Marigold Days becomes wrapped into the fabric of Mantorville
When William and Marylee Lambert moved into their historic home in Mantorville around Thanksgiving in 1983, they had no idea what was in store for them.
The Mantorville Restoration Association reached out and invited them to dinner shortly after they moved in. By January, William was calling bingo at the Mantorville Opera House. They have since embraced themselves into the fabric of the community by volunteering in many ways.
The Lamberts also had no idea about Marigold Days when they moved to town. They quickly learned. Their house located at Clay and Fourth Streets overlooks much of the celebration and is right next to where the action takes place.
“It’s one of those things you either snatch it or move,” William said about Marigold Days. “Festivals are like old houses, you either love it or leave it.”
Thirty-six years after moving to town and helping organize Marigold Days, the Lamberts are winding down. At least that’s William’s plan. At 74, William says this will be his last year of being actively involved with the festival.
He has been in charge of trash, garbage and signage around town. The physical part of it all becomes grueling for his aging body. “That’s more than enough,” he said. “We hope for some younger people,” he added.
Asked about their involvement with Marigold Days since moving to town, Marylee said, “It’s hard not to.” She has been volunteering her time to help with the website, printing, signs, banners and handouts.
Marylee loves what Marigold Days does for the community. “It brings everybody together,” she said. “Whether you’re on a committee or a visitor, it just brings people together and they have a good time.”
James Jencks came to town 16 years ago and has been involved in helping out with the festival for the past 14 years. He considers himself “one of the newer ones” on the Marigold Days committee. They are always trying to recruit some fresh blood on the committee, he noted.
Jencks finds it ironic that while many of the vendors say they love coming to Marigold Days, some local residents leave to go elsewhere for the weekend.
Patti Winchell moved to Mantorville 40 years ago and has only missed one Marigold Days because of a wedding. Her four children and 12 grandchildren come back every year for the celebration. “We never miss it,” she said.
Winchell likes the quiet small town atmosphere that Mantorville provides. She said she has always felt safe living in the community. For her, Marigold Days means “the small community, family and friends.” She added she has always
Even though Mantorville is a small community, Marylee says people need to know that “we’re not amateurs” when it comes to putting on a large celebration like Marigold Days, which is in its 54th year. The Lamberts marvel at how a dozen or so residents put on the yearly festival. “We're all pretty good about what needs to get done,” William said. “We don’t get upset. We just make it happen.”
The Lamberts say they love Mantorville because “we like the history, we like the people and we like the smallness.” Marylee laughed about how you know you’re in a small town when it takes a half hour to get the mail. People often stop along the way to chat and there are car-to-car conversations in the middle of the road. They live only a block from the post office.
“It’s just a nice place to be,” said Marylee.
William likes the cooperation that exists between the school district and park boards. “The interaction between Kasson and Mantorville is exemplary of what can happen in rural Minnesota,” he said.
While the Lamberts enjoy the throngs of people who come to enjoy Marigold Days, they are also happy when Monday morning after the celebration rolls around. Asked what their favorite part of the festival is, William responded with a laugh, “Getting past it.”
Getting past the celebration allows the Lamberts the opportunity to revert back to the quiet way of life they and other residents of Mantorville have come to enjoy.
“It’s a picture out of time,” William said. “You may not know your neighbors intimately, but you know them.”