It’s Wild Rice Festival time once again!
By the time this goes to print, the carnival should be in town. A whole lot of behind the scenes planning has taken place by a whole lot of people to make this annual weekend festival happen. And happen, it has, each year for more than six decades. Like most community festivals, there’s a little something for everyone. It is a great chance to visit with old friends and an excuse for grown children to come home from the Cities and hang with their cousins. There will be class reunions and a Flea Market to walk through, not to mention Bingo and dancing and cheese curds galore. The church ladies (and gentlemen) will serve up turkey dinners and plates of wild rice hot dish. The Lions will serve an astounding number of burgers from Friday to Sunday and the aroma of fresh fry bread will fill the air. There will be drumming and tiny dancers in bright jingle dresses. Fireworks and pitchers of beer. Lots of beer. On Sunday, after everyone has recovered from the Saturday night street dance, there will be a parade and then a free open air concert in front of the Vet’s Club. Everyone will be sunburned and dusty and full as they pack up their folding chairs and children and leave town. The Tilt-A-Whirl will pull out of town and the beer tent will come down for another year. Deer River will go back to being the quiet little town it is the rest of the year. Years ago, the festival was held in late August, closer to the time that wild rice was harvested from the local lakes and rivers. It was the official end of summer back when school started before Labor Day. On Sunday nights, right before the last game of Bingo was called in the fire hall, there was usually a slight nip in the air that meant that autumn was on its way. Now that it is in July, there is still a good month of summer to savor.
If you are a guest at a local resort this week looking for something fun to do that doesn’t involve dropping a line in the water, the Rice Festival is as good as it gets. Trust me on this. Deer River is small, that’s true.
But it can throw a festival like nobody’s business.