Crad Kilodney--New Writings

The Moorhead, Minnesota, Turnip Festival

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    The city of Moorhead, Minnesota, is buzzing with excitement as it looks forward to its first Turnip Festival, which will run from Friday, June 5th, to Sunday, June 7th, 2009.  The festival, which is expected to draw many thousands of visitors from all over the Midwest, as well as Canada, celebrates the turnip and its importance to Moorhead.

    “The turnip has dwelled in the shadow of other vegetables far too long,” says City Councillor Nancy Otto, the head of the Turnip Festival Committee and a self-proclaimed turnip enthusiast.  “People forget that turnips were brought to Minnesota by the Vikings before the time of Columbus.”  Otto has also contributed the theme for the festival: “Turnips Are Wonderful!”

    Mayor Mark Voxland regards the festival as a much-needed morale boost after an unhappy 2008 marked by a sex scandal, several murders, and an outbreak of salmonella at a local chicken restaurant.  “Moorheaders have the spirit to rise above adversity, and they know how to have a darn good time, too!” he says.  And he is also confident that the festival will go down in history as the high point of his tenure as Mayor.

    Turnip-related events will include a competition for the best turnip dishes, turnip arts and crafts, turnip bowling, and a special “mystery event” referred to as a “Turnip Bang,” which will take place at Chumley’s Bar on Main Ave.  Just what it is, is anybody’s guess.

    Of course, the highlight of the festival will be the Turnip Parade, featuring a beautiful turnip float, on which will be riding the Turnip Queen, Ms. Kerry Helland, a local businesswoman.  Ms. Helland is already sporting a hair style she calls a “turnip mullet” in anticipation of her appearance.  “This is going to be the biggest thrill of my life!” she says.  There is no Turnip King, but Chuck Gulswig, a teacher at Moorhead High School, will serve as emcee for the festivities.

    The parade, featuring the Moorhead High School marching band, will take place Saturday afternoon, June 6th, and several streets will be blocked off for it.  The parade will start from Townsite Park (Moorhead’s “Crown Jewel”) on 4th Ave. South, go east to 14th St. South, then north to Main Ave., west to 8th St. South, south to 4th Ave. South, and back to Townsite Park.

    Main Ave. between 8th St. South and 14th St. South will be turned into an outdoor mall on Saturday, and there will be plenty of turnip-related products and souvenirs, including t-shirts, postcards, videos, and DVD’s.

    On Sunday, June 7th, Moorhead High School will host a Turnip Ball, which will no doubt be the big social event of the year for Moorhead’s elite.

    The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center will be showing a special exhibit devoted to Moorhead’s turnip heritage from June 1st to June 13th.

    Festival sponsors include Chumley’s, Golden Needle Tattoo, Speak Easy Restaurant, Casey’s General Store, Mother’s Records, I-Beam, Tastee-Freez, Hornbacher’s, Moorhead Rent-All, and Loopy’s Dollar Store.

    Moorhead-area hotels are already taking reservations and expect to be packed for Festival Weekend, so don’t wait till the last minute!

    And will the Turnip Festival become an annual event?  “That’s our intention,” says Mayor Voxland.  “We’ll put every other turnip festival to shame.  Ours will be the best.  Whenever anyone hears the word ‘turnip,’ they’ll think of Moorhead first.”

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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