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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- The Jeffrey Dible Soccer Complex field might seem empty now, but soon it will be teeming with Shriners from across the central United States.

"This is where we'll be having our motor corps competition," David Krogh said Wednesday afternoon. "Starting at 7:30 a.m. Friday, motorcyclists will be competing in precision drills."

A Past Potentate for Abu Bekr Shriners, Krogh is also the director general for the Central States Shrine Association (CSSA) summer convention.

The CSSA is composed of more than 20 Shrine Temples from Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

According to Krogh, that means between 1,100 to 1,200 Shriners will be visiting the metro area between now and Saturday.

"Abu Bekr Shriners have hosted Midwest Shrine Association (MSA) conventions in the past but this is the first time we've had the pleasure of hosting the CSSA," he explained. "Since the CSSA is larger than the MSA, this is a Shrine Convention on steroids."

Indeed, it is a huge undertaking for Krogh and the Abu Bekr Shrine, which has members throughout western Iowa, as well as two counties each in Northeast Nebraska and Southeast South Dakota.

While a majority of business meetings will take place at the Delta Hotel by Marriott, 385 E. Fourth St., South Sioux City, an open-to-the-public marketplace also will be located at the hotel.

Even more exciting will be a multitude of open-to-the-public events, which begin with a parade Thursday night in downtown Sioux City.

"Everybody loves a parade and nobody does parades like Shriners," Krogh said. "Our parade will step off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Third and Iowa Street. We'll head west, all the way to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino."

Friday will bring an even larger itinerary of events, including the aforementioned motor corps competition (taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 1300 Riverview Drive, South Sioux City); a clown competition (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Southern Hills Mall, 4400 Sergeant Road, Sioux City); a slapstick-filled Keystone Cops contest (10 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the old Walmart, Highway 77 and 29th Street, South Sioux City); an Oriental band competition (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Delta Hotel by Marriott); and a foot patrol contest (10 to 11 a.m. in the west parking lot at the Tyson Events Center, corner of Pearl Street and Triview Avenue, Sioux City).

If that isn't enough, there will even be a second Shrine Parade, starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in South Sioux City.

Wait, there's going to be two parades?

"You can never have too many parades," Krogh said. "The South Sioux City parade will start at 10th Street and Dakota Avenue, continuing to 28th and Dakota avenues."

All of these activities will call attention to Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of 22 nonprofit medical facilities across North America, which are owned and operated by Shriners International. 

However, Abu Bekr's hosting the CSSA convention is more personal for Krogh.

"The CSSA summer conventions are typically held in larger cities and have little interaction with community members," he said. "In Siouxland, city officials, business leaders and community members always turn out to support the Shriners."

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