By Richard Peterson
Every summer is busy, but this summer was especially busy. The press of work at the office kept me from attending Churchs Ferry Day, the 4th of July at Maddock, Esmond Alumni Days, Leeds Day and the ND State Fair. I also missed Fort Totten Days and a good portion of the Minnewaukan celebration because of work. You see, Saturday is a working day for me. If I didn’t work on Saturday and spend a few hours on the job Sunday, we’d never get the paper put together on Monday and ready to print early Tuesday morning. That’s just the way it is. I get some slack time on either Wednesday or Thursday.
But my job pales in comparison to the efforts put forth by the people who plan and execute these celebrations. At Minnewaukan Claudette Carlson put in a lot of time in preparation for the celebration. I’d come to work at 5 a.m. and find e-mails sent from her at 3 a.m. She worked all day at the courthouse and then worked half the night to get her volunteer work done. Prior to the celebration her Minnewaukan Beautification Committee did a tremendous job. I’ve never seen the town look better.
Guess who arranged for all the planters which were placed around town? They didn’t just appear. Claudette saw to it that they were put in the appropriate places. Guess who handled the talent show?
Claudette. Guess who handled the Minne-Walk-In Market with dozens of vendors? Claudette. She did an awesome job.
On the Minnewaukan All-School Reunion side of the celebration, Sherri Thompson was the shining star. As president of the Minnewaukan Community Club, she was also heavily involved with the 125th anniversary celebration. She gathered the names and addresses of alumni, arranged for committees to handle many aspects of the event, arranged the banquet and was in charge of serving lunch on Sunday at the school. It was a big job and she came through with flying colors.
There were others who did great service. I hesitate to name anyone because there were many who stepped forward to help. But one who gave his full measure was Tom Lang. He helped with the steak suppers served prior to the event as a fundraising activity. He obtained the grills the Legion used for the Sunday breakfast and hooked them up.
He put up the sound system at the fire hall. He was in charge of the parade, a thankless job nobody wants. Then when all was done he took down the sound system and returned the grills. Tom wasn’t alone.
Many, many people stepped forward to help in the celebration.
We were totally lucky. The weather was perfect. I think back to the Leeds Centennial in 1986 when it rained all three days of that event.
That 1986 rain was welcome, but gee whiz, that was too much.
I have no accurate estimate of the crowd. It wasn’t as big as the centennial crowd in 1983 when an estimated 5,000 people were in town.
Maybe half of that? I heard there were 550 people registered for the school reunion. I know the school gym was plumb full for the banquet and there were lots of people in town who didn’t attend the banquet.
The Legion served breakfast Sunday morning to about 150 people, triple the normal Legion breakfast count on the fourth Sunday of each month. And we only served for three hours rather than the normal five hours because the school gym had to be cleared for the all-faiths worship service.
It was estimated there were 170 units in the parade. Many of them were Minnewaukan School classes. There were lots and lots of people lining the streets to view the parade.
Being busy at the school with pictures of the classes, I never made it to the Minne-Walk-In Market, but I heard there were lots of people there as well. I missed the simulated bank robbery, too. I missed the paintball tournament, the antique car and machine show, the doll show, fraternizing after the banquet, the Bobby Lee Howard jazz guitar music at Miller’s Pub & Grub, the fireworks and the dance because I had to go to bed. Legion breakfast preparations started at
4 a.m. and I needed my beauty sleep.
It was a great celebration, but it was a lot of work for the people who live here. When the 150th anniversary of Minnewaukan is celebrated, I plan to leave town that weekend.
On Sunday afternoon while putting away breakfast paraphernalia at the Legion Clubroom, Pat Miller drove by and told me there was an impromptu jam session at his pub featuring Bobby Lee Howard.
I finished my work and went there to hear some sweet, sweet music.
Bobby is a professional musician in Las Vegas and he can make a guitar sing. He’s George Howard’s brother.
Accompanying him in the jam session were Glenn Rygg, Dean Hovern and Lloyd Zacher, all of Devils Lake. Zacher, no slouch on the guitar himself, told me Bobby Lee was "way above anyone around here" as far as ability on the guitar is concerned. No doubt. I’ve never heard anything like it.
It was a great couple hours of relaxation after an extremely busy weekend.