10th annual Rhubarb Fest honors Steve O'Neil

By KBJR News 1

June 28, 2014 Updated Jun 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Northlanders got to enjoy music and some tasty treats on Saturday at the 10th annual Rhubarb Festival put on by CHUM in Duluth.

However, this year's celebration was dedicated to honoring the late St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O'Neil.

"I mean how often do you get a festival about rhubarb?"

Rhubarb took over the Northland on Saturday.

"We are eating rhubarb crisp with ice cream and it is fantastic!" said rhubarb lover Alex Messenger.

If you like Rhubarb, there was more than enough to go around.

"Rhubarb pie, brats, breakfast sausage, crisps, custards, bread, gluten free rhubarb burritos and regular burritos," said Lee Stuart, executive director of CHUM.

"That's a culinary level that we didn't achieve in the Midwest usually," said another rhubarb lover, Sara Zimmer.

With rhubarb salsa, rhubarb brats, burritos, muffins and pie, Saturday's 10th annual rhubarb festival drew people to the Northland from as far away as Arizona.

"So many places you go everything is mixed. It's hard to get plain rhubarb anything by us, it's all rhubarb strawberry with something else, so this is really good!" said Pam Yokley who traveled all the way from Tucson, Arizona.

"I'm just used to the traditional things so I suppose we can expand a little bit. Expand our horizons in Duluth, that's what we do," said Zimmer.

But this year's annual festival honored St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O'Neil, who passed away from cancer last July.

"Steve understood the spiritual life and so that's what we've really got here today is the spirit of rhubarb and the spirit of Steve," said Stuart.

O'Neil spent most of his life advocating for Duluth's homeless.

He actually started the Rhubarb Festival ten years ago, and worked tirelessly to make the celebration what it is today.

"You can get stickers here with his name on them and his mom and family will be here," said Stuart.

And while some couldn't decide on a favorite rhubarb treat...

"I don't think I could choose one because I don't think it'd be fair to all the other foods," said UMD graduate, Shaina Lane.

Others were trying it for the first time.

"I don't know about it. I never saw it before," said Mark Goettel.

This year's fiesta also featured a full-day lineup of live performers.

A fun event, supporting a great cause, all while helping keep Commissioner O'Neil's legacy alive.

All proceeds from the festival will go to CHUM; a Duluth based organization that seeks to help homeless and needy individuals across Duluth.

Elsa Robins