Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Return to Minnesota, Part 1

A month after I went to Minnesota for my annual quilting retreat, Mark and I returned for his 50th high school class reunion. His class (1969) holds a reunion every five years, always coinciding with the annual Butterfield Threshing Bee.
While Butterfield is a small town of a little over 600 people, the threshing bee draws thousands of people who come to camp out, look at steam-powered engines, watch the tractor pull and tractor parade, and meet up with friends and family.

We arrived in Minnesota Thursday afternoon and drove straight to the "prairie," as Mark calls it. Butterfield is very close to Walnut Grove, home of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, of Little House on the Prairie fame.

We stayed in a Super 8. This was the view from our window. It was a quiet room. You can see there is little traffic, even though it's a major highway. We are so used to California traffic that it is always kind of weird to me.
And on the front side of the hotel is this view. Yup, a field of corn.
The bee begins on Friday, but first we checked out a new quilt shop in the area.

Beautiful clouds and wide open spaces. And everything is green. Such a change from California.
Mark's brother, Scott, has several pieces of equipment that he brings each year to the Bee, including a Ford tractor--I neglected to take a picture of the tractor. Their other brother, Leon, comes as well, to help Scott with whatever needs to be done. The coolest thing this year, however, was that Pete came from Idaho, too, so all four brothers were together, the first time since their mother's funeral in 2008.
Mark, Scott, Leon, Pete

Scott had this piece of equipment called a Gravely. You can change out the  attachments on the front so it can cut the grass, blow snow and other assorted tasks.
He even trusted me to drive it.
He had a saw with a massive blade. I should have taken a picture of the whole thing,
There were tractors and gas and steam engines everywhere. It was a very noisy place to be.

But I enjoyed the close-ups the most.

In the evening, there was a tractor pull, something I had never seen before. I can tell you that the environmentalists in California would not have approved.
The announcer mentioned several times to be sure and come back for the spark show. Basically, it involves an antique steam engine tractor. Sawdust is thrown into the furnace and it blows out through the stack.  It was pretty spectacular--the "sparks" went 40 feet in the air! It looked dangerous to me, but nobody seemed too concerned...         
We went back Saturday morning for breakfast. Our friend, Danny, drives the "shuttle tractor" from the parking area to the entrance.
It was chilly so Scott let me wear his denim shirt.
 In the afternoon, Mark and I drove to the farmhouse outside of Mountain Lake where he lived until the family moved to Butterfield before his junior year of high school. It was a beautiful afternoon.
 It didn't appear that the owners were there, so we drove quite close to the house and took a picture.
Later in the afternoon, we took a tour of the school he attended. It is a pre-K through 12th grade now, housed in one building. Although I have been to Butterfield quite a few times, and have even attended several reunions, I had never once been inside the school.
 When Mark attended, they were the Indians. But it was changed to the Saints, to be PC I guess...
Not all of his classmates were on the tour, but in one of the classrooms, those who were on the tour sat in "their" chairs.
The band room.
Mark's name is even on a brick in a little courtyard, purchased as part of a fundraiser.
The reunion itself was held at the Odin  Grocery Store and Cafe, owned by the city of Odin, a tiny town of about 100. I've eaten lunch there several times and the food is very good. The reunion was no exception.

This is the grocery store section.
The reunion attendees, 15 out of 36.
Mark had made fused glass coasters for everyone in the class.
It was fun listening to all the stories and memories.
On Sunday morning, we headed back to the Bee for breakfast. There had been a tremendous wind storm overnight--so many trees had crashed down. The legs to Scott's canopy were each in a bucket with cement weighing 40 pounds. The wind lifted the canopy and moved it over several feet and bent the legs.
A few funny interesting things around the Bee...

We all decided we didn't really want to try the food from this booth, although it might have been very tasty, but marketing and signage can be important...
Everyone got a laugh from this sign at the restrooms.
Could you read it? Here it is close up. Haha.
The cicadas were out in force. Have you heard cicadas? Soooo loud. But I had never seen one. In case you were wondering, this is what they look like. The Asians were walking around and collecting them, as they like to fry and eat them.
 I went through the barn that had the classic cars. There were some beauties!

I saw this one all three days. Sigh. Where is a quilt when you need one?? This would have been perfect!
There are a lot of interesting buildings.

There is also a working grist mill. We bought some flour for Charlotte as she loves to bake.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, so Pete and I took a walk around Butterfield Lake.
And then we spent some time visiting.
We had dinner with friends at Bergen Bar and Grill. This is a tiny place but the food is five star.
Monday morning, we had breakfast together before everyone headed home, except for us--we were headed back to Minneapolis/Saint Paul, commonly known as "the Cities."


05 08
Robby said... #

That looks like a fun weekend. You really do take wonderful photos. I laughed at your comments about the traffic. Last summer we were driving home from Mt. Rushmore and my husband commented how sparse the traffic was in the panhandle of NE. He was a little shocked when I told him that was what traffic was often like on the highways where I grew up, those same highways that are now choked with traffic many hours of the day. I kind of miss that ability to drive a ways and only see a few cars.