This last weekend we enjoyed having six houseguests for two nights. The group included our longtime Thai friend from the Twin Cities who owns several well-known Thai restaurants and a couple from Thailand whom we had met in Bangkok two years ago. One of them and the other three were professors from the universities in Thailand who were here in the U.S. on a short, but very busy, working trip.

The five had spent a couple of days in New Jersey before coming to Minnesota where they had meetings at the University and also at a Minneapolis magnet school. They came to Lanesboro for a short break in the country; they had little or no experience in a small town or rural area in the U.S. Of course, with so much to show them around here, they didn't get much of a chance to just sit around and relax.

When we had discussed the weekend plans on the phone with our friend, Su, the restaurant owner, she had insisted that we eat at home on Friday evening and that she was going to cook. And cook she did. She bought enough food and snacks to feed the whole town.

The eating started again early the next morning when instead of dining at home again, we went to Preston for the Lions Club French toast and pancake breakfast.

Our Thai guests knew about Lions Clubs, because they are in Bangkok also, but the Club cooking a breakfast for the public was new to them. Su explained this is how Americans raise money for different organizations: they volunteer. And there were many volunteers. Our guests were pretty impressed, both with the food (we all ate hearty) and with the friendliness and service: the volunteers brought refills of everything to the table! I was impressed too, and hoped that all of the things we had planned would be as successful as this first experience.

Even the weather was cooperating, so it was a perfect day for a little drive around both Preston and Lanesboro, and a stop at the Saturday growers' market at Sylvan Park. Su bought some herbs for her own Minneapolis garden and our Thai guests bought goat-milk soaps to take along home with them.

The next stop was the stand-still parade in Whalan. Of course the whole idea of a stand-still parade was a novelty, and it was a hit. The "people watching" was fantastic and again everyone was so friendly, asking our guests where they were from and spending time talking with them.

We ventured into the lefse-making tent, where I tried to explain about this odd-looking food. I asked the lefse-makers if we could just look at the process first. Of course they said yes, and then these wonderful cooks asked if our visitors would like to try one before we went to get tickets. That one was divided up, everyone loved it, and they ended up getting several lefse rounds so each person in the group could have one.

Our next stop was at the Amish auction near Canton that we had seen advertised in the local paper earlier in the week. Auctions were another thing that was unfamiliar to our Thai guests and, of course, so were Amish people. Obviously, we didn't bid on anything because no one in our group needed any bunnies, or chickens, or horses, or household furniture to take back to Thailand. But it was fun to watch our guests take in and ask questions about all of these local goings-on.

After lunch, we made it back to Preston in time for another parade, this time the more usual kind of moving parade. In Thailand, parades do not take the same form or purpose, and are of two types. One is the royal procession, such as the royal barge procession when, to mark some significant event, the royal barges are taken up and down the big river in Bangkok. It is a grand sight because the barges are very elegant and fun to watch. The other type of parade is also a procession, also to mark certain holidays or special events and is typically connected to the local Buddhist temple, or wat.

So this type of hometown, homegrown parade was another new experience for our guests. We explained about the "floats," or units, in the parade, and all of us were very impressed with Fillmore Central's high school marching band. The Thais had never seen candy being thrown out to onlookers, and since we were sitting by ourselves on a stretch of curbside, the throwers kindly included us in their tosses. Our Thai guests had fun picking up what had been thrown, including a couple of bead necklaces.

It was a big and busy day with lots of stops and new experiences. Everywhere we went, people were more than gracious: they were downright friendly and welcoming. Even the weather cooperated, being just right (not too warm or too cool).

At the end of the parade, I suggested maybe we should go to dinner early; we had reservations at the Old Barn. I realized we were all so tired that if we went home first, we would not leave again, not even for food. So, our last stop was for more friendly people and great food.

The last event was a beautiful sunset, perfect after a day of showing off our community-and our community showing off.