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story.lead_photo.caption Avrey Johnson, 8, powers his way to the end zone Saturday, July 3, 2021, in the carnival area of Jefferson City's Salute to America celebration. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

Perfect weather led to a pleasant second day of activities at this year's Salute to America in Downtown Jefferson City.

Festival Chair Doug Hagenhoff said Friday's parade went off without a hitch and on Saturday people seemed to take their time and enjoyed walking through the various food and other vendors' booths set up along High Street as well as the carnival and kids games on Madison Street and East Capitol Avenue.

One of the new attractions this year is axe throwing, and once people get up to throw on the platform near the corner of Madison and East Capitol a crowd usually follows to watch.

"It's a very popular sport and our Event Coordinator Penny Smith suggested we try doing it, so we ran with it," Hagenhoff said.

Benjamin Wiemholt is co-owner of Como Axe Attack, the company running the axe throw for the Salute to America.

On Friday night, Wiemholt said they had 70-80 people throw in just the few hours they operated. He estimated they would do that many, and probably much more, on Saturday night.

"Tournaments started about four years ago and we opened three years ago," Wiemholt said. "The biggest thing I think people like about it is it's a chance to have something fun to do with your friends."

One of the things Wiemholt said they still have to get across to some people is that it's not a scary thing to do.

"We get a lot of people who are nervous and then as soon as they see someone throwing they say, 'Hey I can do that," Wiemholt said.

Those throwing on Saturday had a choice of axes going from 1-3 pounds.

"We usually say the youngest person throwing should be around 12 years old, because they do need to have some upper body strength," Wiemholt said. "We can do younger kids with the parents permission and everyone who throws does have to sign a form showing they understand what they are going to be doing before they throw."

Wiemholt said when people hear the initial sound of the axe hitting the board they get curious and come over to take a look at those who are throwing.

"It's really interesting because I've see npeople in their 20's and 30's say, 'Oh, I can't do that,' and then see someone in their 70s or 80s start throwing and hitting the bullseye," Wiemholt said. "It's just a matter of getting over that nervousness to get many people to try it."

One of those throwing identified himself as Christian. He had thrown many times before and said axe throwing is a good way to get your aggression out.

"You feel great — like a Viking," he said while laughing. "It's very safe. I didn't expect them to have this here for this event, but I think it's perfect."

Hagenhoff said today they are planning on having an axe throwing tournament as well as having people throw for fun.

From 2-3 p.m. is the general qualifying, and throwing just for fun can still be done during that time. The double elimination tournament will be 3-5 p.m.

It's $20 to qualify for the tourney, and you get 15 throws. The top 16 throwers are in the tournament.

Como Axe will pay out to the top three places. You have to be 18 or older to participate. Participants can't bring their own axe. Also, closed toed shoes are required.

Open throw will resume 5-9 p.m. For open throws it's $3 for five throws and $5 for 10 throws.

Another event expected to draw a big crowd today is one Hagenhoff has been doing for 12 years. The Route 66 Car Cruise will be noon-4 p.m. in the 200 and 300 blocks of East High Street.

"In past years, we've had 70-85 vehicles," Hagenhoff said. "Most of the vehicles come from Central Missouri, but we run the gambit."

Hagenhoff said the vehicles have to be at least 25 years old to come and park.

"We mostly get '60s to '70s muscle cars, but we get some '30s to '50s vehicles," Hagenhoff said. "Everybody likes to poke around those old cars, and the owners love to talk about their vehicles. I've got one, too, and you remember the people that had a similar vehicle. Now we wish we'd kept some of those cars."

The festival will come to an end with the annual fireworks extravaganza which is scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. Authorities do ask that since the fireworks are shot off on the north side of the Missouri River, and since many people try to go to North Jefferson City for a good spot to watch them, those who do should pay particular attention to closure signs relating to any flooding and inaccessible properties.

There was good news on the flooding front as the National Weather Service in St. Louis reported the Missouri River in Jefferson City went below the flood stage of 23 feet around 4 p.m. Saturday. It was expected to continue to go down and be around 18 feet Sunday evening.

Gallery: Salute to America 2021
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