Town Days Tour 2013 Sleepy Eye


– The City of Sleepy Eye was founded in the year 1872 by the railroad company.

– Sleepy Eye is in Brown County at the crossroads of Highways 4 and 14, on the shores of Sleepy Eye Lake.

– Like many frontier communities, Sleepy Eye’s founding centered around the development of the railroad. Rochester railroad lawyer Walter Brackenridge is credited with platting the original streets of Sleepy Eye on September 18th, 1872. The plats were officially registered at the Brown County Courthouse the next day.

– One of the early settlers of the area is also credited with the formation of Sleepy Eye. Thomas Allison wanted the railroad to come to “his” lake, so he visited railroad lawyer Walter Brackenridge and got the railroad to come to Sleepy Eye.

– The City of Sleepy Eye was named after the lake which borders its northwest side. The lake was named after a Chief of the Sisseton Sioux Indians, Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba, which translates to Sleepy Eyes. Chief Sleepy Eyes was born in 1780 near Swan Lake in Nicollet County. His jurisdiction covered the Sisseton from Carver to Lac-Qui-Parle. He signed the treaties of Prairie Du Chien, Mendota, and Traverse Des Sioux, and visited with President James Monroe in 1824.

– Chief Sleepy Eyes died in 1860 in South Dakota. In 1964, the City of Sleepy Eye recovered his remains and buried him in a small park dedicated to his memory. A tall, narrow monument marks his grave. The City also erected an 8-foot-tall bronze statue, created by Native American artist Joanne Bird, as a salute to the Indian leader.

– During the Sioux Uprising of 1862, the area that would become Sleepy Eye was overrun by Indians. Fort Ridgely, located about 10 miles north of Sleepy Eye, was the center of the attack.

– Sleepy Eye had its first store in 1872, the same year the town was created. Christian Emmerich built the city’s 1st hotel, and Carl Berg built the 2nd one in 1873. The 1st school records date back to 1874.

– The Sleepy Eye Fire Department was organized on March 11th, 1887 by MH Anstett. The City’s Library was built by FH Dyckman in 1900.

– The Sleepy Eye Flour Milking Company began operations in 1883, and closed in 1923. During it’s time it was the biggest rural flour mill in the country.

– A Sleepy Eye celebrity whose name is well-known around the world is Linus Mauer. Linus was a life-long friend of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz, who based one of the comic strip’s characters on his friend. The City of Sleepy Eye has a Linus statue to commemorate that friendship.

– A famous Sleepy Eye native is former WCCO-TV Sports Anchor Ralph Jon Fritz, who was on the air for 37 years. Fritz grew up in Sleepy Eye and attended St. Mary’s School. He appears with his dog Louie on the tv show “Out and About,” which mainly centers on hunting and fishing.


SLEEPY EYE DAY — Businesses

– Two of Sleepy Eye’s main employers are the two school systems: public and Catholic. Sleepy Eye Public Schools call themselves the Indians and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s is the Knights.

– Sleepy Eye is home to several large employers. These include: Del Monte, a large vegetable-canning facility; BIC/APP, formerly Norwood Promotional Products – makers of calendars and bulletins; Stimpert Enterprises, makers of manufactured homes; Anderson Custom Processing, makers of dry food products; Mathiowetz Construction; River Region Farmer’s Co-Op; Christensen Family Farms; Haala Industries; and Miller Sellner Implement. There is also the Divine Providence and Sleepy Eye Care Center nursing homes.

– The Eagles Orchid Inn in Sleepy Eye is an entertainment hub for the city. Along with being a place to have a fine meal or cold drink, there are also numerous social events held here during the year.

– The Sleepy Eye Economic Development Authority received an E-Commerce Readiness Certification from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The award recognizes the city for implementing a new technology infrastructure.


SLEEPY EYE DAY — Festivals & Events

– Sleepy Eye’s annual Corn Days celebration takes place every August. The 2-day celebration is packed with numerous events, with the main attraction being the free all-you-can-eat buttered sweet corn at Allison Park. Rides for the kids and live music also take place throughout the day. The following day consists of a 5K run for all ages and the celebration concludes with an evening parade.

– On the last Sunday in September, the Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society celebrates their pioneer heritage by hosting the Great Grassroots Gathering. The day includes various flea markets, arts & crafts, music, and food.

– People from around the area come to Sleepy Eye on the evening of July 3rd to enjoy the annual Street Dance with live music. On the 4th of July, the celebration at Allison Park includes music and buffalo burgers, followed by fireworks over the lake.

– Stores in Sleepy Eye go crazy during the middle of summer. Crazy Days sees prices slashed and great bargains both in stores and on sidewalks.

– Every March the Sleepy Eye Jaycees sponsor the Miss Sleepy Eye Pageant. Numerous young women vie for the coveted title. During the following summer, Miss Sleepy Eye competes for the Queen of the Lakes title during the Minneapolis Aquatennial. She also appears in numerous parades and town celebrations throughout the year.

– A big, delicious breakfast is served at the Sleepy Eye Airport during the middle of July. The Jaycees Fly-In Breakfast is open to pilots, people who enjoy airplanes, and people who love breakfast. Airplane rides are available as well.



– The population for the City of Sleepy Eye is approximately 3,500 people. The Mayor is Jim Broich.

– Seven friends from Sleepy Eye won the Minnesota Lottery Powerball in 2010. Gary Buley, Gerald Hornick, Randy Keim, Leland Oleson and Jason Schultz of Sleepy Eye, Joshua Hacker of Morgan, and Laura Dominguez of Springfield had been pooling their money to buy Powerball tickets for about 3 years. One of their tickets matched all 5 numbers without the Powerball, and the group cashed in the winning ticket worth $200,000.

– Sleepy Eye resident Pat Lange won $100,000 in a Minnesota Lottery Scratch Game in 2010. Pat had won $10 on a $5 Wild Cherry scratch ticket when she decided to re-invest her winnings. The next Wild Cherry ticket she purchased turned out to be 1 of the 6 grand prize tickets worth $100,000.

– The Seifert Quads of Sleepy Eye celebrated their 60th birthday in 2010. Monica Clayton, now of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Marie Hoffman of Worthington; Michael Seifert of Brown County’s Stark Township; and Martha Anderson of Albert Lea made worldwide headlines when they were born on May 3rd, 1950, at the Sleepy Eye Hospital. The 4 healthy babies ranged in weight from 2 to 4-and-a-half pounds. They were believed to be the first set of quads to survive into adulthood in Minnesota.

– The first baby of the New Year for the Sleepy Eye Medical Center in 2012 was Jessalyn Lee Sellner, the daughter of Randy and Dawn Sellner of Sleepy Eye.

– The Berg Hotel in Sleepy Eye was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

– Sleepy Eye High School’s Tianna Cselovszki and Braondon Roiger, and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Madalyn Helget, were named Minnesota State High School League ExCEL Award winners in 2012. ExCEL stands for Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership.

– KNUJ’s Hometown Hero for March 2012 was Daniel Havemeier of Sleepy Eye. Daniel was driving on Highway 14 east of Essig when he noticed a 4-wheeler flipped over in the ditch. He turned his milk truck around and returned to the scene to find a rural New Ulm man pinned under the ATV. He contacted emergency personnel immediately and then lifted the 4-wheeler off of the man. He put his life on hold in order to help another.

– A Sleepy Eye High School graduate was named the new Brown County 4H Coordinator in 2012. Alisa (Marti) Mangen was a Brown County 4H’er for 14 years. She also worked as a KNUJ intern!

– The Sleepy Eye Historical Society received over $4,600 in grants for historic markers in 2012.

– A new Miss Sleepy Eye was crowned in April of 2012 at the Eagles Orchid Inn. Named Miss Sleepy Eye 2012 was Courtney Schneider. Crowned Sleepy Eye Attendants were Anna Ibberson and Ellen Mathiowetz.

– The Sleepy Eye High School FFA Chapter was ranked among the top 10 chapters in the state during the State FFA Convention in April of 2012.

– The Sleepy Eye Area Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business of the Year was Arneson Distributing. Arneson is best known for distributing 1919 Root Beer, Buddy’s Soda, Hauenstein Beer, and various Schell’s beverages. The company celebrated its 40th year in business in 2012.

– Miss Sleepy Eye 2011 Anna Surprenant was named one of the princess of the Minnepolis Aquatennial in 2012. The daughter of Scott and Judy Surprenant says that the competition initially involved a series of 4 interviews. Surprenant says that a 1-week community food drive was also part of the competition, and she was able to raise over 300 food items in that time. The City of Sleepy Eye traditionally sends a representative to the Aquatennial every year.

– The 51st annual Buttered Corn Days celebration took place in August of 2012, and the theme was “All Fired Up For Corn.” The annual Corn Eating Contest saw returning champions Sleepy Eye Off-Sale defeat Arneson Distributing by only 2 points. The Sleepy Eye Fire Department celebrated its 125th anniversary during Buttered Corn Days 2012 as well with an open house and a dance at the Eagles Orchid Inn following the Corn Days Parade.

– A Sleepy Eye girl was among the finalists for “Princess Kay of the Milky Way” in 2012. Brown County Dairy Princess Laura Rosenhammer had her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of AMPI butter as a finalist, and was excited knowing that her “Butterhead” came from so close to home. Rosenhammer was the annual scholarship winner during the Princess Kay competition.

– KNUJ’s Hometown Hero for September 2012 was Myron “Whitey” Helget of Sleepy Eye. Whitey was reportedly instrumental in beginning the Leavenworth Softball Team and concession stand, and has volunteered many hours of his time to the organization for decades. He is also said to be a favorite with the students among bus drivers, and shares many of the vegetables from his garden with his friends and neighbors.

– Leon Treml of rural Sleepy Eye was named the Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District Outstanding Conservationist for 2012.

– Sleepy Eye High School crowned Homecoming royalty in September of 2012. Named Homecoming king was Tyler Netzke, and crowned Homecoming Queen was Emily Johnson.

– Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Homecoming King crowned in September of 2012 was Jordan Anderson, and the Homecoming Queen was Elise Helget.

– The Sleepy Eye Area Chamber of Commerce 2012 Manufacturer of the Year was River Region Cooperative. The co-op was founded in the year 1890 by 133 local farmers who were disappointed with private grain merchants. They built the first elevator in 1898, and the downtown Sleepy Eye location was built in 1921.

– The Sleepy Eye chapter of Let’s Go Fishing honored volunteer Lenny Seidl during the group’s annual meeting in 2012. Seidl received the organization’s “You Made a Reel Difference” traveling trophy for going on a total of 32 runs on Sleepy Eye Lake in 2012. Volunteer Harry Windschitl was close behind Seidl with 29 runs. The Sleepy Eye Let’s Go Fishing pontoon makes 2 or 3 runs a day throughout the Let’s Go Fishing season.

– The founder of Sleepy Eye’s Christensen Farms died of a heart attack while hunting with his son and friends in Missouri in early November of 2012. 51-year-old Bob Christensen was a 1980 graduate of Sleepy Eye High School. He and his brother Lynn began one of the nation’s largest pork production companies in 1974 when a neighbor gave them two bred gilts.

– Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Jordan Anderson was named the KNUJ Offensive Football Player of the Year during the 48th annual Player of the Year Banquet in November of 2012.

– Sleepy Eye crowned new holiday royalty in November of 2012 when Santa Claus came to town for the annual Holiday Kick-Off. Roger Briones, the son of Ramiro and Silveria Briones was crowned Sleepy Eye’s Little Mister Holiday and Hannah Pelzel, the daughter of Bill and Shari Pelzel was crowned Little Miss Holiday.


Click on the title below to listen to the Town Days Podcasts