A Busy Day in the Neighborhood
The third Saturday in August seems to be a coveted date for events around Wright County, as this year three of the area’s most well-attended events landed a calendar date of Saturday, August 17.
While the weather was on the warmer side, skies were clear and bright for the third Saturday of August, where crowds gathered to attend this year’s Gear-Head Get Together in Maple Lake, the Arts and Craft Festival in Buffalo, and Montrose Days in Montrose.
Gear-Head Get Together
Wright County put the pedal to the metal on Saturday, August 17 with Maple Lake’s 9th Annual Gear-Head Get Together. The show and swap meet is one of Maple Lake’s largest events throughout the year, and draws crowds from not only the area, but across the state.
Always growing, this year held a few new changes for Gear-Heads, including a new location. Instead of setting up shop at the meet’s usual Bolduan Park and Irish Stadium, vendors lined the streets of Birch Avenue South starting at Second Street.
The swap and show prides itself on being all-inclusive, allowing for enthusiasts in any stage of car-ownership to participate. Vehicles of all makes, models, years, and conditions cruise into Gear-Heads, where drivers and spectators can join together, make lasting connections, and make memories without having to worry about competitions for trophies or plaques.
Making an appearance this year was Everett Jasmer’s USA-1 Monster Truck, a first national champion of monster truck racing. “On a Mission for Faith in America and Supporting Our Troops,” is the truck driver’s motto, and drew a lot of attention to the massive vehicle. At 1:30 p.m., USA-1 crushed a lineup of smashed vehicles, showing off its capabilities for audiences.
Additionally, more than 100 vendors arrive at Gear-Heads each year, selling wares and offering a variety of food choices throughout the day. Accompanying them is live music each year, and this year’s entertainment included “Pull Start Diesel” on the main stage in the morning, the “Rockin’ Hollywoods” in the afternoon on the main stage, and “Messenger Mike and the Two Dollar Tight” on the park stage in the afternoon.
Attendance is always growing for the Gear-Head Get Together. This year, event coordinators and the Maple Lake Messenger estimate attendance “in the thousands,” with approximately 1,000 registered cars and 150 motorcycles. This is not taking into consideration vehicles that arrive and do not register for the meet, but just drive in to participate.
The Gear-Head Get Together 2020 celebration will return next August.
Arts and Craft Festival
Over 160 vendors made their way to downtown Buffalo last Saturday to set up shop and showcase their wares. This marks significant growth for the festival, which hasn’t seen so many vendors in the last several years, according to the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce.
Many of the “oldies but goodies” make their way back to the festival each year. Many of us remember the crocheted towels, hand-made Barbie doll clothes, and “Church Baby” dolls and their crocheted purses being hot items throughout the years. Well, they continue to make a comeback as popular items up for sale.
With the old favorites returning, new vendors will inevitably make their way to Buffalo’s Arts and Craft Festival, as well. Many of this year’s vendors were “first-timers,” including Rick Murphy and his metal sculptures made from junk, hailing from Osakis; Debra Anderson, with her Marieande Jewelry from Maple Grove; and Nick Ardito with his license-plate art from Mahtomedi.
Among them are not only first-time Buffalo Arts and Craft Festival arrivals, but first-time crafters, period, such as the Ask a Fairy or Gnome booth, which specializes in wooden fairy gardens. Not only was Saturday their first time in Buffalo, but it was their first craft fair ever.
“We thought this would be a great way to kickstart our business,” said the artist from Hopkins (name withheld). “It’s a small community, and that makes for great connections and opportunities.”
Traveling all the way from Mahtomedi was Nick Ardito, a math teacher who started his license plate artwork purely out of interest and the want for a hobby. His first sale, a artpiece of the United States made from license plates gathered from across the country and mounted on a piece of wood garnered from his school’s grounds, sold for $3,500 at the school’s auction.
“After that [the auction], I realized this was a lot more than just a hobby. It could be a summer business in my off-teaching hours. I have great connections that help me get the [license] plates, and they are a lot of fun to construct.”
Also, this weekend was Montrose Days. The community’s celebration kicked off on Friday, August 16, and stretched through Sunday, August 18, with a myriad of events including Saturday’s pork chop dinner at the firehouse, the lawn tractor pull, a sand dig for kids, bounce houses, and much more.
Thankfully, skies were clear all three days of the community’s festival. Saturday’s afternoon was filled with cheers and impressive tractor pulling, where drivers tested the stamina and wherewithal of their lawn tractors by pulling “Red Iron.”
On Sunday, the Montrose Days parade marched throughout town, showcasing local businesses, organizations, royalty candidates, and school pride. Among them were the Rockford Marching Band, Buffalo’s Marching Band, the Montrose American Legion, and others.
Montrose Days began to wind down with the royalty coronation at the Montrose Community Center, where the Junior Commodore, Junior Ambassador, and two Montrose Ambassadors were crowned.
This year’s Commodore Award was presented to Greg Youmans, who gave a moving speech about the community of Montrose providing a platform to support not only young women, but youth within the city. The award is given each year by the Minneapolis Aquatennial. This year’s Aquatennial representatives were Queen of the Lakes Elise Toussaint, and Admiral Dave Becker.
Crowned for royalty this year were Macenzie Ramola (parents Danielle Fiecke and Marc Ramola), sponsored by Fat Old Guy’s Café and Catering, as well as Milhausen’s Auto and Truck Repair, and Kaija Tourville (parents James and Sonya Tourville), sponsored by Montrose Family Chiropractic. Recognized as Miss Congeniality was Morgan Czanstkowski. The two succeed 2018-2019 Royalty, Hannah Ennis and Serenity Simmang. Ennis was chosen as the Montrose representative for the 2020 Aquatennial.
For junior ambassadors, Ashton Otten and Maci Geyen were coronated.