Spring has sprung, and if you are at all familiar with Winona’s annual event calendar, you know that means it is the start of a delightful whirlwind of events that most of us sit huddled over a fire and dream about all winter long.
OK, that’s a lie. Spring has NOT sprung quite yet – actually it’s kind of limping forward like it just lost a brawl with a mind-blowingly brutal winter and is still trying to stand upright. Winter was a mean foe this year, and though this cage match might not be over quite yet, we know eventually our flowers will bloom, our birds will sing, and our migrating blue herons, who didn’t get the memo, won’t be floating down the river on chunks of ice. (Yeah, it’s true – somebody sent me a picture last week.)
But back to the calendar. Turning the page on the month of April is the thing that warms our hearts better than a 60-degree day because it means the Mid West Music Fest is just a few weeks away (April 24-26), and our summer lineup of festivals is right around the bend. It practically makes me giddy: Tickets for the Minnesota Beethoven Festival have been flying out of the box office, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival just introduced another amazing season; Steamboat Days is lining up marching bands, and the Mid West Music Fest is about to fill venues all over town with more than a hundred performers and thousands of people. Cold schmold. We don’t care – people are skipping around the streets in their shirt sleeves because they’re so freaking excited about all the stuff that’s about to happen. OK, that’s a lie too – I haven’t actually seen anyone doing that.
What I love the most about all these things is that they are so huge and important on the entertainment landscape that they get the attention of media far, far from our sweet river town, and yet they are each unique to Winona – spawned from a conversation or two over a cup of coffee or a beer and germinated to the point that they bring nationally and internationally known performers here and thousands of patrons from far and wide. Just like the blue herons migrate here, so too do the people who hear a little something about this crazy, rocking entertainment town, and it’s awfully cool to be sitting on the inside watching it happen.
So what is it about Winona that makes interesting little seeds of ideas grow into gigantic oaks of events? I don’t know. Maybe it’s that we are a stone’s throw from so many major metro areas that a jaunt to Winona for the weekend is easy. It’s possible that people from all over appreciate the fact, however surprising, that Winona is rolling out entertainment that you’d never find outside of a metro area, and some that you can’t even find IN the Midwest’s metros. Perhaps it’s that Winona continues to be filled with the same kind of entrepreneurial movers and shakers who stepped off of river boats 150 years ago and made this town real. Maybe it’s something in the water – we are rimmed by the Mighty Mississippi after all. All I know is that I sincerely spend the winter dreaming about the things about to happen, and if this all has something to do with the water, then I definitely drank the Kool-Aid. You should try it – it’s delicious, especially cold. Find your own cup of it here and get planning: www.VisitWinona.com