COTTONWOOD – The rain threatened to put a damper on the annual festivities during Coming Home Days on Saturday in Cottonwood, but community spirit overwhelmingly outweighed nature’s gloom.
Early on in the day, rain showers came and went, but most activities were still held and well-attended. Those especially oblivious to the conditions were the kids at the Cottonwood Fire Department-hosted Splash Party. Countless smiles and constant laughter were produced, and all it took was a small hill, a tarp and water.
“It’s fun,” Jared Bruns said. “I got hit a few times and slammed my head a few time, but it didn’t stop me from going again.”
Echo resident Amanda Kvendru could tell her daughters, Paige and Gabrielle, were also having a blast.
“They’re having a very good time,” Kvendru said. “It’s raining and it’s very wet, but they’re really having fun.”
Kvendru said she and her family planned to spend the entire day in Cottonwood, taking in as many activities as possible.
“We came out for family fun day,” she said. “We try to get to Cottonwood every year if we can.”
Lowell Pederson, who will celebrate his 85th birthday at the end of July, has also made Coming Homes Days a priority.
“I’ve been here for 80 years,” he said. “We try to come every year, especially when nothing else is going on. We enjoy the whole works. I like getting to meet the people.”
Pederson and his wife, Alnora, were among the many who watched the grand parade and then found their way to the Cottonwood Fire Hall for the BBQ pork supper. The fundraiser, in which proceeds go toward a UTV for fighting grass fires, has been hosted by the Cottonwood Fire Department for more than 10 years.
“We made 657 pounds of pork loin this year,” fireman Todd Nelson said. “We typically serve 900 to 1,000 meals every year. Three hundred of those are take-out orders.”
Cottonwood residents Carolyn and Jonathan Olson also make the pork feed an annual staple.
“It’s a great time,” Carolyn Olson said. “The guys do a great job of serving everybody. Their families are helping out, too. It’s another one of those great community events.”
Olson said she was proud to call Cottonwood her home for more than 25 years.
“I didn’t grow up here, but these are my people now,” she said. “I moved here not quite 26 years ago and I can count on one hand the number of town celebrations we’ve missed. It’s so fun to see everybody that comes back home.”
Along with Jody Mohr, Olson served as co-chair for the Christ Lutheran Church serving committee, which organizes and hosts the annual pie social each year during Coming Home Days.
“It’s going great,” Olson said. “It was rainy this morning and we were kind of worried that crowds would be a little slow, but everything is picking up. We’re going through a lot of pie. And we have a great selection. We have everything from peanut butter cream to one with a chocolate chip cookie base with a cream cheese mix in it to the fruit pies and more.”
Mohr said in addition to donations, more than 70 pies were donated. Olson praised church members for their pie-baking skills and willingness to help with the fundraiser.
“People of our church, we like to bake pies and we’re really good at it,” Olson said. “So for our fall fellowship fair, we always have pie for dessert. We also do the annual pie social, which is a fundraiser for the Women of the ELCA. Our congregation is very generous when it comes to donating pies.”
Countless people also look forward to attending the pie social annually as well. Karen Berg enjoyed visiting with Howard Mohr as well as with her mom Marlys Lund, sister Susan Foster, son Kyle Berg, niece Amy Foster, sister-in-law Cyndi Berg and mother-in-law Carol Huso.
“The pie is very good,” Marlys Lund said.
Due to the rain, the Cottonwood Legion baseball game was cancelled and the radio-controlled planes event had a slim attendance, but the bean bag tournament had a strong turnout, though not as good as last year, organizers Lois and Tony Johnson said.
“We had 34 teams this year, which was down from last year,” Lois Johnson said. “But that’s not too bad for having a rain delay. It was raining pretty good at 10 a.m. so we postponed it till noon. Eventually we ended up coming here (the new fire hall location, which is partially built). We didn’t want to cancel it because the people love their bean bag. We pay everything we take in back out in cash.”
While Dave Karlstad of Marshall and Dan Schipper of Canby awaited an opponent from the loser’s bracket, Jason Schoep and Jordan Hirsch had to settle for fourth-place after being defeated by the father-and-son team of Dave and John Samuelson of Fulda.
“That was fun,” John Samuelson said after the seesaw game.
Knowing the winners moved on to the championship, the Samuelsons were hoping to keep the momentum going as they faced Montevideo’s Steve Fenger and Sandy Weckwerth in the next match. Though the oldest competitor in the tournament, Dave Samuelson showed no signs of slowing down.
“We’ve had some real battles,” Dave Samuelson said. “I enjoy it, but I think I’m the oldest one here. I’m 78 years old, but I can hold my own against most of them.”
The second annual auto show also had good participation but, like the bean bag tournament, was down from last year.
“We had nearly 60 cars last year, but it was beautiful weather,” said Bethany Schafer, who helps with the event along with her husband Josh. “We had 29 cars this year, and with the weather, it’s not too bad. Some people probably didn’t want to bring their cars out in the rain.”
After five judges evaluated the vehicles throughout the morning, the Schafers handed out trophies to the winners.
“We give out awards for the top 10, best bike and best truck,” Josh Schafer said.
Cottonwood native Jon Brower was among those who came to inspect the unique autos.
“It’s was a small car show, but it was really nice,” Brower said. “There are some cars here that I haven’t seen before.”