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Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival: Summer event brightens community

Dee Blackowl, a member of the Babe City Rollers, works the bingo tent Thursday during the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival. Pioneer Photo/ Delaney Daly

There's something about a water carnival that attracts people, regardless of the circumstances.

Despite the sticky humidity of Thursday's 90-degree weather, people flocked to the waterfront, where they shared the traditions of a water carnival: daunting rides, unusual fried food and that distinct combination of grungy and grandiose.

What would usually be a quiet Thursday evening was punctured by the warbling tones of the carnival music. Shrieks could be heard from young and old alike, as they were propelled back and forth on giant machines, lights flashing in splendor.

According to Lainy Sewell, Bemidji comes alive when the carnival is in town.

"With the lights and all of the different people coming together, it makes Bemidji exciting," said Sewell, 16, who was waiting for her friends to get off the famous Kamikaze, a ride that swishes people upside down.

A walk through the crowded carnival revealed colorful booths filled with huge stuffed animals and blow up hammers.

"Come on, and play!" a carnival worker goaded, promising to make a special deal where he would give away two prizes, instead of one.

The series of games soon open to a row of food kiosks selling deep fried Oreos, overloaded gyros and other delicacies.

"The food is the best part," said Trevor Donovan, "It's the only reason I came."

Donovan said he got a gargantuan pulled pork sandwich.

The carnival serves as an opportunity to raise money for the Bemidji community.

Dave Geiger, a member of the Bemidji Jaycees who is on the Water Carnival Board, said every event is run separately by a sub group of the Jaycees.

Celebrating the 67th year of the carnival, Geiger said, "It all comes together at the end."

The bingo tent, a hit among Bemidji residents, is an event that is run by a different community group every night it's open.

The Babe City Rollers ran the tent Thursday, shouting off numbers and handing out prizes.

Half the proceeds made Thursday night will go to fund the Babe City Rollers.

"It's a big help," said Babe City Roller Dee Blackowl."This will help cover travel costs, equipment, venue, and uniforms."

"This is a major funding opportunity for the Jaycees," said Geiger, "And it always goes back to the community, in a myriad of different ways."