Fine Arts Council. The other tent will provide other entertainment, such as the Funk Junkies.
The Funk Junkies, which is a popular local band, will start up the musical entertainment on Friday evening at about 8 p.m. until midnight. On Saturday, music can be heard practically all day with a variety of music to entertain all ages.
Old-time music provided by the Midwesterners gets the day going at noon on Saturday, followed by Big Spud Daddy and the Guinness Aires playing some traditional Celtic with contemporary twists. The Gospel quartet, Wings of Hope, takes the stage at 2 p.m. followed by some mountain melodies by Alpenrose.
Children and families can enjoy the Teddy Bear Band from 3 - 4 p.m., and then High Horse will entertain folks with some country music.
For the traditional bluegrass music lovers, Hillbilly Cadillac will take a stage from 5 - 6:30 p.m. with Butch Automatic providing some classic rock after. The community band, The Winds of Watertown will play from about 7 - 7:45, followed by the ‘60s and ‘70s Basement Band.
Culminating the day’s musical extravaganza will be national “electric blues” recording artist Corey Stevens, who will entertain from 10:30 - midnight. Stevens released his fifth album last year with his hit “Blue Drops of Rain.”
On Sunday, Watertown Fine Arts Council will also bring some Irish jig music to the festival through Irish fiddler Mag McDermott and her group, “Flip the Cat,” as well as colorful Irish Dance with “Scoil na dTri.” This Irish performance will be held at Watertown-Mayer Middle School gymnasium at 7:30 p.m.
For all those chefs and food connoisseurs out there, there’s plenty of food to wet the taste buds in the form of food vendors, contests, ice cream socials and the like.
The Lions’ Club is sponsoring a Chili cook-off on Friday and the first annual Crow River Barbecue Challenge on Saturday at Highland Park.
In the barbecue contest, cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in the areas of chicken, ribs, pork and beef. The grand prize will be $1,400 down to fifth place. The chili cook-off winner will be determined by public opinion.
The popular Taste of Watertown, featuring local vendors, is set for Friday from 5 - 9 p.m. at Highland Park, and an ice cream social will be held in the family tent on Sat., from 4 - 5 p.m.
Of course, sports fans and enthusiasts can get their fill of entertainment during the festival as well. A softball tournament will be underway on Saturday and Sunday at Evergreen Park, and a 5K road race and a fun run will make its way enroute from the Luce Line River Bridge at 8 a.m. Saturday.
On Friday evening, a water ball competition is set, and toilet races will be underway at Highland Park at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more wet action, dunk tank fun will occur on Friday and Saturday.
High School band bingo will also provide entertainment at the city hall both Friday and Saturday evenings from 8 - 10 p.m.
Sunday will bring more fun for the kids, as duck races and a children’s fishing contest will be held at the Lions’ Shelter Crow River following the grand parade.
On Saturday, children can make their costume debuts in the kiddie parade, which will begin at 2 p.m. Line-up will occur at 1:30 p.m. And of course, the grand parade is set for noon on Sunday. Following the parade, Cowboy Honor will be showcasing some cowboy traditions along the river. Chopper, the world’s nuttiest DJ, will be entertaining following the parade until 4 p.m. at the Highland Park tent.
Players from teams of the past will gather in Highland Park for an “old timers” baseball game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The CRVL league will take on Watertown in this well-anticipated event.
On-going events during the festival include the Watertown historical exhibit at city hall all three days, Friday through Sunday and Kids Koin Carnival and a tractor drive and classic auto show, all day on Saturday.
Saturday will also play host to a Craft Fair from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., featuring only homemade items, and an all-school reunion at the Middle School from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fireworks will culminate the festival’s events on Sunday evening at dusk at the High School grounds.
There is certainly something to please and entertain everyone at this Sesquicentennial celebration!
Watertown Rails to Trails
Wed., July 19 - Rails to Trails golf tournament 1 - 6 p.m.
Fri., July 21 - Historical exhibit at City Hall 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Water ball competition 4 - 6 p.m.
Chili cook-off 4 - 9 p.m.
Dunk tank 5 - 8 p.m.
Taste of Watertown 5 - 9 p.m.
High School Band Bingo 8 - 10 p.m.
Sat., July 22 - Tractor and classic auto show all day
Softball tournament all day
5K and Fun Run 8 a.m.
BBQ challenge 4 - 10 p.m.
Historical exhibit 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Craft Fair 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
All school reunion 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Kids Koin Carnival all afternoon
Dunk tank 1 - 9 p.m.
Kiddie parade 2 p.m.
Ice cream social 4 - 5 p.m.
Toilet races 4 p.m.
High School Band Bingo 8 - 10 p.m.
Sun., July 23 - Softball tournament all day
Historical exhibit 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Grand parade 12:00 noon
Duck races and fishing contest following the parade
“Old Timers” baseball game 2:30 p.m.
Fireworks at dusk
For more information:
Watertown Rails to Trails Musical Entertainment
Fri., July 21 - Funk Junkies 8 p.m. - 12 a.m. (no charge)
Sat., July 22 - The Midwesterners 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Big Spud Daddy and the Guinness Aires 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Wings of Hope 2 - 2:30 p.m.
Alpenrose 2:30 - 4 p.m.
The Teddy Bear Band 3 - 4 p.m.
High Horse 4:30 - 6 p.m.
Hillbilly Cadillac 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Butch Automatic 6:30 - 8 p.m.
The Winds of Watertown 7 - 7:45 p.m.
Basement Band 8:30 - 10 p.m.
Corey Stevens 10:30 - 12 p.m.
Sun., July 23 - Chopper following the parade
Irish music and dance performance 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Main Tent tickets: $10 at the gate, or $8 with a sesquicentennial button. Free passes available for people 65 or older for main tent from Noon - 4 p.m. Pick-up tickets at information booth at Highland Park, Saturday, July 22.