Monona Hay Days returns June 12 with many new activities

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Hay Days, Monona’s annual summertime celebration, returns this Saturday, June 12. The event will include a variety of new activities, as well as long-time favorites like the kiddie tractor pull. (Times-Register file photo)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


Hay Days, Monona’s annual summertime celebration, returns this Saturday, June 12. 


The committee, which has been hard at work planning the event for months, has added a variety of new activities and vendors this year.


“We’re always trying to do new things, but we didn’t really get rid of anything,” said Rogeta Halvorson, Monona Chamber and Economic Development Executive Director and Monona Hay Days committee member. “We expect the crowd to grow this year. If we get 1,200 people, I’ll be happy.”


Hay Days festivities will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, with a pancake breakfast in support of the Monona Butterfly Gardens and Trail at the community center. 


At 8 a.m. will be a 5K color run, organized for the first time this year by the MFL MarMac Dollars for Scholars.


The parade will take place at noon. The theme recognizes Monona as the first “Garden City” of Iowa.


“The parade route will again go all the way through downtown,” said Halvorson. “There’s bleacher seating at Main and Center streets this year, and we made sure there’s ADA parking by the bank and in the back of the post office. That was a request and we’re trying to meet the needs of the community.”


Following the parade will be the opening ceremony in downtown Monona, featuring the parade honorees and Quilts of Valor recipients, as well as performances by the MFL MarMac Bulldog Dance Team and Legacy Show Choir.


Other activities that afternoon and evening will include car and tractor shows, carriage rides, bingo and a tractor pull. 


“We’re hoping for a beautiful day for our tractor pull, and looking forward to a big crowd. UMGC gave an emergency grant to help pay for the insurance,” noted Hay Days chairperson Teresa Graham.


A quilt fair, organized by the Northeast Iowa Quilt Guild, will take place at Living Faith United Methodist Church. Fitting for Hay Days, attendees will also have an opportunity to take photos in front of an Iowa Hawkeye hay bale. 


“For Hay Days, the hay bale has always been the icon because we are a farming community,” said Graham. “We’re going to incorporate that into a photo shoot.”


For the first time, MFL MarMac Dollars for Scholars will hold an arts/crafts and vendor show at Hay Days. It will take place in the community center from 1 to 6 p.m.


“They were looking for an avenue to get involved with the community and also make some money,” said Halvorson.


Graham and Halvorson are also excited about a new beard contest, which will be held at center stage at 5 p.m.


“We’re going for most gray, the longest, best groomed and most unique beards. It will be people’s choice,” Graham explained.


Kids will be easily occupied with a bounce house and obstacle course, dunk tank, money machine, sand pile dig, face painting, kiddie tractor pull, go-karts and a driving simulator.


“One thing we’re excited about is our triathlon for youth. You’ll have a team of two and play three games. The winning team with the most points will receive $100,” said Graham.


One of the activities is a human Hungry Hungry Hippos game.


“One person is lying down on a wheeled cart and the other person shoves them here and there. Then they have a basket to try and catch the balls and dump them back at home. It’s going to be hilarious,” said Halvorson. “We’re encouraging people to bring a buddy. There’s no pre-sign up. Just show up at 2 p.m.”


Graham added, “We’ll also have Monona Derby, and that’s inflatable bounce horses. The other one is adult sized tricycles. The driver is blindfolded, and on the back of the trike sits the partner, who’s trying to guide them through a course.”


Another new activity is a wheel of fortune, a paddle wheel where up to 14 people can play.


“If it lands on the number on your paddle, you win half the pot,” Graham explained. “That’s a real enticement to kids, if they can win money. Then they can go play other things.”


Organizers said both kids and adults will enjoy a two-story rock climbing wall brought in by the Army National Guard. There’s a new Euro jump activity too.


“It’s for kids or adults,” said Graham. “The company will strap you in to a harness, and then you will jump on like a trampoline with the bungee cords. You can go up and down or do flips.”


In addition, Hay Days will have a variety of food vendors along with a beer tent. By purchasing refreshments from vendors, or participating in activities, attendees will receive tickets to put toward gift baskets and other prizes, which will be awarded at 6 p.m.


Later in the day, entertainment will include country and rock music by Steve Schroeder from 2 to 6 p.m., a performance by the youth dance team Star Power at 4 p.m., and country and classic rock music by Beau Timmerman from 7 to 11 p.m. The final performance will be for a street dance.


Graham and Halvorson stressed that donations pay for the Hay Days activities. Many are manned by non-profit organizations, who charge a small fee and use the event as a fundraiser.


“All of these groups, when they get involved, are making money to bring back to their clubs. We get sponsors and they donate things, and we put together booths with the groups. They get to take money home to their club and the community benefits from it,” Halvorson said. “It all works out very nicely.”


Hay Days couldn’t happen otherwise, she added. The committee, which includes nine people, puts in around 1,000 volunteer hours. However, around 150 volunteers from groups and churches, or just people around town, help put the event on.


“It’s a lot to coordinate,” Halvorson said, “but everyone pitches in a little bit and takes their own little niche, and makes it all work. It’s fun to be part of this.”


See this week's Times-Register for a full schedule of Hay Days events, or find more info on the “Monona Hay Days” Facebook page.

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