11/24/2017 5:00:00 PM Lighting Festival figurehead truly a noble lady
Mary Anne Mattson may have officially “retired” 11 years ago, but life’s pace hasn’t slowed much. She cares for a one-year-old great grandchild two days a week, works for Shafer Township as treasurer, paying the government bills and fielding phone calls about rough roads...and her extensive gardenbeds on the Mattson farmstead are as tidy as can be.
Somehow Mary Anne has also found the time to serve as Taylors Falls Royal Lady for this week’s Lighting Festival. Royal Lady reigns over the holiday happenings, leads the evening parade and generally enjoys being the center of attention. Taylors Falls has celebrated one special female citizen since the late 80’s. The Royal Lady is a worker bee who is found frequently volunteering around town. She is a role model. She is liked, respected and if she makes great homemade caramel rolls-- that doesn’t hurt either.
Lighting Festival Committee member/organizer Barb Young says Mary Anne was an easy choice.
Mary Anne had 27 years in the school system under her belt when she retired in 2006. While in charge at the offices in Taylors Falls School-- absolutely everybody made contact with her, Young said. Mary Anne had such kindness when dealing with townspeople, parents or staff. The children adored her and she hopes to see familiar faces for the Lighting Festival along with a good turnout by current students.
The Taylors Falls School and local community, especially during the Lighting Festival, are inseparable. A few of the Royal Lady selections over the years have been school staff, and it’s directly due to the inter-connectedness and the all-embracing culture at the school, Young continued.
Mary Anne was aware her daughter had submitted a nomination letter to the committee, but it was still a surprise when she was notified she’d been selected. She remarked, “I thought maybe we were too far out (three miles from downtown) I wasn’t sure I was even eligible.”
Mary Anne and husband Joseph, or ‘Buddy’ as most call him, have been on their dairy farm 48 years. Mary Anne always found work off the farm, though, with early jobs at the newspaper plant in west Wisconsin and then settling in at Taylors Falls when it was K-12 and its own district. She was so valuable that when Chisago Lakes district absorbed T.F. around 1993 she was retained.
Mary Anne might not have even known Taylors Falls existed if it hadn’t been for the Anoka Regional Airport. Its developers bought-out her dad’s farmstead in Blaine, 60 years ago, and her family ended up in Chisago County. Eventually she met Bud and they’ve been married 58 years.
Mary Anne was the youngest of four and she recalls that she always liked being around kids. Her mother instilled the philosophy of Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, and it’s working so far. “I feel blessed to be having this life with Bud for so many years and to live in such a beautiful place,” she declared.
Over the decades the Mattson dairy operation has downsized to a few head of cattle now, contentedly pastured on the edge of the woods. The Jericho area where they reside, named for the one-room schoolhouse, sports new three-car-garage houses. New kids trick-or-treat on Halloween but still come away with homemade popcorn balls from the farm.