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Plans coming together for expanded Heritage Days

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This year, an extended Heritage Days will begin with a patriotic bang. The festival, which always takes place the first full weekend in July, will begin on Wednesday, the Fourth of July, and run through Sunday.

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This year the festival is bringing in tribute artist Kenny King of Texas, who performs the music of Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley. There'll also be a steel drum performance by Dave Herzog to go along with this year's Heritage Days theme: "Luau by the Lake."

Heritage Days organizers have been at work since last September planning the five-day festival.

"A lot of people think that Heritage Days just happens," said Cheryl Sundstrom, one of the organizers. She says many don't realize the amount of effort and money required to put on the event each year.

Last year a performance by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra was the culmination of a two-year fundraising effort. Organizers collected $17,000 in grants and donations specifically to put on the free concert at the band shell. The entire Heritage Days event usually costs between $10,000-$12,000 each year.

The City of Two Harbors contributes $4,000 to the event along with services, and money also comes from the Two Harbors Area Fund, Co-operative Light & Power, and cash donations from community members and groups.

Two Harbors City Council member Mary Rosati also helps plan Heritage Days. She says the more difficult parts of organizing the event are finding events that will appeal to a wide range of age groups and booking entertainment for the stage.

Rosati loves every minute of it.

"It brings people home," she said. "And it brings people together who normally wouldn't come into town on a Friday night."

She tried to take a year off but was back at it the next year, working on the parade.

Sundstrom got involved with organizing the event two years after she moved to Two Harbors. She wanted to meet more people and get involved with community service. Rosati suggested that she help with Heritage Days.

"I love walking through the crowds and hearing people's responses to it - what they like, what they didn't like," Sundstrom said.

"And I love kids," Sundstrom said. "We try to find things that will appeal to all age groups."

The group that plans Heritage Days is always open to new ideas and contributors.

"We would love for people who have ideas for Heritage Days to take them and run with them," Sundstrom said.

More information about Heritage Days can be found at www.thheritagedays.com.

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