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One Moment, Please... Behind the scenes

Fri, Jun 14th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

Pictured with Mike and Margaret Johnson, and their son Sawyer, winners of the first annual Milk Fun[D] Run displayed their awards at the finish line. Left to right: Alec Ille (age 14), Isaac Ille (age 12), Emma Young (age 8), and Sydney Ferrie (age 14). Photo by Jason Sethre

By Jason Sethre


Fillmore County Journal &

Olmsted County Journal

Cell: 507-251-5297

I am going to take a guess and say that nearly every week throughout the year there are meetings taking place all over Fillmore County.

These meetings involve the planning of festivals, parades, the Fillmore County Fair, and any other event you can think of that takes place in our region.

All of these town events are important because they bring people together along with attracting visitors near and far.

This past weekend, Fountain hosted its annual Trail Days event. While this may not seem like a big surprise to some people, this is a big deal because after last year’s Fountain Trail Days event it was decided that the event would be cancelled. Due to a lack of financial support, a slim crowd of attendees, and volunteers getting burned out, the general consensus was that the event was simply not sustainable.

With every town event, the most important piece of the puzzle relates to the volunteers. It takes so many people to make an event work. And, the job of a volunteer comes with no pay, endless hours of work, and very little recognition.

Recently, Preston’s Trout Days committee had three members retire their volunteer services, and the search was on to fill those important roles. When it comes to finding volunteers, not too many people raise their hands. Some people are so busy with their own lives between work and family. And, others have volunteered in the past and they feel it is somebody else’s turn. So, the line of volunteers is often slim.

When you have someone coordinating an event or even a portion of an event, much of the knowledge about how to run those events is between the ears of those volunteers. There is no user’s manual or handbook.

The only reason any of these volunteers do what they do is to bring people together -- families, friends, neighbors, visitors.

Sometimes with town events, it is good to try something new to attract an audience. And, sometimes one thing works great one year, but doesn’t work well the next year. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was timing. Maybe we can’t pinpoint the reasons.

Well, I’m glad to see that Fountain Trail Days did continue. For any of the towns in Fillmore County, a town event is almost like a reflection of their identity. Look at Trout Days, Ag Days, Western Days, Harmony’s 4th of July celebration, Buffalo Bill Days, Rhubarb Fest, Steam Engine Days, Wykoff’s Fall Fest, Rushford Days, Gammel Dag Days, Whalan’s Stand Still Parade. There’s a lot of hometown pride in these events.

For Fountain Trail Days, I am especially proud to see the start of a new annual tradition with the Milk Fun[D] Run organized by Mike and Margaret Johnson of Trail Side Holstein Farms. As an active board member of the Fillmore County American Dairy Association, Mike Johnson strives to find ways to get the organization involved in the community. In particular, as a runner himself, he felt a running event tied to a fundraiser for the local school district milk fund would be a good fit.

So Mike and his wife Margaret worked diligently to garner support for the 2.5 mile running event starting at the Fountain Trail Head of the Root River State Bike Trail. Truly, they put together a solid marketing plan that created a buzz and attracted a crowd from all over the area. There were participants from Cresco, Preston, Spring Valley, Blooming Prairie and Fountain, just to name a few towns.

Considering this was the first year for the Milk Fun[D] Run, the event went so smooth that you’d think this event had been going on for a number of years.

For the first year, there were 101 participants contributing to over $2,100 in donations toward the Fillmore Central Schools milk fund. That’s remarkable!

Just imagine a few years from now when there are over 600 participants in this event. It may seem like a long distant goal, but these types of events can blossom into a tremendous following just like the Fools Five Road Race in Lewiston.

I’m glad to see the start of a new tradition such as the Milk Fun[D] Run. Thanks again to Mike, Margaret, their volunteers, sponsors and participants.

Also, at Fountain Trail Days this year, Scott Rustad organized a farmers versus merchants softball game. Now, this wasn’t your traditional softball game. Participants had to run opposite bases, bat opposite-handed, wear crazy outfits while running the bases, and spin around the bat before they swung at the ball. This event fueled a crowd of laughs and entertainment for those on the field and off the field. I’m sure this event will be a repeat for next year.

And, then there was financial support from Chuck Johnson and the First State Bank of Fountain, bringing the talented and crowd-pleasing Brad Boice to the stage for an Elvis revival.

I know I am skipping quite a number of details from the Fountain Trail Days events, like the kids games, dunk tank, bean bag tournament, karaoke, and many others, but you’ll have to come see for yourself next year.

In general, my message here is that a lot of people pour their time, energy and heart into making these events possible. So, while you are attending these events, don’t forget to thank the volunteers. They are doing this for you.

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