Every year, area residents, (and many that are not), come together on common ground to celebrate Independence Day. Both young and old alike can attest to the fact that when it comes to St. Peter and the Fourth of July, this town can put on a party.
This year was no exception, and the St. Peter celebration had a strong turnout. Mother Nature decided to keep the rain at bay and, although it was a bit humid, finding solace in the shade, or a cold beverage to sip on, made this July afternoon an enjoyable one.
Annual festivities, such as the Freedom Fun Run, and the much anticipated Fourth of July parade, brought friends and family together for the summer celebration. This year’s parade grand marshals were local emergency service workers, while other local and surrounding favorites, such as the St. Peter High School Marching Saints and the Governaires, marched as well.
This year’s Old Fashioned Picnic-In-The-Park celebration did not pale in comparison to other years, even with the construction of the new pavilion underway. A temporary music trailer was used and the construction did not seem to affect the crowd.
Contestants at this year’s hot dog eating contest, meanwhile, had an added flair this year, with the addition of chili to the challenge. This year, ‘winner’ became ‘winners,’ for the first time, as two contestants took first prize. Both contestants received a collectable A&W Root Beer mug and walked away with full stomachs, as well.
“When I heard there were mugs, the large ones as the prize for the hot-dog contest, I did not hesitate to enter. It didn’t matter how many hot dogs I had to eat, I just wanted to win a mug,” said Issac Gonsalez, “Piccolo,” of Mankato.
Gonsalez did not plan to enter the contest originally that day, he explained, but was there visiting family and friends to celebrate the 4th of July, and this was an added bonus. Fourteen-year-old Mason Schlup, of Spearfish, South Dakota, also won first place, staying neck-and-neck with Gonsalez during the contest.
“I earned first place after I fell behind while trying to swallow my last hot dog,” said Schlup. “I needed water to wash it down, so I just put it back in my hand, took my drink of water, and ‘re-ate’ that dog again!”
Hula-hoop contestants were so abundant this year that two heats were necessary to find their winner.
Live music kept park patrons entertained throughout the afternoon at the park and a wide variety of area food and beverage vendors were in attendance to appease any appetite throughout the day. With the return of the St. Peter Ambassadors Club grilled chicken to the park events, food selection was abundant.
This year, illusionist Michael Callahan brought magic and mystery to Minnesota Square Park, with the classic sawing someone in half illusion. Lucky for his assistant, Katlin Ziehr, he knew exactly how to trick the crowd.
An impressive small town fireworks display, sponsored by the Redman Club-Ottawa Tribe 49, made for a spectacular finish to a successful St. Peter Fourth of July celebration, where there is always a little something for everyone.