It's that time of year again: when the leaves start to change, the days cool off, and we finally get to celebrate Crosslake Days!
Crosslake Days is an annual September event in Crosslake that includes several events: a medallion hunt, craft fair, car show, chili cook-off, flea market and bazaar, outdoor movie, live music and much more, all throughout town. This year's celebration is Sept. 22-24.
You'll want to pick up a souvenir Chili Beads Necklace for $5 at an area business to take advantage of specials, discounts and deals throughout town! Deals range from drink specials to retail discounts to freebies. Find the full list of Chili Bead benefits here.
Start off your Crosslake Days with the Hunt for the Missing Chili Pepper. Every day, beginning Thursday, Sept. 22, a new clue is released to aid in the search for the missing chili pepper. It's hidden somewhere in Crosslake, just waiting to be discovered. Remember, the missing chili pepper may not be in plain sight. To see the clues as they're released, check the Chamber of Commerce website. Whoever finds the chili pepper wins an amazing prize basket filled with prizes from local merchants and organizations. The lavish prize is valued at more than $1,000. If you go out hunting, you're almost sure to meet others who share your quest- remember that the clues are clever and decipher them carefully!
Thursday night celebrations will also include live music by Lee Bone at Andy's Restaurant as well as a beer and wine tasting with a silent auction at Maucieri's to benefit Northern Lakes Lightning Boys High School Hockey.
Friday is loaded with activities. At 9 a.m., the second clue is released for the search for the missing chili pepper. A fall fashion boutique sale with free wine and appetizers will take place at Crosslake Coffee from 4-8 p.m.
At 7 p.m., the outdoor movie begins! The movie takes place near the dam at the Crosslake Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area, and this year the movie will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Corps is encouraging everyone to dress like their favorite Star Wars characters. On Friday night you'll also find either live music or DJs at these local restaurants: Andy's, Moonlite Bay, The Wharf and Zorbaz.
Saturday is the big day! The second annual Dam Walk for CMT starts at the Crosslake Campground at 9 a.m., which is the same times the third and final clue for the missing chili pepper will be released.
If craft and vendor sales are your thing, you're in luck. The annual Jule Kaffe, a Scandinavian-themed sale at Crosslake Lutheran Church, begins at 8:3o a.m. The sale includes countless handmade goods, including Christmas presents, baked goods and candies, and lunch will also be sold. The Crosslake-Ideal Lions Club flea market and bazaar also starts at 8:30 a.m., held in the former catholic church parking lot. But wait, there's more: at 9 a.m. the handcrafted artisans and vendors sale in the Old Exchange lot begins!
The car show, another favorite, begins at 9 a.m. in Crosslake Town Square. The show includes custom and classic cars, motorcycles and tractors. As you check out the show you'll hear live music from Lisa Wenger and find a beer garden hosted by Maucieri's and Crosslake Auto Body.
Then at 12 noon, the annual chili cook-off begins. It's a chili cook-off so big there was a legislative bill named for it. The competition has become fierce, with preparations for the perfect chili started days in advance. Chili samplings at each of the participating businesses are free, but don't begin until noon sharp. Chili tasting continues until the chili is all gone! Vote for your favorite chili at any of the voting stations you'll find around town. Nearly 30 businesses are competing in the contest.
In addition to people's choice award, judges will also weigh-in on who they think has made the best chili. This year, in honor of the recent Olympics, all the judges will be current or former professional athletes.
Another favorite event as part of Crosslake Days is the annual Historic Log Village Cider and Candlelight Tour. See Crosslake's history come to life at the Historic Log Village, and enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides and complimentary cider. The event begins at 7 p.m.
There's much more going on, too, including a bungee trampoline and live music at Crafts and Cones, annual disc golf tournament at the Crosslake Community Center, bon fire s'mores and games at the campground, bon fire and giant Jenga at the Wharf, and so much more!
Find a complete listing of the events, including where to sample chili, where to vote on chili and what deals to take advantage of with your chili beads at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber website.