Monday, July 5, 2010

A Family Holiday

Nancy and I scramble for two days prior to the big day, preparing for the annual Family Fourth of July at the Fredrickson Farm, a celebration we've hosted since 1987.

We empty and clean the garage and then set out the tables for hot food, food on ice, dessert, and snacks.

Next, the shed has to be emptied of 6 tractors, 3 lawnmowers, 1 trailer, and whatever else collects over a year's time. We decorate the shed with a flag and red, white, and blue bunting.
We mow lawns, whack weeds, set up the volley ball net, and rope off areas for parking.

A trip to Pekarna's Meats in Jordan for their fabulous old-fashioned wieners and another to a bakery for buns completes the standard menu. Guests bring the rest of the food. Everyone brings a dish to pass.

On the big day we wake early. Nancy says, "I have to start cooking the wieners and putting up signs outside."
I add, "I have to set out trash and recycling bins, pails for cigarette buts, and then fence the horseshoe pit"

We agree we have plenty time to finish it all by 10:00 AM before we clean up and ready ourselves for guests, who usually start coming at noon.

No invitations have been sent but the relatives know the party is always on July Fourth. Cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, nieces, and nephews from five generations begin to arrive, bringing food, smiles and love.

Nancy takes lots of pictures while I sign people up for the horseshoe tournament and collect the fee, which goes toward buying the trophy and paying cash prizes for the winners and runners-up. Male and female players draw names for partners so no special teams have an advantage.

Time slips by fast as everyone visits with family.

Kids play in the sand box.

The young and not-so-young play volleyball

 and make bubbles.

Cousin Jack brings balloons and blows them up for kids to enjoy.

The horseshoe tournament begins.

Tim Malz, born December of 1986, is with us again this year (pitching shoe at far right). He has spent every Fourth of July of his life at this family gathering, except last year when he served in Iraq. Glad he is home, but as we rejoice in his return, we think of others serving, allowing us to be with our families.

Twelve teams battle for the trophy, the cash prize, and the privilege of having their name engraved on a plaque.

 Others enjoy watching and everyone finds the time to eat more than once.

As evening arrives only two teams remain in the horseshoe tournament. They must face each other and win two of three games. The competition pits brother against brother and cousin against cousin. After each team wins a close game (21-14 and 21-16), the final game begins.

Score for Final game : 21-18

Runners-up: Stephen Malz (left-center),
Bob Tornio (right-center)

Winners: Jason Tornio (left-center),
Rena Bjerke (right-center).
We award the trophies and cash prizes.  Everyone agrees. "It's not the money; it's the glory."

Another game of volleyball relaxes everyone before we say our goodbyes.

Courteous guests make cleanup easy. Most of the after-party work is putting stuff away in an orderly fashion so we can set it up again next year.

For tonight we cleanup only a little before we relax and go to bed, our hearts gladdened by a wonderful day of fun and visits with family.

Tomorrow we will return things back to normal.

I'll just add two more photographs. Before the horseshoe tournament begins we take group pictures of all the women and all of the men:

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson, except for the one with Nancy by the tables in the garage.


  1. To read about the gathering of your family simply warms my heart, Gordon. My sister and I are currently planning a big family reunion for later this summer. The Kletschers reunite annually on the same weekend. This year we are adding themed activities to engage everyone. You can be sure that, like you, I'll report on the festivities in my Minnesota Prairie Roots blog.

    Your gathering looks like a fun day and a wonderful tradition. Think of the memories you're creating for the next generation.

  2. Good looking farm, Gordy! Glad you had a wonderful holiday.

    --Jordan and the Beaver's Pond staff