Austin has always been a busy place

Published 5:36 pm Saturday, March 8, 2014

As I continue to fill the calendar at the Hormel Historic Home with programming, I am amazed at all the activities available in Austin.

We strive to offer programs when there aren’t too many other events scheduled. Finding free dates is the hard part. There is a lot going on in Austin, and I did not realize that until I started trying to plan things. That is a good thing, and according to George Hormel, not necessarily a new phenomenon.

In his autobiography he described a time in Austin that was full of opportunity for people to socialize and be active.

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“In the days before people depended upon commercial amusements and spectator sports to provide them with entertainment, they seemed amazingly well able to organize barbecue suppers, strawberry festivals, sleigh and hayrides, bicycle excursions, amateur theatricals, baseball, football and hockey teams. There was an infinite variety of fraternal lodges, patriotic and civic organizations, and self-improvement clubs. Yet most people still found time to work ten hours a day on weekdays and go to church on Sunday!”

He wrote about the “Belle of Austin” chugging up and down the Cedar River taking people to Columbia Park where music and dancing filled the pavilion. There were “grand balls, operas and home-talent plays.”

Saturday band concerts were popular and he wrote of the annual appearance of the circus and Steam’s Wild West Show which delighted “every boy in Mower County.”

Austin was filled with people energized to organize events and enthusiastic people to support and attend a wide range of cultural experiences. I believe the same can be said of our city, today. The opportunities to engage in the arts seem limitless thanks to the motivation of many. From plays, to concerts, to sports and social gatherings, Austin continues to offer events for all to enjoy.

 Third annual Foodie Throwdown

The HHH is offering an event soon that you won’t want to miss.

Six area food enthusiasts will vie for the People’s Choice vote at the third annual Foodie Throwdown on March 22. The theme of the 2014 event is Taste the Spirits.

A spirit of the chef’s choosing will be used to enhance the flavor and aroma of the dishes he or she is presenting. The chefs this year include 2013 People’s Choice winners Kristine Merten and Elizabeth Diser and the 2012 winner Jane Arhart. Gareth Hataye and Neal Hull are repeat contestants.

New this year are Wade Kolander and Josh Diaz.

I know lots of practicing and sampling is going on in their homes right now, and I hope you will join us on March 22 to taste the results of their creativity. Tickets are $30 per person and are available online or by calling 507-433-4243.

Social Concerns

10 to 11 a.m., March 18, free

The Grange in Mower County, presented by Dustin Heckman of the Mower County Historical Society

Heckman will describe how the Grange improved the agriculture industry as well as led to the implementation of rural mail delivery and other worthy causes. This grassroots movement began in Minnesota and Heckman will tell us how it affected our region.

Please call to register.  507-433-4243.