Summer fun in Otter Tail County
News | Published on September 23, 2021 at 4:28pm GMT+0000 | Author: Chad Koenen0
So it seems summer must come to an end, but she’s not going out the door quietly. Activities abound to the extent that each weekend, you have to choose from many places to go which one to attend. Fairs. Shows. Dances. Fishing. Celebrations. Finn Fest. Demo derbies. So many choices. Some date confusion. Screwed up times and still haven’t seen Larry and Eric play.
Polka Daze in Ottertail City won Friday night, and even though it has been going on for a day and a half already, we managed to get in a couple of hours of polkas, two-steps, and waltzs. We joined a large group of people inside a large “circus” tent, half of which was dance floor, and half of which was chairs, to which one moved when exhaustion threatened.
And threaten it did. We realized quite quickly that this older crowd with their campers and fifth-wheels evidently followed these bands across the state; and did it enough that they were in good enough physical condition to never miss a dance. Dancing the polka is fun, but when it comes to out and out aerobic exercise, a full-bore polka is it. As you watch the dancers, some of them have learned how to “fake” it. Their steps are minute; their feet never leave the floor; they could do this all night long.
And then there is the other end of the polka spectrum. Their feet are barely on the floor. They apparently have rock solid inner ears, and no dizziness ever. Spin me around like that, and you better have a bucket handy.
Being there with these hard-core event followers seemed at first like being instantly transported to a foreign country. They all knew when to wave their cowboy hats in the air and shout song lines; when to respond to the singer’s questions; when to holler yahoo at their lung’s limits. Fun.
The weekend before this was the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, which is west of everything, from us here, almost to the flat wheat lands of North Dakota. Arriving at this event? Automobiles lined up for entrance as far as the eye could see, down the highway in both directions.
And the parking. I doubt that there were less than 5,000 cars parked, up hill, down hill, in valleys, row by row, almost endless. The event? Sure. But I took pictures of the rolling hills of Rollag to send. To heck with hundreds of acres of steam machines. Well, not really.
Because, really, how great is it to walk downwind of hundreds of coal and wood fired steam machines belching great clouds of fine smelling smoke?
And then there is the decision making involved at Rollag. Take a few years off me, and I would have just wandered from ice cream stand to ice cream stand, past the souvenir stands, past the train loading depot, through the railroad roundhouse, the blacksmith shop, the flour grinding mill, the Pabst engine–which is at the top of my list–past the water wheel, the engine shed, the millwork shop, the Osgood steam shovel.
And summer isn’t over. There’s still the fair at Wadena.
If summer lasted forever, we’d perish of exhaustion.