Antiques, motor sports to draw big crowds
Thousands of visitors expected this weekend
By Bob Freund
At mid-afternoon on Thursday, it looked like Dick Townsend was headed for a 19-hour day.
"I've been going since 5 o'clock this morning and I don't plan to end until midnight," said Townsend.
The clock was winding down to this weekend's Original Olmsted County Gold Rush, and last-minute details were eating up the promoter's time.
Today, 1,500 exhibitors, along with some early bird visitors, will begin arriving at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds for the weekend antique and collectibles show.
A similar scene will unfold on the streets and front lawns of Oronoco, where 1,200 exhibitors will set up for the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush. Through the course of the weekend, tens of thousands of antique hounds will search among exhibitors in both cities for valuable or unusual gems.
Meanwhile, thousands of motorsports fans will flock to Spring Creek MX Park near Millville for a weekend of dirt bike racing, capped by Round 10 of the AMA/Chevy Trucks U.S. National Motocross Championship on Sunday. Spring Creek's course is just south of Minnesota Highway 60 along Wabasha County Road 11.
The motocross event includes more than airborne bikes and dirt. There are play areas for kids, helicopter rides and a fireworks show is scheduled at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Needless to say, Rochester area hotels, campgrounds or just about anywhere else with a room to rent are busy.
"We're almost full," said Frank Heavlin, the top local executive for 1,320 rooms in five Rochester hotels, including Kahler Grand Hotel, Rochester Marriott and Holiday Inn City Centre.
Antiques and motor sports aren't the only entertainment options this weekend. Other events include Rose Fest in Kenyon, Corn on the Cob Days in Plainview, Wilderfest in Spring Valley and Gladiola Days in St. Charles.
Thunderstorms forecast for tonight could put a damper on the weekend's fun. Storms could hit after midnight and linger into Saturday morning.
BOX; Big draws
Gold Rush in Oronoco: Up to 30,000 people expected.
Gold Rush in Rochester: 55,000 people expected.
U.S. National Motocross Championship in Millville: 30,000 attended last year.
Welch Mountain Jam: 450 bikers expected.