VALPARAISO – A variety of new and traditional favorites will fill the schedule of this year’s Val Days.

Activities get underway this Thursday and wrap up Sunday evening.

Val Days Committee Member Dan Homes said multiple new events have been introduced this year in the hopes of being repeat events for future Val Days.

One of these new events is the road rally scheduled for Friday, May 31. Registered vehicles and their drivers will participate in a two to two and a half hour scavenger hunt within a 10 miles perimeter around Valparaiso in search of clues. The driver with the best score is the winner.

Homes said he expects anywhere from 15 to 30 cars/participants to attend the rally.

Drivers must register for the rally between 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the south side of the tent in downtown Valparaiso. There is a $20 registration fee.

“I think it may become an annual event,” Homes added.

Other new events include a watermelon feed sponsored by the Oak Creek Valley Bank and a Wine Tasting sponsored by Knights of Columbus on Saturday.

Beyond the new events, Homes said many of the traditional events are making their return once again.

“Savor the Bohemian Alps” at Pine Crest Farms gets things started on Thursday evening and community wide garage sales start on Friday.

Val Ball Association scrimmages, the annual vintage baseball game and fireworks at the ballpark will cap Friday.

The ever popular barbecue cook-off and the craft and vendor fair are on the schedule Saturday.

The cook-off begins at 8 a.m. and public sampling starts at 5:30 p.m.

Barbecue coordinator Tyler Martin said the barbecue would be separated into three categories, chicken, pork butts and ribs. This year, there are seven contestants competing in the chicken category, six in the ribs and five in the pork butt. First place prize is $200 and second is $100, as picked by judges, and another plate will be chosen afterwards a vote of the public.

“It’s going to have to look nice and have a good flavor. It’s about looks, taste and technique,” Martin said.

Martin said the barbecue has proven very popular over the years, being a returning event for seven or eight years now.

Beyond just the competition, Martin said the bigger goal of the barbecue was to help feed the public Saturday. There are usually about 180 to 220 plates sold to attendees.

“Come and get it and come early,” Martin said.

Other Saturday activities include duck races, silent auction and the street dance featuring MoJo Filter.

Sunday gets started with the traditional breakfast and polka music at Val Tavern.

The craft and vendor fair will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’ve got anything and everything,” Coordinator Cheryl Rieck said.

Rieck encouraged people to consider renting a booth for a $25 fee. She said there are about 25 booths planned so far, but there is room for more.

“Anyone is welcome and we’ll take vendors up until that day,” Rieck said.

This is the third year of the craft and vendor fair at Val Days. She said she has seen a lot of community interest in the activity.

“It gives the community the chance to do a little shopping,” Rieck said.

And, it adds some variety to Val Days.

“The whole weekend is fun, having a lot of different things for a lot of different ages,” she added.

Other returning Sunday activities are the horseshoe tournament, chainsaw carving, ice cream social, bingo, Kid Zone and Czech dancers.

Starting at 5 p.m., the Val Days parade will begin winding down the street.

Homes said the parade was typically held in honor of a local business, with this year’s business being Harry’s Tavern. The parade’s theme will be “Just another day in paradise” and led by Grand Marshall Brad Andelt.

Home said the parade always draws a crowd.

“It’s the moment when people just come out of the woodwork,” he added.

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