For 40 years now four generations of Simonsons have been selling dollar earrings and spoon rings during the last 12 days of summer at the Great Minnesota Get Together. I love Heritage Square. I grew up there. And my heart broke last year when I learned they were tearing it down, in the name of progress. One year (and one successful first year in the new and improved West End Market) later, my reluctance to change has subsided and I am officially on board with progress. But I am still nostalgic; I miss the old Heritage Square and our family's 39 year old wooden booth and the thousands of memories I have there. It was a home to me. Some of my first memories were formed there- playing My Little Ponies with my cousin Shannon on the floor outside the booth while the grown ups worked, taking naps under the booth's shelves in a a cozy little bed my mom made up for me, watching the fireworks after the Grandstand show let out with my big cousin Mike. I learned to count change here. I learned how to help six customers at a time and not miss a beat (most of the time). I watched my dear sweet Grampa make spoon ring after spoon ring for customers who came back year after year to talk to him. I watched him interact with these customers in a way that can only be described as priceless, and learned how to treat people with kindness and love. I learned that 5:00 is the best time for malts, and that standing in a bucket of ice with a wet towel wrapped around your head is just as effective as AC. I learned that cousins can be your best friends and that your mom and aunts can make anything better. It's where I learned that if I put in the work I can take all the creative energy inside me and turn it into something beautiful. As last year came to a close, I went into a nostalgic panic of trying to capture all that is Heritage Square - so I hurriedly snapped as many photos as I could with my phone in an attempt to capture it all. Here they are: (warning: there are a lot of them.) Turkey legs and the Ice Cream Parlour - mmm yum. Shots of the many displays and heritage items that gave Heritage Square its style. When I was growing up the Old Time Portraits booth was just across from ours - I spent hours daydreaming about living in the wild west thanks to them! Love these animals! So happy to see them back in the new West End. Music time at the bandshell - where we got to hear the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Roma di Luna, and Chastity Brown, before they hit the big time. A few newspaper clippings displayed in Heritage Square - including headlines after the inaugural day at the new grounds in 1885, Minnesota's own quadruplets, daredevil flyer Lillian Boyer (inspiring woman, wow), and of course, Willie Nelson. Our booth before the doors open, with the crew from our last opening day here in 2013. (Thanks to one of my aunts or uncles who took the group pic!) My dear Grampa and his spoon rings. (Photo credit for Grampa Sam goes to someone in my family... hoping they can tell me who soon!) My dear Gramma June's photo on the right, sneaking through the earring rack, and her signature wooden rainbow earrings that helped start it all 40 years ago. Doing business! Inside our booth - this is where we'd take naps as kids, tucked under the shelves. The stool in the middle served as our 'security system' blocking the doorway every night! (We were high tech.) 5:00 is Malt O'Clock. My cousin Andrew brings in the delivery! Capturing some textures from around the booth as we tear down. With my amazing mom. She is the best. Tearing down the booth - photo on the right shows some of the items housed in the display case inside Heritage Square. Post show fireworks... always a treat to see these as we left for the night. --- New booth in the West End Market! Quite a bit different, but we love it. The crew from opening day 2014! (Thanks Aunt Heidi for taking the picture!) Looking forward to another 40 years here and lots of new memories with my family. Love you all!