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The Dutch American Identity: Staging Memory and Ethnicity in Community Celebrations B ...

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The Dutch American Identity:


In July of 1984, I was five years old (going on six). Like most other five-year-old residents of Edgerton, Minnesota, the heat of June meant one thing: The annual Dutch Festival would be coming soon. Parades, food stands, unusual numbers of out-of-town visitors, two days of fun, and rides: lots of midway rides. For a five-year-old, it was basically a dream come true. Along with my best friends, Kris Kooiman and Brett Lamsma, I had already been entering into heated speculation about which rides would come to town this year; we agreed that, being six (or almost six, in my case), we would definitely be old enough this year to go on some of the “big” rides. I had my sights fixed on the Ferris wheel.

Meanwhile, my parents were occasionally disappearing across the street to mysterious-sounding “section meetings,” where most of the neighborhood adults were gathering to decide what our float theme would be for the parade. The Fourth of July passed, and then the meetings grew more frequent. Most of the residents from the area near the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Mechanic Street began descending on John and Darlene Ruiter’s garage, hammers and drills in hand.