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What’s happening to town celebrations?

This past weekend, we divided up our staff to cover a couple of community celebrations — Glencoe Days here, and Stewartfest in Stewart.
From all reports, neither celebration drew the participants that used to be of historic proportions in the past.
Granted, Saturday was probably the hottest day that we’ve seen this summer. And the two celebrations fall on the same weekend, following on the heels of Winstock near Winsted and Hutchinson’s Water Carnival.
Given Minnesota’s abbreviated summer, we tend to try to pack a lot into a couple of short months. It’s understandable that events will stack up on each other or fill up a string of weekends.
But most of us over age 12 can remember when town celebrations, regardless of when they were scheduled, were the highlights of summer. Along with fun, food, parades, dances, music and other activities, the celebrations were like big town reunions — the weekend everyone “came home” to catch up with old friends, neighbors and classmates.
So what’s happened? Why aren’t people attending these once funfilled town celebrations?
We suspect part of the reason is that our children’s and grandchildren’s activity calendars fill up faster than those of adults. Every child seems to participat in some type of summer athletic program — a variety of softball and baseball leagues, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer — not to mention all the summer camps to prepare them for the school sports seasons.
We don’t have enough fingers to count all of the tournaments that were going on this past weekend which also competed with area community celebrations.
Most families have a hard time trying to squeeze in a weekend of camping among their children’s sporting activities — in fact, many drag along their campers to their kids’ tournaments and trying to combine both activities.
There’s nothing wrong with a structured summer for kids, but on the other hand, let’s not keep them so busy with sporting events that we keep them from what are some of the best parts of summer — afternoons at the local pool, shooting hoops in the driveway, fishing off a pier or dock and, of course, filling up on cotton candy, cheese curds and other treats while they enjoy the activities of their hometown celebrations.
Let’s bring the community back to our communities.
— L.C.