Land of the Loon

FILE — Children watching Saturday’s Land of the Loon parade wave at passing floats Saturday.

VIRGINIA — Luke and Brittany Chopp are excited about the Land of the Loon Arts and Crafts Festival, an event they call "a Range holiday," now in its 43rd year. And the iconic festival promises to be around long into the future — the Chopps' 5-year-old daughter Blakely "tells everyone she's on the committee and one day hopes to be the next 'Voice of the Land of the Loon.' She loves watching John Renzaglia (longtime announcer at the festival) on the microphone."

The husband and wife are co-coordinating the festival for the 10th year. "We always look forward to seeing friends and family come back for the Land of the Loon weekend. It will be the festival’s 43rd year. Our committee has been hard at work. As always, there will be lots of food, shopping, entertainment and fun!"

The festivities will be Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16, at Olcott Park. Kicking off the weekend will be the parade at 9 a.m. Saturday. Greg Gilness will be grand marshal. "He’s done tremendous work as the chair of the Fountain Restoration Committee," Luke Chopp said.

The event's barbecue fundraiser is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 13, in Olcott Park — pork or beef sandwiches are being sold for $6. Vendors will be setting up on Friday, June 14.

"The fountain will be gushing during the festival weekend, so people can stop at the festival and go and visit the fountain at the same time. We have lots of new crafts booths that we haven’t had at the festival before," Luke Chopp said. "And, this is the first year in a long time that the Land of the Loon Festival won’t be the same weekend as Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth."

A publication called Atlas Obscura had this to say about the symbol for Virginia's signature festival: "You don’t have to look hard in Minnesota to spot the loon, its state bird. But only one small city boasts the honor of being the nesting grounds for the world’s largest floating loon. The 20-foot-long loon was devised in 1982 as an attraction to draw visitors to the annual Land of the Loon Ethnic Arts and Crafts Festival. The fiberglass and metal statue was built by local artist (the late) William Martin and is launched into Silver Lake every spring. The big bird bobs in the waves all summer, though it can’t go too far. A strong cable anchored to the bottom of the lake keeps the loon from floating too far from shore. Once the weather grows cold, the statue is hauled back onto solid ground and put in storage for the season."

The festivities officially kick off at 9 a.m. with the parade from the 100 block of Chestnut to Fifth Avenue, then along Fifth Avenue to Eighth Street.

Saturday Schedule

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Children's area open.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Exhibits ands food vendors open.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Bus shuttle service.

From the Miners Memorial Building parking lot on the hour and from Olcott Park on the half hour – no charge. Last pick up from Olcott Park is at 6 p.m.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Golf cart shuttle. Running north and south on 9th Avenue and 9th Street. Donations are appreciated.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Souvenir booth open. T-shirts for the whole family. Sizes up to adult 3x. Sweatshirts, no headache visors, baseball style caps, coffee mugs, cookbooks, wind shirts. All items imprinted with Land of the Loon registered trademark.

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Entertainment at the Bandstand.

Sunday schedule

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Exhibits, food vendors, souvenir booth, golf cart shuttle. Running north and south on 9th Avenue and 9th Street, with donations welcome.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Bus shuttle service. From the Miners Memorial Building parking lot on the hour and Olcott Park on the half hour, no charge. Last pickup from the park at 3 p.m.

11 a.m. to noon — Ecumenical service, non-denominational service at the bandstand. The Rev. Paul VanAntwerp officiating.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Children's area open.

Noon to 5 p.m. — Entertainment in the bandstand.

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