In the summer of 1864, several dozen soldiers (some of them captured Confederate Civil War soldiers given a second chance) started digging a ditch on a prairie in the Minnesota territories.
You know the location. You’ve probably driven or walked by it many times — approximately where the Redwood County courthouse is today.
That ditch — which eventually grew into a frontier stockade, and later a village — was the very beginning of the eventual town of Redwood Falls, 150 years ago this summer.
The city of Redwood Falls is only going to turn 150 years old once, and a group of area volunteers is aiming to make sure it’s done right.
On Wednesday night, a couple dozen volunteers gathered at the Redwood Area Community Center to begin the serious planning.
Organizer Craig LaBrie said, “We’re in a time crunch. We can’t have meetings monthly; we need to be having them weekly.”
The big sesquicentennial celebration is set for the weekend of June 21.
With much planning going on so late, publicizing the events will be a challenge.
“We need to get the word out now as far as connecting with people making their summer plans,” said LaBrie.
City Council member Jim Sandgren, who’s also on the fair board, had many suggestions from his experience helping to organize the annual county fairs.
Sandgren said if the town wants to bring in bands or vendors, it’s important to make commitments now. For many vendors, the deadline for arranging summer events has already passed.
Nevertheless, “We’ve already heard from some vendors willing to come out that weekend,” said LaBrie.
But for now, it’s enough to just start asking the questions to be answered.
Should there be a street dance? If so, on what night? Should it be held downtown? How about Memorial Field?
What about maybe getting local businesses, churches, schools, and service organizations to sponsor or host events?
For the moment, questions like those have no answer.
Redwood currently has a wealth of possible locations for events, including the old pool site next to the hospital, the armory, the library, the golf course, Memorial Field, the county fairgrounds, the Legion Park volleyball courts, and others.
How can they be used effectively?
One possibility tossed out was that the town’s baseball fields would make great settings for outdoor concerts, with their natural amphitheater seating.
One idea that was greeted with lots of enthusiasm was re-dedicating the swayback bridge in Ramsey Park.
The bridge was completed just in time for Redwood’s 75th anniversary; maybe it’s time to rededicate the refurbished bridge for the 150th?
The organizers plan to quickly put together a logo contest to go with all publicity; pay attention to the Gazette and other local media for details when they become available.
Page 2 of 2 - Among the other ideas tossed around at the meeting were a Redwood Falls all-school reunion, to which graduates throughout the school’s history would be welcome.
Already, other events are scheduled to take place the same weekend.
The annual parade and the Redwood Falls Rotary Club’s annual pancake breakfast were both rescheduled to occur a week later than usual so they would be the same week as the 150th anniversary.
There was talk of maybe collaborating with other June events into the sesquicentennial celebrations.
The Ramsey Park Jamboree is currently set for June 11, and the Lower Sioux Pow Wow is June 14-16. Springfield and Fairfax both have events scheduled the wame weekend as Redwood’s.
Several events have been juggled around the month of June to avoid taking place the weekend of the sesquicentennial.
A large celebration isn’t cheap, and funding is one of the committee’s main concerns.
“We will need everyone willing to volunteer as much as possible,” LaBrie said.
With social media, it’s possible to keep the public updated day by day if necessary, all over the world. Email, Facebook, Twitter, and others will play a big part in bringing people to Redwood the weekend of June 21.
The next organizational meeting is set for mid-February, and everyone is more than welcome.
For more information, to make suggestions, or to volunteer, look up the Facebook page “Redwood Falls Sesquicentennial”, or email RWF150@outlook.com.
Also, stay tuned to the Gazette and KLGR for details as they become available.