Summertime means different things to different people.
For students, it can mean a vacation from school. For teachers, it can mean a vacation from students. Others use summer to travel, to rest and to reflect.
In Minnesota, it can be said it means one thing: time for festivals. From June to September, there is no lack of activities for families. There are literally festivals every other weekend – if not every weekend – to choose from.
The cool thing about it is most of them can be reached within miles of your home. And if the weather is nice, some just walk down to the party in the park or the free concert in the garden.
St. Cloud just wrapped up its multi-day annual Granite City Days celebration. The city of Sauk Rapids closed up shop on its Rapids River Days events.
The city of St. Joseph is just days away from its downtown being morphed into a sea of people crowding the parking lot of the Church of St. Joseph to enjoy the annual parish festival. And on the next day, the sides of Minnesota Street will be packed with family and friends to watch the annual Fourth of July parade. See, a double-whammy of festivities.
While many area cities offer some of the same festival favorites such as parades, carnival games and inflatable slides, each community tries to be a little distinct. For example, here in St. Joseph, there’s Joetown Rocks, something unique to the city that once featured the sounds of the legendary Bobby Vee. It brings in thousands of people from far and wide.
On the night of July 3, Joetown Rocks will feature music by Emma Kay and the Long Ways, Liverpool Legends (a Beatles cover band) and Shalo Lee and the Rush River Band.
A few weeks after Joetown is all grooved out, one then has the option to venture a few miles to neighboring Cold Spring. The city will celebrate its tradition of the Cold Spring Hometown Pride Festival in the fourth week of July. The Stearns County Fair held at the county fairgrounds in Sauk Centre is also slated to be held during the fourth week of July.
As a reporter, I like covering festivals, especially watching a little one’s face light up at a parade attraction or retreat if the sound of the firetruck is too loud. Festivalgoers appreciate things you might miss if you never ask, “What brings you here?” or “What’s your favorite part of the event?” The response can be anything from, “It’s actually my first time here,” or “My family and me never miss this!”
I love the variety of responses because it means festival organizers succeeded. They pulled off an event that – pardon the cliché – had something for everyone.
Attending a festival is also a great way to see just how much pride residents take in their hometowns. They not only attend themselves but invite others to join in the fun. If you’re proud of something, you want to share it with the world, right?
While I’ve spent a few years covering festivals, I have pledged to attend at least one this summer solely as an attendee. With so many to choose from, wish me luck.