For the 25th time, Morris celebrated Prairie Pioneer Days this past weekend, and it was a particularly grand occasion this year.
People came to the celebration to have a good time and organizers appear to have offered enough of a variety that everyone was satisfied. And just about everything went off without a hitch, thanks to the planning and preparation of festival organizers and sponsors.
The core of the celebration has remained remarkably unchanged over the years: gathering in the park to share talents, treasures, good food and a parade.
And through the hard work of the event committee as well as local businesses and organizations, there were some truly awesome additions to the festival.
The Family Feud was pure and simple fun, with its friendly rivalry and gosh-darn good Lutheran coffee.
Likewise, everyone I've talked to who attended the Rock the Groundz music event has given it a thumbs-up as a great addition to the celebration.
But Prairie Pioneer Days is about so much more than entertainment. The festival is a showcase of all the things that make life in Morris worth celebrating.
For me, it's the smallest details that stand out. The fresh coat of paint on the Killoran Music Arts Centre in East Side Park. All of the flags flying at the Veterans Memorial. Children squealing through the park on tricycles with cheering families on the side. A game of Bingo with my children. Charlie Battery's families riding in the parade, texting their soldiers in Kuwait to let them know that, back home, we're cheering for you. Our local politicians, ambassadors and adorable children waving and smiling from the middle of the street.
Prairie Pioneer Days is a great way for our young people to improve their knowledge of the community they live in. The festival is full of people you may have yet to meet and chances to see that we're all a little different and there's nothing wrong with that. Throughout, there is an overt sense of camaraderie even among those who were visiting for the first time.
Prairie Pioneer Days serves as the excuse for class reunions, family gatherings and a trip to the neighboring town. It is an opportunity to set aside worries about weather, employment and the economy and celebrate our town and its citizens. It is a chance to do, see, hear and eat things that you might otherwise have to travel for, yet end up in your own bed at night.
Prairie Pioneer Days is a community event in the most basic sense -- the community created it, the community benefits from it and it is part of what our community is.