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Buttons selling fast for Crookston Oxcart Days

CROOKSTON — Though the community's longtime summer celebration is still eight months away, organizers of Oxcart Days already are anticipating another big crowd.

"Last year was the first year we took it over from the (Crookston Area) Chamber, and we added a bunch of different events and shook it up a little bit," said Nell DeBoer, chairwoman of the Oxcart Days Committee. "It was hugely successful. Last year we sold more than 4,000 buttons."

DeBoer said attendance in previous years had been down for the five-day festival that has been held the third week of August for almost three decades. This year's event will open Aug. 14 and is expected to draw 5,000 visitors.

DeBoer said Thursday a good 1,200 buttons already have been sold. That is about equal to the entire attendance in 2016, she said. The admission price and the buttons themselves are part of the event's comeback.

"We lowered the price. That was the biggest thing. We made it $5 for the entire five days. If you have a family, it's a great price. You can't beat that," DeBoer said. "And they had kind of gotten away from the buttons. People missed the buttons. They were getting kind of fired up about it, and we did a promotion with them as stocking stuffers and sold a ton of them that way."

The buttons were numbered this year, and KROX-AM Radio last week began drawing for weekly prizes from local businesses.

The theme for the 29th annual event is "Hats Off," and DeBoer said several activities already are in the works — including five bouncy houses, live bands every night, a parade, a street dance and fireworks, craft show, free picnic, miniature pig races, pageants, an interactive raptor show and a Build a Buddy Bear workshop for children.

Teenagers won't have time to get bored either, she said. They can compete in Velcro foot darts, a timed Warrior Challenge or a Frolf Tournament.

And adults will be able to enjoy the return of last year's inaugural Miss Tootsie Pageant. Select men compete in a talent competition and evening wear, plus do a choreographed group number.

"The gal who coordinates it seeks them out very strategically," DeBoer said. "The man who won it last year was absolutely phenomenal."

Last year's sold-out event was so popular that the committee decided to give out VIP seating as one of the radio prizes this year.

DeBoer said people can learn more by going to Crookston Oxcart Days on Facebook or the website at A complete schedule should be up by Feb. 1. Buttons are available at several Crookston businesses.