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2015 Year in Review

April Brunch and Raffle
Our annual pancake brunch and raffle was held at the VFW in Madison in April. A large number of people stopped in to enjoy the brunch and purchase tickets for our raffle. There were over 40 prizes given away. These prizes were donated by Lac qui Parle County businesses, board members and museum members.

April Hospice Table
Nancy Moen, Donna Anderson and Barb Redepenning set a table for hospice again in 2015. The theme was The Fabulous 50’s. The table was decorated with replicas of those fabulous 50’s cars and other items from the 50’s. We plan on setting another table in 2016; if anyone wants to purchase a ticket to sit at our table let us know.

Spring Open House May 17, 2015
The theme was Weddings Then and Now. We had over 60 different displays of wedding dresses, suits, pictures, stories and other wedding items on display throughout the museum. The oldest wedding dress we have in our collection is a two piece wool gray dress worn by Mrs. Samuel Holtan. She married S. H. Holtan in 1877 in Wisconsin and the following year they moved to Lac qui Parle County. The newest dress was one worn by Courtney Ulstad when she married Brandon Ulstad in 2000.
wedding displayThe wedding display was left up until after the Fourth of July. We had a record number of people visit the museum to see this display, including groups from Appleton, Dawson, Canby, Gary and Madison.

Heritage Day, July 27, 2015
For this year’s Heritage Day we shared The Story of Robert Bly. Dr. David Pichaske, an author, professor and photographer from Granite Falls shared information about Bly and his writings. Norma Larsen, a personal friend of Bly also shared stories of his life and activities in Madison. After the program everyone enjoyed an old fashioned pot luck picnic on the museum’s front lawn.

A PerFarmance, July/August
perfarmance 2015
A grant from the Madison Community Foundation was used to help fund the PerFarmance project. The PerFarmance Project was something new to the museum this year and it was so successful we are working on another grant for a PerFarmance Project in 2016. This year’s project involved Artists-in-Residence Chris Bell and Juan Adalpe, who completed a series of interviews of our local Lac qui Parle County farmers and farm wives. The last week in July they held workshops at the museum. The workshops involved participating in activities such as movement-based acting and storytelling, explaining farm machinery tools, and documenting farm practices. On August first the culminating performance took place outside on the museum grounds where groups presented their interpretation of how our county and our lives have changed over the years. This was done through the use of mini-performances that involved music, actors, props, and music to show a snapshot of how we have changed as a group of people and also how our own life changes through the passing years. To illustrate this change one of the groups re-enacted three generations of table talk at their evening meal. The audience learned of their problems as well as their accomplishments.

Tourism event, August 26, 2015
This year the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters 2015 Annual Gathering was held at the Lac qui Parle County Museum. A few of our board members portrayed different eras of people including a friend of Ethel Melum. She told the story of Ethel Melum and her dolls. One of the favorite stops was at the “Cleavers” in the new 50’s display. I think it had something to do with the chocolate chip cookies they were handing out, made from Mrs. Cleaver’s secret recipe. Other events that evening were the “fun time” pictures taken by Mandy Weber, minnow races, and a lunch served by the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters organization.

Mystery at the Museum, August 30, 2015
Participants gathered at the VFW for a delicious meal and received clues for the “Who Kidnapped the Curator” event. After the meal guest sleuths gathered at the museum to determine the culprit by interviewing the local suspects. Everyone who attended the event had a great time and the mystery was solved. Thanks to Jeanene Munsterman for formulating the story-line and Jill Nelson for writing the script. The Mystery at the Museum committee is already making plans for the 2016 event.

Little Minnesota State Fair, September 10 – 13
The theme of this year’s display during the Lac qui Parle County Fair was “Gambling in Lac qui Parle County/The History of Farming”. One of the things featured in the exhibit was the “Roll-O-Matic” knee action front wheel patented by Adolph Ronning. We also had the largest display of Roll-O-Matic items ever displayed in one area. The display included two tractors. One was owned by Adair Kelley (Adolph Ronning’s daughter) and the other was owned by Reid Buer. Other exhibits included a display of toy machinery that was made from a variety of woods by Robert Kellen of Dawson. We also had movies filmed by Lloyd Hanson from the early days of farming that were donated by Jeff Hanson. Dustin Johnson, of Dawson, brought in two vintage corn shellers for the kids to shell corn and add to the corn box that the children play in. We also had Fun Time Photos where children and even adults dressed up in “old time” clothes and had their picture taken in front of the log cabin.

bly and fred

Fred Eckhardt, President of the Board, presents the medallions to Robert Bly.

This year we were surprised and happy to have Robert Bly come to the museum during the fair. He came for a special presentation of the newly minted “Robert Bly Medallion”. This was all made possible thanks to Jon Willand, who designed and paid for the medallion with funds he had previously donated to the museum.

The Lac qui Parle County Fair Board donated money to the museum to help cover the cost of a special farming display in the museum during the county fair.

Pampered Stroll, October 1, 2015
The museum participated again this year in the Pampered Stroll. Ruth Solem and Barb Tarcza served refreshments of coffee, lemonade, BBQ cocktail wieners and cookies baked by Jim Tarcza. The event featured a display of cornhusk dolls handmade by former curator, Janet Liebl’s mother, Alta Roesch. The dolls included some from the museum collection and others on loan for the evening from members of her family. Alta was well known for her cornhusk dolls, and handsculpted “kringles’ (Santa’s) including ornaments for which she sculpted faces and hands of clay, then dressing them with detailed costumes. Some included family keepsakes in baskets, or pinned on the coats when ordered. Alta’s daughter Janet Liebl, granddaughter Jesi Martinson, and great-granddaughter Isabella attended, greeting visitors, explaining the display and helping with refreshments. Ann West also greeted guests; she is the aunt of Alta Roesch and Ruth Solem. We had a record number of people stop at the museum during this event.

Annual Meeting & Program, November 2, 2015
A brunch to recognize our volunteers was served by Nancy Moen and Theresa Bly before the annual meeting and program.  President Fred Eckhardt opened the meeting by welcoming everyone. Approximately 50 people attended the brunch and annual meeting. Board members present were Fred Eckhardt, Bob Glomstad, Ruth Solem, Barb Tarcza, Beth Westby, Theresa Bly, Rolland Moen, & Graylen Carlson. Absent was Ruth Larson. Curator Barb Redepenning gave a slide show overview of all the activities & programs this past year. President Fred Eckhardt reported that the museum is in very good shape financially largely due to donations from families that remembered the museum in their estates and grants that Curator Barb Redepenning has written. Total Assets are $639,000. The museum is thankful for everyone who visits and the generosity of the communities in volunteering and donating items and funds. An election of board members was held. Bob Glomstad reported on nominations of board members, Beth Westby and Ruth Larson, both current members. President Fred opened the floor for nominations. Rachel Croatt nominated Colleen Olson. A paper ballot was passed out to members only for voting. Beth Westby and Colleen Olson were elected. During the counting of the ballots a discussion was held on how to attract younger people to join and/or visit the museum.

Our program followed with Lois Sather giving an interesting history of several of the signature quilts that are at the museum and some that she brought of her own. She gave the reasoning behind the names that were embroidered on the quilts. Some were fund raisers for the churches at 10 cents a name. Some of the quilts were made by family members for those that were away from home. Remember every quilt has a story. In May 0f 2016 we will be having a quilt show during our open house. The Prairie Piece Makers Quilt Club has agreed to help with the event. If you have a quilt with a story that you would like to add to the display please let us know. Following the program, a lunch was served by Theresa Bly and Nancy Moen.

Other Events
It is very important to continue to let the public know what the museum has to offer. We do this by participating in special events during the year. Below is a list of the events in which we participated in 2015.

February 14 – 15: Booth at the Great Western Minnesota Get Together in the Lac qui Parle Valley School
March: Booth at the Dawson Ag Days & JMHS Health Fair in the Dawson school.
June 17: Served “A Wedding Reception” for Madison Healthcare Benefit
October 30: Handed out candy at “Trunk or Treat” in Madison after the Halloween Parade
November 14: – Booth at the Norsefest Scandinavian Arts & Craft Fair at the VFW in Madison

This year we offered two winter classes at the museum.
March: Terri Leesberg taught a class in the art of making Tradition Norwegian Hardanger. Each of her students made a small piece of hardanger.
April: Barbara Tarcza taught an Introduction to Beadweaving, an off-loom beadweaving technique requiring only a steady hand, close-up eyesight good enough to thread a needle, and patience.

If anyone has any suggestions about a class they would like to take or are interested in teaching one, please contact the museum.

Lighting assessment Grant
We received a grant to have a lighting assessment done in the areas of the museum that have not had the lights updated to meet museum standards. These areas include the lobby, the library, the Ethel Melum additions, and the Pieters addition. Richard Rummel from Rummel Design was chosen to do a lighting assessment at the museum for the areas where the lighting system has not yet been updated. He did the lighting assessment in November and we are now waiting for the results.

We received a grant to have an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) study of our building. In preparation for HVAC we have been gathering information since April for the temperature and humidity in 11 different areas in the museum and the conditions outside. All this data was collected and shared with Rebecca Ellis, the HVAC consultant from Questions & Solutions Engineering, Inc. from Chaska, Minnesota when she visited the museum in November. When we receive her final report we will review the information and do what is needed to improve the HVAC system in the museum.

Ethel Melum Grants
We received two grants from the Dawson Community Foundation. The first one was to transfer the Ventures North story of Ethel Melum onto a DVD and to purchase a TV/DVD system. This system was placed in the Ethel Melum display area so that visitors will be able to hear her remarkable story. The second grant we received was for photographing the entire collection of about 300 dolls and to compile them into a photo album that will include information about each doll.

World War I
As part of the West Central Historical Association we received a grant to hire a consultant to create a traveling World War I exhibit telling the story. The West Central Historical Association is a collaboration of the county and area historical societies and museums of the ten counties in West Central Minnesota. The purpose of this collaboration is to promote and tell the history of West Central Minnesota. Each county will have a chance to display the traveling exhibit and add their personal stories to the exhibit. Michael Dahl recently donated his grandfather Robert Dahl’s World War I uniform along with pictures and his story that we will include in the display when it is in our museum. If you have any stories or artifacts that we can include in the exhibit, please let us know.

Future grants
We are currently working on a grant to update our security and fire system. The current security system was installed in 2006. Although the current system is still working we feel it is important to update it to comply with the ever changing technology.

We are working on two grants from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. The first one is to cover the cost of another PerFarmance presentation. Everyone who attended the PerFarmance last year enjoyed the event. It gave us the chance to collect stories from farmers of all ages from the area. We want to continue to collect their stories and share them with the community. The other grant is to collect the stories of Robert Bly from people who know him. This event will be held in the Robert Bly Study. If you have a story that you would like to share please let us know. Robert Bly was born December 23, 1926 in Madison. He will be 90 years old in 2016.

Other grants we will be working on are to improve the lighting system in the areas that have not been updated and to improve the heating and cooling system in the museum.

New displays in 2015

1950’s Room
Who remembers the 50’s? I’m sure a lot of us can. We have created a room dedicated to those wonderful years. Life seemed so much simpler then. Who remembers getting up in the morning on those cold winter days and racing down stairs to warm up in front of the stove? Who remembers their first television? The picture was black and white, and of course, we only had one or two stations to pick from. We want to invite you to stop and see the 50’s room and share some of your memories.

Groups and organizations
Another display we have been working on features organizations and clubs from Lac qui Parle County. This room includes information about the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, the American Woodsmen, Lions, Masonic Lodge and others. If you have any information you would like to add to the display please stop and share it with us.

Madison Bottling Company Display
The Roth family brought in artifacts from the Madison Bottling Company. Items on display tell the history of this family owned business. Items in the display include stories, pictures, early bottles, an orange crush cooler, and many other items. The Madison Bottling Company was founded in 1917 by Henry W. Roth. At that time it was known as the Madison Bottling works. The idea of a business started when Henry was a boy and became fascinated with the operation of the Pop Shop in the town of Madison. After getting married, Henry bought the Pop Shop and moved the equipment into the basement of a house where he began his business. The equipment was powered by hand, water or a foot, and the water was carried from a pump in the back yard. The final product was delivered by a hand-pulled wagon. To support the family, Henry went into partnership with his brother-in-law and purchased a local drayage business which was hauling freight to local business places. The bottling business got going and with the help of his four sons continued to prosper. After a few more years the company erected a building for their operation. In 1933 when prohibition was repealed Henry added City Club beer and began hauling his own beer from St. Paul to Madison 125 cases a time. In 1937 he bought a tractor and a 20 foot trailer and could haul 500 cases on a load. The Madison Bottling Company continues to grow and you can get additional information and share in the history of this local business by coming to the museum and visiting their display.

Summer repairs

As time goes by things wear out and things need to be repaired and updated. The summer of 2015 been a busy one. The first thing we did was repair the porch on the Robert Bly Study and had it repainted. It was all done in time for the PerFarmance.
painting the bly building

Our machine shed also needed some updating. We replaced the doors, added windows, and repainted it. If you haven’t been in the machine shed since the windows were added, you should go out and see it. One of the comments from one of the board member was “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” We are currently working on identifying and telling the stories of all the items in the machine shed.

We also replaced the cracked and uneven sidewalk in the front of the museum.

We are very proud of our Museum Staff.  Click here for more information.


volunteers make padded hangers

Volunteers made padded hangers.

We can’t forget our wonderful Volunteers; they have helped us in so many ways including cleaning, programs, lunches, indexing newspapers, teaching classes, decorating, the Mystery at the Museum event, planting flowers, working during the fair, making padded hangers, assisting with special events and anything else we need them to do.

Thank You
We thank David Grabitske, manager of outreach services for the Minnesota Historical Society, for all the support, advice, and encouragement that he has given me over the years. We also want to thank the staff, board members and volunteers for all the hard work and support they give to help make our museum what it is today. Because of all of you we have been able to make significant improvements to our museum. The improvements over the years have included lighting, compact storage, digitizing pictures, improving the HVAC system, microfilm of all the newspapers in Lac qui Parle County, microfilm reader, and Past Perfect software to track our inventory. We would also like to thank Alan Redepenning for all his help and the extra time he spends on various things that go on in the museum.