If there’s one thing Middle River knows how to do, it’s how to throw a great party! The annual Goose Festival has to be one of the biggest parties in Minnesota, when the town swells from its population of just over 300 people to thousands.
Every organization and church gets involved. There are bake sales, suppers, dinners, breakfasts, food stands, games for kids and adults, bike races, running races, a home run derby, tennis tournaments, money hunts, dances, artists working and displaying their work, a flea market, goose cook-off, car show, tractor pull, pet contest, entertainment, a huge parade, even a theater production and a community church service…and many, many more.
New to this year’s event is a Nature Tour, which will be hosted by Agassiz Wildlife Refuge. Tours are being scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with transportation to and from the refuge. More information will become available as plans progress.
While a few of the events have an admission fee, most are free, or free with the purchase of the souvenir Goose Festival button, which comes at the mere price of $3.00.
Humor is a good part of the celebration each year. While some events are long-standing favorites that occur every year, others vary and have included such oddities as the toilet bowl races, bed races and arm wrestling to tickle your funny bone. Some years have seen the inclusion of horseshoe tournaments, softball tourneys and a rival tug-of war.
Concession stands come from far and wide, with the Oofta Taco stand being one of the local favorites, evidenced by the long lines of customers waiting for their turn at the delicacy that resembles nothing Scandinavian, as the name might indicate. But, down the street, another vendor serves real Scandinavian treats like lefse and rumegrot. Another serves buffalo burgers, and another has spuds and funnel cakes. You might think you were at the county fair!
No one can accurately pinpoint the origins of the Goose Festival or completely name the first committee, but nevertheless, this is the 38th Annual. The event is proudly sponsored by the Middle River Community Club and it must be experienced to really be appreciated.
The first Goose Festival, held in 1975, was called Goose Festival and Old West Days, primarily because one of the leaders was instrumental in starting the North Country Horsemen, a local horse club that continues to this day.
While the Old West Days are no longer a part of the festival, the North Country Horsemen still hold the final horse show of their season at Ornquist Arena, located just a mile out of town, on the final day of the festival. They participate in the parade, as well, and many members of the horse club are actively involved in other organizations that take an active role in making the festival a success.
The town swells with visitors, some for the opening of goose hunting season, others just to take in the festival and all its pleasures, many taking advantage of both.
The celebration is kicked off a week earlier by the Miss Middle River Pageant. Since 1976, there has been a young woman chosen to reign over the festival events as well as represent the community at other area festivals, parades and pageants throughout the year. Miss Middle River also advances to a Miss Minnesota preliminary pageant in the area. The community of Middle River can boast that it is host to one of the longest running, consecutive yearly pageants in the area. It is just another example of the perseverance of Middle River leaders.
This year’s Goose Festival dates have been set, September 28, 29 and 30. The theme is “On Call,” selected to celebrate the many years that the Middle River Rescue Squad has served the community. The squad was organized on January 18, 1981 and has been manned by volunteers for the past 32 years. The current members of the Squad will also be the Grand Marshalls of the Goose Festival parade.
For the past several years, Middle River has joined with the Thief River Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau in an effort to publicize the vast number of hunting and recreational activities available in our area. A media blitz, aptly named Call of the Wile, is scheduled for the Friday of Goose Festival. Several radio stations, newspapers, and magazines from the Tri-State area descend upon the town, broadcasting throughout the morning and garnering information for future films and articles. Attending members of the media may take part in a hunting expedition and enjoy any and all of the Goose Festival activities throughout the weekend.
The committees are in place, the jobs have been doled out, the ideas are flying. The 38th Annual Goose Festival is looking to be bigger and better than ever!
Middle River is the place to be! From the Opening Ceremony on Friday afternoon until the last note of music dies away on Sunday afternoon, there is never a dull moment! Join us in “The Real Up North” for a wild time in the wilds of northwest Minnesota.Read More