by Briana Sutherland
Steady rain did not stop hundreds of adults from gathering at Lions Park in Elk River on Thursday for the sixth annual Taste of Elk River.
Umbrellas and rubber boots were popular attire at the event, but it was Ben Skinner’s harmonica that jettisoned him in his pursuit of the $250 cash prize for the event’s new karaoke contest.
“It’s a contest, so you have to pull out all the stops,” Skinner said of the harmonica after belting out Van Morrison’s “Domino.”
He also performed “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band and capped the night off with “Can’t You See” by the Marshal Tucker Band.
Skinner, whose wife, Robin, is on the Elk River Rotary, has been to most of the Taste events in Elk River.
“It seems like the weather’s like this every year,” he said.
But that doesn’t stop people from coming out and having fun at the event, which had it’s coldest and windiest affair at its inaugural year.
Upon arriving, adults were greeted with a small wine glass and the option to bid on over 80 silent auction items donated by local businesses inside Lions Park Center. Items such as gift baskets and certificates, wine racks and Twins tickets were available for bidding throughout the evening. That brought in about $3,500 for the club. (For more photos, see the Star News’ My Capture site at www.erstarnews.com.)
Lynn Caswell of the Rotary assisted people at the Wall of Wine. Here people could purchase trays that would hold their wine glass and food from the vendors outside. Caswell sold raffle tickets and a winner of wine bottles was drawn every 15 minutes.
Thirty-four different food and beverage vendors such as Pompeii Pizzeria, Caribou Coffee and D Michael B’s set up their booths under three tents where folks packed themselves tightly to sample food and drinks. Many raved about the Juicy Lucy hamburgers from Caddy Shack, the restaurant at Elk River Country Club.
Christine Oelschlager, an independent chocolatier of Dove Chocolate Discoveries, easily drew the women into her booth with fancy chocolates and a chance to win a caramel collection. Her business offers the chance for people to host chocolate parties featuring chocolate drinks, smoothies, mudslide and martini mixes as well as other indulgences.
“I have chocolate and will travel!” said Oelschlager.
Staci Mickelson of Goose Lake Farm and Winery had one of the long lines of people waiting to sample Nowthen Red, Sanoria, Rhubarb Fresh Picked and Original Dessert Wine.
“We have lots of things to do at the winery, such as our tasting room, wine-making classes and our farmers market,” said Mickelson.
Horse-drawn carriage rides around the park were also available to attendees during the evening.
Dan Edwards and Andrew Lee of The Mighty Hindenburgs performed multiple shows during the evening, featuring their comedic, daring style of juggling. Edwards and Lee both have over a decade of experience under their belts and enjoy their line of work thoroughly.
“Combining our experience years together we’d make a middle-aged man.” said Lee. “The best part of my job is that it’s something fun and it’s not really work to me.”
Dan Kreger started the karaoke competition with “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainwright, followed by Lloyd Anderson singing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. The songs got steamier as the night wore on, and eventually the rain stopped as Top D Entertainment led the contest.
“This was a blast,” Skinner said on his way out. “One of these years is going to be the breakout year with the weather.”
Until then it seems people will just keep coming. (Note: Editor Jim Boyle contributed to this report.)