The Milaca Alumni Band will be among the 19 bands in the 2021 festival parade.

Festival week is a go in Milaca- including a parade that features one of the largest collections of marching bands in the state of Minnesota.

The Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce announced Saturday, May 8 that the Rhythm on the Rum Festival will return Tuesday June 15 through Saturday, June 19.

While plans for a festival of some sort were in the works as COVID 19 restrictions were loosing, the Thursday, May 6 announcement by Gov. Tim Walz that Minnesota will lift nearly all its COVID-19 restrictions just before Memorial Day weekend helped make the festival a reality, said Andrea Milka, executive director of the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are so excited to be hosting this beloved event for our community,” Mikla said. “We have been in frequent talks with our local high school band director, Andrew Nelson, parade band coordinators Dean Angermeier and Cari Harper, and our partners at many local departments. There will be some changes, but overall the events will be as we formally knew them to be.”

The most anticipated event of festival week is the Rhythm on the Rum Parade.

“The theme is Minnesota Music,” Mikla said.

That means that in addition to Minnesota high school marching bands, parade goers are sure to see their fill of parade entrants featuring the likes of Prince, Bob Dylan, Morris Day and the Time or maybe some Soul Asylum, The Replacements or Hüsker Dü. For those reaching way back in time, could an Andrew Sisters parade entrant be on the horizon?

“It will be fun to see people’s creativity,” Mikla said.

When it comes to bands, there are 19 high school marching bands that registered by the January registration deadline, Mikla said. That includes the Milaca 5th and 6th grade band, the Milaca junior high band, the Milaca High School Marching Band, and Milaca’s crowd favorite, the Milaca Alumni Band.

Festival week will begin on Tuesday, June 15 with a Morning Perk hosted by the Milaca Area Chamber of Commerce. Morning Perk is a networking event for the Milaca business community. It’s like a business-after-hours, but held in the morning over coffee.

Later in the day, the annual kiddie parade will entertain young and old. Parade registration begins at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Teal’s Market. The parade goes from Teal’s to Rec Park beginning at 5 p.m.

There are traditionally no festival activities on Wednesday of festival week. Action picks up Thursday with the 5:30 p.m. parade. There will be food trucks located along the parade route to feed hungry parade goers. They will most likely be in the vicinity of the parade judge platform.

While all festival details are yet to be ironed out because the event was just green-lighted, Mikla says preliminary plans call for a car show and band on Friday followed by a second band on Saturday. Those events would likely be held in Rec Park, Mikla said.

Watch for announcements of more festival activities at June 15-19 draws closer, Mikla said.


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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