The Hayward Lakes area’s largest community-based annual celebration, the Musky Festival, takes place Friday through Sunday, June 21-23, with a variety of family-oriented events that include a fishing contest, live music, the crowning of a Musky queen, carnival, car show, arts and crafts vendors and a grand parade to culminate the celebration.
With a theme of “Meet Me at the Lake,” the Musky Festival is presented by Adventure RV and Hayward Power Sports and is organized by the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce.
The festival has its roots in a celebration of a world-record 60-1/4-inch 67-1/2-pound muskellunge caught by outdoor writer Cal Johnson on a chub-finished Pike-O-Reno lure on July 24, 1949, on Moccasin Bar of Lac Courte Oreilles.
A party was held to celebrate the catch, with 7,000 people attending. That October, local bar owner Louis Spray topped that record, as he had promised, by catching a 69-pound 11-ounce ‘lunge from the Chippewa Flowage.
The first true Musky Festival was held in 1950, promoted by a group of local resorters and businessmen, and drew many more thousands of people.
The event has evolved in variety over the years, although the theme has remained the same. This writer can recall that when he first resided in Hayward in 1983, the festival included a pow wow and lumberjack contest on the American Legion Cabin lawn, the site today of the Veterans Community Center.
Likewise, the Hayward Lions fishing contest also has changed with the times. For years, fish entered in the contest were laid on ice at the Lions booth downtown for public viewing, including muskies, northerns, huge bass and walleyes, panfish and trout. Today’s contest is strictly catch-and-release and includes a fish photo contest.
Some new aspects of this year’s festival include a new site for Saturday’s car show, located this year at the municipal lot on Dakota Avenue next to the Hayward fire station; and free evening entertainment Friday and Saturday at the main stage on Main Street.
The Stipes Carnival returns to the square-block lot on West Fifth Street owned by St. Joseph Catholic Church.
“We’re really excited this year. We have over 120 craft vendors,” said Brianna McKenzie, event and development director for the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce. “We have booths all the way down Third Street to Kansas Avenue this year.”
The Hayward Chamber presents local musicians for daytime entertainment, including Sean and Ian Okamoto. The daytime entertainment is sponsored by Johnson Financial Group.
Larry’s Drifters will perform in a new evening time slot from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, with the Musky Queen being crowned during intermission at 7 p.m.
On Saturday evening visitors can enjoy former American Idol contestant and Rice Lake native Steve Beguhn and his band starting at 8:30 p.m. Evening entertainment is sponsored by Don Johnson’s Hayward Motors.
Sunday’s grand parade (1 p.m.) will include approximately 40 different entities — some with multiple units, McKenzie said. The parade is sponsored by Hayward Community Credit Union. The always-popular Marty’s Goldenaires drum and bugle corps is sponsored by Angler’s Bar & Grill.
Visitors can enjoy a June Dairy Month breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sawyer County Fairgrounds, presented by the Sawyer County Farm Bureau.
At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, the Musky 5K/10K Run Walk presented by Hidden Bay Graphics and Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water’s Edge, will begin at the corner of Third and Main streets. Early registration is available online and at the Chamber office.
Musky Fest schedule
Thursday, June 20
Sidewalk sales: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Hayward and area retail stores
Carnival: 12:30 to 10 p.m., St. Joseph’s Church lot on West Fifth Street near Hayward Intermediate School (wristband day is from 5 to 9 p.m.)
Friday, June 21
Arts and crafts show, food and live entertainment: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. downtown
Sidewalk sales: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Native American Dancers: 10:45 a.m., Main stage
Mini Musky Queen Presentation: noon, Main stage
Caricature artist and speed ball throw: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. near the main stage
Lions beer and brat tent: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Hayward Lions fishing and photo booth contest: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Carnival: Noon to 10 p.m., St. Joseph’s lot on West Fifth Street (wrist band day 12-4 p.m.)
Watermelon Eating Contest sponsored by Marketplace Foods: 1 p.m.
Main Stage Entertainment: 2 to 5 p.m.
Hayward Hawks vs. Osseo Merchants baseball game: 7:30 p.m. at Larry Somerville Field
Live Music by Larry’s Drifters: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Musky Festival Queen Crowning on the Main Stage: 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 22
Sawyer County Dairy Breakfast: 6:30 to 11 a.m. at the Sawyer County Fairgrounds
Musky Fest Car Show: noon to 4 p.m. at Dakota Avenue municipal lot.
Arts and crafts, food and live entertainment: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sidewalk sales: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Caricature artist and speedball throw: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., by Main Stage
Lions beer and brat tent: 10 a.m. to midnight
Main stage events: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rod Lundberg Games: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Peoples Bank Midwest green lot
Dairy Queen Dilly Bar Eating Contest: noon
Carnival: Noon to midnight at St. Joseph Church lot (carnival wristband day, noon to 4 p.m.)
Learn to Fish: noon to 4 p.m. at Shue’s Pond with the Department of Natural Resources (no license required)
Live Music by Sean and Ian Okamoto: 3 to 6 p.m., Main Stage
Hula Hoop Contest: 2 p.m., Main Stage
Lions Fishing Contest winner announcements: 6 p.m., on Main Stage
Hayward Hawks vs. Haugen Knights game: 7:30 p.m. at Larry Somerville Field
Live Music by Steve Beguhn: 8 p.m. to midnight
Sunday, June 23
Musky Fest 5K and 10K run/walk: 8:30 a.m.
Sidewalk sales: 9 a.m. to noon
Lions beer/brat tent open: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Food concessions: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Street.
Cal Johnson Casting Contest presented by Indian Trail Resort: 10:30 a.m. on Main Street.
Carnival: Noon to 5 p.m., St. Joseph’s lot
Musky Festival Grand Parade sponsored by the Hayward Community Credit Union: 1 p.m., Main Street to Second Street to Dakota Avenue.
For more information, visit: www.haywardareachamber.com