Small town continues to celebrate agriculture
MINNESOTA LAKE, Minn. -- Tracy Muhlenbeck knew nothing about Minnesota Lake's long-running Festag when she moved to the small town just more than 16 months ago.
She's lived most of her life in Seattle, Los Angeles and other large cities.
And her husband has relatives in North Dakota and Minnesota, so she'd heard about the popularity of small-town festivals in the Midwest. But when winter's snow finally thawed, spring passed and July 2001 rolled around, Muhlenbeck admitted she was surprised by what happened to the quiet town of about 680 people that she was still getting used to.
"I didn't have any idea what I was in for," she said. "They shut the whole town down. Everyone takes a vacation. It's wild. It's like a giant block party." Minnesota Lake first celebrated its festival of agriculture in 1953, making this year's festival the town's 50th. There are differing versions of how it started, but several residents who were around at the time agree it was probably two or three high school teachers who started the idea.
They wanted a place for their students to show off their livestock and prepare for the State Fair without having to travel to the Blue Earth County Fair first.
A large chunk of the money raised by the Festag organization each year is used for the following year's parade.