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Topics include photo ‘staredown,’ festivals and a great librarian

Lead Summary

 I take a lot of grief — and justifiably so — for trying to capture “candid” photos of my friends.More than a few times in the past few years, New Hampton Parks and Recreation Director Rick Kramer has threatened to stick that camera somewhere that would be — how shall we say this? — uncomfortable.Kramer has not been alone in telling me I can stick my camera where the proverbial sun doesn’t shine.But as the photo that accompanies this column shows, now I think I’ve offended people I don’t even know.Last Wednesday, I was in the “media box” down the left-field line at Oelwein when my son, Josh, was hit by a pitch.One of the things people don’t realize is that a photographer misses a lot of the game while looking through the lens so I wasn’t sure where Josh had been hit.I was 100 percent positive he was in pain because he almost immediately went to the ground. For a moment, I wasn’t a photographer or a reporter; I was a dad.But Josh, like any high school student, would have been mortified if I had left my “position” to check on him so I picked up the camera and “zoomed in” to see if I could get a better look.It didn’t help, but a few seconds later, he was up and jogging down to first base, and when he took his position in left field in the bottom of the inning, I figured he was OK.After the game, I learned he had taken the ball on the elbow, and Josh asked me if I had captured it.“Well, not exactly.”I told him the story and we looked at the photo. He started laughing.“Look at that umpire,” he said. “He looks like he’s going to kill you.”I looked a little closer, and Josh was right. I can only imagine what was going through his mind.“What the heck is that guy doing? Here’s this kid withering in pain and he’s shooting a photo of him? What’s wrong with him?”If he only knew the kid in pain was mine he probably would have tossed me from the game.Josh, of course, being the smart-aleck he is, wanted me to send him the photo.Why?“If I ever have to go to DHS, I’m using this as exhibit No. 1.”•••••It’s been a crazy June, and I, for one, am really looking forward to Friday when we turn the calendar page to July.Don’t get me wrong, I love “Festival Month,” but I might be all “festivaled out” at this point.I’ve covered Alta Vista Days, Heartland Days, Irish Fest and Water Over the Dam Days, and the boys and I made a run to Dairy Days in Fredericksburg, too.That’s a lot of “fair food,” and depending on who’s doing the talking — my taste buds or my waistline — that’s either a great thing or a bad thing.As I walked across Nashua’s Cedar View Park to my car on Saturday night, I turned back and looked at the crowd gathering for the final band of the celebration.And, as it has many times this month, a thought hit me: These festivals take a ton of work. From the coordinators to the volunteers, I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess on how many volunteer hours were expended not only this month but the months before with all the planning.I had a heck of a time this month watching parades, kids games, bands and everything else, and judging from the crowds that gathered in Alta Vista, Fredericksburg, New Hampton, Lawler and Nashua, so did a lot of other people.So thank you, coordinators and volunteers. Your work has been appreciated.•••••When I moved to New Hampton more than 6 1/2 years ago, one of my first introductions was to New Hampton Public Library Director Pat Ipsen.A snowstorm was on its way, we had no cable at our house and I couldn’t find the box that had our movies in it.The boys and I headed to the library, picked out a few books and movies and made a friend for life.This week marks Pat Ipsen’s last at the library she has worked at for more than 30 years.So I’ll end this column with a little bit of a plea: Stop in and thank Pat for 30-plus years of great service to our library and, more importantly, the patrons who use it.

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