By DEVIN HEILMAN
RATHDRUM — Hot dogs will sizzle on the grill, wiener dogs will race in the grass and watermelon will be eaten like it's going out of style.
And all the while, Rathdrum businesses will happily welcome visitors as they meander through Rathdrum Days this weekend.
"I know the fast food places near the high school have run out of food before. They really gear up for it," Rathdrum Mayor Vic Holmes said Friday before heading to the festival. "People spend an obscene amount of money out here. And that money circulates six times before it leaves. It's a big deal."
The 38th annual Rathdrum Days celebration is in full swing today. It's a lively community event for festival-goers, but it's also a boon for local business.
"We're super excited," said Josh Loken, general manager of Westwood Brewing Company, which will be barbecuing dogs, burgers and brats for its first Rathdrum Days open on Main Street. Nadine's Mexican Kitchen is also a newer addition to the Main Street community that will be open to provide tasty vittles for hungry Rathdrum Days guests.
"All hands are on deck," Loken said. "We're expecting to be rocking. The owners are cooking; everyone's here."
The festival will feature vendor booths, hosted by friendly members of the local craft, food and business scene. Tim Herzog of Twin Lakes Realty will be among them, sporting red, white and blue banners and mingling with visitors.
"I'll talk to whoever wants to stop by and visit," Herzog said. "Even if someone's coming through from out of town and they want to know about real estate, I'm here to talk to them."
Just about every aspect of the town will be a part of the celebration, including Rathdrum Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec is sponsoring the North Idaho Strong Man competition, where contestants will show off some muscle while pulling school buses, flipping tires and carrying heavy weights.
"We think it's something that's going to take off and will happen for years to come," said Parks and Rec Director Eric Singer. "I think it's here to stay for sure. We're getting a lot of interest in it."
Aside from hosting the strong man (and woman) competition, Parks and Rec traditionally partners with the Rathdrum Chamber of Commerce to set up, help with traffic control and otherwise help Rathdrum Days run smoothly. In the past, Parks and Rec hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and volunteered to barbecue, but this year the department has moved the tourney to its own weekend — Aug. 5 — and is letting Westwood and Nadine's do the cooking.
"The chamber does a really good job," Singer said. "One of their main focuses is the businesses. They structure the weekend to help the businesses out."
When he's finally off duty, Singer, a longtime Rathdrum resident, plans to enjoy the fun Rathdrum Days has to offer.
"It's just great to see the people within the town come out, hang out and have fun," Singer said. "You see people come in from outside of town and they get a chance to know Rathdrum."
If you go
Rathdrum Days continues today with lots of community activities.
From 7:30-9:30 a.m., the Rathdrum Days Community Breakfast presented by Clover Chapter No. 33 Order of the Eastern Star will take place in the Rathdrum Masonic Lodge, 15190 N. McCartney St.
The Kiddie Parade is at 9:15 a.m. on Main Street, followed by the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and entertainment by the Junk Drawer Troubadour. The Rathdrum Days Parade is at 10:30 a.m.
Sweet classic cars will take over the lawn at Lakeland Junior High School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the famous wiener dog races are at noon.
At Lakeland High School, the food/vendor fair goes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy live music by Gil Rivas from noon to 2 p.m., Ronald McDonald Big Wheel Races at 1 p.m., Mini-Hawks at 2 p.m., music by Johnny Jonson from 2-3 p.m., Ronald McDonald’s Magic Show from 3-4 p.m. and live music by Clint Darnell from 4-6 p.m.
The fun begins again at 10 a.m. Sunday with the vendor and food fair and plenty of fun events until 4 p.m.