Emily Gronau doesn’t live in St. Paul anymore. She grew up there, but it hasn’t been her home for a while. Yet every year, she brings her family to St. Paul for the St. Paul Mission Days.

Emily Gronau doesn’t live in St. Paul anymore. She grew up there, but it hasn’t been her home for a while. Yet every year, she brings her family to St. Paul for the St. Paul Mission Days.
“I like just seeing people I haven’t seen in years,” Gronau said. “Sometimes, it’s the only time I see certain people all year long. The kids think it’s cute when we come back and say ‘When you were a little girl, this is what you used to do.’”
The St. Paul Mission Days is in its 26th year, but it remembers the events held much longer: the settling of St. Paul by missionaries to the Osage Indians of the area.
Monica Simpson, Mission Days chairwoman, lead the festivities in St. Paul despite being 8 1/2 months pregnant. Simpson said she estimated the crowd for Saturday’s parade to be about 1,500 people.
“Over 26 years, it varies every year.” Simpson said. “Some years, we have an amazingly awesome crowd. Other years, it’s rainy or something and not as many people show up. But for 26 years, we’ve been here every year. We have such amazing support from the town and local businesses.”
There were plenty of events at the St. Paul Mission Days to keep many people happy. Among the events were a baby contest, turtle races, a food fear factor contest, live performances by local bands, a cornhole tournament and a horseshoe tournament.
But perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the Mission Days was a silent auction for the playground equipment in the nearby park.
Recently, the St. Paul community got a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant to completely overhaul the playground. The area will get new playground equipment, restored lighting, redone bathrooms and more. According to the CDBG, work must be completed by April 1, 2010.
The silent auction was set up to sell the current set of playground equipment, with the exception of two slides that will stay at the property.
Gronau said the Mission Days change every year, but it always change for the better. She said the event used to be held every year on Mother’s Day weekend, but somewhere along the line it switched to Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s definitely bigger than when I started coming here,” Gronau said. “They’ve added things during the day, like kids games. My kids are old enough to do the turtle races now, and they really like that. I like how the events change year to year to what’s popular. They’ve added the cornhole and horseshoes tournament, and those are the kinds of things they didn’t used to have.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.