Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Renaissance Festival, 2011

Nancy and I have attended the Minnesota Renaissance Festival nearly every year since its beginning in the early 1970s. We enjoy the comedy, the atmosphere, the animals, the juggling, the crowd, the crafts, and most of all, the Puke and Snot Show.
The longest-running and oldest act at the Renaissance Festival, Sir Ralph Puke, left, and Sir Thomas Snot, right, have been dishing out their humor with sword play for 41 years. Mark Sieve is the original Puke, and John Gamoke took over as Snot with only days of preparation after Joe Kudla passed away in August of 2008. They both need to be commended for their courage in pulling off what must have been a tough transition. This is their 4th year together in the act and they were in fine form.  
Both last year and this year, Nancy and I came early to get a chance to talk to Mark and John near their stand where they sell tee shirts, mugs, and other Puke and Snot stuff. Mark held up last year's photo of the four of us. Below is this year's photo. As you can see, no one has aged, and I am even wearing a different shirt than I wore last year.
Nancy made a quilt from the Puke and Snot tee shirts that we've purchased over the years. She took a couple photos of it and gave Mark a copy. He seemed genuinely pleased with the small gift and said he would put it in a ring binder with other Renaissance Festival photos. You can see a corner of the quilt in the picture behind the photo Mark is holding of the four of us from last year's visit.
Although these guys are, indeed, celebrities, they honestly enjoy talking to fans and friends at the Festival. John's son Zane, pictured below, took the photo.
Mark Sieve, Zane Gamoke, John Gamoke.

This year's show was mostly new material that featured Sir Puke's plan to become a politician. The program was hilarious and also had lots of the old comic gems that Puke and Snot have performed throughout the past years.
One more thing, I recommend Mark's book, Call Me Puke: A Life on the Dirt Circuit, a memoir of the beginning days to the recent past. The book is funny, serious, revealing, and a good read. To purchase the book go to www.magaga.com
Sir Puke among the audience.
Sir Snot among the audience.

After the Puke and Snot Show, we checked out the animals, the jousting, the crafts, the juggler, and some food. Steak on a stick is my favorite. It goes well with red wine.
Nancy and I used to raise hogs so watching the little guys dig in the dirt brought back some good memories.

We enjoyed watching the handler wash the elephant.

The jousting is an attraction that contains action and humor. There is a bit of the "good guy" vs "bad guy" game that you might find in pro-wrestling, but there is also the honest challenge of riding your horse at another guy who has a long stick pointing at you. I wouldn't say it is completely safe.
The sign on the box says, "Buy Something," and like a number of other shops, this one offered some bargains. Marked down merchandise is something rare at the Renaissance. The economy seems to have affected all areas. So if you like bargains, attend next weekend and see what you find.
We watched players throwing knives and pins close to each other and a volunteer from the audience.
By the expression on this volunteer's face, we can conclude she can feel the breeze of the pins as they pass by.
Before we left, Nancy and I spent a bit of quiet time by our favorite spot in the shade by Wind Rose Mill.
We reluctantly take our leave of the fantasy world but we know we'll be back next year.

Thanks to Mark Sieve and John Gamoke and all the wonderful performers and workers who make the Renaissance Festival what it is.
My post on last year's Renaissance Festival was September 6, 2010.
To purchase Mark's book go to www.magaga.com 

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson, except for the one taken by John's son Zane.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Berean Education Center

April 2010 was the first time we had visited Berean Education Center to do a show, and I was happy to return to the school on Tuesday to do two shows: If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure for ages 4-5 and A Farm Country Christmas Eve for grades 1-4.
The groups were small in number but enthusiastic. In the three pictures below the four and five year old students listen attentively and then eagerly participate when i show them how to teach a calf to drink out of a pail.

Children in that same group wait for their turn at sticking a hand into the can of oats in the pictures below.

The children in the second group ranged from first to fourth grade and they listened carefully to my explanation of why Santa visits farm kids during chore time on Christmas Eve in the picture below.

Then they responded quickly to the quiz questions in the two pictures below.

Nancy and I wish to thank Kristi Ollila for inviting us to Berean and arranging our visit. 
We especially thank Mrs. Hartley and Mrs. Otto for their warm welcome and for sharing their class time with us. Thanks to Pam who greeted us and showed us where to set up. We hope to return again soon.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson


Thursday, August 25, 2011

All Saints Catholic School, Madison Lake, MN

The drive to Madison Lake took just a bit over two hours, but the morning was sunny and beautiful so the time seemed to go fast. As we approached All Saints Catholic School, we were treated to a nice view of Madison Lake.

Our first show was for preschoolers and they seemed to enjoy the story If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure, especially the part where Nancy uses her two fingers to teach a calf to drink from a pail.

Children in the second group (below) ranged in grades from first to sixth.
Since the group number was small, the students could stretch out on the floor to enjoy A Farm Country Picnic. After the show they lined up to take turns feeling the oats that I display in a coffee can.

Nancy and I thank Liz Blaschko and Mary Ann Adams for inviting us to their school. I had fun doing the show and the kids were great.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nowthen Threshing Show

The annual Threshing Show at Nowthen Minnesota is always a bustle of activity. This year the organization held its 41st show and it gets better every year.
The show features antique cars and tractors, a parade, free rides around the grounds, a tractor pull, pedal pull competition, an active sawmill (the smoke in the above picture is rising from the sawmill), and too many displays to mention.  There were lots of antique vendors and food vendors. The ice cream vendor was among the most popular during the beautiful, sunny, but pleasant day.
Preserved buildings to visit include a filling station, a country school, a church, and many more. 

 This year we were invited to attend on Saturday, August 20th to perform a couple shows in the country schoolhouse, and the members allowed us to sell our books nearby.
Nancy smiles by our table of books.

This proved to be a good spot for us to sell books because we were next door to a building that offered hands-on activities for children on one side of us (above), and on the other side of us ladies were cooking chicken soup in an old-fashioned kitchen and selling it to passers by (below). The fragrance was terrific!
The windows of the cabin where they made the soup were open (far left) and customers enjoyed the food on shaded tables nearby. 
I got to sign some books and Nancy and I got to visit with a bunch of really fun people during the day.

Like all of the threshing shows, the Nowthen show is, indeed, a show for the whole family, but it seems the organizers of the Nowthen Threshing Show make a special effort to attract kids of all ages. As you can see from the pictures above, the show is full of parents with their children and that's always a sight that lifts the spirits.  
My 3:30 PM show in the country school.

Thanks to Sharon Wilhelm for arranging my visit to the Nowthen Threshing Show, and I especially want to thank the board members for allowing me to perform in the school house and to sell my books in front of the building. As you can see by the pictures, we were able to reach lots of families with our message of preserving farm heritage. Nancy and I hope to return next year.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Duluth Children's Museum

This is our second visit to the Duluth Children's Museum, located in the same building as the famous Depot Museum that has all those great old trains. The first time we did a show there in August, 2009, I was impressed with the museum's gallery of activities for kids and the great audience. It was much the same this time as a couple of preschools brought some children to watch the show.
Program Director Mary Davis introduced me before I began my program. 

The Duluth Children's Museum was established in 1930 and is he fifth oldest in the nation. Go to their website at www.duluthchildrensmuseum.org to learn about the attractions to visit and programs they offer.
CEO and President  Michael Garcia took time to visit with us and tell us the story of Grace Walker, a nine year old girl from Proctor, MN. When Grace was seven she learned that the Duluth Children's Museum was planning to move and had started fundraising to build a new museum. Grace decided to help by writing and illustrating a book called The Blunders of Harry Hamble and donate all the proceeds to the Museum.
Mr. Garcia kindly gave Nancy and me a copy of Grace's book, which is autographed by Grace. We love  the story and illustrations and admire Grace not only for her creativity with the art, but also for her creativity in deciding that fundraising for a museum was not beyond the scope of her seven years of experience.
What can I say? I was 55 when I published my first children's book. I guess creativity takes longer to form in some of us.

Nancy and I wish to thank Mary Davis for inviting us back to perform our show at the Duluth Children's Museum again this year, and we especially thank Mr. Garcia for the copy of Grace's book and for telling her story to us.
We hope to be back to the Duluth Children's museum soon.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dakota County Fair, 2011

The first Dakota County Fair goes back to 1858, the year Minnesota became a state, and it has been going strong ever since. This year the seven-day event was helped tremendously by the very pleasant weather from Monday, August 7 through Sunday, August 14. Nancy and I displayed and sold our farm heritage books and tee shirts in Dakota Village, an assembly of restored buildings that displays the area's heritage. Buildings range from a train depot to a bank building and are open for the fair-goer to visit and listen to a volunteer in period costume explain and demonstrate the workings of a blacksmith shop or a print shop. It's an interesting place to visit.
The Dakota City Board allows us to rent this building to sell our books about farm heritage during the seven days of the fair. Since our two series of books reflect stories of farm heritage, it is a perfect spot.
The general store was next door to us and open for visitors.
The old Vermillion State Bank, built in 1918, was moved to Dakota City in 1985.
Visiting the bank brings back memories for me because my father and mother banked there.
I remember opening my first savings account here and going in with Dad as he took out loans for expanding farm operations.

The Dakota Drug Store was only half a block from us and it sold hot food, cold drinks, and ice cream.

An attractive and informational pamphlet called "A Fair to Remember" details the 150-year development of the Dakota County Fair from 1858 to 2008. The facts are fascinating and are presented in an interesting story form with photographs. The pamphlet is given away free at most buildings in Dakota Village.
Obviously, Nancy and I are at the fair to sell books, but what makes the seven fair days fun for us is the people who take the time to visit with us. Old friends, neighbors, relatives I've never met, classmates from high school, and people with farm backgrounds from all over the country who compliment us on our efforts to preserve farm heritage. 
The fair has not forgotten its agricultural and small town roots and, I think, that's why so many people come from so far away to visit the livestock barns, the midway, eat the food, visit Dakota Heritage Village, watch the threshing, enjoy the live music, and watch the tractor parade every day at 1:00 PM. 
Starting the straw pile

Singer and songwriter Ben Aaron stopped by to introduce himself to us. He played a few songs and moved on to pay at the Drug Store and the entertainment tent. Ben is a local talent from Farmington.
A fiddler played in from of the depot at Dakota City
The tractor parade is about half an hour long and features tractors of all makes and models. Maynard Ohm, Chairman of the Machinery Men's Club, does a live narration that describes each entry. The parade includes horseless carriages donated to Dakota City.

And I got to sign lots of books, which is my favorite thing to do.
Above is a picture of our first visitors and customers during the fair. On Monday before Dakota City officially opened a visitor stopped by to talk and bought a book.
Notice the free sticker from my book covers on the young man's shirt. To see more photos with children and other visitors, click on Read More below.

Nancy and I attended our building from noon to 9:00 PM on Monday, 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM on Tuesday through Saturday, and 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM on Sunday.
The hours were long but what made the stay worthwhile were all the friendly visitors and the hard-working volunteers at Dakota City. Below is a photo of Carl, one of the many Dakota City Volunteers. Carl displays one of my books that he bought for his granddaughter.

I wish to thank all the people at Dakota City for having me be part of their Heritage Village. It's a fun place to be during the fair. For more pictures of visitors and customers of all ages, click on Read More below.
Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson