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Snellman Days set for Sept. 3

Driving on Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes to Park Rapids, there is a little village called Snellman.

Look down for a second to change the station on the radio and you could miss it.

It has two stores -- one is temporarily closed.

"We don't have a lot of real estate here," laughed Aune Longfors, owner of the open business, Aune's Kauppala (which means 'retail store' in Finnish), "I think there are maybe two or three permanent residents here."

But this quiet, charming little community, which Longfors says is rich in Finnish culture, will soon be bustling, at least for a day, as they prepare for their sixth annual Snellman Days on Saturday, Sept. 3.

"It's small, but it gets pretty busy on that day because even if people don't know about it, travelers on the highway will stop just to see what's going on," said Longfors, who is the only person putting the whole event together this year.

But if anybody doubts what one person could do, just talk to this little Finnish lady, who has quite a lineup scheduled for Snellman Days -- beginning with the Saturday morning brunch.

The Gethsemane Lutheran Church Ladies Aid is cooking up egg bake, fruit and rolls from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Brunch takes place at the church and is a free will offering.

Out in the church parking lot, an antique car show will go from 9 a.m. to noon.

"The old cars will mostly be parked, but I do see some of them bringing people for rides, too," said Longfors, adding, "Boys will be boys, ya know, and they gotta play."

A flea market and rummage sale will also be set up throughout the day.

"We'll have booths with all sorts of crafts and things, and the ladies from the church will be having a booth for their bake sale," said Longfors. "They have the Finnish flat bread, which is delicious, and one girl who makes unbelievable caramel rolls. Those ladies can bake."

A corn roast will also keep the masses fed, with one dollar buying one cob.

"We actually roast the corn in the husks over an open fire," said Longfors, "Then we dip it in butter, and it's just steaming and delicious."

A small, unofficial farmer's market will also be set up for fresh produce lovers, as well as ice cream bars, popsicles, and free watermelon provided by ... you guessed it, Aune Longfors.

"It's just my way of showing my appreciation for the business I get at my store," said Longfors.

Appreciation for our country is also a big part of Snellman Days, with this year's tribute coming in the form of a POW/MIA table to demonstrate America's prisoners of war and missing in action who continue to be missing from our dining tables at home.

"Last year we had a demonstration on the folding of the American flag and what each fold meant, so I just think it's important to have something patriotic every year," said Longfors.

Children will release balloons for those POW/MIA's at 11 a.m.

These events are put on by the Ladies Auxillary VFW of New York Mills and Wolf Lake.

Kids' games will also be running from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., which will include horseshoes, darts and a coloring contest.

Feeling lucky?

Bingo will be available to players with a 100 percent payback.

"And with that, we'll have 'Love Thy Neighbor' where the winners also get a prize to give to the person sitting either to the right or left of them," said Longfors, who is providing the prizes.

A rug weaving demonstration will also happen sometime that day, whenever Aune Longfors can find the time -- because yes, she is doing that too.

"I have a rug loom that my father made, so I make table runners and things like that," said Longfors.

At high noon is when the festival's real highlight comes -- the annual drawing for Snellman mayor.

"Anybody there can pay a dollar to put their name into the drawing," explained Longfors, "We usually get 35 or so people who do it, and we don't discriminate against age, sex, out of town, in town -- nothing. Anybody can be mayor."

Current mayor is Doc Anderson, who owns the Snellman Store, which is being sold to another Snellman local.

So what kind of responsibilities or duties must the mayor of Snellman carry out?

"Oh, nothing, really, other than to take a little ribbing," laughed Longfors, "It's just funny to hear their platform. My uncle, John Racer, was the first mayor drawn in 2008 and he promised to lower gas prices, so we all got a good laugh over that!"

For more information on Snellman Days or to get a space for the flea market-rummage sale, you know who to call: 218-841-4727.

"We're usually done by 5 p.m. though," said Longfors,

"We're all pretty tired by that time."

It's unclear whom Longfors was referring to when she said "We're all."