Community events are back. Hugo Good Neighbor days was a hit, and fireworks were impressive. White Bear Lake’s Marketfest kicks off July 1 after a year off. The Manitou Days community festival begins with the parade at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 2 followed by the Beach Dance from 8-11 p.m. at Memorial Beach. Many thanks go out to the volunteers who lead our communities and make these events possible for everyone. It was more than 20 years ago that events like this were nearly dead. The fourth of July fireworks show was given up by the Yacht Club and taken on by volunteers with the help of the city of White Bear Lake. It’s this kind of cooperation that makes a community great. See the full list of events is the Manitou day Marketfest section.
Volunteers are important in a small community. From event organizers to business associations, volunteers play a major role in the look and feel of our towns, and the amenities that draw people to want to live here. Community engagement is something to be considered as local governments look at long-term infrastructure plans and housing strategies. A community needs a balance of single-family housing and condos, rentals and retirement housing. Different communities have different housing and transportation needs. I applaud our cities who seek input from residents about future plans, and I’m hopeful they will listen to the feedback citizens provide and proceed slowly and thoughtfully. Volunteers and citizens make a difference. Get out and enjoy the various events this summer, and get involved in your community by volunteering.
It felt good to get back together with friends in South Dakota for our father/son weekend of target shooting, four wheeling and taking in nature. This has been an annual trip for several years with my four college roommates and our sons, who are now all in high school.
With the high price of shotgun shells, we did not shoot trap and did not get to play the annual rounds of Annie Oakley. I love the variety of firearms we were able to try - old lever actions, bolt action, semi-automatics, iron sights, guns with scopes and BB guns. We continued to reinforce proper gun safety, field safety and how to clean, inspect and adjust the equipment. My favorite was a lightweight subsonic .22 long rifle and my sons was an old lever action .22. As the boys tried their hand at the different guns it is always fun to learn more about science behind the sport. This year we plunked more than 2,000 rounds in four days. Our fingertips were sore from loading the such small clips.
I tend to strike up conversations wherever I go. A local farmer said it’s been dry and the crops are stressed. The corn was hip high and the leaves were curling. Some fields had leaves turning yellow. In one field the alfalfa was diseased. I was impressed with the variety of native grasses on the farm. The different grasses provide cover for native birds and pheasant, which was introduced as a game bird to South Dakota in 1898. One second-generation local farmer we have known for years was experimenting with ground cover ideas like corn rows planted at 60 inches with a cover crop of beans were planted in between. Normal rows are planted at 30 inches. He said he estimates a 30% savings in fertilizer. His dad said no one knew about where corn populations could be when he started. Back then populations were 12,000; today in South Dakota 20,000 population per acre is common. I asked about the old saying “two in the hill” and he explained that years ago the germination of a seed was about 50% so they needed two seeds per hole.
South Dakota is amazing place, though the price of a hunting license was raised this year and could discourage the next generation of hunters. I encourage families to get out and experience the fields, hills and landscape our neighbor to the west has to offer. I hope to keep bringing my kids and grandkids someday on this annual trip.
Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.