An annual tradition that began more than six decades ago, the Black Hawk Lake Summer Water Carnival takes place each year on the third full weekend of July. Started in 1952 as a small carnival with dances and boat races, the event now attracts over 20,000 visitors to the shore of Black Hawk Lake. The water carnival offers many different festival activities taking place from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Visitors can enjoy midway rides by McDermott Shows and local food/entertainment stands that open on Friday and run all weekend long. In addition to all of that, there is entertainment on or near the West Stone Pier each day. As always, there is no admission charge to enjoy the entertainment at Summer Water Carnival. Come and join us for one of the area’s most beloved celebrations year after year!
Friday Night Events
Held on the sidewalk between the Stone Piers along the shoreline of Black Hawk Lake, the Kiddie Parade kicks off the water carnival each year. It has become a family tradition for many, bringing brothers, sisters, cousins and friends together to celebrate summer in Lake View. Starting at 7:00 p.m., participants are judged in the categories of costumes, bikes and trikes, floats and best group, with winners garnering the coveted prize of more midway ride tickets!
Following the Kiddie Parade, “Open Mic” karaoke takes place on the stage near the West Stone Pier, and the McDermott Midway and local food stands open. Friday night is also opening night for the Black Hawk Men’s Club Beverage Garden, an annual tradition that brings old friends and classmates together for fun evenings along the lake. The beverage garden is a fundraiser for the Men’s Club, who generously donate toward community improvement efforts throughout the year.
Start the perfect carnival weekend by taking in a magnificent firework display over the waters of Black Hawk Lake on Friday night. A tradition that used to mark the end of the carnival, it has now been moved to the first night so everyone can enjoy the show. The show will dazzle visitors as it lights up the Lake View night sky.
Saturday is a big day! Events include the Lions Club Waffle Breakfast, a 5K race, the Street Parade, a pedal tractor pull, cardboard boat races, bags tournament, Bill Riley Talent Show, and the traditional water float parade.
Art in the Park
On both Saturday and Sunday mornings during the carnival, art and craft vendors display their wares in Speaker Park. Located directly across the street from the West Stone Pier, the park becomes a mecca of unique items including beautiful artwork, fine woodworking, metal crafts and homemade jewelry along with a host of other talents. If you are interested in being a vendor, please contact Nancy Muhlbauer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Street Parade begins at 1 p.m. with the American Legion and East Sac County School band leading the way. The 12-block route down Madison Street and back up Main Street is lined with thousands of on-lookers watching the entries, screaming for candy, or trying to avoid getting soaked by the Men’s Club in their traditional “bathtubs” entry.
The Parade of Water Floats is the headline event for each year’s Water Carnival. Held on the waters of Black Hawk Lake at dusk, boats pull lighted pontoons decorated with a different theme each year. Sponsored by local businesses, this awe-inspiring parade on the water draws tens of thousands of spectators every year.
On Sunday, visitors are treated to a wide variety of Stone Pier Stage entertainment, including the annual Little Miss Black Hawk Pageant. Taking place since 1970, girls age 5 to 8 get dressed up in fancy dresses and party togs as they are interviewed by the pageant MC. All of the fancy fun leads up to the announcement of Miss Congeniality, first and second runners up, and the coveted title of Little Miss Black Hawk. Past Little Miss winners return each year to don their sash while waving to crowds from convertibles during the Street Parade on Saturday.
Another fan favorite is the annual Mud Volleyball Tournament held on Sunday afternoon. How do you make the most-muddy fun in the region? You dig two giant courts around two feet deep, fill them with water from Black Hawk Lake, and send in the muddy participants! Each year the field of 32 teams fills up quickly with groups in their themed shirts vying to be the spectator favorite. Win or lose, everyone can clean off with a refreshing dip in Black Hawk Lake.