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An Echo Press Editorial: In defense of small towns

Small towns take a lot of guff.

By small towns, we're talking those that range in size from Leaf Valley to Alexandria.

The people who live in them are called hicks, yokels, podunks, bumpkins, rednecks and worse.

Small-town life is called boring, dull, sheltered, isolated.

Those of us who live in small towns know better, of course. We realize there's a lot of amazingly good things about living in a place that's far away from the traffic-clogged, frenzied-paced, crime-riddled mess of a metropolis.

Take festivals. Yes, there are plenty of big festivals that take place in big cities, but oftentimes, they're more about making a buck or raising a ruckus than just having fun. And getting there — finding a parking place, battling the crowds, eating overpriced food — no thanks.

Here in Douglas County, we're fortunate to have a variety of community festivals and special events to enjoy, especially in the summer. A couple weekends ago, for instance, you could take your pick of what you wanted to do — go back in time at History Live!; join a Wine, Ale and Art Crawl; rock to The Fabulous Armadillos at the Legacy of The Lakes Gardens; watch the Minnesota Drum Corps Premiere and the Vikingland Band Festival; sample tasty ribs at Awake the Lakes; check out the 50th annual Osakis Festival; admire automobiles from all eras at the Vintage Car Club Show; or take in recurring events like the farmers markets, Theatre L'Homme Dieu and Andria Theater productions, Friday kids' movies at the Douglas County Library or the Viking Speedway races.

That's not every event, of course. And it's just one weekend.

There are also plenty of things to do this Fourth of July week — fireworks shows like Star Storm (and St. Paul cancelled theirs to save $100,000 out of a $560 million budget?), boat parades, a patriotic parade in West Union (sure, it's small, but that's why they complete the parade loop twice), a pontoon parade on Lake Osakis, a patriotic concert on the courthouse lawn and more.

Also, you won't want to miss Evansville's "Red White and Boom Days" this Friday through Sunday. For a small town of 608 people, the community knows how to roll out a big celebration. Activities include a citywide garage sale, bake sales, free history tours, family bingo, a concert, a Color Dash 5K, bean bag tourney, grand parade, a pedal pull competition, petting zoo, inflatables, children's games, food vendors, a pork chop dinner, free watermelon feed, street dance and, of course, fireworks.

A lot more fun awaits this summer — Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn (every Thursday night), the Roddin' Round the Lakes Car Show in Osakis (July 13-14), Party in the Street (July 20), Miltona Tornado Days (July 20-22), Millerville Butter Days (July 20-22), Art in the Park (July 28-29), Rose City Threshing and Heritage Festival (July 28-29), Brandon Summerfest (Aug. 1-5), Garfield Days (Aug. 10-11), the Douglas County Fair (Aug. 16-19) and Carlos Creek Grape Stomp (Sept. 14-16), to name just a few highlights.

So go ahead, call us country bumpkins out here in the sticks. We don't mind all that much. We're too busy having fun.

Better yet, join us.