A hot day with the slightest hint of a breeze proved to be the perfect combination for the annual Festival of the Parks celebration in Minot.
Held at the Scandinavian Heritage Park for the third consecutive year, the festival was a celebration of our country's fight for independence and our city's fight to recover from the Souris River flood of 2011.
The festivities began bright and early at 8 a.m. with breakfast at the park. At 9:15 a.m. an all-faiths church service was held, followed by a performance by the Minot City Band at 11 a.m.
The main lawn of the Scandinavian Heritage Park was full of people listening to music during the Festival of the Parks Thursday.
At noon a patriotic program was held, with music, a speech about the courage of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and how freedom is at the very heart of what our country stands for. A tribute was also held for Hardy Lieberg, who died in May 2011 and was instrumental in bringing arts and music to the Minot community.
Terri Aldrich, a member of the Festival of the Parks Committee, said the day couldn't have gone much better.
"The weather's gorgeous, the band shell is up and beautiful, and the band sounds fabulous," Aldrich said. "People are here, so I have to say it's going great."
Aldrich said next year they hope to move the event back to Roosevelt Park, the festival's longtime venue until the area was flooded in 2011. While organizers are anxious to get back to Roosevelt, Aldrich said the Scandinavian Heritage Park gave the festival a bit of a different flavor the past few years because of its smaller size.
"A little less shade," Aldrich said with a smile. "It is a much more intimate setting."
Aldrich said they plan to hold a big "welcome back" celebration in Roosevelt Park next year to mark the festival's return after the flood. She said work on organizing that will begin right around the time this year's festival ends.
While it has been nice holding the festival in the Scandinavian Heritage Park the past three years, Aldrich said it will definitely feel good to get back into Roosevelt Park next year.
"It just indicates the beginning of healing and restoration," Aldrich said.
This year's festival was dedicated to Lieberg, who was chairman of the festival committee for more than 20 years. Lieberg's widow, Patsy, was on hand to watch the tribute to her late husband, who meant so much to the festival and Minot.
"He was involved with the event from its very inception. So from 1972 on, really, almost the whole of that time he was a part of this event," Aldrich said. "He had a great patriotic heart, and he had a wonderful heart for the Minot community, as well. So that was expressed in the way that he helped to shape this event."
Viki and Matthew Collver of Minot Air Force Base brought their two sons, Dominic, 3, and Simon, 1, out and planned to attend as many events as they could before the sun set.
Earlier in the day they went to the Dakota Territory Air Museum to check out the new Flying Legends Wing and set the children loose on the bounce house.
"Then we came over here because we needed shade and the boys needed to run around," Viki said.
While the parents were definitely having fun, their boys made sure relaxation wasn't part of the equation. While Matthew hunted down some food, Viki spent most of her time keeping Dominic and Simon corralled near a tree the family had claimed for its precious shade.
The Collvers have been in Minot around four years, and have seen the city go through a flood and a population explosion in that time. Between those two events, Viki doesn't see Minot going back to what it was before the flood, but is glad to see it recovering.
Minot is a very different place than it was just a few years ago, and Viki said they preferred the smaller town it was when they first got here.
"We were originally from California and we're like, 'It's too crowded here,'" Viki said. "And we were from California."
At that point Matthew returned with the family's food. While he did get lunch, he also had a little trouble with the mustard dispenser, which his shirt paid the price for.
Matthew said he was enjoying the time with his family and letting the boys have some fun. After the Festival of the Parks, they planned to see what was happening at Roosevelt Park Zoo.
"We're trying to hit all the hot spots," Matthew said.
Considering it doesn't get dark until around 10 p.m., Matthew didn't think they'd be taking in any firework shows, as his sons would have to be in bed before then.
"We're probably going to be sitting outside with some citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away, enjoying the fireworks from our backyard," he said.
Enjoying a day out with the family is what a celebration like Festival of the Parks is all about. Aldrich said gathering people together to celebrate what is so wonderful about our nation is all a part of what she appreciates about the Minot community. More than the buildings or the parks, Minot's people are what make the Magic City so magical.
"Minot is a wonderful place to be, and you find across the community, without exception, people are helpful, they are giving, and we just have a great community," Aldrich said. "It's such a great thing that there are members from across the community, from a variety of different organizations, occupations, that come together to make this event happen. So it truly is a community celebration, and I think that we can be proud that Minot has continued to do this since 1972."