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Editorial: Willmar Fests highlight by Destination Playground

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Willmar Destination Playground Steering Committee co-captains Kathy Schwantes, from left, and Rachel Skredtvedt on Friday present Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin and City Administrator Ike Holland the key to the playground in the the ceremonial handover.

It's Willmar Fests time in our fair city and it is truly time to play.

For more than seven decades, our city celebration known now as Willmar Fests and its predecessors have brought a variety of activities for community members, families and visitors to enjoy during the summer.

This year's Willmar Fests is historic as it has been highlighted by the official opening of the Willmar Destination Playground at Robbins Island.

Once again, Willmar residents have worked together and moved forward on a significant project.

That is the Willmar way when we work together.

The Willmar Destination Playground's grand opening began Friday with a dedication ceremony, with dignitaries from businesses, governments and nonprofits taking part.

Another ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday providing Willmar Fests attendees a chances to enjoy the historic playground opening.

The playground is a historic entity for the Willmar and Kandiyohi County communities. It is the largest fully accessible playground in the five-state Upper Midwest region, at just under 20,000 square feet.

In fact, the Willmar playground is the third-largest such playground in the United States.

"... That's Willmar for you," said Playground Steering Committee co-captain Kathy Schwantes during Friday morning's dedication ceremony.

The Willmar playground has become a reality because of two major entities: Willmar and Kandiyohi County residents and the Willmar business community.

First, the Willmar and Kandiyohi County business community, government and other groups stepped up to contribute the necessary funding. The project received a major donation of $500,000 from Jennie-O Turkey Store. Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Minnesota Super Bowl LII Host Committee Legacy Fund and the Minnesota Legacy Fund also made major grants to project.

And many individual businesses and residents also made donations to help fund the project.

Second, volunteers from the Willmar and Kandiyohi County business community and individual volunteers were part of the workforce who toiled - through rain or shine - during the construction phase of the project. They all worked hard as a team to get it done.

Third, a special thank you to the children of our community. They were told if they could dream, Willmar could build it. They dreamed it and our community moved forward and completed the playground dream.

Finally, certainly not least, are the many project committee leaders and members who helped turn the playground dream into a new community jewel for the Willmar-Kandiyohi County community.

A collective thank you to all involved.

Now our kids have a great place to play and dream new dreams.

There is more to Willmar Fests this weekend as well.

The Willmar Fests Tennis Tournament continues Saturday and Sunday.

The pancake feed gets under way at 7 a.m. Saturday at the Willmar Fire Station.

The Rice Hospital Foot Lake Four Walk/Run hits the trail at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The Grande Day Parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday through downtown Willmar.

The Destination Playground grand opening begins at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A Kids Carnival begins at 1-3 p.m.

The WIllmar Fests' Ambassador Coronation at 3 p.m. Saturday at WEAC.

The Beach Party at Robbins Island starts with LIttle Crow Ski Team Show at 7:30 p.m.

The Beach Party Concert begins at 8:30 p.m.

And at 10 p.m. is the "Works over Water" Fireworks Show.

Enjoy a Willmar Fests weekend.