FROM THE COMFORT OF MY LIVING ROOM, I watched fireworks explode across the television screen in bursts of sparkling hues against the hazy New York City skyline. Simultaneously, smoke from neighborhood fireworks drifted through open windows in my Minnesota home, creating an enhanced sensory illusion.
Red, white and blue attired prevailed among fest-goers who settled in a gazebo, on lawn chairs and grass and on bleachers to hear musicians perform.
As I enjoyed the live broadcast, I considered how different my observance of our nation’s birth. Hours earlier I’d roamed the festival grounds of the North Morristown Fourth of July celebration. At this rural southern Minnesota location, I experienced a down-to-earth grassroots event that is still going strong after 124 years.
In New York City, boats shot fireworks. In North Morristown, the only body of water was a kids’ wading pool holding rubber duckies for a carnival game.
Some 1,200 miles away on the East Coast, fanfare and orchestrated precision capped the evening. In North Morristown the day also ended in fireworks—shot from a farm field along a country road with fireflies dancing in the road ditches.
A couple listens to the music while sitting on portable bleachers under a canopy of trees.
What a contrast of parties.
This 1940 Farmall owned by John Krause was parked in the festival parking lot.
I’ve been to New York once, nearly 40 years ago. I have no desire to return. But I’ll return to North Morristown as I have many times for the Fourth or for the annual fall harvest dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church. This rural location suits me and my agricultural upbringing.
Cooper rides a vintage car while his mom watches. The homemade kids’ rides are signature North Morristown.
No fancy signage needed to deliver information.
Games, rides, the ticket booth and more are housed in this red poleshed.
A strong sense of community and of family, of nostalgia and of tradition define this place and this celebration.
The barrel train ride is by far the most popular of the kids’ rides.
There’s a certain comfort in the simplistic rustic charm of North Morristown on the Fourth of July. It’s a place you want to bring your kids and grandkids, where you come to meet friends and make new friends. It’s a place to reunite with family, to remember the past and to create memories.
The barrel train chugs away across the lawn.
You’ll see lots of duct tape used here, including on this vintage horse ride.
Games of skill draw many a player.
The carnival style rides are novel, the food homemade delicious, the atmosphere welcoming and kicked back.
Craig, whom I know from Faribault Car Cruise Nights, showed up (with his wife Kathy) dressed as Uncle Sam.
A biplane loops over the festival grounds mid-afternoon.
The Rev. Juan Palm of Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown teams up with his son to call bingo.
Here you can strike up a conversation with a bluegrass fan from nearby New Prague; love up a 12-week-old puppy named Max; encourage Noah, Hannah and Jack in their search for the medallion; catch up with Rose whom you haven’t seen in years; delight in a biplane writing smoke across the sky; listen to the pastor’s son call bingo numbers…
An appreciative crowd listens to Monroe Crossing, a popular bluegrass band.
It’s nothing like NYC. And that’s absolutely alright by me.
This banner marks the intersection of two county roads near the North Morristown festival site.
Kids’ activities are to the left, food and beverage stands to the right and the entertainment stage straight ahead.
New to the skill games this year is the target shooting game using a spring-loaded gun.
A flag bedecked car passes the festival grounds.
Kids love the blow-up prizes ranging from animals to an inflatable ice cream cone.
A fest goer crochets while musicians perform.
The names of all parade grand marshals are displayed on the main stage backdrop.
Next year will be a big year as North Morristown marks its 125th Fourth of July celebration.
FYI: Click here to read my first post on North Morristown’s 2016 Fourth of July celebration.
I’d like to thank all of the hardworking men, women and children who organize and volunteer at the North Morristown celebration. You are giving all of us a delightful way to celebrate the Fourth. Whether you grilled burgers, scooped ice cream, sold tickets, operated a carnival ride, picked up garbage, sold buttons and more, know that you are valued and deeply appreciated. These events don’t happen without your tireless efforts and dedication. So thank you.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling