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Complementing PPD's tried and true

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

There will be even more to sink your teeth into during the 2008 Prairie Pioneer Days celebration in Morris this weekend.

In addition to the numerous events and entertainment options, this year's Prairie Pioneer Days will feature its first-annual Pasta Eating Contest on Saturday afternoon at East Side Park.

"We're always trying to find something new that's fun to watch," said Jodi Gravning, coordinator of the Prairie Pioneer Days committee. "There's always somebody who wants to do something crazy."

The committee of Gravning, Chris Staebler, Corinne Kirk and the Chamber of Commerce's Karen Arnold have melded the standards with new twists, including the pasta eating contest.

The contest features three age groups -- 5 years to 10 years, 11 years to 17 years and 18 years and older. There is a limit of 10 contestants per age group.

The winners will be chosen on how much spaghetti they can eat in three minutes, and Bello Cucina gift certificates will be awarded to the winners, and Chamber cash awarded to the second-place finishers.

But noodles won't be the only food item on the menu July 11-13.

There are 27 vendors in all, 11 of which will be food vendors, Gravning said.

The entertainment schedule at the park bandshell will feature several local musical and dance performers. For a community event, that's appropriate, Gravning said.

"The entertainment, we like to keep it local if we can," she said, adding with a laugh, "That's not to say we won't break out sometime and get Bon Jovi here. But we like to bring back the local favorites."

In addition to daily events in the park and at other venues around Morris, the popular Medallion Hunt is back. Clues were being issued beginning Monday, July 7 over the KKOK and KMRS radio stations and at Willie's Super Valu.

The Kid's Pedal Tractor Pull is back this year, as is the Antique Tractor Pull at the Stevens County Fairgrounds at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The annual walk-run at 8:30 a.m. Saturday has a new name this year. The long-running event this year has been named in honor of teacher and coach Marv Meyer, who was instrumental is starting the walk-run.

"Good fun that's healthy for a big group is exciting," Gravning said.

Another first this year is the American Legion Baseball Tournament, which begins with games at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chizek Field.

The weekend winds down with, among other things, the annual Pancake Feed at the Morris Fire Hall, the Classic Car Show at Mike's Express Lube, and the Grand Parade at 3 p.m.

"It's a great weekend to come out with the family," Gravning said. "With a community festival, we try to have something for every age group. It's good to have the basics, but it's nice to bring in a few new things."