Bizs boost Lakewalk Fest

“All the hotels are involved,” says Kristi Stokes. “A lot of businesses have stepped up.”

Like a lot of festivals, the Duluth Lakewalk Festival which kicks off tonight started modestly. But it’s been growing. Now, in its third year it seems poised to turn into one of those seasonal marker events in town.

“It’s just a real big hit for families,” says Stokes who is president of the Greater Downtown Council, one of the festival sponsors. “The family-oriented activities have been attracting a lot of families, both ours as well as visitors’.”

The free festival starts  at 7:30 tonight with a outdoor showing of “Toy Story 3” in Leif Erikson Park. Events continue from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday along the Lakewalk from Canal Park to Fitger’s.  More fun will be near the Lakewalk at 47th Avenue East and Superior Street.

Besides the usual kids activities, there will be disc golf, rock painting, fishing holes and fire engine tours. Zumba fitness and UMD men’s hockey players will be on hand at Lake Place Park. Gather enough stamps at stops along the Lakewalk and get free ice cream. And there’s a medallion hunt based on clues posted this week at’sup.

The Canal Park hotels have embraced the festival this year.

“We had them involved before, but they’re more heavily involved,” Stokes says. “They’re doing their own activities.”

That’s also true in Lakeside where businesses and groups have stepped up and are hosting activities. You’ll find it off the Lakewalk at 47th Avenue East  at the Essentia Health parking lot. And you can take a free ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad to get there from Lake Place Park and Fitger’s. The train will run every half hour.

With a dog theme, pooches are welcome at the Lakeside happening, said Lakeside co-chair Bobbi Muncy of Edward Jones, 4433 E. Superior St.. That  includes a Top Dog contest at 2 p.m. (bring your dog),  puppy pools (bring your puppy), a bounce house, balloons and facepainting (bring your kids), goodies and other surprises.

And with Matilda’s Dog Bakery and Boutique nearby, there’ll be a lot of dog biscuits, Muncy says