by Jim Boyle
Wild West Days rumbled into Zimmerman this year with weather threatening to throw a
damper on things all week long, but that didn’t stop the festivities. On Saturday, the Wild West Days parade braved the elements and chased the morning thunderstorms out over Zimmerman with a good turnout of emergency vehicles (including a hovercraft), businesses, churches, custom cars and a camel.
“It was the roughest start to a parade I’ve ever seen,” Bill Potrament, president of the Zimmerman Civic Club said, “but the neat thing is we have such loyal participants that it still turned out great.” The 728 Cadets impressed in their formal black suits, perfectly complimented by the majorettes wearing bright, tribal-inspired designs that almost seemed radiant in the damp street and air.
A small but strong group of enlisted men and women served as the grand marshals in the parade and led the line with friends and families.
The parade itself was dedicated to Afghanistan veteran Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Beise, who died in April. “He carried the flag of Zimmerman in the parade last year,” Potrament said, “and he was a staunch supporter of the community, so we wanted to honor him in our community.”
The second annual Zimmerman’s Got Talent show dodged the rain but caught some heat on Sunday, with impressive performances facing off against nearly 90-degree temps and 60 percent humidity. First-place winner in the 12-and-under category, 10-year-old Olivia Robinson, held her audience firmly by the strength of her acapella vocals for “My Redeemer Lives.” MacKenzie Rickard of Zimmerman won the 13–18-year-old category with her rendition of Alicia Key’s “Fallen,” and winning the adult category was Andy Briggs with “Go” by Boys Like Girls.
Melanie Bridgeman of Zimmerman may be starting a family tradition, winning the medallion hunt for the second year in a row and earning $100 for the achievement in the process.
This year’s soapbox derby had 29 drivers, nearly twice the number of entries over past years, proving it a popular entry during the event. Reading Frenzy BookShop’s turtle races saw more than 10 of the crawling critters scurrying away from their 60 young captors in 10 races over the wet pavement of the parking lot to the finish line. The races raised $210 for Passing the Bread and prizes were donated to winners by Reading Frenzy BookShop, Papa’s Italian, Hardees, and Dunn Bros Coffee shop. Inside the bookshop, International bestselling author Brian Freeman promoted his new psychological suspense novel, “Spilled Blood.” Only feet away, the Frenzy Games took a page from the popular “Hunger Games” novels with rock-paper-scissor battle eliminations that had nearly 650 entries with 24 finalists, and saw Princeton Elementary teacher Brenna Nyboer besting her 23 competitors for the $100 prize. “Rock-paper-scissors seemed a good alternative to a fight to the death,” owner Sheri Olson joked, “especially after we learned the city of Zimmerman frowns upon it.”
Wild West Days blasted to a finish Monday evening with belated fireworks. Lightning concerns Sunday caused the Zimmerman Fire Department to delay the pyrotechnics until Monday, and volunteers scrambled to get the new time out to participants.
For Wild West Days 2013, Potrament hopes to improving event scheduling, rescheduling, and coordination while upstaging the Zimmerman’s Got Talent show with a more professional venue, but in the end, he says Wild West Days isn’t about numbers or money raised, its about the people of Zimmerman. “With this event, we want members of the community to get to know one another better,” he said, “and we want visitors to see who we are as a community.”
The big thing he’d like to improve is the weather. “I think we’ll invite a network weather forecaster to be our grand marshal next year,” he laughed. “It would be the closest thing I can think of to purchasing insurance.”