Water Festival meeting Sunday

The Woonsocket Water Festival of 2013 is history, and hopefully, everyone who attended any part of it has some good memories to carry with them.
We here at the Journal have been perusing papers of the past for the new historic headlines column and decided to see if we could find when this yearly festival began.
From our research we learned that the first water festival was held in Woonsocket in 1912. Although the 1912 June editions are missing from the archives, the June 26, 1913 edition of The Sanborn County Herald, published by T. E. Dillon, states that the second annual Woonsocket Water Carnival held in 1913 was extremely successful and was “attended by more people than has ever visited in Woonsocket at any one time in its history.”
The Carnival that year was a three-day affair that included bands, boat races, free attractions on the street, a parade of floats on the lake, log rolling contests, baseball games, and notable speakers.
The group that organized this event was called the Water Carnival Company, and they organized amusement events such as shoot-the chutes, water toboggan, launches, row boats, dancing, and bathing to highlight Lake Prior. Activities were held daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Baseball games were a particularly popular attraction held in the “fine, new baseball park and grandstand”. Where that park was located in town is not stated in the article. The games were between Alpena and Wessington Springs, Woonsocket and Lane, and Letcher and Winfred.
The South Dakota governor at the time, F. M. Byrne attended the carnival and addressed the large crowds, as well as the Commissioner of Immigration John H. Deets.
According to the article, “from this date (1913) this event is no longer an uncertainty” and “henceforth will occupy a prominent position among the notable annual events in South Dakota.”
The Woonsocket Water Carnival and in later years Water Festival has become a rich part of Woonsocket history for over 100 years, even though there have been years when it was not held for one reason or another. It certainly needs to continue to be held, and that takes a commitment from volunteers in the community.
At the next Water Festival Committee meeting, five members are resigning after 25-30 years of service to this historical event.  Gay Swenson, Dianne and Skip Larson and Dale and Wanda Swenson are to be commended for volunteering their time to the committee. It is their hope that their vacancies will be filled with new members with enthusiasm, energy and ideas to keep this yearly event going into the future.
The Woonsocket Water Festival Committee will be meeting on Sunday, Aug. 4 in the Woonsocket School Commons at 6 p.m. Your suggestions and input on the 2014 parade and three-day celebration is needed and will be greatly appreciated.

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