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Straight River Days plans move forward with new beer garden

After taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medford Civic Club is ready to go with the return of the annual Straight River Days event.

Scheduled for June 17-19, the return of the community event will mark its 48th year. Luckily, the Main Street reconstruction project isn’t scheduled to begin until July, so the entire town can celebrate together without interruption.

During the Medford City Council meeting on Monday, Civic Club President Erin Sammon presented the new parade route to the council. Due to the construction of an apartment complex on the former football field, the well-attended Straight River Days parade needed a new staging area and, therefore, a new route.

“We have already had it approved to doing the line up at the school and bring the parade down the hill,” Sammon said. “If things work out, this could potentially be the route we keep moving forward.”

The parade will begin at 7 p.m., Friday, June 18.

After the Medford Muni came off a difficult year in terms of revenue – largely due to the statewide closures of bars in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 – the city council approved for a beer garden to be set up in the park on Friday and Saturday during Straight River Days. City Clerk Beth Jackson said the beer garden will be operated by city staff and officials on a volunteer basis and will help bring revenue into the Muni.

“This will still depend on state approval, but we’ve been told they don’t believe it will be a big deal since we’re the city,” Jackson told the council on Monday.

Though it is not set in stone, the beer garden will likely be set up in the large pavilion and be open during the “Party in the Park” that includes a performance by ‘80s rock metal band Rock Godz. On Saturday, the beer garden is planning to have a Bloody Mary bar and remain up throughout the bean bag tournament. Jackson said they will take down the beer garden prior to the annual street dance that same night.

Other events planned for Straight River Days includes the medallion hunt, the Miss Medford pageant, citywide garage sales, Bingo, the duck pluck raffle, the car and motorcycle show and others.

Medford agricultural students prove their skills on their way to state
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Three Medford High School Future Farmers of America members have impressed the judges this year, taking home some awards at the state convention.

Josephine Homeier, Lynn Larson and Madison Jaster demonstrated their growth in the agricultural world, earning themselves the opportunity to compete in nationals.

FFA is a national organization which develops students’ leadership skills, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. There are more than 700,000 members across the nation and the Minnesota chapter represents nearly 12,500 members and 210 high school chapters across the state.

Homeier, a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) state winner in the category of Food Products and Processing Systems Proficiency, took home the Vegetable Production award. Larson and Jaster are SAE state winners in the Animal Systems category, got awards in Goat Production and Beef Production respectively. The students say they were excited and surprised to hear that they had placed.

The three award winners have been involved in the Medford FFA since seventh grade. Today, they are upperclassmen.

“It’s like a family,” Jaster said of the Medford FFA group.

They are looking forward to moving up in the competition and say that the skills they are learning in FFA and during the competitions are applicable to any future career.

Students are able to compete for awards in almost 50 areas, including everything from agricultural communications to wildlife management. There are four types of proficiency awards, Placement, Entrepreneurship, Combined and Agriscience Research, according to the Minnesota FFA.

“Proficiency awards are based on a member’s Supervised Agricultural Experience. They recognize individual skills and career-based competencies developed through multiple years of participation in immersion-type SAE projects,” according to the FFA website.

In order to be eligible for a proficiency award, projects must be agricultural in nature and fit into at least one nationally recognized agriculture, food and natural resource pathway, in addition to meeting the award area’s description.

Students interested in entering the competition for the beef production or goat production award were required to have experience working for a producer and applying the best management practices available to efficiently produce and market their respective products.

“I also had several other (pathways) that I’ve applied with,” Larson said before explaining she and the other competitors would go on to choose their strongest pathway to submit for the high-level competitions.

Homeier and other vegetable production competitors were required to work for a business that applies the best management practices available for unprocessed vegetable crops, according to the FFA.

To get these awards, the three Medford students had to demonstrate their knowledge related to animal identification, animal health and animal maintenance among other aspects. Other skills demonstrated include crop planting techniques and cultivation. Students explained their work, in part, through an application describing their growth through several years in their respective areas. If relevant, students also have to be able to classify animals, a task that was a little more difficult this year given the virtual format. Additionally, students must show their ability to take responsibility in their area and show their expertise.

Medford FFA student teams have also competed in various competitions throughout this past week. Results from those competitions will be announced next week, according to Tim Larson Medford FFA advisor. He adds that he is impressed by the students’ accomplishments and placements this year.

Over 4,000 FFA members and guests join together across the state, although virtually, to attend workshops, sessions and participate in competitive events last week. While competing virtually presented some challenges, including limited access to assessing animals, the three Medford winners kept a positive mindset.