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Museum Appreciation Day coming to Becker County

Spinning and weaving will be demonstrated at the event, as one of the old-fashioned skills in danger of becoming a "lost art".1 / 2
ROSEMALING is a type of Norwegian folk painting, shown on this Becker County Museum exhibit. Painter Irene Slone will demonstrate at Museum Appreciation Day.2 / 2

Did you know that Detroit Lakes was originally named "Detroit," and in 1926 the postal service changed the name to "Detroit Lakes" because we kept getting mail for Detroit, Michigan?

If you didn't know this, you're not alone.

Executive Director of the Becker County Museum Amy Degerstrom says there is so much rich history in this area that rarely becomes common knowledge, and that is one reason museum employees are resurrecting what is known as "Museum Appreciation Day."

The event, set to be held Sunday, May 15 at the museum, has not been celebrated in Becker County since the mid- 1980s.

"It began in Great Britain as a way to recognize smaller community museums and celebrate and remind people of some of the great historical things that are more in your neck of the woods," Degerstrom said.

Emerging from our woods will be several demonstrations slated for the event, including a civil war re-enactment group, coming from the Fargo-Moorhead area.

"They'll pitch a tent and set up camp out on our lawn; they'll be in uniform and do some marching drills and weaponry drill from that time period.

"You can go in and look at all of their things and they'll show you what they were used for and how they were used," said Degerstrom.

Another family-fun event will be the horse and buggy rides, which will be open to all ages for free.

Detroit Lakes man Wally Rodewald is bringing his team of percheron horses, along with a horse-drawn school bus, buggy, and a hay wagon to give people rides on.

"He'll take everybody around the block a couple times, and he'll answer questions..."

Inside the museum, there will be a good spread of demonstrators, including rosemaling.

"That's Norwegian folk painting," explains Degerstrom, "Irene Slone will wear a full Norwegian dress, and she'll be doing rosemaling for everyone to see."

A couple of spinners and weavers will also be demonstrating their skills, as even some of the dust will be blown off the museum's pieces for use.

There will also be wood carving and a fur trade demonstration.

"She'll be wearing rendezvous clothing and talking about the history of the fur trade and how those things were processed and what they were used for," said Degerstrom.

Johnson's Honey from Callaway will also be there talking about their bee-keeping business.

"They have some really interesting, old supplies and equipment that they would have been using a long time ago," Degerstrom said.

Tin punch metal work will also be demonstrated -- that's a process of decorating metal pieces by punching little holes through the tin, making decorations along the way.

Participants will also be able to enjoy the sounds of a dalsemer (a sort of lap-harp) while watching blacksmithing and stain glass demonstrations.

Some of the demonstrators will be selling their products as well, so people can go home with a little piece of history.

Degerstrom says museum appreciation day is a good way to remember where modern-day things we use came from and to appreciate and understand the craft and skill that went into them.

"I think we need to support those people and their interests because without them, some of it really would become a lost art ... it would be lost to us."

Degerstrom says giving people a hands-on experience with some of these old-time skills is also an invaluable way of truly connecting them with history.

"I think this helps make some of the things that are in our museum and displays kind of come to life for people in a way they might not otherwise."

Degerstrom says she hopes this day also instills more appreciation for not just history, but local history.

"Those are the people who's names appear on our schools and streets ... those are the events that shaped the way that our community was built, so it's more personal."

Degerstrom says they're also working on getting some food options for the event.

Museum Appreciation Day, which goes from noon to 4 p.m. on May 15 is free to the public, but museum employees will be setting up a "free-will donation."

"Our hope is of course that when people come, they'll see it's a good thing to support and give us a donation, but even if you can't, we still want you to come and enjoy the day."