FarmFest is an annual event that Darrold and Laurie first organized in 1984.  It pretty much typifies what The Farm has always been all about, except that it deals with Laurie's side of the family. 2013 was a milestone in this regard as it marked the 30th Annual Farmfest.  As we laid plans for the 31st Annual FarmFest in 2014, Bob, Laurie's father, became terminally ill.  It was with trepidation that we continued the plans.  As the FarmFest date approached it became apparent that Bob would not be able to make it to the event. Nevertheless, we maintained plans anyway as the family had kept that weekend open and would use that weekend to visit Bob.  Everyone gathered that weekend, some at The Farm and some in Hibbing.  The family maintained a bedside vigil with Bob and one by one the family sadly said their "goodbyes".  Bob maintained dignity and strength and wished all a happy life,and told them that he loved them.  And then he uttered words to me that signified his lifetime of unselfishness.  As I said "goodbye" to him on the Saturday of "FarmFest 31", he grasped my hand and apologetically said:  " I am so sorry for screwing up FarmFest".  He died just a few hours later--as always, worried about everyone else and not himself.  He was a remarkable man who left a tremendous imprint on the entire family and will be dearly remembered and honored at each FarmFest in the future.

It would take volumes to repeat the events that have occured at FarmFest, and all we will attempt to do here is highlight some of them. We start with an an introduction of Laurie's family.

On Laurie's side of her family are her parents, Bob and Jeanne Johnson and four of Laurie's siblings and their families.  Despite other committments and living out of the area, everyone has strived to attend this annual event, year after year.

FarmFest is held at The Farm in August and lasts all weekend. Every year seems to bring a new attraction and we always enjoy looking back to see how the kids have grown and reminisce about the happenings at FarmFest that make it so unique and special.

Registration:   Over the years there have always been several of the young ones who man the Registration Table, doling out sleeping room assignments, FarmFest favors, announcement of special events, such as the staged magic shows or "You can Be A Star" or "Minute to Win It" competitions.  The events are limited only by the participants' imaginations.

Competitions:  Each year the family engages in some "good ol' family fun" and games.  Bocce tournaments were the staple for years and were always double or triple elimination, lasting the whole weekend.  Volleyball, badminton and hoopshoot have also had their place.  There have been organized races with medals, ribbons and trophies awarded to the children.  Horseshoe has been another traditional event and played by all ages, with the distances adapted.  Sack races have provided some hysterical moments as have the many baseball games pitting the "Young Yankees" against the older and less agile "FarmFest Fools".  We have had Karaoke competitions, Cute Cow Costume Contests, hula hoop and coloring contests as well as poetry competitions.  Everyone participates in all the competitions, and this makes each event all the more enjoyable.  More recently, the crew has engaged in "Lawn Olympics" where a variety of lawn games (Kuub, bean bag, lawn golf, ring toss) are played to determne one winner.  Most competitions pit one randomly drawn "man-woman" team against another. As night falls, or as inclement weather dictates, inside games are played.  Darts, card games, table shuffleboard are often played as the mood sets in.  We have even had a funeral and burial for a pet guinea pig.  There is only one overriding rule and that is to "Have Fun".  Year after year this "rule" is followed religiously as memory after memory has been etched into our hearts and minds.  

Food and Music:  A FarmFest trademark has been the great food that is shared by all.  And always, there is good music played in the background wherever you are at FarmFest.

Campfires:  As the sun sets and the energy level begins to drain, a campfire is the perfect prescription for the crew. Hours of laughter and good conversation have permeated the grounds while at the fire. Some of the family "sneak' off to bed earlier than others; some stay up so late that the sun is rising. There has never been a bad night sitting by the campfire with this family around.

Sleeping arrangements:
  While The Farm has plenty of room to sleep, there is not enough for the entire FarmFest crew that typically attends.  Camper trailers are brought in and sometimes, tents.  And on occasion, one of the kids will  sleep "under the stars".

Key for photos, below:  Laurie's parents:   Bob (2014 ) and Jeanne;  
           Laurie's siblings:   Denny; wife Peggy; son, Lonnie (Pookie); daughter, Steph (Mandy);
                                                                                          Lonnie and Pookie's daughter, Ruby;
                                             Barry; wife Robbie; daughter, Missy (Rob); son Chris (wife Kathy);
                                                                                          Missy and Rob's kids:  Griffin and Barrie;
                                                                                          Chris' children: Brian, Henry and Louie)
                                             Cheryl; son, Ryan
                                             Kelly;  daughter, Ava

            Laurie's husband, Darrold; son Dustin (Rachel); daughters, Amber (Ben V); Shana (husband, Ben W)

Written by Darrold Persson (updated December 2015)

Results  [ 1 - 20 of 98 Records ]    

Lining up for the medal ceremony, 1984:  
Missy, Lonnie, Chris, Steph, Dustin and Amber

Back:  Kelly, Barry, Ryan
Middle: Lonnie, Bob, Denny
Front:  Chris, Dustin and Darrold (1986)

Around the campfire (1987)

Missy leads the kids in a dance (1988)

The FarmFest Girls (1988)

The FarmFest Boys (1989)

Shana, with a determined look, heads to the finish line (1989)

Pre-baseball game tradition: a rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" (1989)

The FarmFest Boys (1990)

FarmFest Hostesses, Shana and Amber (1991)

The "Young Yankees" baseball team celebrates another victory (1991)

The annual Bocce Tournament is always an "all-weather" event (1992)

Farmfest hostesses Shana and Amber, (1993)

Peggy and the Peacocks wowed the crowd
in the "You can be a Star" competition  (1993)

Amber, Dustin and Shana performed a skit for the
"Cute Cow Costume Contest" (1994)

Pat, Missy and Kelly (1994)

Shana, Jeanne and Ryan in the "Cute Cow Costume Contest" (1994)

Bob "just taking a nap" (1995)

Laurie and Barry take Bocce honors (1995)

End of the baseball game (1995)
Results  [ 1 - 20 of 98 Records ]