New Brighton is a century-old City that is truly young at heart! This can easily be seen in the enthusiasm
shown by the community volunteers at New Brighton’s historic festival called Stockyard Days, held annually over the
second weekend of August.
The festival began in 1981 as a way to recall
the early days of New Brighton as a center for the cattle industry including the stockyards, railroads, fashionable hotels
and meatpacking plants. Initially promoted by New Brighton Historical Society and local Jaycees, the festival volunteers eventually
incorporated as Stockyard days, Inc., and wrote bylaws requiring representation by all the volunteer service organizations
in New Brighton. The event was riding on the coat tails of New Brighton’s 4th of July Celebration which involved
games, food, and fireworks but lacked the special theme that community festival need to focus on.
Stockyard Days’ main attraction for several years was the arrival of the MN Transportation
Museum’s Steam Locomotive #328. New Brighton and her 22,000 residents could enjoy rides on the restored steam engine,
smell the diesel smoke, and hear the locomotive’s whistle for the three days of the annual festival. Gradually, as insurance
costs made bringing the steam engine into town financially prohibitive, Stockyard Days’ theme evolved to emphasize “cowpunchers”
and Stockyard Days took on a western look.
Today, Stockyard Days is a eight
day event held throughout New Brighton. Area merchants, businesses, and hundreds of volunteers participate in concerts, tournaments,
a parade, street dances, a carnival, live entertainment, food sampling, fireworks, the finish line of the Antique Car Run,
a car show, and the Miss New Brighton & Junior Ambassador coronation. A medallion hunt is held. Thousands of commemorative
buttons are sold. Prizes are raffled off. Goodwill Ambassadors are selected, and happy memories of times spent with family
and friend are taken away.