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Each small town festival is a gem

We applaud each and every small metropolis that goes above and beyond to entertain us throughout the summer months.

Small town festivals are the essence of Minnesota nice. Civic leaders, volunteers and townspeople invite hundreds of friends, neighbors and strangers into their midst, providing great food and wholesome entertainment.

But this hospitality also has an ulterior motive. Festivals are an invitation to join in - permanently. As more Baby Boomers get ready to retire, why not try Nevis, Akeley, Menahga, Osage or Laporte as an ultimate destination? They sure seem like great places to retire.

Last weekend was Lake George's turn to show its stuff. On the heels of what could have been a crippling blow - two of its cornerstone businesses closing in rapid succession last fall - city leaders rallied and put on a three-day festival that demonstrated to the world the town wasn't ready to give up.

And that show of civic pride reaped huge dividends. Hundreds of folks visited, ate, had fun and stayed for the weekend. Better yet, they shopped. A steady stream of weekenders left Lake George merchants, shopping bags in hand. Even the weekend vendors reported doing well.

There was talk of a buyer for the closed convenience store, which opened for the weekend, and a local resort is adding on. Both are good economic news.

The Lake George Area Association, the merchants and volunteers are to be commended for their hard work.

One of the biggest draws of the annual Blueberry Festival is a children's carnival and bike giveaway. This year, despite tough times, organizers (spouses of firefighters) actually were able to solicit more donated bikes than last year. Twenty-five lucky children rode away on new wheels.

Local merchants and individuals and regional businesses and banks donate the bikes. It is a showing of generosity unprecedented in other states.

But it's not just Lake George that is the beneficiary of these businesses' largesse. Each small town festival features prizes donated by business owners, big box stores and banks.

They, too are to be commended. They never say, "I'm sorry, we can't." They just step up.

Small towns, just like large cities, are facing economic challenges. But it's nice to report that some things stay the same.

Dorset, you're up next. Bring it on.