Surrounded by bluffs more than one hundred feet high, carved by the Root River during the pleistocene era, lies a valley too beautiful to describe. The centerpiece, a bucolic small town of less than 800 people, Lanesboro, MN, by state proclamation, has been declared the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota. The first Saturday in June is the designated date for the only festival devoted exclusively to a rhizome (an androgynous plant that can be either a fruit or a vegetable, but not once mistaken for a cross dressing pumpkin).
So Lynn, Jack, and I leave Rochester for the 40 mile trek, passing first through Chatfield, MN, home to Billy Funk Trucking.
Try saying that fast, three times in a row
Lanesboro has been featured in, get this, lineup:
- Great American Main Street Award, 1998
- 50 Best Outdoor Sports Towns; Sports Afield
- 20 Best Dream Towns in America; Outside Magazine
- The fluff Sunday newspaper supplement, Parade Magazine
AND, drum roll, Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
In spite of that we were not deterred and forged ahead to be welcomed by:
Vibrant downtown unchanged for 50 years
The festival is held in Sylvan Park, a pristine setting with premier people gazing, while…
in pink socks….
Courtesy of an extraordinary a capella vocal quartet, The Rhubarb Sisters, let’s bring them on…
Don’t let their upscale dress fool you, the sisters have TALENT
Followed by their understudies below, the Rhubarb community chorus, who balance lesser talent with an overdose of enthusiasm
I was particularly enthralled with the beautiful lady behind the “H” in rhubarb. Not mentioned in the town bio, in ages 18 and over, women outnumber men, 100 to 85.1. You have to love those odds, I’d like to be 0.1 for a day.
There are the young,
and in-between the buns
Makes biking to the United Methodist Church an attractive option
and the mundane
A mime clown juggling rhubarb sticks on fire
Even Jack served as a judge, in an olympic forum contest among youngsters, as to who grew the largest leaf and stalk combined. The winner was determined by accurate measurements and capricious, arbitrary, canine oversight.
Hmmm…lemme see now, anybody wanna bribe the judge with a rhubarb pie dog treat?
We ended the day at the Peddle Pusher restaurant (which had been the local drugstore through 1985) with the daily special, Chicken rhubarb salad on a croissant (with walnuts, diced fresh onion, and bits of apple). Delicious + a pie to go from the Lutheran Ladies and a torte from The Sons of Norway.
Lynn held her own against a Texas Star quilt
My favorite, “old blue eyes” with or without a nasal cannula accessory
It really doesn’t get any better, anywhere, than Lanesboro on a June in Saturday and sharing it is a pleasure. Hard to recall a day where I’ve been more proud to be a citizen of this country.
On the way out I find that we are being stalked by three very hot adolescent women, in the rear view mirror.
On County Road 8, headed westward, the refrain from the Rhubarb National Anthem (sung to America the Beautiful) rings between my ears and my heart:
Oh beautiful for rhubarb stalks
For red and green and pink (and pink)
For lovely green expansive leaves
Above the kitchen sink
Oh rhubarb plant, oh rhubarb plant
God shed His grace on thee (on thee)
And crown thy good–and darling–
Would you share your recipe ?
Keep on trunking.
© 2004-2011 Church Street Publishing, Inc. “Airstream” used with permission.
Bill D. says
Thank you Dr. C. for traveling to Lanesboro, Minnesota, and bringing us another slice of Americana à la Charles Kuralt, while mingling with its people during their joyful and uplifting Rhubarb Festival.
“Yes,” as Garrison Keillor would say, “Wouldn’t this be a good time for a piece of Rhubarb Pie…
One little thing can revive a guy, and that is a piece of Rhubarb Pie…
Serve it up, nice and hot, maybe things are not as bad as you thought…
Bebop-a-rebop Rhubarb Pie”
Bill D. says
More schmoozing rhubarb:
“Summer Rhubarb-Berry Cobbler”
Thanks for the inspiration!