St. Stephen and their Slovenian history
WJON features small towns in central Minnesota once a month on a Friday. The first edition of “Small Town Friday” focuses on the town of St. Stephen. St. Stephen is the oldest Slovene population in the United States. The town was founded with St. Stephen’s Church in 1903 and incorporated in 1914. The town has a population of 851 and is located in northeast Stearns County.
I spoke with Frank Vouk, the president of the St. Stephen Sportsman Club and Leo Supan who is the commander of the St. Stephen Legion.
Vouk was born and raised in St. Stephen and has lived there all his life. He is 100% Slovenian and a 5th generation resident of St. Stephen. He says like many small towns, they have a church, a baseball field and a few bars. Vouk says they are proud of their community and support their local businesses, including Sentry Bank, Cornerstone Insurance, Trobec’s Bar and Grill, Howie’s Corner Bar and Rusty Nail.
Vouk says the Sportsman club does a lot for the community, including planting trees in the city’s 3 parks. He says they plant 10-12 trees every year and clean up a 2-mile stretch of road near the community. Vouk says that every year they hold a birdhouse building event at City Hall for children and adults. He says the Sportsman Club provides the equipment. Vouk says the Sportsman club also holds gun safety training in January and hosts a field day in April. Vouk encourages new residents of St. Stephen to get involved in community organizations like his.
Leo Supan says the St. Stephen Legion was founded in 1954. He says the Legion supports the community, veterans and youth in the area. Supan was born and raised in St. Stephen, moved for several years and has been back in St. Stephen for 10 years. He is half Slovenian. Supan says he loves St. Stephen for many reasons including everyone knowing everyone and the sense of community. He says the Legion meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Rusty Nail at 7:30 p.m. He says they are always looking for new members, especially younger ones.
Some of the main community activities include the St. Stephen Bizarre Church on Labor Day weekend, the annual Trobec Fried Chicken, and St. Stephen Steves Amateur Baseball Games.
If you would like to listen to my conversations with Leo Supan and Frank Vouk, they are available below.