The motto says it best: “A festival by the community, for the community.” The Spirit of the Lakes Festival has remained a community-supported, eagerly anticipated event in Mound for the past 12 years. Every summer on the third weekend in July, residents view a memorable firework show and take part in plenty of beach-side entertainment. But few Mound neighbors can trace the event back to its roots. We talked with Kandis Hanson, one of the event’s founders and a long-standing member of the festival board, about the history of Spirit of the Lakes.
Hanson suggested the event’s name at its inception in 2004. “Mound is named for the [local] Indian burial mounds,” Hanson says, and to honor the spiritual significance of the area, the team decided on the name Spirit of the Lakes.
“It was created to be a celebratory event to bring people together and celebrate lake life,” Hanson explains. “It was started during a time when the community was void of festivals, and members were going elsewhere to celebrate, instead of having something in their hometown.”
With multiple events to coordinate and run, volunteers from the community stepped in from the beginning. Many of the original founders were local business owners and civic organizations, and they continue to be involved via financial and in-kind contributions. Local churches offer volunteers, a landscape company donates barges for the fireworks show, and so on. “It is a self-funded event, which is unique; every dollar raised goes into putting on the event and is seed money for the next year,” Hanson says. With volunteers from all over Mound, the workload, as well as financial support, has been shared by many helping hands, making for light work—and lots of fun.
A few years into the festival, Hanson and other organizers made the decision to brand the festival as a beach party, due to its location on Lake Minnetonka at Surfside Park and Beach. “We had something unique, which was the backdrop: Cooks Bay, music wafting over the water, fireworks. The backdrop opened more opportunities and created our theme,” Hanson says. With families arriving at the festival by boat, and children swimming in the water throughout the weekend, the beach party theme was a great fit, and has remained at the heart of the event.
But as regular attendees know, the festival is much more than a party on the lake. Entertainment includes a magician, live music, fire dancers and more. Hanson describes one of this year’s highlights: “Last year we tried a brew fest, with local brewers offering samples,” she explains. “This year, we are hoping for up to 20 breweries, distilleries and winemakers to provide samples of craft beverages beyond just beer.”
The most anticipated events of the weekend? The Grand Parade and the fireworks show. Beginning on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., almost 100 local businesses and organizations show their support for the community by entering the parade. The route ends a short distance from the festival grounds, so visitors can “converge on the grounds for fabulous food” right after the parade, Hanson says. From sandwiches to doughnuts, the festival’s fare is sure to please even the youngest of attendees. The festivities continue with wild animals from the Minnesota Zoo, face painting, wine tasting, dancing and more, with a show-stopping firework display at dusk at Surfside Park and Beach.
Spirit of the Lakes Festival
Surfside Park and Beach
Admission is free to general event; some special activities, like wine tasting, are ticketed.