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Duesey Days: 39th annual celebration of the Duesenberg starts Friday
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Duesey Days: 39th annual celebration of the Duesenberg starts Friday


A family-friendly weekend filled with food, fun and entertainment is returning for Garner’s largest event of the summer.

Duesey Days, organized by the Garner Chamber of Commerce, will take place Friday and Saturday.

“It’s our alumni weekend,” said Amber Jenniges, Garner Chamber of Commerce executive director. “A lot of people will come back for class reunions and a lot of people have their family reunions ... It’s just a fun weekend.”

Duesey Days — in its 39th year — celebrates the legacy of one of America’s premier cars, the Duesenberg, designed by former Garner resident August Duesenberg, and his brother, Frederick.

In the late 1890s, the brothers operated bicycle-and-motorcycle shops in Garner and Rockford, respectively. They moved to Des Moines in the early 1900s and started Duesenberg Motor Co. in 1913.

Jenniges said the celebration attracts 5,000 to downtown Garner for the weekend, and she anticipates the event will be even bigger next year when the city celebrates its sesquicentennial.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from Garner or not, come and enjoy the festivities and the food,” she said.

For those looking to make the most of Duesey Days, here are 10 things you won’t want to miss:

1. Parade

The “Sprucing Up Garner” parade will begin at 10 a.m. downtown and feature dozens of organizations, businesses and community members. It’ll start at Concord Care Center and end at Clear Lake Bank & Trust Company.

This year’s grand marshals are Earl and Linda Webner, Garner natives who’ve dedicated countless hours to beautifying the city’s Central Park, boulevards and entrance. They’ve also been involved with the Garner Vision Committee, Garner Volunteer Ambulance Service and Hancock County Relay for Life.

2. Food and craft vendors

A variety of food and craft vendors will be downtown from 4-8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

The Duesey D’Arts Art Show will take place 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the library.

3. Live entertainment

The two-day festival features local and regional entertainment for all ages.

Just Listen Entertainment will provide music at 4 p.m. Friday on the Central Park stage ahead of Little Miss Duesey contest and grand marshals’ interview. Local band 4th & Maben will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Garner VFW Post. On Saturday, Nichole’s Dance will perform from 12:15-1 p.m. and local vocalists and entertainment will take the stage until 2 p.m.

Headliner Rhino, a five-member, high-energy Twin Cities band playing an array of modern, alternative, ’80s and classic rock with twists of country, will perform 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets for the concert, sponsored by Pritchard Auto, cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Attendees must be 21 or older.

4. Little Miss Duesey

Six- and 7-year-olds living in Garner or attending Garner-Hayfield-Ventura School will compete in the Little Miss Duesey Days contest at 6 p.m. Friday in Central Park.

The contest, sponsored by the Wa-Tan-Ye Club of Garner in conjunction with the chamber, is limited to 15 contestants.

5. Cornhole tournament

Two-person teams will compete in a double-elimination cornhole tournament from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday on the south side of Central Park. Registration begins at 5 p.m. It costs $10 per team. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams.

6. Community Feud

Community Feud will return to the stage in Central Park from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday with 10 five-person teams, including businesses and alumni classes, going head-to-head for bragging rights.

7. Car show

The Garner Duesey Days Show & Shine Car Show, which is held rain or shine, will take place from noon-3:30 p.m. Saturday on State Street. Registration is from 9 a.m.-noon. Awards will be given for Mayor’s Choice, Best Paint, Best Engine, Overall Showstopper and Chamber’s Choice. Admission is free.

8. Children’s activities

There’s no shortage of activities for children during Duesey Days.

Inflatables will be available on the south side of Central Park from 5-8 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. A balloon artists, face painting and archery will also be downtown Saturday.

An activity night for fifth- through eighth-grade students will be held from 8-10 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Center with free pizza, snacks and games.

Bingo will be from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Central Park. Kids’ water ball fights will take place 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the fire station.

9. Hypnotist

Levey the Great, a hypnotist whose been providing family entertainment in North Iowa for more than 15 years, will take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday. His free family-friendly show is loaded with “fascinating illusions, unbelievable acts of hypnosis, comedic routines and audience participation.”

10. 2-mile or 10K

Runners and walkers are welcome to participate in the Duesey Days 2-mile and 10K events, organized by the Garner Parks and Recreation department, at 7:45 a.m. Saturday at Central Park. Registration is from 6:30-7:30 a.m.

Proceeds from the events will go toward equipment purchases, facility improvements and youth programs.

For more information about Duesey Days, including its full schedule, visit or the Duesey Days, Garner, Iowa Facebook page.

North Iowa Nine: What's happening in North Iowa this weekend (with photos)

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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