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A Midsommer Festival with a Midwest twist

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arts and entertainment Red Wing, 55066

Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

The traditional Midsommer festival is a day centered on the summer solstice but more specifically refers to the European celebrations that occur.

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Locally, few communities participate in the international celebration of the year's longest day of sunlight. The village of Stockholm, Wis., is hands-down the leading celebratory community. The MidSommer Swedish Festival at the Stockholm Village Park is set for Saturday June 23. The event is a full day celebration of Scandinavian music, art, and games - in honor of the Swedish settlers of the 1850s.

Looking for a Midsommer Festival with a Midwest twist? Search no more.

The second annual Midsommar Festival and Antique Tractor Parade is set for Sunday June 24 between Red Wing and Cannon Falls.

A mix of the traditional Swedish clericals -- the Vasa and Spring Garden Lutheran Churches -- and a lot of tractors in between is the make-up for this one-of-kind summer celebration.

The unique mix of cultures happened as somewhat of a coincidence, explained event coordinator Scott Safe. When Vasa-Spring Garden Mutual Insurance was looking for a way to make its 150th anniversary gala unique in 2010, someone mentioned the idea of a tractor parade.

"We had 75 tractors - it blew up, we had people all over the place, way more than we expected," said Safe, assistant manager at VSGMI.

The next year as Spring Garden Lutheran Church was planning its annual festivities, Safe, who is a member, mentioned the success of the tractors.

"We decided to do it again," Safe added, "because people liked it so much."

Adding Vasa Lutheran Church as a departure point for the tractors, the event was again successful and filled with tractors alongside lots of Swedish food, fun and music.

"It's like the way people love cars," Safe explained about tractor-enthusiasts, "They are just out there and will just show up."

While many of the drivers are older adults, there are lots of children's activities and games.

"Some of the collectors have three generations of drivers," Safe said. "I think most of them will just want to tell stories of the old days. There is a nostalgia -- they want to relive their old days - the grandson came along because of grandma's love for it."

The day starts with a 9 a.m. Swedish pancake breakfast at Vasa Lutheran Church followed by a 10:30 a.m. outdoor worship service, then an 11:30 a.m. blessing of the tractors.

The line of machines will depart from Vasa and make the one-hour journey to Spring Garden Lutheran Church where the Midsommar Festival begins. Expect tractors to arrive at 12:30 p.m. and in the meantime enjoy Swedish heritage food including ostkaka, a Swedish cheesecake topped with topped with lingonberries or strawberries and whipped cream or ice cream, and lefse, usually made with potatoes, flour, butter and milk. There will also be a barbeque serving other food.

The festival, food and tunes begin at 11 a.m. The Dave Carpenter Band and Brother Music Sister Rhythm will play.

"We expect of pile of people to be there," Safe said. Don't forget your lawn chair and bib overalls if you are feeling like dressing the part.

If you go...

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday June 24

Where: Vasa Lutheran Church, 15235 Norelius Road, Welch, and Spring Garden Lutheran Church, 10239 County 1 Blvd., Cannon Falls

Cost: Free; donations accepted

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