The Fourth of July parade in every small Midwestern town has the same cast of characters: children holding miniature flags; Jaycees and VFW volunteers giving out candy; and pretty girls—who for one afternoon are Corn Queens or Strawberry Princesses or lesser members of the royal produce family—waving froma fire engine. A politician is always there, too, smiling and pressing the flesh, and in Minnesota, a good deal of the time, that politician is the governor, Mark Dayton.
“My dad is a great parader,” says Andrew Dayton as he sips a gin rickey in his family’s backyard. “He’ll do three a day,” adds Andrew’s brother, Eric. “He loves them. His trick is to try to get the kids to squirt him with water guns. It really helps with the sun. It can get so hot out there.”
While their father is out parading, the Dayton brothers—who own The Bachelor Farmer, a New Nordic restaurant in Minneapolis—enjoy the Fourth a different way, by hosting a cookout at their family’s lakeside place on the prairie outside the city. Their quiet get-together is its own kind of celebration—of roots: America’s, Minnesota’s and their own.