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Cromwell comes to 'Stand Still'

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Cromwell Harvest Festival organizers decided to flip their parade a full 180 degrees Saturday, Sept. 8 — parade floats remained stationary and people paraded past them.

The first Cromwell Stand Still Parade was a runaway success.

"Most folks said this was the best way to have a parade because you had time to really see and walk around them," Jennie K. Hanson wrote in her weekly column, "Wright-Cromwell News." "Kids were able to come by with their bags for candy treats and there was no chance of anyone running out into traffic to pick up these treats."

Carlton County Attorney candidate Lauri Ketola agreed.

"I prefer this," said Ketola, who was standing near an enormous campaign banner with her husband, Marty Ketola. "This way people can stop and talk to me as long as they want if they have questions. I like actually meeting people this way."

Parade entries lined the side of Minnesota Highway 210, known as "Main Street" to locals, as it runs through the small western Carlton County town. Like most parades, there were grand marshals, fire trucks, a wagon or two and plenty of local organizations represented.

Some businesses — or in the case of Thom Finn, businesses-to-be — set up in lots on the opposite side of the sidewalk. Thom Finn partners Derek Nyberg and Brandon Eilers set up locally sourced food sales under a canopy, apple bobbing and other activities in the lawn next to the site of their future restaurant/mercantile/bar/bakery/farmers market and more.

The parade was only part of four days worth of events. The fun began Thursday, Sept. 6, with a scarecrow contest down Highway 210, followed by a well-attended steak fry and even more well-attended high school football game Friday, Sept. 7, when the eighth-ranked Cardinals nine-man football team beat Bigfork 62-8.

Saturday, Sept. 8, was the biggest day of the Cromwell Harvest Festival, with the new pavilion dedications and music by the high school band, the first Stand Still parade, a classic car show and kids' pedal tractor contest, along with cribbage, bean bag and basketball tournaments.

But that's not all. Not long after the parade finished, the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club hosted eight fun and silly races in the riding arena near the city park, including the Lemon Pucker race. In that race, the rider and horse races to a lemon hanging from a string, take it off the string with no hands and races to the finish line with the lemon in their mouth.

The festivities wrapped up Sunday, Sept. 9, with church in the new pavilion and more "horsing around" at the riding arena.

Hanson, 73, said some version of a fall festival has been around as long as she can remember, bringing the tightly-knit community together.

"It was the Cromwell Fair at the school, then they called it 'Butter, Wood, Peat' because that's what we were famous for," she said. "Recently, we even moved it to the spring for a couple years and changed the name, but now we've returned to the fall festival roots."

Although the Cromwell Area Community Club was forced to adapt the format of the parade due to a Minnesota Department of Transportation edict that said the city could no longer stop traffic on Highway 210 for parades, Hanson said the town will have the opportunity to change back to a more traditional parade once the state completes work on the new roundabout at the main intersection, Minnesota highways 210 and 73, and an alley that parallels Highway 210 in 2020.

Then again, maybe they'll decide to stick with the new format since the reviews were so good.

Cromwell Area Community Club President Deb Switzer emceed the parade Saturday, and gave a shout-out to all the community volunteers who helped build the new pavilion and bring back the Harvest Festival.

"It takes a village," Switzer said.