Summertime and the living is…fun
Those who know me and those who are faithful readers of this column know I did not grow up in a small town in Minnesota.
I actually did not grow up in Minnesota or in a small town somewhere else. Unless you consider San Diego, California, and Denver, Colorado, small towns.
When I moved to Minnesota and started college, I lived in Mankato. And, I thought that was a small town.
Little did I know.
It was not until my junior year in college that I got a summer intern position at the Lake Region Life newspaper in Waterville. That was where I first discovered what a small town in Minnesota was all about.
And, that is where my love affair with small towns and the newspapers that serve them all began.
It was in Waterville that I discovered nearly every single small town in Minnesota has a summer celebration. There in Waterville it was Bullhead Days, and yes, they cook and serve thousands of the sometimes despised fish.
I covered it for the newspaper, as well as Dam Days in Morristown and Independence Days in Elysian. For someone who had never been to such an event, well, it was certainly very interesting, to say the least.
Then I got sent to Le Center to cover the Le Sueur County Fair. I learned that nearly every one of Minnesota’s 87 counties has their own county fair. Some are big, some small, and all are fun.
Well, just about everyone knew, except for the guy who grew up in California and Colorado.
In Tyler, where we lived before moving to Blue Earth 12 years ago, it is Aebleskiver Days. I admit it is a strange name for a celebration, but it may not be the strangest one.
Tyler is a Danish-heritage community and aebleskivers are a Danish delight. They are basically a round pancake. Yes, I know, most pancakes are round. But aebleskivers are round like a tennis ball.
They taste like a pancake, too. They can have fruit inside, like apple sauce or apple slices, or berries, but most of the time they don’t. Just cover them in your favorite syrup and eat them.
The most interesting thing about them, however, is not the eating, but it is watching them being made. It takes patience and a special aebleskiver pan to do it.
At the very first Aebleskiver Days, more than 12,000 of the little round pancake balls were made and consumed. They were free. Now there is a small charge. Oh, and you get some breakfast sausages with them, too.
If you want to check them out, this year’s Aebleskiver Days is July 27. (It is on July 26 and 28, too, but the ‘skivers, as the natives call them, are only served on Saturday.)
Of course in Faribault County, every town has it’s own party. Here at the Register, we are kept busy getting to every one of them. Winnebago, Kiester and Bricelyn have already had theirs. Blue Earth and Minnesota Lake are coming up this week, with Elmore’s after that. Then, of course, it is the county fair, followed by Frost and Wells in August and then Easton (a change from normal) in September.
There are, of course, many more things other than town celebrations and the county fair in the summer. Summer theater, quilt shows and Farming of Yesteryear, just to name a few.
The point is, we may live in small towns, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening during the summer. Nearly every single weekend all summer long, the Register photographers are grabbing their cameras and heading somewhere to cover some fun, small-town event.
And, they are fun. Each celebration may be a little different, but most of them are meant to give the town its own chance to celebrate its identity. They bring together residents, past residents and visitors, and give them all a chance to renew their sense of community.
Of course, the food, fun, parades and street dances are a guarantee for a good time for young and old alike.
So, the point here is that while I might have been a late-comer to the small town celebration party, I have made up for it by attending a wide variety of them, always with camera in hand.
I am sure there are folks out there who can say they have been to every Giant Days or Kernel Days, Horse and Buggy Days, or even Bullhead Days and Aebleskiver Days since the celebration was first created.
I hope you can get to at least one fun summer event this year. Especially in your own home town, but then maybe a couple of others. And don’t miss the biggest one of them all, the county fair, coming up soon. That is where the whole county gets together under the oaks to celebrate and have some fun.
See you there.