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The original 'Founding Mothers' included (front, from left) Lorelei Kraft, Flo Hedeen, Judy Grage, Faye Ellis and Denise Deitchler; (back) Karrie Kapsner, JoAnn Benjamin, Jo Mattson, Sharon Dailey, Jean Grimes, Kathy Stennes and Catherine Wolter.

Smoky Hills to celebrate 25 years

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PARK RAPIDS -- A quarter century ago, a village emerged in the Smoky Hills with an engaging array of handcrafted art, hands-on activities and music.

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The grassroots initiative was spurred by an abysmal economy. In the early '80s, the area's unemployment rate soared to nearly 20 percent, come autumn.

And founder Lorelei Kraft had ascertained through her candle-making business a "pent-up demand by tourists to see crafts being made."

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