Steamboat Days is just a few days away, and 2019 Harbormaster Dean Beckman is ready to get the festivities rolling full steam ahead.

This week on Inside Winona, we sat down with Beckman to talk about what to expect from this year's Steamboat Day's celebration.

The following interview has been edited for both clarity and brevity. To hear Beckman's unedited and uncut answers, tune into Inside Winona at winonadailynews.com or search Inside Winona on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play PodcastsSpotifyStitcher and Pocket Casts.

Q: Earlier this month you were deputized as the 2019 Steamboat Days Harbormaster. Before we get into what immense powers that cap imparts, we want to let everyone know who you are and remind our listeners why the name Dean Beckman might sound familiar.

A: I've been in Winona for about 25 years now. Actually, 28 years if you count my time as a student at Winona State University.

I was a student there from 1990 to about 1993. I left for a year for graduate school and then returned the fall of 1994.

My wife is Deb Beckman, and we have three children: Aiden, Kale and Erica. I've been around Winona for 25 years or more and we’re fairly active in the community.

I’ve gotten to know a lot of the wonderful people in the Winona community.

I've worked in radio here in town, I’ve also done some work for HBC television and I'm a full-time professor at Saint Mary's University.

Q: What you were thinking when they called you down onto the field to bestow that cap of yours?

A: Well, it's the funniest thing because they did it after one of my slowpitch softball games. I play for Bub's slowpitch softball here in town on Thursday nights.

I saw that there were some people congregating during the game, but I didn't make much of it. I certainly didn't have harbormaster in mind that night.

After the game, a lot of the former harbormasters came onto the field. The next thing I know, some cameras are clicking and going off. Even as it was happening, I didn't put two and two together.

When you do things for the community, you're not doing it for personal recognition, you're doing it to help out the community. So it was not something I was even thinking about that night, but it certainly is a tremendous honor and I’m very humbled by it.

Q: If comics have taught me anything with great power comes great responsibility and absolute power corrupts absolutely. What special powers hiding in that cap of yours?

A: I can guarantee you there's no power in the position. There are a few responsibilities, and I'm very much looking forward to them.

One of the things that I get to do is wherever the Steamboat Days float goes, I get to go with it. There will be a number of area parades, there's about seven or eight, that I'll be in during the summer. I just get to sit on the float, wave, throw some candy if I want.

I also get to cut the ribbon for the beverage garden on Wednesday, June 12.

And, I will be crowning the captain and mate at the Kiddie Parade. Then, of course, the big Steamboat Days Grande Parade, I'll be in that as well.

Q: You’ve been around Winona for a little while now. What kept you in Winona?

A: That's a great question. I think I can speak for my wife, Deb when I say we really just feel like Winona is home to us.

Both of us are from Northeast Iowa, and Winona has been a perfect distance where we can still visit family back home, but raise our own family and make our own identity here.

The people of Winona are fantastic. We’ve made a lot of good friends here. We both love our jobs, what we do in the community, our extracurricular activities, and we just feel like Winona is the perfect place to raise a family.

Q: In the 28 years you’ve been in Winona I have to imagine you’ve made it to two, maybe three Steamboat Days celebrations. What’s your favorite memory from Steamboat Days?

A: I do. Two of our three children were actually in it. One was the captain and one was the mate. Our son, Kale, was the captain one year for Steamboat Days, and our daughter, Erica, was the mate.

They were able to ride on the Steamboat Days float as well during the Grande Parade. Now being harbormaster, we have a harbormaster in the family along with a captain and a mate.

I always love the Grande Parade. We go to the fireworks, which is on Sunday night at 10 p.m. every year. We've hardly missed a firework show as a family. There are just so many things to do.

The carnival is always great too. Our children have loved going to that.

When you look at all of the activities that go on for Steamboat Days, there truly is something for everyone. I think we've been able to partake in most of them during the last 25 years.

Q: What is your favorite fair food indulgence?

A: I would say pretty much anything deep fat fried, and I probably shouldn't admit that, but it's true. I think especially the cheese curds. If you had to pin me down and say what's your one favorite food? I've got to go with the cheese curds.

Q: Where can our listeners find you next week?

A: During Steamboat Days, I will be all over the place. The best place to find me would be on Wednesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. I’ll be with the Steamboat Days festival committee cutting the ribbon for the beverage garden.

Then, of course, I’ll be at the Kiddie Parade. I will definitely be there and the Grande Parade. Then the Kiddie Parade is on Friday at 10 a.m. down at the lake and the Grande Parade is on Broadway starting at noon on Sunday.

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Tobias Mann covers crime and government in Winona County. He can be reached at 507-453-3522 or at tobias.mann@winonadailynews.com


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