On Saturday, June 1, the ninth annual Rhubarb Festival promises loads of fun and free entertainment for the whole family. Starting at 10 a.m., running until 3 p.m. in Lanesboro's Sylvan Park, the festival celebrates the funniest vegetable in all of Minnesota with off-beat entertainment and generous helpings of humor.

The event's signature attraction is a public tasting of the sweet and savory food and beverages entered in the annual recipe contest. If you cook with rhubarb, you're invited to enter your own favorite recipe. See "Call for Entries" on the Rhubarb Festival website, www.rhubarbfestival.org.

If you like to sample delicious, interesting or unexpected taste sensations, step into the tasting line and enjoy dozens of items made with rhubarb - from pies to pickles, savories to sweets, libations to fruit leather. Vote for your favorites and help choose this year's prizing-winning recipes.

If you're inspired by others who cook with rhubarb, the Festival is the perfect place to pick up your own copy of the Rhubarb Festival cookbook "Everything Rhubarb," a compendium of award-winning recipes and stories from a small town that celebrates Rhubarb.

Next, take a stroll around the park and join in even more rhubarb hoopla. Visit the Cock-A-Doodle Zoo, where you'll meet a real kangaroo, lemur, alligator and other exotic (possibly rhubarb-eating) creatures.

Dress up and join the Rhubarb Fashion show - your entry is welcome! Try your hand at some whacky Rhubarb Games, or a Pie Making Contest, or Minute-to-Win-It contest, or lead little ears to the Story Tree for read-aloud entertainment.

The day's lineup also features the Lanesboro Farmers Market, "Rhub-Art" for the kids, bake sales, a fun new crop of food and goods vendors, Rhubarb Rants and largest rhubarb leaf and stalk contests.

Top off the rhubarb experience with the 7:30 p.m. Rhubarb Sisters in concert, "I Left My Heart in Rhubarb Country."

When one becomes winded from the flurry, get a picnic blanket or lawn chairs from the car. Sit back, let the rhubarb digest as you listen to fun-loving musicians and tongue-in-cheek entertainers from the area. The opening ceremony will be led by KTTC-TV morning news team Jess Abrahamson and Ted Schmidt. There will be blues by the notorious Rutabaga Brothers; original rhubarb harmonies by the Rhubarb Sisters; local musical favorites Walter Bradley, Steve Arnold and Tom Schramm; the famous flaming Rhubarb Jugglers, Zumba entertainment, helicopter rides and more.

Make room for those rhubarb-tasting calories - arrive early and join the 9 a.m. Rhubarb 5K or one-mile run. Registration information is on the festival website. Enjoy the grand rhubarb treatment with an accordion serenade, ceremonial fanning with rhubarb leaves, a shot of rhubarb elixir and more.

Enjoy the festival, linger for the weekend or longer in a fun-loving community.