Jenna, just married: Take one down…

Jenna Stephens—Staff Writer

We decided early in the week that Saturday would be “date day.” Sometimes we just really need to escape from Sioux Center. I told Conner this would be my date to plan and began researching events in Sioux Falls.

FernsonFest looked promising. Hosted by Fernson Brewing Company, the festival would feature local musicians and several food trucks, as well as exclusive Fernson beers. I’m only 20 years old, but provide food and I am one happy camper. AND, get this—the first 1,000 people through the door would receive a FREE FersonFest commemorative glass. There’s nothing like sipping coffee out of a free beer stein.

When Saturday arrived, we hopped in the Mustang and made the journey to Sioux Falls. I convinced Conner to stop at a few stores before our real date began. To the delight of our new joint bank account, I didn’t have much luck finding what I wanted. It was probably for the best. On date day, I can’t let my love of shopping rule the time we have together.

Now it was time for the real fun to start. I thought FernsonFest was supposed to be by Falls Park, so we drove in that direction. Wrong. To save you pain in the future, take my advice and never assume you know where you’re going.

We typed it into the Mustang’s GPS. We wound up 10 minutes from our starting location next to the Big Sioux River. I have a pretty stellar track record when it comes to getting us lost, but this time it was the GPS’s fault—I promise! One of Conner’s biggest pet peeves is getting lost when we’re driving. And I get emotional when I know he’s agitated. So, yeah, it was a fun time.

We made one more go at it, typing the address into his phone. Ten minutes in the opposite direction. When we pulled up, we knew we’d made a mistake. We were indeed at FernsonFest. But it was nothing like the scene I’d painted in my mind. Rather than the chill, outdoor concert vibe we expected, we came across a herd of people crammed into a fenced-in area. I may or may not have missed one detail when I researched the event—it was taking place at the brewery’s production facility. In an industrial part of Sioux Falls. On the far side of the Interstate where all sense of culture disappears. Next to a bunch of machine sheds and parked trucks.

There was no way we would pay $15 per person to get in. They’d have to pay ME to go. So there we sat again.

I felt like an idiot for planning such a pathetic date. Conner was determined to make the drive to Sioux Falls worth it and refused to let date night end like this. Scrolling through pages of Sioux Falls events on our phones, we were left with things like poem readings and fundraisers. We aren’t cultured enough to listen to poetry, and we don’t have much money to throw at a fundraiser—we’re college students, for goodness’ sake.

I suggested going downtown to window-shop and grab something to eat. He suggested going to a movie or playing putt-putt at Thunder Road. Each of us knew what we wanted to do, but also wanted our spouse to be happy. Tension once again. We ended up deciding on the downtown option, and had a nice time checking out a ritzy men’s clothing store, sitting by the fire heaters on a patio while Conner sipped a flight of beers, and indulging in a fancy dessert at C.H. Patisserie.

Overall, it was a great night. But it left me realizing that I had spent most of my energy planning the date, and then stressing about my failure, rather than soaking up the time we had together. We were both disappointed about FernsonFest, but Conner bounced back from this disappointment almost instantly while I wallowed in self-pity.

Although I’m not sipping coffee out of a beer stein this morning, I still find joy in the memories we made that night and the lesson I learned from my husband: Life is too short—and we are too blessed—to get caught up in the little disappointments.

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