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Lake City celebrates three anniversaries this year during its annual Water Ski Days

Starting on June 23, Lake City held it annual celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the festival, the 100th anniversary of the invention of water skiing and the 150th anniversary of Lake City's founding.

2022 Water Ski Days
John Hutchinson, center, president of Destination Lake City speaks to tour attendees in the Lake City Area Arts building in Lake City on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Lake City is hosting the 50th Annual Water Ski Days from June 23 through the 26.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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LAKE CITY — Equipped with skis fashioned from two 8-foot-long wood planks, Ralph Samuelson decided to recreate an activity remnant of snow skiing, but instead of snow, he wanted to ski across Lake Pepin.

By the Summer of 1922, Samuelson had invented water skiing, making Lake Pepin and Lake City the birthplace of the new sport.

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100 years later, the city now celebrates three anniversaries during its annual Water Ski Days : the 50th anniversary of the annual festival, the 100th anniversary of the invention of water skiing and the 150th anniversary of Lake City’s founding.

While the annual event usually spans a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the event organizers decided to add an extra day to the celebrations and start on Thursday, June 22, to add to the festivities in light of the three anniversaries, Ed Hoffman, the director of Lake City’s chamber of commerce, said.

“Over the course of the weekend, we kind of have something for everyone,” Hoffman said. “Everyone seems to have a different (favorite) thing.”

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According to Hoffman, planning for the weekend of events usually starts right when the previous year’s event wraps up.

Hoffman said the chamber of commerce is hoping to see a big turnout for the city's celebration of three anniversaries.

Attractions at the four day long celebration include a water skiing art exhibition set up in the downtown Lake City Area Arts, a carnival through the evenings, an arts and crafts fair, a water ski show on the lake and a parade on Sunday.

The first attraction to open up was the Water Ski 100 Exhibition.

2022 Water Ski Days
People enjoy the warm weather while boating on Lake Pepin in Lake City on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

John Hutchinson, the president of Destination Lake City, was at the exhibit Thursday telling visitors about the history of water skiing and Samuelson, who was a “very talented turkey farmer,” according to Hutchinson.

“You might have heard there is a lot of debate about where water skiing started,” Hutchinson said.

Water skis were first patented by Fred Waller in October 1925, however, the American Water Ski Association formally recognizes Samuelson as the first recorded inventor of water skiing.

According to Hutchinson, a life-sized bronze statue of Samuelson is going to be put up in Ohuta Park on Saturday, July 2.

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Along Ohuta Beach, vendors set up booths and concessions for the carnival ranging from lemonade stands and fair food to local small businesses and a mini farmers market.

Johanna and Olivia Gates set up a booth at Thursday’s carnival for their dog treat bakery, Arch and Co. While Johanna Gates said her favorite part of the weekend is Sunday’s parade, she thinks the most popular attraction is the Bud Light tent, which is set up in the beverage garden along East Chestnut Street.

“It’s a busy weekend,” Gates said. “There’s just so much going on all around town.”

Different performers will be bringing live music to the gathering. The Jorgensens eight-piece band started off the performances on Thursday. A highlight will come Saturday when Chase Matthews, a singer that’s ranked on the American Top Chart for his song “Country Line,” will be coming to Lake City from Nashville to perform.

“I think it really brings the whole town together,” Olivia Gates said.

Bella Carpentier is a journalism and political science student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She is currently the managing editor of the student-run paper at UMN-TC, the Minnesota Daily. While reporting for the Minnesota Daily, she covered student activism and issues affecting the university's student body. Working for the Post Bulletin, Bella hopes to build community connections and advance her reporting skills. Readers can reach Bella at bcarpentier@postbulletin.com.
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