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Dew Days marches on

The crowds weren't always as big as she might have liked, but all things considered Maribeth Vanderbeck was happy with year one of Farmington's reimagined, renamed Dew Days celebration.

"I think it went pretty well," said Vanderbeck, president of CEEF, the organization that puts on the annual community event. "The people who were there were really receptive. They really liked it. People were commenting on how much they liked the placement."

That placement -- most Dew Days events were held at the Dakota County fairgrounds -- did not please everyone. Several downtown business owners were upset that the festival, long held on the city's downtown streets, was moving farther from their front doors. But others seemed happy with the space the new location provided.

Location was just one of the changes this year. CEEF also restored the event's name to the one it has carried for most of existence and added new events meant to appeal to groups of all ages.

Vanderbeck said attendance was good for events held during the day. A brand new kickball tournament drew seven teams and a tug-o-war showdown between the Farmington police and fire departments was a popular attraction. The Dakota Valley Arts Council's annual June Arts Show drew more than 370 people, many more than usual.

"The art show was fantastic. The Flavors of Farmington was fantastic. Everyone is raving about that one," Vanderbeck said. "We did a few new things like a pie eating contest and a pizza eating contest and they were hilarious."

Karaoke, another new addition, was busy throughout its run. And while the long-running bed races drew only three teams -- one of which was a last-minute addition -- a good crowd showed up to watch.

Attendance wasn't quite as good at night. Vanderbeck said she was disappointed with attendance for this year's bands.

"I don't know if it was the economy," Vanderbeck said. "From what I understand, other (festivals) are having the same problems."

Vanderbeck is already applying lessons from this year's event as she thinks about next summer. She figures next year's celebration should be at least a few days shorter, and she wants to move the craft show from what turned out to be a low-traffic building to outdoor tents.

Vanderbeck also hopes to find a way to get more local businesses involved.

So far, though, the changes Vanderbeck has in mind are minor.

"I am totally happy," she said. "It exceeded my expectations. The only thing that didn't was the crowds."