Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.
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WILLMAR -- Starting today, an estimated 20,000 people will make their way to Willmar for one of the largest Christian music festivals in the United States. The camping area opens today, and the 29th annual Sonshine Festival will begin Wednesday evening with a free concert by Remedy Drive and Family Force 5.
WILLMAR -- When heading out to the lakes this weekend, it might be best to leave the beer at home, local law enforcement advises. Over the Fourth of July holiday, officers in both Kandiyohi and Meeker counties will be heavily patrolling the lakes for boating while impaired violations, as well as other safety concerns. "Be careful with alcohol consumption," said Kandiyohi County Chief Deputy Randy Kveene.
WILLMAR -- When deciding whether to purchase your own fireworks for the Fourth of July, ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do?" The answer? Simple: Buy fireworks. For the past week and a half, two faith-based organizations from the area have been staffing fireworks stands in Willmar as a way to raise money for group activities, community projects and mission trips. In the parking lot of Cub Foods, the young adult faith group Joppa has worked around the clock at its TNT fireworks stand to raise money for community outreach projects.
WILLMAR -- When it comes to foreign policy, few people voice their opinions as candidly as St. John's history professor Nick Hayes. He was the featured speaker Tuesday afternoon at the Kiwanis Noon Club in Willmar. In a mere 30 minutes, Hayes identified what he considers the biggest problems facing U.S. foreign policy and offered his own academic views on international affairs. "I want to spread the message to ordinary citizens that foreign affairs is not rocket science," Hayes said in an interview after his lecture. "Sometimes you have to speak candidly.
For three young women, the last day of Willmar Fests ended just like a fairy tale. Megan Michaelis, 19, was crowned Willmar Fests Queen of Festivals at Saturday's coronation. Also crowned were Shelby Morton, 18, as Aqua Princess; and Ashley Bach, 18, as International Princess. "It feels unreal," Michaelis said, brushing away tears after the coronation ceremony. "It means more than I can say. I'm really excited for this year." For Morton, winning the title of Aqua Princess fulfilled a longtime dream."I feel a rush of emotions right now," she said.
If you looked out your window Friday and saw zombies wreaking havoc on the streets, rest assured: You do not have a sixth sense, and you cannot actually see dead people. Instead, what you saw was a group of about 25 people participating in the first-ever Kandiyohi County Zombie Walk, organized by Vincent Mische, a 2009 graduate of New London-Spicer High School. For about an hour, zombie walkers thrashed, moaned and grunted their way from Robbins Island Park to First Street and Willmar Avenue, attracting the attention of anyone who happened to be driving or passing by.
Youth from across the area proved Thursday that children really do have more fun. Beginning with the junior prince and princess crowning and ending with the kiddie parade downtown, children were the focus of this year's Willmar Fests. Ethan Roux, 8, son of Todd and Sonia Roux, and Addy DeKraai, 8, daughter of Tamara and Rob DeKraai, were crowned junior prince and princess, after randomly opening a special box with a coin inside during the coronation ceremony.
He never heard the crack of the bat or the cheers from the crowd, but that didn't stop him from earning a reputation as a strikeout pitcher. Esten "Dummy" Hanson, a deaf baseball player from western Minnesota in the early 1900s, was the focus of a presentation last week by author Jim Johnson at the Kandiyohi County Historical Society.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Fests has a long, rich history spanning 65 years and four different festivals. And this year, the public will have a chance to see some of that history documented in photos from as far back as the 1940s. From 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today, the public can attend the festival's first Memorabilia Open House taking place at North American State Bank, 2800 S. 1st St.
WILLMAR -- If your boss ever catches you updating your Facebook status or posting a tweet from your work computer, you probably won't be fired -- but you might get a stern look and a warning. These days, everyone from President Obama to the person who makes your morning latte at the local coffee shop has a Facebook or Twitter profile. But what many employers have begun to realize is that more and more people are accessing these social media sites on company time. That's why Brian Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of Rural Computer Consultants Inc.