— The City of Sleepy Eye was founded in the year 1872 by the railroad company.
— Sleepy Eye is in Brown County at the crossroads of Highways 4 and 14, on the shores of Sleepy Eye Lake.
— Like many frontier communities, Sleepy Eye’s founding centered around the development of the railroad. Rochester railroad lawyer Walter Brackenridge is credited with platting the original streets of Sleepy Eye on September 18th, 1872. The plats were officially registered at the Brown County Courthouse the next day.
— One of the early settlers of the area is also credited with the formation of Sleepy Eye. Thomas Allison wanted the railroad to come to “his” lake, so he visited railroad lawyer Walter Brackenridge and got the railroad to come to Sleepy Eye.
— The City of Sleepy Eye was named after the lake which borders its northwest side. The lake was named after a Chief of the Sisseton Sioux Indians, Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba, which translates to Sleepy Eyes. Chief Sleepy Eyes was born in 1780 near Swan Lake in Nicollet County. His jurisdiction covered the Sisseton from Carver to Lac-Qui-Parle. He signed the treaties of Prairie Du Chien, Mendota, and Traverse Des Sioux, and visited with President James Monroe in 1824.
— Chief Sleepy Eyes died in 1860 in South Dakota. In 1964, the City of Sleepy Eye recovered his remains and buried him in a small park dedicated to his memory. A tall, narrow monument marks his grave. The City also erected an 8-foot-tall bronze statue, created by Native American artist Joanne Bird, as a salute to the Indian leader.
— During the Sioux Uprising of 1862, the area that would become Sleepy Eye was overrun by Indians. Fort Ridgely, located about 10 miles north of Sleepy Eye, was the center of the attack.
— Sleepy Eye had its first store in 1872, the same year the town was created. Christian Emmerich built the city’s 1st hotel, and Carl Berg built the 2nd one in 1873. The 1st school records date back to 1874.
— The Sleepy Eye Fire Department was organized on March 11th, 1887 by MH Anstett. The City’s Library was built by FH Dyckman in 1900.
— The Sleepy Eye Flour Milking Company began operations in 1883, and closed in 1923. During it’s time it was the biggest rural flour mill in the country.
— A Sleepy Eye celebrity whose name is well-known around the world is Linus Mauer. Linus was a life-long friend of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz, who based one of the comic strip’s characters on his friend. The City of Sleepy Eye has a Linus statue to commemorate that friendship.
— A famous Sleepy Eye native is former WCCO-TV Sports Anchor Ralph Jon Fritz, who was on the air for 37 years. Fritz grew up in Sleepy Eye and attended St. Mary’s School. He appears with his dog Louie on the tv show “Out and About,” which mainly centers on hunting and fishing.
–Sleepy Eye KNUJ Farm Families include: Harold and Bev Bartz (1983), Michael and Rosemary Zeig (1984), Bill and Chris Ecksetein (1985), Jim and Marsha Jo Marti (1986), Tom and Sharon Hirsch (1990), Floyd and Brenda Marti (1992), Roger and Marsha Marti (1992), Don and Joan Richert (1993), Chuck and Leann Lendt (1995), Tony and Lisa Schmitz (1996), Reynold and Vivian Dittbenner (2002), James and Marcia Jo Marti (2005), Gary and Rosie Hillesheim (2008), Dean and Karen Sellner and Gary and Rebecca Sellner (2011), Dan and Lisa Steffl (2014), and Tom and Mary Portner (2017).
SLEEPY EYE–Festivals & Events
— Sleepy Eye’s annual Corn Days celebration takes place every August. The 2-day celebration is packed with numerous events, with the main attraction being the free all-you-can-eat buttered sweet corn at Allison Park. Rides for the kids and live music also take place throughout the day. The following day consists of a 5K run for all ages and the celebration concludes with an evening parade.
— On the last Sunday in September, the Sleepy Eye Area Historical Society celebrates their pioneer heritage by hosting the Great Grassroots Gathering. The day includes various flea markets, arts & crafts, music, and food.
— People from around the area come to Sleepy Eye on the evening of July 3rd to enjoy the annual Street Dance with live music. On the 4th of July, the celebration at Allison Park includes music and buffalo burgers, followed by fireworks over the lake.
— Stores in Sleepy Eye go crazy during the middle of summer. Crazy Days sees prices slashed and great bargains both in stores and on sidewalks.
— Every March the Sleepy Eye Jaycees sponsor the Miss Sleepy Eye Pageant. Numerous young women vie for the coveted title. During the following summer, Miss Sleepy Eye competes for the Queen of the Lakes title during the Minneapolis Aquatennial. She also appears in numerous parades and town celebrations throughout the year.
— A big, delicious breakfast is served at the Sleepy Eye Airport during the middle of July. The Jaycees Fly-In Breakfast is open to pilots, people who enjoy airplanes, and people who love breakfast. Airplane rides are available as well.
–The Sleepy Eye Mayor is Wayne Pelzel. City Manager Mark Kober announced his retirement in 2018 and the City Council is searching for a replacement.
–The Sleepy Eye Public School Superintendent is John Cselovszki. There are multiple schools in Sleepy Eye including Sleepy Eye Public Schools, St. Mary’s Catholic School, and St. John’s Lutheran School.
–The Sleepy Eye Police Department is here to serve and protect the citizens of Sleepy Eye. Our police force is made up of Police Chief Matt Andres and 5 other full time officers.
–The Sleepy Eye Fire Department serves Sleepy Eye and it’s surrounding area. In addition to fire calls, their volunteer service activities include Fire Prevention Education with the schools, controlled burns, and mutual aid to other communities. The Fire Chief is Ron Zinniel.
–2018 Miss Sleepy Eye Royalty includes Princesses Courtney Dittbenner and Brianna Polesky, and Miss Sleepy Eye Jody Hansen.
–St. Mary’s 2018 Homecoming King and Queen were Dominic Helget and Callie Bohnen. Sleepy Eye Public’s King and Queen were Cassidy Hoffmann and Landon Strong.