On the Road to Lake City: a town for every season - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On the Road to Lake City: a town for every season

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  • KTTC 'On the Road'

    KTTC 'On the Road'

    Take a look inside your favorite communities to see what makes them special as KTTC goes 'On the Road' this summer.

    More >>

    Take a look inside your favorite communities to see what makes them special as KTTC goes 'On the Road' this summer.

    More >>
LAKE CITY, Minn. (KTTC) -

This week in our On the Road series, we're taking you up Highway 63 from Rochester to a town that's gearing up for a big celebration this weekend.

Home of the largest pleasure marina on the Mississippi, other than New Orleans, Lake City is a good place to enjoy nature's beauty in all four seasons.

In the winter, there's a lot more you can do with the frozen surface of Lake Pepin than just skating and fishing.

Ice-sailing has found its way to southeast Minnesota.

"The boats top out at about 60, 70 miles per hour, but they accelerate really fast. You get some wind in the sail and boom! You're gone,” said thrill-seeker James Thieler in a 2013 interview with KTTC.

Then every year, the Army Corps of Engineers measures the feet of solid ice along the whole lake. They take an auger and drill holes, each mile, looking for answers as to when the navigation season might resume.

"We do this once a week starting today, and we'll do it once a week until the towboat breaks through Lake Pepin,” said Al Van Guilder on a 14-below-zero morning.

When the ice melts, though, it is like another world. Lake City begins to come alive with events like the 100-Mile Garage Sale.

And one by one, it becomes a sailor's paradise again. Every late April, the boats start to be lowered into the water.

This year, Dave Brustad tended to the hull of his sailboat before the season began.

"Once you're ready to go, you're good for the summer. And hey, nowhere else I'd rather be than on Lake Pepin in the summer,” Brustad said.

All summer, those boats will cruise the waters of Lake Pepin; earning them a front row seat to the SkiDox annual shows at Water Ski Days.

This year, they will also see a beautiful display of patriotism; 400 flags lining Lake Pepin as a fundraiser for the Lake City American Legion.

The president of the American Legion Auxiliary, who helped organize the flag fundraiser, says each one is dedicated in memory or in honor of someone.

"To have that many people care about our organization and showing our pride for America and our country, it's just overwhelming for me,” said Laura Pelz.

This year during Water Ski Days, a new business will be out on the water. Eagle Hang Gliding takes Lake City to new heights.

"These bluffs that Lake City provide. It's like the eighth wonder of the world,” said Josh McMillan, a tandem instructor.

From way up there, you can see Pepin Heights Orchards, which grows all summer and is reaped in the autumn.

The orchards overlook the lake, and the owner believes the view makes everything a little sweeter.

"If it weren't for the sight in which these were grown, it wouldn't taste the same,” laughed Dennis Courtier, the owner of the orchard.

No matter the season, Lake City is a trip up Highway 63 well worth it for incredible views and things to do all year round.

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