by Dennis Dalman
St. Stephen, the oldest continuous Slovenian town in the United States, will kick up its heels for a three-day bash the weekend of July 18-20 to celebrate its 100th birthday.
There will be literally something for everyone during the Centennial Festival: a parade, car show, tractor show, polka Mass, lots of music, raffles, food, baseball, Centennial books for sale, baseball and softball games and a breakfast featuring Slovenian specialties.
The special guest for the festivities will be Dr. Bozo Cerar, the ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Slovenia and (possibly) the oldest St. Stephen resident, Eddie Peternell, 102, who hopes to ride in the parade. (See related stories about Cerar and Peternell.)
Other guests will include Sherwin and Pam Linton with their band, The Cotton Kings, as well as Brittany Allyn, Nashville recording artist who sang back-up many years for the late music legend George Jones. Pam and Brittany (nee Pam and Patti Trobec) are sisters who grew up in St. Stephen and who were accomplished singers from an early age.
Even more music will be performed by the band 2 Mile Final.
The following is a line-up of events for the three-day festival:
Friday, July 18:
• A car show will take place from 3:30-8 p.m. in the St. Stephen Church parking lot. There will be 14 classes of vehicles, all models from 1980 or older, including cars and trucks, collector cars, muscle cars, convertibles, street hot rods and motorcycles. At 7:30 p.m., trophies will be awarded for each class of vehicles. Admission is free.
Saturday, July 19:
• The St. Stephen Steves (former players ages 40 and older) will face off against the baseball players from St. Wendel from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the St. Steven Steves Field. There will be free admission to the game, and the food stands will be open for business.
• A Co-Ed Slow-Pitch Softball Game will start at 6:30 p.m. at Smoley Field. Also, former summer ball program players 18 and older will have a chance to participate in a softball game during the days of celebration.
• The big parade will start at 2 p.m. and wend its way down CR 2 from the Smoley Addition to the Trobec’s Bus Garage south of the city. The theme of the parade will be “Old, Antique, Classic” and prizes will be awarded for the “Best,” with prizes also given for originality and entertainment value. Cerar, ambassador from the Republic of Slovenia, is expected to ride in the parade.
• Sherwin and Pam Linton and their band, The Cotton Kings, will perform twice – from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and from 6-7 p.m. Their guest singer will be Nashville recording artist Brittany Allyn.
• A Helping Hands Raffle will take place at 7:30 p.m. by the church.
• A band called 2 Mile Final will perform for a street dance starting at 8 p.m. by the church lot. They will play music until midnight.
• The band will take an intermission at about 10 p.m. so the crowds can enjoy a fireworks show.
Sunday, July 20:
• At 9 a.m., a Polka Mass will take place outside the church, featuring the Singing Slovenes. A concert by that group will also follow the Mass.
• From 9 a.m. until noon, there will be a breakfast at the Parish Hall cooked by a Slovenian-culture group with genuine Slovenian specialty foods. Free-will donations will go to the St. Stephen Food Shelf.
• A Tractor Show will take place, rain or shine, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the grounds of the previous Vouk Steam Show, just north of downtown along CR 2. Three People’s Choice awards will be given. Weather depending, there will be demonstrations of threshing and cutting of lath and shingles. Admission is free to the event.
• Throughout the three-day festival, there will be two books for sale – one a Centennial Memory Photo Book with hundreds of old photos, the other a St. Stephen Centennial Cook Book. Those books, plus Centennial souvenirs, will be sold at the ball park, Smoley’s Field.
Pam Linton will perform with her husband, band leader Sherwin Linton, and with her sister, Brittany Allyn (nee Patti Trobec) at the St. Stephen Centennial Celebration the weekend of July 18-20. Pam and her younger sister, Patti, grew up in St. Stephen and demonstrated remarkable talents for music at very early ages.
For many years, Brittany Allyn (left) was a backup singer for the late country-western legend George Jones (right). She will perform in her home town, St. Stephen, during its upcoming Centennial celebration. Allyn (nee Patti Trobec), who lives near Nashville, has recorded several discs of her own music. Jones died in 2013.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.