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Museum to host art fundraiser

Becca McCollum painted a trout scene an old wooden Pokegama Springs box for a previous fundraiser. The museum will be auctioning off such items. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Local residents are rolling up their sleeves and recreating history.

The Becker County Historical Society is set to hold its fourth annual Keeping History Alive spring fundraiser on Friday, March 21, and like last year, it is soliciting talent from the community to help.

“It started with the idea that we would take old things and make them into something new,” explained the society’s director, Amy Degerstrom, who says the museum has several old items that can be repurposed or redesigned as a sort of recycled art.

“We have lots of cool things — old plat maps, really awesome old post cards and old school desks with the cast iron sides, a steamer trunk (a giant trunk that one would have taken on a ship)…,” said Degerstrom, who has all the photos of available items on the Becker County Historical Society’s Facebook page.

Now, the search is on for locals interested in the challenge of recreating a little piece of Becker County history.

The items will then go to auction during the fundraiser.

“For pieces that are selected for the live auction, the museum will keep 60 percent of the price and the creator will get to keep 40 percent,” explained Degerstrom, adding that money raised from items chosen for the silent auction will also be split with the society keeping 70 percent and the creator keeping 30 percent.

“That way at least if there was some cost that they incurred, they can recoup some of that,” said Degerstrom.

When Nikki Caulfield of Skirting the Rules sewing and alterations business in Detroit Lakes heard the museum was looking for creative volunteers to do this, she had one request.

“I emailed Amy (Degerstrom) and said, ‘Let me play,’” laughed Caulfield, whose specialty is building period pieces like the 1870-style dress she is recreating.

Her inspiration for the dress came both from some old patterns the museum had and a more modern research tool.

“I have a Pinterest app on my phone that has all these images from different museums,” she said, studying what the women wore and how she can put the dress together.

“But I am going to build the dress for a contemporary frame because we are a lot bigger now,” said Caulfield, “because back then the women all wore corsets that gave their rib cages a very small shape. I’m building it for today’s woman.”

The event kicks off at 7 p.m. with socializing, music, games and the dinner before the live auction begins around 8:30.

“And we are still looking for donations for that as well,” Degerstrom said. “We do have some really cool things like some rosemaling, female jewelry, mosaic glass items, a couple of paintings, as well as some different gift baskets from around town.”

Money raised from the Keeping History Alive spring fundraiser will go towards microfilming newspapers.

The museum already has all of the old Becker County and Detroit Lakes newspapers microfilmed and are now moving on to the year 2005 and beyond.

“A big part of our job is to keep and collect history as it’s happening so that 50 years from now if somebody wants to look back at history — which is what we’ll be — they’ll have it,” said Degerstrom, who says history shouldn’t always be enjoyed from the other side of glass in a museum, but in people’s living rooms where they can touch it and talk about it.

That’s where some of these old, repurposed pieces will come in.

Tickets for the event are $30, and although they are being sold at the door, Degerstrom hopes more people purchase them by March 14 for catering purposes.

There are also sponsorship opportunities available for businesses.

The fundraiser, which is being held at the museum on Summit Avenue in Detroit Lakes, starts at 7 p.m., running until roughly 10 p.m. and will include appetizers catered by La Barista and a drink ticket.

For more information on the event or to donate, call 218-847-2938 or find the Becker County Historical Society on Facebook.