Organizers believe this year’s Defeat of Jesse James Days was a successful event.

The five-day festival drew an estimated 200,000 people into Northfield to partake in a variety of activities.

“It went very well,” DJJD General Chair Galen Malecha said. “We had very nice weather. We were able to have a carnival back where it’s been. We didn’t have any water issues.”

That Northfield can host such a highly attended event is made possible by the more than 500 volunteers who work during the weekend. Those volunteers are from the DJJD committee, Northfield Rotary, Northfield Shares and Sundowners Car Club.

This year’s rodeo sold out both nights. Large crowds flocked to downtown Northfield throughout the weekend for re-enactments of the 1876 First National Bank of Northfield robbery on Division Street, and food vendors lined Bridge Square.

“Our numbers were probably up through the whole weekend,” Malecha said.

He estimated attendance on Sunday was relatively low because of rain prior to the parade. The festival is weather-dependent, Malecha said, as heat and cold can drive people away. Temperatures last weekend, however, hovered in the 60s and 70s, making for comfortable weather for those in attendance.

Malecha said many Northfield businesses see a “decent economic impact” throughout the weekend due to the influx of people into the community.

“Tourism is a big economic driver for the city of Northfield, and the Defeat of Jesse James Days is one of those economic drivers for the city of Northfield,” he said.

A meeting for the committee to wrap up the season is scheduled next month, and planning for next year will begin in October.

Ambassador Scholarship Program Chairwoman Julie Eddy also spoke highly of the weekend. She was with the 2020 Ambassadors who were crowned last month as they visited events throughout the festival.

“It was a great weekend,” she said. “The weather held out for us. The Ambassadors had a great time. They help out at a lot of events.”

To Eddy, a unique aspect of DJJD is the variety of community groups who help, from church groups to Rotary, Lions Club, civic groups, fire and police departments, the Northfield Hiliners Dance Team, youth groups and YMCA.

“It really is a community celebration, and the whole city gets involved in doing it,” Eddy said.

“It’s very unique that Northfield can do that.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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