Stillwater, the beautiful and majestic birthplace of Minnesota. Every summer the state of Minnesota is attracted to this special place to celebrate this northern territory’s traditional roots of logging during the annual Lumberjack Days. It is a time of gathering between friends, a time for celebration, and a time to get away and relax before the fall harvest comes in. Count Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress as one of those individuals who has been lured to the banks of the Saint Croix River to celebrate this grand tradition. He recounts the events of this past weekend with us today …
“Well, you know, it was a perfect day weather wise. My wife and I wanted to make a day of this special occasion, so we made sure that we got out there early for an event they call ‘Pancakes in the Park’ which was being offered by a local restaurant in down town. I believe the restaurant was called “The Fight House” or something like that. Rather unruly name. But we got into town for that and found just spectacular parking by 8:30 AM near another place, a biker bar kind of, on the northern end of town. We grabbed some pancakes and made it just in time to watch the Iron Jack Semi-Finals. It was great showmanship, watching these burly old lumberjacks hack feverishly at logs in a competitive nature, some with their shirts off. It reminded me a lot of the passion and drive that you see out on the football field with two men not giving any ground to the other one, fighting for every ounce of recognition and grasping for every inch of space. When one flannelled covered man finally won, I was almost exhausted from how intense the competition was! I thought my wife and I were going to end up out here to relax, and here I was getting all worked up right before training camp!
A little antiquing was next, and if you’ve never been through Stillwater to do some antiquing, oh boy, you’ve got some surprises in store for you! You’ll find all sorts of fantastic humdingers and thingamajigs hidden away in the most exquisite little stores. My wife found an antiquated vase that just had outstanding color and I was able to track down an old vintage sign that read “Parking for Vikings fans only.” Hilarious! We grabbed our items and were headed back to our car when we were stopped by a wonderfully pleasant Vikings fan that was wearing a purple number four jersey. I said to my wife, I said, ‘Uh oh! Here’s a Favre supporter!’ and sure enough, it was a Brett Favre custom jersey. The man recognized us and we chatted near our car, enjoying some sun and conversation. My wife had this zany idea to take a photograph with him with his number four jersey on, and he agreed, so we did! How grand! I’m sure he’ll tell his story for ages now.
Another neat little feature was the opportunity for us to watch some old timey baseball being played at a local athletics field. After our photo shoot, we went up to the aptly named “Old” Athletic Fields and watched a spirited match between the Saint Croix Baseball Clubs and the Quicksteps. And quick they were! I learned that when playing baseball by 1860 rules that one needs to have a quick first step and speed on the field. It almost just a traditional game of stick ball with familiar scenes of wildly mustachioed men in burly uniforms and crazy head wear. You would not believe the intensity here either! They were truly playing like their mule and daughter’s virginity depended on it. It was absolutely thrilling. My wife and I found ourselves supporting the Quicksteps, as they seemed to be the young upstart underdogs who were competing against the big named Yankee type squad. It was a rush to watch the Quicksteps pull off an upset win too, and get to fornicate with the Saint Croix Baseball Clubs weeping daughters. You know what they say, ‘When in Rome’!
Finally, we made our way back downtown to enjoy a delightful concert on the water front. Truth be told, the concert was one of the biggest reasons that we came to Lumberjack days because one of our favorite bands was playing, The Wallflowers! When they played ‘6th Avenue Heartache’ I almost lost it. My wife and I had a very trying moment recently in our marriage that … well, that this song reminds us about that we fought through. It was just amazing as they were playing on the water barge stage, this song loud over the speakers, and my beautiful wife in my arms … it was just an emotional experience, like having a child or finally scoring a touchdown against the Lions. Simply breathtaking. And really, it was just the perfect end to a wonderful summer, but now, like many other NFL teams, it’s back to the grind for me. And a chance for me to get out of my wife’s hair around the house!
But Lumberjack Days 2009 was a great event, and I highly recommend it to everyone who can go. Just keep an eye out for any Packer fans! Ha ha!”