Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The World's Largest Wild Rice Festival

Well the reunion came and went, and dare I say it was a blustering  success!  20 years of missed conversations with great people all packed into one night.  Anna and I traveled home together sans kids and husbands- something we have not done since our ten year reunion!  Who would have thought we could have the best girls weekend away in Deer River?? (This is us being mature and fun.)

Not only was it our 20th reunion, Deer River, Minnesota also hosted it over one of the best weekends of the year:  The World’s Largest Wild Rice Festival.  What an amazing coincidence!

Yes, in Minnesota, we have festivals around our native foods!  As kids, we always looked forward to the festivities.  Surprisingly, it took me being gone for 20 years to realize what a unique privilege this little celebration was.  Where much of the year Northerners retreat to their summer cabins on the water, or hibernate during the long winter months in their warm log homes and fireplaces, this little gem of a weekend brings EVERYONE- old and young out of the woodworks.

While the Carnival rides go on for the littles Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, Bingo games sponsored by the Lions Club go on for the older folks that are feeling a little lucky.

Friday evening is kicked off by a Turtle Feed. No this is not a place where you buy food for your pet turtle.  Mr. Turtle is the main dish for this event!  (Hide your turtles, kids!)

Next, the Leech Lake Ojibwe Tribe hosts a Pow-Wow for all to celebrate and learn about their Native American culture through song, dance, and dress.  Everyone is invited to observe and even participate.

Later, the local Vets Club sponsors the Beer Garden all night- where the darkest beer you’ll find is an amber that you can still see through- which is a sin in some countries.  On the other side of the block you can find the street shut down and the dance going on both Friday and Saturday evening.  (This is Anna with her "I don't know what to do with two beers" face.)

If you’re up and at 'em early enough the next day, Saturday is kicked off by the Wild Rice Run (race) and a bike rodeo for the kids to have a chance to win a bike and enjoy some ice cream.  This is serious business for these little guys! 

Saturday is also the big day for the flea market and this isn’t just any flea market.  Here you can find some unique gifts, such as taxidermy...

 Shotguns or rifles for hunting...

And raffles that support the local high school trip to Washington DC with a chance to win a beautiful custom-designed bon fire pit.  Though I entered, I wasn't quite sure how to haul this baby home if I was lucky enough to win.

Sunday afternoon is the big parade, where you will find true hometown pride, as we salute the veterans marching with the flag.  Additionally, we pay tribute to the other hometown heroes- the volunteer fire fighters and EMT workers of Deer River and neighboring towns.

Local businesses, student clubs, and even a princess or two can be spotted riding in the floats and on top of cars. 

All will be throwing candy out into the crowds for eager little ones to come racing into the street and fill their bags- because you can still get away with this in a small town.

And this simple festival is all the town needs for an opportunity to catch up with old friends that haven't seen each other since spring thaw.  One can sit down, enjoy an indian taco with some wild rice soup and a Bud Lite.

The weekend was a whirlwind.  I left with a full belly, sleep deprived, and mentally restored.  In addition to catching up with friends, going home to Deer River reminds me to take the time to enjoy the little pleasures in life that I tend to overlook when I am rushing around to the next big thing.  And this is why I come home.
(photo credits to Anna Lise Photography)

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