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Published May 15, 2009, 12:00 AM

Awake the Lakes: Where summer begins and the fun never ends

The “Awake the Lakes” festival is Alexandria’s kick-off to the summer season and will take place next weekend.

The “Awake the Lakes” festival is Alexandria’s kick-off to the summer season and will take place next weekend.

A wide variety of family-friendly activities are planned.

Here is a look at what’s taking place during this annual event.

On Friday, May 22, the highlights include the annual Rib Fest Cook-Off, beer garden and fireworks, which are sponsored by Elden’s Food Fair.

The Rib Fest will begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until all the ribs are gone. Organizers suggest showing up early because in past years, the ribs vanished quite quickly.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m., kick back and enjoy the music of the Everett Smithson Band, which will play blues, Cajun, zydeco and more.

Beginning at 8:30 p.m., listen to music from Whiplash, which has been rocking the daylights out of central Minnesota since 1998. Whiplash is known to deliver high-energy rock-n-roll and generate real excitement with great classic rock sound. The band will play until midnight.

Fireworks are set to go off at dark.

All events will take place on 2nd Avenue near Big Ole Central Park.

On Saturday, May 23, activities begin at 8 a.m. in Fort Alexandria with the Runestone Museum’s annual Breakfast with Big Ole.

The breakfast will take place in Fort Alexandria from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and will include the traditional “egg coffee” plus a whole lot more. Tickets are $5.

Parents are encouraged to take the whole family downtown anytime from 9 a.m. to noon for the annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest.

The Downtown Merchants Association invites the public to special sidewalk sales beginning on Saturday and then continuing through the weekend.

Also on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon, will be the annual Show ‘N Shine Car Show along 2nd Avenue.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. with an award ceremony set for noon.

The fun continues on Sunday, May 24, with the 3rd annual Habitat for Humanity motorcycle and bicycle ride. (See related story.)

Also on Sunday, the public is invited to a community church service at City Park from 11 a.m. to noon. Services are sponsored by First Lutheran Church.

On Monday, May 25, the public is invited to start their Memorial Day celebrations with pancakes, served from 8 a.m. to noon at the First Congregational Church.

At 10 a.m., the traditional Memorial Day parade will take place beginning at 10th Avenue and ending at Kinkead Cemetery with a Memorial Day service. For a complete schedule of weekend events, visit the Awake the Lakes website at www.awakethelakes.com.

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