The joy of  summer holidays in small towns, complete with parades, community dinners and neighborly visits.  It wouldn’t seem like summer if these weren’t a part of our family/s memories – and a lively part of rural America.  I spend a lot of time writing about travels around the world, North American agricultural issues and  global food needs, so I thought it was time to tip my hat to our hometown.

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I moved to Boone County, Indiana on July 3 – and little did we know that we had arrived in the midst of THE biggest celebration of the year. We’ve since learned that Fourth of July celebrated over a couple of weeks here, complete with sports tournaments, Symphony at Sunset, a huge parade, queens of all ages, concerts & socials in the park – and of course, multiple fireworks shows. Apologies to my international readers, but I hope you can relate as you consider the best parts of your own nation’s festivities. I hope these celebrations will continue for generations, because of the color they weave in the fabric of rural areas.

  • Relaxing with friends;  Rarely do we take the time to enjoy quality conversations in a way we do over the social gatherings of the Fourth of July. No travel to exotic locations, no computers and no hotels – just families taking the time to visit in a festive setting.
  • Making memories; whether it’s watching fireworks with children on our laps, splashing water across the lawn or eating obscene amount of foods – these are the times I hope to remember on my deathbed.
  • Watching young people in the community grow up. It seems like only minutes go by; a little boy happily riding in a train turns into a young man who’s suddenly taller than mom, or blink and find a freckle-faced little girl in braces and pigtails is suddenly riding 4-H Queen Car.
  • Having people know your name. There’s great value in families looking out for each other community-wide. Trading in my heels of speaking for boots of solitude on a farm is a favorite when I’ve been traveling. However, I cherish the friendly waves when we go to town, how people look out for each other, and that people are connected enough to our family to be concerned for our well-being.
  • Reflecting on the privilege of being an American. Regardless of your country, I hope you find the same pride as you listen to patriotic music and see the flag of your homeland. It seems many have lost perspective on our history, independence and what it means to be an American.
  • Food. O.K., you didn’t really think I could write a blog without at least mentioning it, did you?  Ice cream, homemade pies, summer salads served from the garden, ribs, sweet corn, strawberries and more. It is truly a feast from the farms!

Feel free to chime in with your favorite small town celebrations. I doubt many other of our fellow parade watchers reflect on the progress of agriculture while watching a GPS equipped ultra-modern tractor maneuver the parade route 10 minutes after the antique tractors go by, followed by horse and carriage. I do – and while I love technology and the many advances of modern-day agriculture, I hope we never lose sight of the value of traditions in rural areas – like those of the last weekend. I also hope farms don’t become relics to only be showcased in a parade. How are you helping be sure that doesn’t happen?