Fireworks light up the night sky above Lake Chetek on Thursday, July 4, as thousands of spectators watch from the Chetek Long Bridge, boats on the lake and vantage points around the lake.


Carl Cooley | Chetek Alert

Thousands of residents and visitors alike enjoyed five days of festivities for Liberty Fest, held Wednesday, July 3, through Sunday, July 7.

On Independence Day, Thursday, July 4, the fireworks and the parade drew large crowds, estimated in the thousands, but exact numbers were impossible to know.

Around 84 floats appeared in the parade. The best floats were the Girl Scouts, as best children’s float; Blackjack Towing, as most humorous float; and InStep Dance Studio as the best Chamber float.

“Everyone I talked to had a very good weekend, all the businesses did,” said Jennifer Blatz, Chetek Chamber of Commerce event organizer. Chetek Mayor Jeff Martin said he heard a business had a record sales day on Friday, July 5, and the broke the new record on Saturday, July 6.

A new event, The Elvis Show, sold out 200 tickets on Friday night, July 5. The softball tournament and vintage base ball tournament had the usual good attendance numbers, Blatz said.

The kids’ activities on Saturday, July 6, had a good turnout, with 70-80 kids, plus their parents, enjoying the coin hunt, inflatable rides, the cardboard regatta, climbing wall and pedal tractor pull.

Blatz noted that the beach party attendance was down, with 400 to 500 people attending. However Blatz attributed higher numbers last year to Chris Kroeze performing at the band shell.

But new concessions were very popular. Favorites were pizza from Chetek Lanes on July 4, along with fried cheese curds, Blatz said.

Wisconsin Indianhead Country’s Art and Craft Fair had more than 125 vendors at Airport Park.

Danette Nelson with WIHC, said they estimated 5,000 people attended the fair on Saturday.

“We had never seen it so busy,” Nelson said. “All in all, everyone was happy with the event and the awesome weather didn’t hurt.”

At the Blast from the Past Car Show, hosted by the Vintage Voyagers, 270 cars showed up for July 6.

New this year, the awards went to the top ten cars, as voted on by participants who showed the cars. They were not organized or voted on by class or category, organizers said, making it simpler and easier for groups of friends to park near each other.

The top ten cars were a 1965 Pontiac GTO, owned by Elmer and Barp Thorp, of Eau Claire; a 1966 Pontiac GTO, owned by Dan Murray, of Menomonie; a 1940 Ford Coupe, owned by Mitch Perry, of Chisago City, Minn.; a 1950 Ford Custom, owned by Dale and Jean Horgen, of Chippewa Falls; a 1947 Buick convertible, owned by Curt Kurshinsky, of Chippewa Falls; a 1937 Ford Tudor, owned by Gene and Donna Philipp, of Circle Pines, Minn.; a 1930 Ford Tudor, owned by Todd Soloman, from Sarona; a 1918 IHC F Truck, owned by Richard Koehler, of Bloomer; a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, owed by Scott Lightner, of Chippewa Falls; and a 1957 Chevrolet convertible, owned by Doug Karis, of Rice Lake.

Blatz said there were no major public safety incidents. She heard the Chetek Police Department handled a couple of OWI arrests and there were two boat OWIs, but nothing happened at Liberty Fest events. It was a smooth weekend overall.

“I think it went really well,” Blatz said.

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