WAYZATA — The 45th annual James J. Hill Days celebration has come and gone.
The large, three-day event kicked off Friday, Sept. 6, with a market, car show, beer festival and carnival, and ended Sunday, Sept. 8, with a parade down Lake Street in downtown Wayzata.
The festival, which often attracts upwards of 70,000 people to Wayzata, honors the city’s history and marks the end of summer. This year, it felt like the end of summer, with the festival concluding with a morning of drizzle on a chilly Sunday.
“We are grateful for the support from the community and have received a lot of positive comments and thanks for the event,” said Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce President Becky Pierson. “The weather was not as ideal all weekend, but we were still happy to see that people come out, regardless of the weather.”
James J. Hill Days featured the popular events from years past, including dachshund races, the parade, the carnival and the street market, but event organizers also tested a few new things at this year’s event after getting requests from people who wanted more to do on Friday. They added a Night Market on Friday, where about 60 vendors lined Lake Street, as well as the Retroshift Car Show, where several vintage or unique vehicles were on display Friday night.
As the rain cleared up Sunday afternoon, the parade featuring local Wayzata businesses, organizations and politicians marched down Lake Street. The parade’s Grand Marshal, Art Mason — known for his almost 30 years as a friendly face in the drive-through window of the Wayzata McDonald’s — waved from a convertible as attendees cheered him on.
“The Wayzata community is a wonderful mix of charm, tradition, history, business, residents, and visitors in a beautiful setting,” Pierson said. “For 45 years, James J. Hill Days has provided a few days for the community to come together to celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends at the end of the summer, and welcome others to experience our community.”
James J. Hill Days has been held the weekend after Labor Day since 1975 as a way to celebrate Wayzata’s history and James J. Hill, the prolific historical figure who once owned the Great Northern Railroad Company. Hill built the Wayzata Depot in 1906 and is credited with putting Wayzata on the map as a tourist destination on Lake Minnetonka.