Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, July 2, 2021

Celebrating the Fourth of July in an Earlier Decade


With the Fourth of July weekend upon us, local historians inevitably ask: how did we celebrate so many years ago?  Has it always been loud fireworks and excessive drink?  The answer to these questions remains a definitive yes and no.  Depending on the year and the location, the fourth of July celebration in Sherburne County has been both loud and raucous, and other times silent and sedate. 

Veteran's Memorial at
Sherburne History Center
Using newspapers as the source, in the decade of the 1890s, often town baseball remained the highlight of a July Fourth celebration.  The newspapers routinely reported of tournaments pitting Elk River nines against Rogers, Monticello, or other local teams.  With the end of nine innings a watermelon feast marked the culmination of the celebration. 

During the decade, livelier celebrations also took place.  In 1893, the newspapers advertised river excursions on the Mississippi River.  The steamer “Louise” offered hour long boat trips on the river at the low price of twenty-five cents per person.  Three years later, the Sherburne County Star News reported the cancellation of annual blueberry parties due to the shortage of blueberries in 1896.  Still, three years later, in 1899, the residents of Elk River’s upper town neighborhoods marked the Fourth of July with the purchase of a cannon.  This ultimate noise maker “ushered in the glorious fourth and disturbed the slumbers of the community.”

Apparently, the fire works never change.  The timing of the blasts varied from time to time. 

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