Aitkin area Chamber of Commerce members, friends, neighbors and visitors to Aitkin gathered on a sunny, windless summer evening at the recently restored Showboat of the Mississippi to enjoy great food and entertainment and support this iconic symbol of Aitkin’s riverboat heritage.
The Showboat has been lovingly restored over the past few years by a variety of volunteers and local businesses, many of whom have donated the services necessary for restoring the Showboat.
However, Showboat Captain and Showboat Committee President Jeff Tidholm said there is still much work to be done on the interior to prepare it to receive performers, and on the exterior to enhance the safety and security of the boat and the performance stage. Hence the need to continue fundraising efforts.
Paulbecks County Market and Block North Brew Pub in Aitkin donated food and staff for the event. Block North also donated growlers filled with their house brews for a beer tasting, and items for inclusion in a gift basket that was raffled at the event.
Four area musicians shared their talents from the Showboat stage. They were Bob Zelenka, Mike and Jan Cherry and Christian McShane.
Throughout the evening, raffles and drawings were conducted. Growlers filled with Block North house brews were given as door prizes. The main drawing was for a gift basket filled with an estimated $250 worth of gifts donated by Aitkin Liquor, Aitkin Flowers and Block North Brew Pub; the winners of the gift basket were Sally and Frank Bowser of Aitkin.
“Attendance was about half what we expected,” said Aitkin area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Taylor Erickson. Erickson speculated that the flawless weather might have prompted people to spend the evening outdoors at the lake or in their back yards.
Another possibility was conflct with preparations for the Fly-in at the Aitkin airport on Sunday, June 30. Regardless, those in attendance had enjoyable evening, lingering over tasting glasses of local beer, plentiful food, good music and lively conversation.
Several events are scheduled for the Showboat stage this summer, including a Relay of Voices event celebrating lives touched by the Mississippi River, a Back to the Fifties classic car show and Johnny Cash tribute and a church service hosted by United Methodist Church of Aitkin on July 10, during the Aitkin County Fair.