Our View: Look close to home for this summer's fun

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Our View
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Has the soaring price of gasoline finally forced you to rethink your family's summer travel plans? If so, you're far from alone. A lot of us start looking for close-to-home entertainment when a 20-gallon fill-up costs north of $100.

Fortunately, southeastern Minnesota offers an abundance of fairs, festivals and community celebrations that are about to roar back to full force after two muted years under COVID restrictions.

Pine Island Cheese Festival Grand Parade
Members of the Osman Shriners "Daddy-Os" drift their tricycles in a tandem along the route of the Pine Island Cheese Festival Grand Parade on Sunday, June 5, 2022.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bullet

Granted, such festivities might fall a bit short of a visit to Disney, Branson or Yellowstone, but you won't have to worry about canceled flights, expensive rental cars or paying $8 per gallon when you fuel up your RV in Wyoming.

Rochesterfest kicks off Saturday with Country Breakfast on the Farm at Garlin Dairy Farms in Eyota. (Save some gas – ride the free shuttle from the East Lot of RCTC Regional Sports Center). The always-popular Treasure Hunt is back, with a special acrylic medallion hidden on public property somewhere in Rochester. The cash prize is $500 – which might keep your gas tank full until Labor Day!

And if golf is your game, take a swing at the Million Dollar Shoot Out. OK, you probably won't win a cool million, but gasoline isn't THAT expensive. Get closest to the hole in the final and claim a $1,000 prize.


Of course, Rochesterfest isn't all about the money. It's about mini donuts and live music. It's about pizza and beer. It's about fireworks and a used book sale. It's about Elvis impersonators and photos with princesses. It's about cheese curds, bike rides, nature hikes and fish-n-chips.

Most of all, Rochesterfest is about family and friends. This year, it will serve as a weeklong reminder that we don't have to travel to enjoy ourselves, as long as we're in good company.

But why limit yourself to Rochesterfest? Southeastern Minnesota abounds with other community festivals that offer fun for all ages – and you won't put more than 100 miles on your car, round-trip.

The Viola Gopher Count kicks off Thursday – and no, you don't have to trap or count gophers to enjoy the food, parade, live music and bean bag tournament. Elgin Cheese Days is Friday through Sunday, with citywide garage sales, food trucks, live music and a couple dozen other events/activities.

Mantorville's Stagecoach Days is June 24-26, with a street dance, petting zoo, art contest, food vendors, stagecoach rides and melodrama performances at the famous Mantorville Theatre. Lake City's 50th annual Water Ski Days runs June 23-26, and the city is also celebrating its 150th birthday with live music, an arts fair, a classic car show and much more.

These are just a smattering of the community celebrations our region has to offer. Throw a dart at a map and you'll likely hit a town with a weekend festival that's worth experiencing.

Let's face it – we've all had the experience of going on a long road trip, driving through a charming small town and saying “This looks like it might be a nice place to spend a day.”

Why not make this the summer when you skip the long road trip and simply spend a day in the charming small town?

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