The 34th Annual Great Grassroots Gathering, sponsored by the Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society, will be held at Allison Park on Sunday, Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., rain or shine.
The gathering is a celebration of Sleepy Eye’s pioneer heritage with crafts and food booths, a flea market, displays and an afternoon of entertainment.
Featured entertainment this year will be the Black Diamonds Band with Donna, Deb and Leon, beginning at noon.
Vendors can still continue to turn in applications up until the day of the gathering. Applications can be picked up at the Depot Museum.
Sunday, June 24, 1979, was the birth of the first gathering. Michelle Krenz, Judy Ristau, Grace Galvin and Joan Clow were responsible for the first gala event. Events included baton twirlers, Thompson Family Singers, a mock wedding, Fairfax Kitchen Band, Concord Singers, St. James dancers and a baseball game.
Sheriff Dennis Hoffrogge and Dr. Carroll Galvin found themselves in a western style shoot out. Judge Ed Blackstad officiated at the Kangaroo Court. Rev. Jim Larson presented the idea of a church service and Darlene Ebbenga was a school marm in the old style schoolhouse.
Ben Kropp, president of Pietrus Foods, gave a grant to the organization in 1980. Pietrus Foods processed, promoted and sold geese. This resulted in the event being named The Great Grassroots Goose Gathering. Michaelmas Day (Goose Day) was always held on Sept. 28 and dates back to the 15th Century in Pennsylvania, it was a custom that was acquired from the English. It was believed if you ate goose on Michaelmas Day you wouldn’t want for money all year long. Participating merchants who had drawing boxes in their stores, gave away a goose to the lucky winner.
Characters roamed the park at the Great Grassroots Gathering on Sept. 28, 1980. A special guest of the day was Bruce Hanks, a pastor from Milaca, who portrayed Abraham Lincoln. He was the direct descendant of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.
One hundred and fifty bicyclists received Great Grassroots t-shirts when they entered the 24-mile bicycle race, sponsored by the Herald-Dispatch at the third annual event on Sept. 27, 1981. Great Grassroots buttons were sold to defray the cost of entertainment. Sleepy Eye merchants gave away 31 geese at their places of business.
On Sept. 26, 1982, the Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society was asked to sponsor the Great Grassroots Gathering. Their logo presents an extended family, including parents, grandparents and children dressed in old time dress, standing in prairie grass.
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This symbolized that the society hopes the gathering will be a time to get together in fellowship as family members with others in the community.
Mary Ann Trebesch, who passed away Aug 11, 2012, helped coordinate the gathering for many years.