Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: The musicians of Monroe Crossing July 3, 2015

Portrait #30: Monroe Crossing

Monroe Crossing musicians photographed during a 2013 performance at North Morristown.

Four of five Monroe Crossing musicians photographed during a 2013 performance at North Morristown.

They’re in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. They’ve recorded 14 CDs to date. Twice they’ve appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York City. And in 2016, they will become the first Minnesota bluegrass band ever to perform in South Korea.

They are Monroe Crossing, a group of five musicians who rank as one of Minnesota’s favorite bluegrass bands.

On Saturday the performers, as they have many times in the past, take the stage at the oldest Fourth of July celebration in Minnesota, now in its 123rd year. That would be in North Morristown, a country church and school and a few homes clustered west of Faribault in the middle of farm fields.

The Trinity Lutheran Church and School festival grounds is the perfect setting for these musicians who present foot-stomping down-to-earth songs. They perform at 1:30 p.m. and then again at 4 p.m. And it’s free, although donations are accepted in on-grounds donation boxes.

Plan to arrive well in advance of Monroe Crossings’ concerts. The July Fourth celebration begins at 9 a.m., when food stands and games open. Yes, there’s plenty of great food including homemade pies, barbecued pork sandwiches, burgers and more. You can play bingo, hunt for a medallion, observe a flag-raising, bid on auction items, throw horseshoes, attend a parade (at 10 a.m.), listen to other musicians (The Jolly Huntsmen Polka Band, Sawtooth Brothers, Benson Family Singers and Downtown Sound), drink beer and more.

There’s also plenty of visiting. Old-fashioned handcrafted rides are available for the kids. This rural celebration is about as Americana grassroots wholesome goodness as you’ll find anywhere in Minnesota on the Fourth of July.

Ending it all is a 10 p.m. fireworks display.

FYI: Click here to reach the North Morristown Fourth of July website page for a schedule of events and directions.

You can also check out the event Facebook page by clicking here.

Click here to view a photo essay from the 2013 celebration.


The Minnesota Faces series is featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


11 Responses to “Minnesota Faces: The musicians of Monroe Crossing”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    And just in time for the fourth of July…..MOSQUITO MANIA!!

    A lot of folks will be watching fireworks through the windshield tonight.

    • You’re likely right about that.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        Here is a true Minnesota Mosquito story. In the early ’90’s, a fire broke out in the Chaska Law Enforcement Center. At the time, the facility was new and had not been thoroughly tested. Sure enough, the alarm triggered the release of several door locks, including one in the exercise area…..allowing a prisoner to walk out the door.

        Of course there was a man-hunt which put residents on edge – but later that night, the prisoner turned himself in. He could hide from the police but could not hide from the mosquitoes. Jail was preferable to spending an evening outdoors in July.

      • That’s a great story!

  2. Don Says:

    I agree, great mosquito story! Darn those little critters. I wonder what the record is for the most mosquito’s killed in one hand slap. I read a story one time where the author claimed 28, hummm in the right location and conditions I can believe that!

  3. Don Says:

    Lots of big ones for sure but you can see them coming, it’s the little guys and the vast number of them that drive you crazy! Enjoy your 4th.

  4. Sue Ready Says:

    Nice invite to the area especially if a bluegrass fan. Old fashioned rural 4th of July activities are always fun to attend. Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend.

  5. Expectational Says:

    Reblogged this on Expectational and commented:
    And this remarkable bluegrass combo has also appeared at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

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