Festival Shopping

Dateline: Pine Island, Minnesota

As newcomers to southeast MN, our curiosity is piqued by local summer ‘festival’ events, those special moments that allow direct contact with local culture, so last weekend, as you might anticipate, we stayed home and gave consideration to a sexual encounter.  Wait, wait, of course that’s not true, because this IS a family blog, but the point is you’ve got to get out and live a little, NOT outlive and get a little.

With the anticipation of two dogs in heat, we head north from Rochester, 20 miles, to attend the Pine Island Cheesefest.  The weekend prior we had hit the jackpot visiting the Lanesboro Rhubarb Festival and thought this might be another winner, and from here forward, the day slowly turned downhill, like sasquatch in snowshoes attempting an escape from the beef jerky papparazzi.

It’s 10 AM, a Saturday morning, and the town, Pine Island is nearly deserted.

Jack and Chas stop in the local park to take “manly relief”

Flood stage, 24Sept2010,

Lynn takes note of the high water mark, easily five feet above the ladies room floor.

And nearby, on the outdoor patio of the Pine Island Cheese Company, Jack perches on the picnic table quietly anticipating a cheesey treat.

Beautiful building, locked, and nearly empty

Walking into town we take note of the ‘arts and crafts’ fair, in the auditorium of the middle school.  Lynn ventures in, and then out, in less than ten minutes……”old ladies, card tables, garage sale castoffs, cheap trinkets from China, and not from the generals of Tao, the active and holistic conception of nature, but rather, the Dollar General store”.

The main street is closed to traffic by diligent civil patrol officers, swollen with importance and backup; orange barrels, do not cross tape, one whistle, and wooden horse barricades.  The street is lined with food vendors, prepared it seems for an invasion of famished Sumo wrestlers….deep fried Oreo cookies, Indian Fry Bread, Funnel Cakes, Elephant ears, and 96 oz servings of iced slurpees.  No cheese of any kind.  Three hours here for ‘snacking’ + three hours in a tanning bed and you could go home looking like OPrah™.

If you happen to schedule this outing, the Pine Island Cheesefest for 2012, note the following:

  • there is no cheese
  • very few pine trees
  • no island

And should one of your companions be of the female persuasion, make sure she has a bathing suit to swim into the restroom.  The only water in sight is the north branch of the middle fork on the Zumbro River, whose sole function is to flood the ladies room in the park every fall, where it is said, No Man is an Island.  So the summary of this blog is very much like the Seinfeld theme, a show about nothing.  Pine Island provided us a proper balance to Lanesboro, and we left feeling we were batting .500, good in any league.

We head eastward on MN 60, to and thru Mazeppa, presumably named after Zeppa’s mother, and a two hour drive drifting through the Richard Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest, > 1,000,000 acres of forest-savanna transition, so serene and peaceful that we are back up to batting a thousand.

Reminiscent of the Allan Funt production mantra of the 1950s…..sometimes, when you least expect it, “smile, you’re on Candid Camera”, this glorious ride had all three of us, me, Jack, and Lynn, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Now pass me another one of those Oreos.




  1. Rich Luhr says

    Apparently when they said “cheesefest” they didn’t mean the edible kind, but rather the adjective form.