Coming to Northfield in 2008: The Shooting of Ytterboe Days

IMG_2237.JPGNorthfield News staff writer Maggie Lee alerted us this week to the 50th anniversary of the death of the dog Ytterboe, “the official mascot of the St. Olaf campus.”

The dog was shot by a Northfield police officer on May 22, 1957 and it led to a student riot in downtown, garnering national attention for our fair city.

(Maggie’s column is not online. Click the image for a photo of the article which is readable.)

Longtime Northfielder, Rieber Paulson (photo below from the recent comprehensive plan public hearing), wrote a letter to the Northfield News last week, proposing that the we create a civic celebration in the spring to complement Defeat of Jesse James Days in Sept. and Winter Walk in December.

He’s proposing to call it The Shooting of Ytterboe Days.

I think it’s a great idea. If you do, chime in here with your ideas for the event and how it could become a reality for spring, 2008.

Riebur_Paulson.jpgAfter hearing all the discussion at the city planning meeting on May 15, it is obvious that Northfield has a great deal to offer: beautiful downtown, good roads and delightful people. What is missing, it seems, is a broader tax base and a way to bring more business to the downtown area and its merchants.

We already have a marvelous fall festival in the Defeat of Jesse James Days and a wonderful Winter Walk in December, both bringing throngs of people to Division Street. What Northfield needs is a spring festival to round out the academic year in this place of cows, colleges and contentment. It seems that the opportunity is at hand. Fifty years ago this week our sleepy town was jolted by the blast from a policeman’s shotgun, killing Ytterboe, the St. Olaf College mascot, a Chow mix known and loved by all Oles. The dog had allegedly nipped at a child and was gunned down on campus on the hill next to the steps leading up to Rolvaag Library. The outpouring of students from both colleges created the biggest (and best) riot that Division Street has seen in 100 years.

What an opportunity for us today to create an annual spring festival celebrating the students and citizens of Northfield and their spontaneous response and riot over the shooting of this campus mascot. The Shooting of Ytterboe Days could be a four-day event. We could have a reenactment given four or five times during the celebration including: the shooting; the outpouring of throngs on Division; the policeman burned in effigy on Bridge Square; the quickly written songs and poems by citizens and students to quell the riot and eulogize the dog; the overnight repainting of an old hearse to carry the remains of Ytterboe to his resting spot on the hill where he was shot.

What an opportunity to bring thousands to Division Street to shop in our stores and to eat the basic hotdogs and corn dogs, with specials on Ytterburgers, puppy chow, and chow mein. Vendors could circle Bridge Square with their personal delicacies to help all of us chow down during the festival. Over the years the celebration might grow to rival other Northfield events. It certainly would help us remember what happened 50 years ago this week to bring international fame and notoriety to our city of cows, (Chows), colleges and contentment. — Rieber Paulson


  1. Curt Benson said:

    I’ll go out on a limb here…the burning of an effigy of a Northfield Policeman on Bridge Square might not be welcomed by certain squeamish elements of Northfield society, ie, the vocal minority opposed to the encouragement of cop immolation. (-=

    Other than that minor concern, I think the idea is a great one. I volunteer to build a float for the parade. Gwen says she’ll organize a “canine beauty pageant”–where the studs and bitches of Northfield are dressed in costumes.

    Since the original event included songs and poems, a poetry slam and song writing contest would be swell.

    BTW, if you haven’t clicked on Maggie’s column that Griff has here, please do. It is fantastic. I particularly like her use of parenthesis around the word “wound” in the fifth paragraph. (editorial comment via punctuation….cool.)

    May 28, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Okay, the Bensons are on board!

    How about a robot competition, featuring YtteRoboe?

    How about a dog-pull, with dogs harnessed to weighted coffins?

    How about a Ytterboe look-alike competition, for both dogs and dog-owners?

    How about a frisbee dog (canine disc) competition/demo?

    May 31, 2007
  3. Mary Rossing said:

    I would think that Tiny’s would be all over this one. I would host a dog show or photo contest of dressed up dogs…this is the kind of event that might get picked up by the far and wide media!!

    May 31, 2007
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    The Shooting of Ytterboe Days! Now that there’s a documentary film, let’s start the planning now for a Spring ’09 community civic celebration. How about it, NDDC? How about it Chamber?

    May 2, 2008

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