Hospitality draws windsurfers
Threatening weather can’t dampen mood at Regatta
BY NATALIE POHLMAN AND KATY DEVLIN
June 12, 2004
WORTHINGTON — Despite the foreboding clouds and tornado watches Friday afternoon, the windsurfers stayed on the lake and the skilled musicians continued on the stage.
While there wasn’t enough wind last year, it looked as if there could be way too much Friday. But locals, as well as those who traveled across many state lines, were still coming back to the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival for the fun.
Worthington has much more than just a nice lake — the city makes people feel welcome and always offers a good time, visitors and residents said.
Longtime windsurfer Raymond Kuntz, of Minot, N.D., came to the Regatta weekend with his wife and their young quadruplets. Kuntz said Worthington’s Regatta sets itself apart from other events, and his family tries to make the 10-hour drive to come to the Regatta every year.
“(Windsurfing) is what we do, and it’s all our friends. It’s just wonderful,” Kuntz said. “It’s the best event I have ever been at. You can see three generations out on the water — grandparents, parents, kids. … It’s the healthiest I’ve seen the sport in a long time.” John Hass and Kathy Keenan of Omaha, Neb., agreed, and said the community offers much more than just windsurfing.
Within minutes of arriving at Lake Okabena with a van and trailer, the couple was already biking on the paved trail that takes riders around the water. They also had plans to inline skate during the day and dance at the Long Branch Saloon by night.
“It’s just a pretty town. It’s a great town,” said Hass, who has windsurfed during the Regatta in Worthington every year for the last five years.
Keenan, who is visiting Worthington for the first time, said the city strikes her as a nice community. Windsurfers appreciate the Regatta because there aren’t many close by, she said.
Kirk Naber of Ankeny, Iowa, agreed and said the community opens its arms to visitors — even if the event doesn’t have much wind, participants will still have fun.
“I think it’s the atmosphere … it’s a friendly community and it seems like the people go out of their way to make it a great event for the community,” he said.