Prairie Farm native George Christenson started Alfalfa Fest on his northern Dunn County farm 16 years ago, to help raise money for cancer research after the death of his wife, Holly Jean.
Over the years, Alfalfa Fest has grown to become a huge family event, complete with live and silent auctions, live music, plenty of grilled chicken and “special” hamburgers, hayrides and other family activities.
This year, after he sold the Dunn County property, Christenson and some other key volunteers and planners decided to move the event to Pioneer Park, in Prairie Farm. The all-day event took place on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Christenson said he was pleased with the results.
“By the looks of it, this is the largest (Alfalfa Fest) we’ve ever had,” he said. “Each year, it grows a little more.”
There were hundreds of people in attendance, some coming from as far away as Superior, Eau Claire and Somerset.
Christenson wasn’t too surprised that had happened. He said the proceeds from the event are used to benefit three hospice programs (Mayo Clinic, Marshfield Clinic and St. Croix).
“As the years go on, a lot of people are touched by the hospice programs,” he said. “St. Croix Hospice has an office in Frederic, so we’ve ended up getting to know a lot of people (connected with that program).”
Some 40 volunteers showed up early on the morning of Aug. 3, pitching tents, cooking chicken, stocking up at the food stand, and arranging displays of live and silent auction items.
“I could go on and on thanking people,” Christenson said. “We have people who carry in freezers, old farm implements, bales of hay, tractors, you name it. Our petting zoo alone involved five or six people.”
Best of all, it looks like the 2019 event raised more than $30,000, which will be donated to the three hospice programs and to five schools in the vicinity, including Prairie Farm, Boyceville, Ridgeland, Clear Lake and Clayton.
There are already plans for the 2020 edition of Alfalfa Fest, Christenson added.
“We have the bands lined up, and the park is reserved,” he said.
There may be one additional improvement, Christenson added.
At this year’s event, “Five or six kids approached me and asked me for another jump castle (bounce house),” he said. “We had a lot of playground equipment in the park, so I thought one castle was enough. I guess I’m going to have to rent another one next year!”