Winner, Winner…

Posted 6/30/21

By Brian G. Schommer The Fourth of July is around the corner and is one of my favorite annual celebrations. It is a smorgasbord of all the things I love. Gathering with family and friends is the base …

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Winner, Winner…


By Brian G. Schommer

The Fourth of July is around the corner and is one of my favorite annual celebrations. It is a smorgasbord of all the things I love. Gathering with family and friends is the base of happiness for this “Type A” extrovert. The addition of good food, a baseball game or two, cold beverages and fireworks puts this holiday right down the pipe like a Nolan Ryan fastball. For non-baseball fans or those too young to remember “The Ryan Express” and his 27-year Major League career, he was the first hurler to ever be clocked above the 100 mile per hour threshold. He hit 108 miles per hour on August 20, 1974, and allegedly threw 235 pitches over 13 innings against the Boston Red Sox on June 14th of the same year. Things like pitch count, analytics and “the shift” were not things in baseball. They just played baseball.

That base of happiness is sometimes difficult to achieve as making time to spend time with those who matter most in our lives can be a struggle. Life commitments get in the way far too often. Telling others to “make the time” is easy; I do it all the time. Holidays in general, provide us time to do it. I cannot think of an Independence Day that was spent void of family and friends. My memories include going to the parade in Cannon Falls, of course Hawks baseball games, picnics at locations near and far (from my sisters’ backyard to Norway) and watching (or lighting) fireworks. Each time, I was surrounded by family and friends. Unless something weird happens, the expectation is again to be with the people who matter most in my life, and I hope the same can be said for you this 4th of July.

Do you go for the standard fare such as hot dogs, burgers and brats or do you try to “upscale” it a bit? Maybe a couple of nice New York Strips or T-bones or if you are really trying to make the neighbors jealous, some turf and surf? This year my “go to” is going to be chicken; Barbecued Chicken to be exact. Parboiled in beer, dried off and rubbed with a mix of seasonings, slowly grilled over low heat, and basted with homemade BBQ sauce. MmmmMm, are you drooling yet? I will be serving that with some homemade coleslaw, pasta salad, chips, baked beans, and some fresh watermelon; Guy Fieri of Food Network fame might call this one “Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner.” No matter what you have for the 4th of July feast, it always seems to be just a little better on this versus others.

If you love fireworks, there are multiple opportunities to check out area displays in our area of Minnesconsin. Kicking things off for those who love pyrotechnics, the Hastings Golf Club, located at 2015 Westview Drive, invites you out on Friday, July 2nd to check out their festivities that include live music, food, beverages and of course, fireworks all starting around 6pm. Due to a shortage of pyrotechnician staff, ownership improvised and if you love fireworks, you will love this because you now have the chance to partake in the “ooooohs and ahhhhhhhs” three nights in a row. Treasure Island Resort and Casino will be hosting their annual Island Block Party on Saturday, July 3rd. In addition to what is one of the better displays annually, the party includes an Elton John Tribute Band concert and fun for all. If you still need more, head to Cottage Grove’s Kingston Park on the 4th of July. Fun festivities, hosted by the Cottage Grove Lions Club start at 5pm and will culminate with fantastic fireworks at dusk.

The old Chevrolet commercial said that America is Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet. This is not an endorsement for any automobile manufacturer as an uncle used to say, “the one thing for sure, no matter what type of car you drive, they all breakdown.” We covered the food earlier and leadoff with a little baseball. If you are a fan of baseball, there is plenty of opportunity to take in America’s pastime. The Hastings Hawks travel to Rochester for a 2pm game against the Royals. The City of Rochester has a million different things to do, and a quick Google search might turn up some 4th of July Festivities that you and your family could partake in. You could also head to Cannon Falls where the Bears host the Hampton Cardinals. It appears they will be having their parade on the 4th beginning at 11am. A day of exploring and enjoying Cannon Falls might be just the ticket for some of you. I hear there is a winery there as well. The Miesville Mudhens host the Red Wing Aces at 2pm with Military Appreciation activities that include the awarding of a “Quilt of Valor” for Korean Veteran Donald Swanson. Swanson is a resident of Red Wing who served from 1951 to 1953 in the United States Army and was also a pitcher for the Red Wing Aces. While the Twins are on the road, the St. Paul Saints are in town over the Fourth of July weekend with postgame fireworks Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (July 2-4).

Family, friends, food, beverages, fireworks, and several activities for us to enjoy life. Happy 245th Birthday America. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will… “Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.”