The Root River Trail Towns will once again be presenting the Taste of the Trail after last year’s pause for the COVID pandemic. Using the same format they’ve used since the event’s inception in 2012, Taste of the Trail will be held three successive weekends with different towns highlighted each weekend. Lanesboro, Whalan, and Peterson will be the stars on Saturday, September 11; on September 18, Preston, Fountain, and Harmony will be joined in the spotlight by newcomer Chatfield. The last weekend, September 25, will focus on Rushford Valley and Houston.
Each city will put their own spin on the event. Coffee Street will be closed to traffic in Lanesboro from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. so it can be filled with music, food, and local vendors. The Lanesboro rock and roll band, Slippin’ Jimmy with Friends, will be rocking the trail. Some of the local merchandise available will include jewelry, CBD products, greeting cards, and paper crafts.
There will be books available from local writers — a new cookbook by Barb Jeffers and Steve Harris’s book about Lanesboro will be featured.
You’ll be able to learn more about the Farmers’ Park group at their information booth. Lanesboro Arts will share information about their organization and share some crafts with the kids. The League of Women Voters has plans for a possible booth as well.
Come prepared to sample some original Norwegian cuisine, lefse and rommegrot, at Whalan. Matt and Brenda Stier will play music and sing from 10 am. – 2 p.m. while local vendors provide local products and small items for sale including honey from a local beekeeper, fishing lures and other fishing items, and small wood carvings. Although no food will be sold at the event, organizer Wes Harding is “looking forward to a good crowd.” He shared that in the past visitors had proclaimed Whalan’s event had the best offerings.
A representative from Sustainable Driftless, Inc. of LaCrosse, Wis., will be there to advocate for resource conservation and healthy communities in the driftless region. In addition, the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota will present information about encouraging people to become actively involved in restoration and preservation efforts for the bluebird habitat.
In Peterson from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. enjoy music by Cat and the Fiddle at the historic bandstand accompanied by lots of food choices: Kristin’s creative homemade pies from Burdey’s Cafe, locally produced smoked brisket from Driftless Trading Post, a creative fall beverage from the Legion, and hot dogs, brats, chips, and popcorn from the Friends of Peterson.
Enter the fall bread contest by submitting your recipe featuring any fall vegetable such as zucchini, squash, pumpkin, etc. to Friends of Peterson at least one week before the event. The breads will be baked by one of the members of Friends of Peterson; visitors will taste and vote for their favorite.
Featherstone Farms will host a farmer’s market while the Peterson Station Museum will be open for visitors. Be sure to catch a selfie with Gunnar and Gustav, Peterson’s 8½ ft. gnomes located on the bike trail and at the museum.
Preston has a big weekend planned; fall garage sales will be happening Friday and Saturday with maps available on the chamber website.
Historical Bluff Country will host their yearly tractor ride Saturday and Sunday leaving from the fairgrounds at 9 a.m. each day. Saturday will also see the Preston Pop-up Markets from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. downtown with goods and produce offerings from over 20 vendors.
Preston Public Library will be hosting Preston Rocks, a rock painting activity for kids from 9-11 a.m. Also from 9-11 a.m., the Driftless Fly Fishing Company will hold a free Fly Fishing 101 class. Call their shop (507-327-4276) or sign up on their website (minnesotaflyfishing.com) for the class.
A brochure detailing a self-guided historic walking tour of Preston will be available at both the Chamber’s pop-up market site and at the visitor center. The city’s nine-hole fishing course map will also be online and at the visitor center. The giant Preston Trout will be downtown for your selfie opportunity.
Visitors are encouraged to go out to Historic Forestville for tours running from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; visitors can take part in family yard games while at Forestville.
The Club, a veterans’ organization, will be offering pulled pork sandwiches and opening at 10 a.m. with bloody Marys for sale. The Preston Fire Department will host a dance with the band Time and a Half from 8 p.m. until midnight.
Harmony has much in store for visitors as they celebrate the trail, visitors, and the downtown businesses. Downtown businesses will be in front of their stores with sidewalk sales, samples, specials, and prize drawings. Live music will be played in the downtown area and there will be citywide garage sales Friday and Saturday.
From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. the Harmony Historical Society will conduct an open house at the historic grain elevator. The Historical Society is working to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
A vendor fair hosted by Tin, Rust, & Harmony will be located between their store and the Harmony AgriServices. The fair will feature crafts and home-based businesses.
The Trail Head will have a bike trail related photo booth as well as bubble stations, sidewalk chalk and other activities for the kids.
Kids are encouraged to stop by the village park/playground where they can play the musical instruments embedded in the playground equipment. According to the event organizer Melissa Vander Plas, “We try to bring out the harmony in Harmony!”
From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Chatfield will have a pop-up market, food samples, and music in City Park; stores will be displaying new fall inventory and hosting giveaways. Along with citywide garage sales, the History Museum will be open. UPick Flowers at Berry & Bloom Farm will give you a chance to get a special bouquet before you attend the Bruce Springsteen Tribute in Potter Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Maps and details of the event will be available on the website chatfieldmn.org and at the visitors’ center in City Park.
Fountain will be participating in the Taste of the Trail as well, but has not yet firmed up details of their celebration. Be sure to stop in and see what’s going on in Fountain on September 18.
New to Taste of the Trail for this weekend will be a Keg Card which can be picked up at any of the participating local breweries or distilleries. You’ll get a punch on the card when you try a beer or whiskey taster any time Friday through Sunday.After completing the card, snap a pic and email it for a chance to win a Taste of the Trail basket filled with over $75 worth of local merchandise. (More details can be found at rootrivertrail.org)
Rushford Valley Taste of the Trail headquarters will be at Rushford Historic Depot/Visitors Center. At the center, you’ll find live music by Travis Oppelt from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., free popcorn from the Rushford Lions Club, activities for kids, pumpkins and gourds for sale, and a book signing by local author Cassie Hungerholt Meyer along with the usual Rushford area history.
The Rushford Fire Department Open House, right next door, will offer the chance to check out the fire hall and fire trucks, always a favorite for kids.
Maps of local businesses offering a “taste” around town will show you where to find Nordic Lanes & Lounge, The Creamery, Stumpy’s Restaurant, Jessie Street Java, Pam’s Corner Convenience, the Rushford Public Library, and Norsland Lefse (you betcha, it’s lefse samples there, for sure!)
Houston will be celebrating once again with a block party in the paved alley and parking lot behind local business JT’s Bar & Grill (125 E Cedar St).
There will be live music, food and family-friendly activities presented by local businesses and organizations from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Some of the activities include a bean bag tournament, a sandbox treasure hunt by Ole’s excavating and more. In addition, there will be a wine and craft beer tasting later in the day for adults. In the event of bad weather, the event will be held in the shelter at the Houston Hoedown Festgrounds.