(Editor’s note: The following column first appeared in the June 14, 2019 edition of the Banner. The column has been updated slightly but still contains top-notch tips.)
It’s Hillsboro Days weekend.
Grab the kids and a can koozie, and kick back and enjoy the best Hillsboro has to offer.
Technically the city’s summer celebration returned Wednesday, followed by a 5K fun run and movie in the park Thursday night.
Today’s lineup features a variety of activities highlighted by a kiddie tractor pull, car show and the band Thunder Ridge playing at the A&R Bar tonight.
But the city’s real show-stoppers mark their return Saturday: the fireman’s parade, bean bag tourney, fishing in the park, horse and tractor pulls and the downtown street dance.
There’s a lot going on, and it’s hard to know all the nuances to make the most of Hillsboro Days.
Fortunately for readers, I’m here to help.
Relying on my vast vault of knowledge and network of secret sources, I compiled a list of 10 tips and tricks to maximize readers’ Hillsboro Days experiences. Here goes.
1. Bring a lawn chair to Sunday’s antique tractor pull at Heritage Park.
Rob Bell does a bang-up job with the tractor pull, but organizers won’t have bleachers out for this year’s event.
Tucking a chair in your trunk will ensure you’re not standing for the whole thing – just when you want to cheer on your favorite driver.
2. Find a babysitter prior to tomorrow night’s street dance.
If you wait until Saturday all the good sitters will be gone and you’ll be forced to watch “Dateline NBC” or “The Good Doctor” on ABC when Jacked Up takes the stage at 9 p.m.
If you’re interested, Dr. Glassman challenges the residents on tomorrow night’s episode of “The Good Doctor.”
3. If your kids are candy crazy – which is like saying fish enjoy water – camp out early on in the parade route.
Longtime Hillsboro firefighter Dave Sather says candy tossers on parade floats sometimes start out too eager.
“Right on the corner of the nursing home and elementary school is a prime spot” for candy, Sather said.
“A lot of candy gets dumped there. Sometimes, by the time we get back up to (Highway) 81 and across the tracks, we’re almost out of candy.”
4. If you’re competing in Saturday’s downtown bean bag tournament, we hope you landed Mel Nagel as a partner.
The Nodak Rural Electric crew foreman, one of 2018’s champions, is a walking cornhole clinic.
5. Start low and go if you’re taking part in Saturday’s 4 p.m. human pull in Woodland Park.
Paul Geray, whom I’m convinced should be a late-night deejay with his silky smooth voice, said he’s tested out the harnesses that participants will be using in Saturday’s inaugural event. His advice? “The only secret, really, is don’t stand up,” Geray said.
“If you stand up straight you’ll be in trouble. Start on all fours, tighten up the straps and then you and your partner start pulling at the same time.”
Another tip? Don’t show up in flip-flops or heels and expect to win.
6. There’s usually limited seating at today’s kiddie pedal pull today along Main Street.
If you get there early, grab a shady spot on the west side of the street out of the sun if it’s warm outside.
The shadier spot will make it easier to gamble and place illegal bets on this year’s winners.
7. Still tired Saturday from staying up late Friday night with your reunion class trying to figure out who that bald guy was? The Hillsboro Cafe will be offering free coffee from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
A shot of caffeine might be just what you need. Although you may need to ask someone who the bald guy was – there may have been more than one.
8. Have an amateur angler taking part in Woodland Park’s kids fishing derby sponsored by A&R Bar on Saturday?
Stephanie Walker, who lives a stone’s throw from the park, fishes the Goose River nightly with her daughter, Kimber.
In the past few nights, Walker pulled a 12.2-pound catfish from the river. She knows what she’s doing.
She recommends using chicken livers or gizzards if you’re fishing for catfish.
“If you’re trying to catch a catfish, that’s what they’re going to bite,” Walker said. “The bait makes a huge difference.”
She’s not done.
“If you’re helping a little kid, use a bobber and set the hook maybe 3.5 feet away. The river isn’t very deep. Catfish are playful. Make sure the bobber goes completely under before setting the hook.”
Great advice from a river pro – hook, line and sinker.
9. Arrive early if you’re hitting up the hamburger party at the Vets Club starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The club puts on a great spread, especially if you’ve been chasing events and people around town all day taking photos.
10. Don’t imbibe too much or drink and drive after Saturday’s street dance.
Hillsboro Days is a great time to kick back and party.
But the city celebration keeps getting better every year.
Make sure you’re around to enjoy next year’s Hillsboro Days with the rest of us.