Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating the Fourth of July for 125 years in North Morristown July 2, 2017

The popular bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, performed twice at North Morristown in 2016. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.


IN RICE COUNTY, the Fourth of July and North Morristown are synonymous. For in this rural spot of corn, soybean and alfalfa fields, farm sites, and a country church and school, folks gather every Independence Day to celebrate. This July Fourth marks 125 years of patriotic and family togetherness.


Vehicles line county roads leading to the festival grounds and also filled parking areas in this Minnesota Prairie Roots photo from July 4, 2016.


You won’t find North Morristown by looking for a water tower or anything that resembles a town. Rather, head northwest of Morristown to 10500 215th St. West and the festival grounds across the road from Trinity Lutheran Church and School, North Morristown.


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


Although I did not grow up in this part of Minnesota, I’ve lived here 35 years now and have celebrated many July Fourths at this rural location. I love the folksy simplicity of an event which began 125 years ago as a picnic. Today the celebration includes a 5K run/walk, parade, patriotic program, medallion hunt, silent auction, BINGO, musical performances (including the popular Twin Cities based Monroe Crossing), kids’ carnival style rides, fireworks shot over farm fields and more.


The homemade pies are a popular food choice. Buy your pie early for the best selection. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


And then there are the food and beverages: homemade pies, fresh-squeezed lemonade, ice cream, pork sandwiches, burgers, beer and more. This food is basic country at its best, served by volunteers who work tirelessly to feed the masses.


The bingo callers in 2013. I entered this image in a photo contest and won first place. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.


Most who attend know each other. They either grew up here, married into a local family or have connections to the area. North Morristown on the Fourth of July is like a big family reunion. But even if you have zero connections to this place, you will feel comfortably welcome on the grassy, tree-filled festival grounds packed with friendly people.


By late afternoon last July 4, the crowd began thinning a bit. Festivities began at 9 a.m. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.


As much as I’d like to attend, I may not this year due to the crowds and uneven walking surfaces. A friend, who is one of the grand marshals of this year’s 10 a.m. parade, expressed disappointment upon learning of my shoulder fracture. He was apparently counting on me to photograph the day’s events as I have many times in the past. Sorry, Al.


The old-fashioned barrel train draws lots of riders. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.


Click here to view my previous coverage of North Morristown’s Fourth of July celebration. From my photographic perspective, you can see why this event has endured for 125 years. It doesn’t get much more grassroots basic Americana than North Morristown on the Fourth.

FYI: Click here to reach the North Morristown July Fourth Facebook page.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

NOTE: I am taking a break from further blogging this week. Please check back because I’ll be back.


14 Responses to “Celebrating the Fourth of July for 125 years in North Morristown”

  1. Jackie Says:

    We weren’t too far from Morristown yesterday as we were visiting my Brother and his wife. They are building a new house on Cedar Lake just north of Morristown. Sorry you won’t be able to attend the 4th of July celebration, I know you like that one, your photo’s show a closeness of community and a unique kind of celebration.

    • Oh, we may sneak over to the N. Morristown celebration. It depends on how brave I’m feeling.

      Any time you are in the area and have a moment or more, stop in. Randy and I would love to see you and Rick.

  2. Littlesundog Says:

    Yum, that pie made my mouth water! Ha ha! Something for everyone at that event, and so much history. Our town celebration for the 4th was yesterday. The park where the event was held is just across the road from the pecan orchard. FD and I worked cleaning and mowing in the orchard yesterday, entertained with live music, voices and laughter… and at night we parked the electric buggy in a clearing and had the best seat in the area to watch the fireworks. After the display ended, we traversed back to our house in the dark, leaving our buggy lights off, and entered the blackness of the woodlands, surrounded by hundreds and maybe thousands of twinkling and flickering fireflies. It was enchanting and so much better than the man-made light show. 🙂 Happy 4th to you, Audrey.

  3. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Have a happy Fourth, Audrey!

  4. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    That looks like a fun gathering to attend

  5. Beth Ann Says:

    Hope your fourth was something wonderful this year, Audrey!

  6. Valerie Says:

    Audrey – I remember your post about this festivity from last year and made a note to myself to try and get to Morristown this year but alas, we had our own picninc which was nice too, and the Northfield fireworks in the evening.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Hope you are doing well?!?!

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