By Ivan Raconteur
WATERTOWN, MN A barbecue, pulled pork and chili bonanza will highlight plenty of activities for all ages at the Watertown Rails to Trails festival Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18 at Highland Park.
There will be parades, contests and activities to suit a variety of tastes and, of course, the Crow River BBQ Challenge, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 18. A chili cook-off is planned for Friday.
Activities featured include free inflatable bouncers, free face painting, free pony rides, a petting zoo, free ice cream and a chance to win hundreds of dollars in free groceries from Market Place. The total amount to be given away is $2,500 (ten drawings worth $250 each). Must be present to win.
Inflatable bouncers will be on hand Friday and Saturday for kids who are escorted by a parent or adult guardian.
A golf tournament will kick off events Wednesday, starting 2 p.m. at River’s Edge Golf Course.
Friday will include free inflatable bouncers for kids, the good eats food court, and a royal flush dunk tank from 5 to 8 p.m.
A kids water ball competition is set for 5 p.m. at Highland Park. The high school band will host bingo from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Community Center.
On Saturday there will be free pony rides and petting zoo from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free face painting will also be available from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday will also be the day drawings will be conducted for $2,500 worth of groceries to be given away by Market Place Foods. The drawings begin at 5 p.m. and run every half hour until 8:30 p.m.
No purchase is necessary. Entry forms can be picked up at Market Place Foods the week prior to Rails to Trails, and also at the grandstand at Highland Park Saturday July 18 from noon to 8 p.m.
Chili contest set for Friday from 4-8 p.m.
Those who think they know good chili, or just want to experience what good chili is, will have an opportunity to do so Friday, July 17.
As part of the Crow River BBQ Challenge, the Watertown Lions will be hosting the fourth annual Chili Contest. More than a dozen of the best chili cooks, both local and from surrounding states, have accepted the challenge to cook chili in hopes of walking away with first place honors.
As the competition heats up, and the cooks present their spicy concoctions for judging, it will be the public who decides the winners.
Chili judging kits will be sold for $3, and include a spoon, a pencil, and a ballot. The contest runs from 4 to 8 p.m.
Judges will seek out the various pots of chili located throughout the park, each identified by a bright green balloon.
Ballots must be brought to the ballot box located under the main tent in the bar area by 8:30 p.m.
The contest winners will be announced Saturday at 4 p.m. as part of the awards ceremony following the completion of the Crow River BBQ Challenge.
More information about the Crow River BBQ Challenge and all its activities, and entry information is available at www.crowriverbbqchallenge.org or www.railstotrails.ws.
BBQ Challenge Sat., 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The legendary BBQ Challenge takes place at Highland Park during Rails to Trails, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The BBQ awards ceremony is 4 p.m. at the main tent in Highland Park.
Pulled pork contest Sat., 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Another part of the Crow River BBQ Challenge is a pulled pork contest sponsored by the Watertown Lions.
Several of the finest competition BBQ cookers in the US have accepted the Watertown Lions invitation to a special competition to cook Boston Butt, and the public will have the chance to judge who’s the best Saturday, July 18 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Highland Park. The judging must be completed no later than 8 p.m. and is limited to the number of judging spots available. At a small tent on the south side of the park, judges will be able to purchase a judging kit for $5.
It works much like a chili contest, except that all the contestants will be serving from one area. Each will serve judges a portion.
Judges will then vote on what they believe is the finest pulled pork in all of Watertown.
More information about Rails to Trails, including details about the different events, is available at www.railstotrails.ws.
Golden Spike clues available online
Daily clues will be posted online at www.heraldjournal.com for those searching for the Golden Spike in Watertown.
The spike is hidden on public property within the city limits of Watertown during the Rails to Trails Festival, and worth $300 in Caleb’s Cash.
During the week of July 13, leading up to the Festival on July 17 and 18, daily clues will be available at area businesses first thing every morning and later in the day clues will be posted online, until the Golden Spike is found.
Caleb’s Cash can be spent with any participating Watertown Chamber of Commerce business.