The other day, I discovered an article from Fast Company magazine called "The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter". Since, like many of you, I've had it up to here with the stretches of below-zero weather we've had this winter, I thought I'd give it a look.
The article gives several lessons gleaned from a study on a far-northern town in Norway, but one in particular stood out: The village in question had "plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together."
That got me to thinking: What Des Moines needs is a good late-January winter festival. Something big to look forward to during the coldest part of the year. Something almost exactly 6 months opposite on the calendar from the Iowa State Fair. An excuse to do something as a community that doesn't hinge on how well (or poorly) our local and college teams are doing in basketball or hockey.
Lots of Iowans (including me) have at least some Norwegian heritage -- this kind of thing should surely be in our blood. We may not be famed for having a hotdish culturelike our neighbors in Minnesota, I have no doubt that the ingenuity of Iowans could be brought to bear on creating some kind of worthy culinary theme. (Don't worry; I still think the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival deserves its own weekend.) Who's with me on this?