The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 30, 2013

Godahl prepares for annual Labor Day event

Tiny town brings in hundreds for celebration

GODAHL — Up to 20 people showed up early on Saturdays for the past three weekends to help Godahl get all gussied up for its 58th annual Labor Day celebration. The volunteers used white paint to freshen up the exterior of the town's general co-op store, a two-story frame built in 1894.

"It was in need of paint and we wanted to get it looking nice," said store manager Darlene Olson.

Olson was busy this week with preparations to make sure enough food will be on hand Monday when the town of about 15 residents host crowdsof up to a thousand people.

The holiday marking the end of summer vacation season and the beginning of the school year isn't celebrated with much fanfare in other Minnesota towns — but it's been a big deal for a long time in little Godahl. Each year, people flock to the unincorporated village between Sleepy Eye and St. James.

Last year, when bridge work closed part of Highway 4 the number of visitors was down, but attendance was still good, said Mike Shupe, an activities organizer. At least 400-500 people turned out for the afternoon parade. The highlight of the celebration, the procession starts at 12:30 p.m. with a route that runs along the Watonwan and Brown county line.

Olson puts up a "closed" sign during the parade, but reopens afterward for those who want to purchase refreshments or just want to take a look at the Nelson & Albin store, which is Minnesota's oldest continuously operating co-op general store.

Godahl Days entertainment starts early — old-time bands begin playing at 9:30 a.m. from an outdoor stage, where dancers may polka nearby. The Mike Lang Band from Sleepy Eye, joins the lineup this year, Shupe said.

An open stage is available for locals to show off their talents. "Mostly, it's kids," Amy Hanson has been entertainment coordinator for the past five years.

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