Cheese and chili, milk and strawberries, rivers and water skis.
Music, street dances, craft fairs and food.
The annual festival march through summer has begun. For many of us, the season officially begins with the first community celebration, then weekend after weekend of community events fill our calendar.
Bringing families, friends and cultures together, these festivals keep traditions alive and create new memories. Locally and regionally, the list includes:
• Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest, June 14-17
• Afton Strawberry Festival, June 23-24
• Hastings Rivertown Days, July 20-22
• Little Log House Antique Power Show, rural Hastings/Miesville, July 27-29
• Washington County Fair, Stillwater, Aug. 1-5
• Dakota County Fair, Aug. 6-12
• Newport Pioneer Day, Aug. 12
• St. Paul Park Heritage Days Festival, Aug. 17-19
• Woodbury Days, Aug. 24-26
• Afton Art in the Park, Sept. 22-23
Of course, you don't want to miss a hometown favorite, but we invite readers to expand their horizons beyond the city and county limits. Try a "new" festival this year — new to you, anyway — and see what neighboring communities have to offer. These fairs, fests and days are great reasons to explore and find something that will bring you back another day.
There might be no better way to build support our communities, both in terms of energy and in shopping local, than these rites of summer.
From now through August — and into September and early October, because Midwesterners will do anything to extend their summer fun — head to a Main Street near you. It's time to celebrate.