Downtown Owatonna is once again the place to be as GEM Days takes over the streets.

Thursday morning, downtown businesses brought their products outdoors with special sales as food vendors lined Central Park to celebrate the inaugural GEM Days event. The first day — coined “Community Day” by the committee — featured tours at the Orphanage Museum in West Hills and the Village of Yesteryear, yoga for kids in Central Park and a special entertainment from RAD Zoo.

GEM Days is Crazy Days re-imagined in Owatonna, specifically designed to celebrate the area’s rich history as the “jewel on the prairie” — a termed coined thanks to the historic Louis H. Sullivan National Farmer’s Bank downtown, now Wells Fargo.

“We want to celebrate our historic buildings and our beautiful parks and trails. We’ll celebrate our history, our legends and our entrepreneurial spirit,” said Cindy Stelter, owner of Central Park Framing in downtown Owatonna and member of Owatonna Business Partnership, during the the planning stages of GEM Days. “We’ll celebrate our art and music and our attractions and entertainment. We’ll celebrate our businesses, our services and our schools.”

“And above all, we’ll celebrate our citizens who are GEMS,” she continued. “One and all!”

GEM Days continues through Saturday, with Friday deemed “Family Day” and Saturday to be “Market Day.” Upcoming events include a petting zoo in Central Park on Friday and as well as a special presentation from the Camp Pillsbury kids that evening. On Saturday, people can enjoy the farmers market downtown as well as compete in a cardboard boat regatta at River Springs Water Park.

There will be two special events on Sunday, including a special admission price at River Springs Water Park and a Turbo Kick Class in Central Park at noon.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @AnnieGranlund. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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