A few months ago we were asked to host Mother Provincial Maria Christine’s feast day here at Holy Family Residence. Many people, including Sisters, staff, AJJ and Guild members and volunteers, put their heads together and decided to stage our own State Fair right here in River City! With great collaboration from all involved, visible signs of the experience began to appear as the days of the visit approached.
Everyone gathered in the main dining room on Tuesday to give Mother Maria Christine and the visiting Mothers and Sisters a splendid welcome to St. Paul. Marie Wolf, one of our Resident centenarians, presented her with a lovely floral bouquet and Resident Council President, Ted Carlson told stories flavored with a touch of Minnesota lore. To add to the atmosphere of a staged August Fair, the weather reached a piping 103 degrees, supposedly the warmest temp in the nation.
Finally on Wednesday, after weeks of preparation and excitement, the special day arrived! After a feast day Mass celebrated by Bishop Lee Piche, together with our chaplain, Rev. James Holl, everyone gathered for the Fair lunch. Menus “on a stick” sat at each place with many choices of “food on a stick.” Walleye, meatballs, onion rings, French fries, cheese curds, and chicken were just a few of the typical foods enjoyed by those attending the Minnesota State Fair.
And then the Fair began! Guests were welcomed at the door by a life-sized cow indicating that the Holy Family Fair was “this-a-way.” Traveling past the cow, one could take in the Horticulture section produced by the Second Floor. Gorgeous quilts by Our Lady of Grace Quilters provided a lovely background to the area. The Farmers’ Market showcased the glorious colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers that filled the baskets and home-canned goods by staff members were on display. Fresh blueberry muffins and chocolate-dipped strawberries were on hand for the tasting.
The Art Expo, organized by the Third Floor, included many various types of art work. Crocheted, embroidered and knitted items, needlework, pencil drawings, cross stitch and paintings by second graders of the Concordia Creative Learning Academy were among the beautiful items on display.
Mosaics by St. Agnes Catholic School students during a Lenten project covered the walls. Pictures from Our Lady of Grace students of Susan Hiemenz, our soon to be Postulant, added to the vibrant assortment of artistic creations. A most amazing array of colorful still life paintings by many Residents from the Art Therapy classes graced the exhibit. Volunteer instructor, Dick Weber, uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. The exceptional results, as seen in the Art Expo, are the discovery of latent talent, new skills, and a life affirming pleasure of making art by so many of our Residents.
Strolling down the Hall of History, one found many posters made by the Fifth grade students of St. Ambrose depicting places, people and events in Minnesota History. Lessons were learned as Apartment Residents, dressed as famous Minnesota natives such as Judy Garland, James Arness, Sr. Elizabeth Kenny of the Kenny Institute and Paul Bunyan, spoke about their contributions to the state. The famous Andrew Sisters gave a short bio and then performed songs well-known to their audience.
On exhibit in the Creative Activities area were crafts of every kind – baby blankets, painted jackets, embroidered garments, pot holders, dolls, sweaters, jewelry, wash clothes, towels and wall hangings – all exquisitely hand-made by Residents, staff and volunteers. Delicious homemade specialties were available for a taste-test.
A delicious stop at the Food Court gave fair goers a choice of candy from the Candy Shop, Sweet Martha chocolate chip cookies, always a favorite at the Minnesota Fair, an ice cream cone or a scrumptious treat of “fudge puppies” consisting of a chocolate covered, whipped cream and sprinkled waffle “on a stick.” Refreshing drinks of lemonade or ice tea were on hand to quench the thirst after a sampling of multiple tasty treats!
A very popular stop was the Midway organized by the Guild, where everyone lined up to participate in several games to try their chances in winning special rewards. Residents, testing their dexterity skills, and visiting children competed with a vengeance resulting in many prize give-a-ways.
An exciting surprise to all attendees was the petting zoo. A trip outside to an enclosed garden revealed farm animals of all sizes, shapes, smells, textures and sounds! Goats, sheep, rabbits and seven-day old piglet got a bundle of attention and kind strokes from all ages of people.
Throughout the Fair, Residents from the Fourth and Fifth floors wore sashes representing the counties of Minnesota. When asked, they became authorities on the origin of the county name, the county seat and how many lakes of the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” were in their county.
Additional attractions included the juggler, Raymond, grandson of Linda Swanson, our Activities Director, a balloon artist, several clowns and Richard, the Ragtime Jazz Piano Player – all added to the joy and festivity of the afternoon. Everyone enjoyed the antics of famous visitors, Mudonna, the mascot of the Saints baseball team and TC Bear, mascot of the Minnesota Twins.
To culminate the busy and exhilarating day, everyone headed to the Bandstand Stage. Our quite famous duo, Merta and Lena (Bethany Ludka, receptionist and Diane Testa, beautician) reappeared with their strong Minnesota accents, distinct costumes and fair capers to entertain. Songs and dramatic presentations by other staff members brought nostalgia and laughter as presenters sang and gave snippets of more Minnesota folk lore.
All in all, it was a great day. We renewed old and created new memories of Minnesota, identified the hidden talents of so many, encompassed St. Jeanne Jugan’s welcoming hospitality and enjoyed the fruits of a total community coming together in a very collaborative spirit. You betcha!