Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Going strong for 122 years: Good old-fashioned Fourth of July fun in North Morristown July 1, 2014

JULY FOURTH in North Morristown is like a step back in time, a true grassroots celebration in the heart of rural southern Minnesota farm land.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing.

A large crowd enjoys a free afternoon concert by Monroe Crossing on July 4, 2013. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Since 1892—that’s 122 years if you’re counting—Trinity Lutheran Church and School have observed our nation’s birthday, giving it the distinction as the oldest Fourth of July celebration in Minnesota.

The country church and school, and a cluster of several farm sites, are North Morristown, set among fields of corn and soybeans in Rice County west of Faribault.

The event is held at the North Morristown picnic grounds in southwestern Rice County.

The Fourth of July celebration is held at the North Morristown festival grounds, pictured here, in southwestern Rice County. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

At 9 a.m. on July 4, stands and games open at the festival grounds across from Trinity. The grounds remain open until after the 10 p.m. fireworks.

This is an event which offers a day of good old-fashioned fun and memory-building for all ages, including the 10 a.m. parade that runs a block, or maybe two.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides building.

An overview of the novelties shoppe and games and rides building. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to North Morristown on the Fourth. But enough that I’d recommend this celebration to anyone, especially those seeking a sense of simplicity, community, history, patriotism and Americana. All define the Fourth of July here.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe.

A peek inside the ice cream shoppe. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

From the parade to the flag raising to the patriotic program, medallion hunt, bingo, music, kids’ games and rides, silent auction and, let’s not forget the delicious homemade food, you’ll find it all.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer.

Enjoying a pork sandwich and a beer at the 2013 Fourth of July celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

The homemade pies are to die for as are the BBQ pork and hot beef sandwiches.

Blueberry pie.

Homemade blueberry pie. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Just a tip. Don’t wait too long to order your slice of pie or you may not get the type you want. Pie sells quickly.

The vintage car ride for kids.

The vintage car ride for kids. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

I love everything about this celebration, but especially the kitschy kids’ rides that appear to have been around forever. I expect second and third generations are riding these rides. This event is definitely family-oriented.

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration.

The bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, has performed at North Morristown the past seven years, presenting two concerts at the celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Music comprises a major part of the festivities. The well-known bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, is slated to perform at 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. on the main stage. Also on the main stage will be the Roe Family Singers at noon and 4 p.m. and the Mountain Lake Gospel Singers at 7 p.m. There will also be music in the beer garden.

Zinghoppers, a band focused on entertainment for the preschool and elementary-aged crowd, performs at 2:30 p.m.

The bingo callers.

The bingo callers. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

To see a complete schedule of the day’s events (because I can’t possibly list them all here), for directions to North Morristown and more, click here.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shop can drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box.

Visitors stopping by the ice cream shoppe could drop donations for the entertainment into a drop box at last year’s celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Just a few other things you should know: Parking and entertainment are free, although I’d suggest you buy a $1 celebration button and/or donate monies to support the festival. Bring a lawn chair, just in case. There are picnic tables and bleachers but those can fill quickly.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand.

Hot pork and beef sandwiches and cold beverages are served from this stand. Burgers and other foods are also available.

Keep your food and alcoholic beverages at home as they are not allowed onto the church or festival grounds. There’s plenty of great food and drink available for purchase. Lock your vehicles. This may be in the middle of nowhere, but…

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building.

Homemade pies and ice cream are served from the pie building. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And did I tell you to order a slice of pie?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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31 Responses to “Going strong for 122 years: Good old-fashioned Fourth of July fun in North Morristown”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Eat a piece of that yummy pie for me. It looks delightful!!!

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Yup……..These types of events are what hometown celebrations are meant to be…..reaffirming those values we (ought to) hold dear and form the foundation of this great country. I can always count on you to alert us to such………..and it’s July…..already!!!!!

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    Pork sandwich and pie – oh my! Looks wonderful.

  4. Amy Says:

    I’m sad I am going to miss it this year! It is certainly something to come home for!!! And it helps that I always know people 🙂

  5. DeLores Says:

    Oh, Audrey, what fun this must be. I love to go to things like this, but alas, my husband
    doesn’t so we stay home.. To me it makes the 4th so much more special and it makes a
    person think how lucky we are to be free to partake in celebrating the day.

    Enjoy the day and have an extra piece of pie for me. (i’ll have blueberry!)

    DeLores

    • Well, then, DeLores, you need to find someone else to accompany you to a Fourth of July celebration maybe.

      I can’t attend North Morristown’s celebration this year because I have other plans for the day. I don’t go every year. But almost.

      Happy Fourth to you and yours!

  6. Lanae Says:

    Just in case you miss the parade in North Morristown most of the parade goes directly to Elysian for their 4th of July celebration. Not sure what time the parade is so you’ll have to check. North Morristown is a fun place to be!!!

  7. Jackie Says:

    This does look fabulous Audrey, Maybe some year (in the future) Rick and I will venture to the event. For now it’s Mom & Dads house, we all gather and have a great time 🙂 That blueberry pie looks amazing 🙂

  8. I so want pie now – thanks – ha! Beautiful Captures – Beautiful Share 🙂 I am so excited that it is July and Hello! to Artown here – a whole month of art and most of it is FREE to attend – YAY!!! Happy July 🙂

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    I love how this is a 122-year old tradition. It really does look like a day of old-fashioned fun and long may it last. That pie looks really good and I wouldn’t mind trying some of the ice cream. Happy 4th of July xx

  10. Gary wulf Says:

    Does anyone have old pics from way back to post


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