Most small towns have a festival annually that highlights their community and culture. Rural North Dakota is full of these type of festivals. This weekend our family was split between small towns as our favorite family tradition of attending the Aneta Turkey Barbecue was taking place while our small town was holding, “Summer Fun Days”. Nathan stayed back to work the Summer Fun Days while Hunter played baseball and then headed north to the farm for the turkey barbecue family fun.
A few things you need to know about small town festivals include…dressing appropriately.
Our girls dressed themselves. Sporty cowgirl attire works for small town festivals. They changed three times for the turkey barbecue.
A second key to success at small town festival is having good help. Cousin Logan was ace playing at the small town park with Miss A and Miss E.
Good help is especially key at the Aneta Turkey Barbecue. 312 turkeys were roasted in an open pit, all day on Saturday.
There are many volunteers that make the event a success, including Mother Nature making the weather beautifully annually on the third Saturday every June. My grandpa for the past 52 years of the turkey barbecue has been helping roast the turkeys.
He has worked in the next generation to have a role though which will allow the event to carry on for decades to come. My brother Robbie along with all six other grandsons of my grandpa’s were by his side this year roasting turkeys. I don’t know if any of us quite comprehend the gift we have to be alongside generations of our family in the small town our ancestors homesteaded outside of over a century ago. There is more depth and meaning that we know in our young age.
But I know Grandpa Sonny knew what a gift he had this weekend.
Miss A learned the keys to helping at the Lutheran ladies lunch stand. It’s the go to place at the Aneta Turkey Barbecue for homemade pie, bars and brownies.
My dad was one of many that volunteered to carve turkeys as thousands went through the line in the small town park.
Even my brother Joe helped bring the turkeys in off the hot spits. We like to tease youngest brother Joe he avoids the tough jobs. But he learned the man with the fresh, hot turkey is a popular guy.
|Aneta, North Dakota Turkey Barbecue 2012|
Each small town festival is unique but Aneta’s is like no other to me. It’s not gourmet but it is the best turkey you’ll taste while…serving on a foam plate with plenty of potato salad, baked beans and all the fixings.
My sister went for the turkey leg while Cousin Wyatt went for the heaping turkey helping.
Miss A found a third key of a small town festival to be entertainment. Aside from a craft show, plenty of pie, a parade and accordions playing, there were blow up “jumpy” toys. I loved the “jumpy” toys because they burned off the kids’ energy and only wished I was in them burning off the extra calories.
|Two of my favorite fathers, my dad and Nathan holding Miss E, a daddy’s girl|
Yesterday on Father’s Day, we wrapped our family fun weekend in our small town park with an all-faith church service, the last event of our small town festival. My brother Robbie sang and we rejoiced together. We feasted following church in the park with yet another huge meal made by my mom. And I was reminded it is not just for a small town festival that we gather together for on the third Saturday in June each year. It’s not the 312 turkeys or the jumpy toys. We don’t help with roasting turkeys or make pies without purpose.
|Grandpa Sonny and Grandma Nola, married 61 years this October.|
We gather for a small town festival for family, for friends and for a community. It’s the time in between the turkey roasting that matters the most for us. The games, the laughs and conversations. It’s growing a next generation. Someday I recognize we won’t all be here on this earth in the same way we were this past weekend. But I don’t think our small town festival and family gathering will end. A next generation has been grown to carry on what I can only hope will be passed onto my great-grandchildren. It’s what makes small towns unique and to me, the heart and soul of America.
What’s your favorite small town festival?