The popular bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, performed twice at North Morristown.
NORTH MORRISTOWN on the Fourth of July is grassroots Americana. It is also Minnesota’s longest running celebration of our nation’s birthday.
Vehicles lined county roads leading to the festival grounds and also filled parking areas.
By late afternoon, the crowd thinned a bit.
In 2015, Mathea, now one, was recognized as the youngest in attendance. Fest planners also honor the eldest in attendance and those who travel the greatest distance. I didn’t stay for that 5 p.m. announcement. My husband noted a sign up sheet showing a 9-day-old baby there as well as visitors from both coasts.
For 124 years, through generations of families, folks have gathered here in the farmland of southwestern Rice County on July 4.
The old-fashioned barrel train draws lots of riders.
Kids love the barrel train complete with bicycle horns to toot.
The homemade carnival rides have been around forever.
Iolla, in her 70s, remembers coming here as a child, riding some of the same kids’ rides still operating today. Jen, in her 30s, remembers too and now brings her children, including the youngest, only two months old.
A fest-goer left this vintage wooden folding chair sitting behind the ice cream stand. In the background you can see Trinity Lutheran Church and School across the road.
On July Fourth, this spot in the middle of farm fields, edged by several building sites and across the street from Trinity Lutheran Church and School, draws thousands.
A member of Monroe Crossing introduces the winners of the medallion hunt and presents them with a check for $100.
Players packed the bingo hall inside a poleshed style building.
Even Superman rode the barrel train.
They come for the mid-morning parade, the patriotic program, the medallion hunt, the food, the music, the carnival rides, the bingo, the fireworks and much more. And they come for the reunion with family and friends. Many grew up in the area. But many didn’t. Like me.
This food stand serves tasty BBQ pork and beef sandwiches and other food. The stand was already out of roast beef when I arrived at around 1 p.m. However, several hours later the supply had been replenished.
My husband enjoys his cheeseburger.
There was always a line for the ice cream.
That matters not. I’ve lived in nearby Faribault for 34 years now, enough to know a lot of people. When my husband and I walked onto the North Morristown festival grounds early Monday afternoon aiming for the food stands, it took us awhile to get our pork sandwich, burger, onion rings and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Not because service was slow. Rather, we ran into a lot of friends.
Ice cream to eat and ice cream to go.
The pie shop is always popular given the homemade pies.
Marlin the barrel train engineer was so busy that he had to eat his sandwich on the job.
North Morristown was the place to be this Fourth of July as organizers reported record crowds. I don’t have stats to share, only knowledge that food stands were running out of or low on food. That’s a good problem to have given more people equals more income for Trinity Lutheran School, the beneficiary of this annual fest.
North Morristown will be celebrating its 125th Fourth of July in 2017.
There’s something about this rural celebration that is uniquely charming and appealing in the sort of old-fashioned way that makes you want to return every summer. Nothing really changes much.
These vintage plastic jumpy horses were repurposed decades ago into a carnival ride.
The food stands and kids’ rides seem from another era.
I wonder how many generations have used these vintage bingo cards.
Even the bingo cards feature sliders rather than daubers.
By the time I decided I needed a slice of pie, the selection was dwindling. However, I enjoyed a slice of blueberry-peach.
The pies are still homemade. The oily scent of crispy onion rings drifts through the air, drawing crowds to the hamburger stand. Polka bands still play in the beer shed.
Musicians performed throughout the afternoon and into the evening. The names imprinted upon the boards (the stage backdrop) are of past parade grand marshals.
Music blasts a bluegrass beat.
Looking toward the festival site among farm fields.
It is an idyllic place to celebrate the Fourth of July, in the heart of rural Minnesota.
FYI: Check back for a second post on North Morristown’s July 4, 2016, celebration.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling