The power of getting together for the Iron Range Fourth of July week

A pair of bald eagles near Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. (PHOTO: Anita Ritenour, Flickr CC)

Last week, Andrew Krueger at Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me about the Fourth of July tradition on the Iron Range. The piece aired last Saturday.

Independence Day brings one of the most fun weeks on the Iron Range. I explain some of the origin story and cultural significance of this week’s activities in the interview. If you’ve ever wondered about why people always talk about the Iron Range Fourth of July, or why I put out a special post about it each year, this is why.

Back on June 20, the rural issues online magazine The Daily Yonder published a piece by Adam Giorgi, a previous commenter here at MinnesotaBrown. Giorgi wrote about his experiences at another big Range event, the Land of the Loon festival in Virginia, Minnesota.

Writes Giorgi:

A summer festival like the Land of the Loon is a place of commerce itself, but importantly, it’s one in which community and connection are the top priority. The members of the Italian-American club didn’t start selling sandwiches in the park in pursuit of some vast market potential. They did it to connect with fellow residents whose families immigrated to the region carrying similar histories and circumstances. They did it to build a rich community inspired by those shared histories. That story extends to countless others I see on these weekends. The next-door neighbor making homemade kettle corn, the childhood friends playing music in the gazebo, the family friends on organizing committees, and so many more. They’re all united and activated by values of community and connection.

He argues community and connection are the commodities that really make a difference in a place like this.

When community comes first, places like my hometown bring something distinct and valuable to the table. With those priorities and values at the forefront, they have an important role to play, and it becomes much easier to imagine a sustainable future for them, along with their summer festivals and their many social and civic institutions.

More urgently, when community comes first, it seems there may yet be time for us to reorient the social, technological infrastructure that underpins and dominates our modern lives to better support these time-honored parts of our lives.

Despite the challenges and narratives that loom over small towns and rural areas, I know it’s this spirit that is alive and well, animating so many of the people who live there. They are showing up to do the hard work. They are practicing these values while living in community. They are carrying on despite all the headwinds coming from on high.

Read the whole piece at The Daily Yonder.

And Happy Fourth of July! I’m only going to post this week if I’ve got something important or interesting to offer. A little more human connection and a little less time online seems just the thing.

SEE ALSO: Complete listing of Iron Range July 4 holiday parades, street dances and fireworks displays

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