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Editorial: Festival will celebrate Farmington

The reaction Vida Raine gets when she first tells people about the festival she's planning for Farmington has been consistent and not altogether unpredictable. Simply put, it goes something like this: "Why in the world do you want to have a festival to celebrate soybeans?"

It's not an unreasonable thought to have. Beyond driving by them as they grow in Farmington's fields, many people probably aren't much aware of the role soybeans play in their lives. Raine wasn't until she started planning a few months ago. But it turns out they're everywhere, from any number of food products to fabrics and even plastics. Minnesota is the country's third largest producer of soybeans, and Farmington certainly plays a role in that.

In truth, though, next week's Minnesota Soybean Festival is only sort of about soybeans. The plant takes title billing, and it will be worked into events ranging from photo competitions to cooking contests. But more than that the festival is about celebrating Farmington. It's about giving Farmington residents an opportunity to get together and have a little fun. To meet new people, try new things and explore parts of the city they might not otherwise get to see.

The whole thing grew out of an attempt by Farmington's Downtown Business Association to create another gathering downtown, and by that measure the festival looks successful. There are 11 bands on the schedule for the three-day festival. There is drawing to see who will get to dump soybeans over the head of mayor Todd Larson. There will be a parade of antique cars -- Henry Ford was one of the early believers in the versatility of soybeans, Raine explains. There will be activities for people of all ages. And you don't have to know beans about soy to enjoy what's on offer.

Why celebrate soybeans? If it gives Farmington residents a chance to get to know each other a little bit better, why not?