Thursday, July 2, 2020
Colorful quilts on display during the 4th-annual Quilt Show at United Methodist Church, Dodge Center. The show is part of Harvest Fest.

The Last Harvest Fest?

Dodge Center’s annual celebration draws crowd, but new volunteers are needed
“The public is what supports this. If it wasn’t for the public, we wouldn’t have it. But every year they’re back, and they want it again next year.” Ron Papenfus Harvest Fest Committee President

If this was the last Harvest Fest, the 20th-annual Dodge Center celebration went out big.

Visitors enjoyed music, tractor and car shows, face-painting, Bingo, a book sale, a quilt show, a thundering “garden tractor pull,” all sorts of food, and many other activities this past weekend, in and around downtown.

“We had a tremendous turnout last night, with our (beer) cup specials and stu ,” Harvest Fest committee president Ron Papenfus said Saturday. “The turnout was excellent, the weather was perfect. We had two inches of rain last night, the wind blew. We got everything cleaned back up and wiped back off and we’re going at it against this morning.”

Papenfus, one of the event’s original organizers, said he has worked with a host of volunteers over the years, including his “right-hand man,” treasurer/bookkeeper/wife Marilyn.“I wear the pants in the family,” he said. “She just tells me which ones to put on.”

But he and Marilyn are stepping down, and hope new volunteers step forward.

“It’s been a good run,” Papenfus said. “It took us one year to get off the ground, with our permits and everything, being it’s not a city function – it’s all a Harvest Fest function. We’ve got to buy our dram shop and everything. So it’s quite expensive. We’ve got to get a lot of donations and we have to make a lot of money selling tickets. Otherwise we just can’t have this next year. The public is what supports this. If it wasn’t for the public, we wouldn’t have it. But every year they’re back, and they want it again next year.

“I’m tired,” he said. “If somebody in the newer generation wants to take over, they’re sure more than welcome. We’ll help as much as we can. But it just involves so much time. I don’t have that kind of time. Let somebody else do it.”

A big crowd watched 14 classes of Gopher State Tractor Pull competitors bail south up Central Avenue – colorful machines hauling a heavy trailer, their drivers working to carry the load the farthest in order to move up in the standings (see

It was much quieter at United Methodist Church, home of the 4th- annual Harvest Fest Quilt Show.

Sixty- five quilts were displayed. Voters chose their favorite quilts. Otherwise, there was no prize. Donations were taken for the Semcac food shelf.

“It all started because one of us inherited his parents’ wedding quilt,” United Methodist administrative board chair Margo Roberts said. “So we thought, ‘I’ve got a lot of quilts in my storage bin.’ For years we’ve built up people who want to come and bring their quilts. We’re always happy to have ‘em.”

Among the quilting highlights: “Fidget blankets,” aka activity blankets, for use by people with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, autism, and other handicaps. The small lap blankets are backed with annel or corduroy to prevent them from slipping o the person’s lap.

Each blanket has a plastic “notion” or “gadget,” which the person can “twiddle” with to relieve stress.

The blankets are hand-made by people who don’t normally quilt.

“So they’re not perfect,” Roberts said. “But they’re just made to be used.”

Volunteers began making fidget blankets in July. About 50 have been sent out, at no charge. Recipients have included residents at Fairview Care Center in Dodge Center, Field Crest Care Center in Hayfield, The Homestead senior living center in Rochester, Circle Drive Manor assisted living in West Concord, and Chico’s Board and Lodge assisted living in West Concord.

United Methodist has paired with United Methodist Church of Owatonna in a project agreement between pastors.

“They made some, we made some, and we’re distributing them all over,” Roberts said. “We know of one that went to Red Wing, some have gone to the Cities. People who know somebody who know somebody. It’s an ongoing project.”

“That’s a wonderful thing for the community,” Quilt Show committee chair Lois Lepp said. “Everybody seems to know somebody who has a need, either dementia or Alzheimer’s. They think it’s so awesome. We just gured out how to make ‘em, and the response is amazing. Each of these nursing homes, they want more. So we’re making them as fast as we can.” 


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Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times

411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent

121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing

121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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