As the story goes, there was a feud between Wayzata and James J. Hill, so why do we celebrate James J. Hill Days?
The event started 46 years ago when fellow Chamber members decided the rich history of Wayzata and its unique panoramic view of Lake Minnetonka as a result of the railroad, was worth celebrating and it became an annual end of the season tradition.
These memories are shared through members calling out their favorite JJHD moments; Lesa – rooftop fireworks, Paul – time with grandchildren, Ken – water ski show hidden by the train, Mike – a special officer salute and Jim – Dierks Bently Band in his store. Come create more memories September 10-12. We are grateful for community celebrations and now more than ever, to gather together.
J.J. Hill Days Memories
Listening to the music and watching fireworks from the roof of the old Candlelight Floral building on Lake and Barry!
One year, Donny, owner of Scanlon Tree Service, (also dubbed AFAB by Greg Rye: Anything For ABuck), had a thematic float in the JJH parade.
First, they somehow attached…upright…an enormous tree trunk to a flatbed trailer. There, suspended by rope from an actual, horizontal tree branch, was one of his crew, chainsaw in hand. How they kept a rather substantial tree upright defied not only gravity but also common sense. BTW and as a result, they won first prize. Unfortunately, the award did not include a coupon to a resident psychiatrist. Perhaps the company’s tagline should now read Anything For ATrophy.
I must say that all of the volunteer work that goes into the JJ Hill event is immediately overshadowed by the joy of sharing these experiences with family and friends. My grandchildren always look forward to attending this version of the ‘State Fair’ each year with Grandma and Grandpa!!
One of the most remarkable moments and quintessential bad timing was a few years ago when the River Rats water skiing team were performing on the lake in front of lake street. People were lined up on the south side of the street watching them. A train came along and stopped right there. It blocked all of lake street and, of course, the view of the water skiing performance. What followed were some heart stopping moments as people tried to crawl under the train to get across the tracks for a better view. It’s seared into my memory.
The officer’s salute to Shawn and Wyatt in 2017.
Two things come to mind when I think back about James J Hill Days…
First, were the years we had bed races. That event was fast, fun, and very competitive between local businesses! Minnetonka Travel and Wayzata Amoco were favorites for many years. JoAnn Vodegel was the dare-devil rider for Minnetonka Travel team! She was a trooper!
Second, for many years I announced the parade and judges would often place wagers on which entrant would have MORE participants…The Westie’s dog entry OR Jim Ramstad’s RAMSTAD TEAM entry. Both ALWAYS exceeded 100!
Love the memories of James J. Hill Days weekends!
On the JJ Hill Saturday in 2015, a very hot day in the low 90’s, the Dierks Bentley band which was going to be on stage that evening was strolling through town killing time and wandered into Sun & Slope. The lead guitarist was from the south, and fixated on a fur Mad Bomber hat we had; he couldn’t imagine weather cold enough to require a hat like that. I told him I would give him a deal on the hat that he couldn’t refuse if he would agree to wear it on stage for part of that night’s performance. He asked for Dierks’ okay, and the attached photo tells the rest of the story.