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Highlight of the Month: Rice Park

Willmar’s Rice Park takes up a city block (2.24 acres) right in the heart of the city, a block off the main business thoroughfare. For decades, the focal point of this park was a wading pool built in the 1950s with financial assistance from the local JAYCEE service club. With an updated park plan completed in 2015, the ongoing Rice Park renovation is the first major park project in the city of Willmar in decades.

The renovated park will have a splash pad and a three-season shelter. Given the long history of the wading pool at the park, it was important for the community to have access to a free water feature and the splash pad will meet that need. With the removal of two tennis courts and the wading pool, there is much more green space available to the community to use for picnics or recreational activities. The tennis courts that were removed will be replaced in Miller Park about a mile from Rice Park as part of a 2018 park project. Much of the Rice Park renovation was completed this fall, with the exception of the shade structure in the splash pad area and additional landscaping to be completed in the spring.

For more information on Rice Park, visit or contact Steve Brisendine, Director of Community Education & Recreation for the city of Willmar, at

Thank you to Steve Brisendine for providing information on Rice Park for this month’s park highlight. If you have a park, trail or special project that you would like us to feature in an upcoming newsletter, please contact us at