Becker County is observing its sesquicentennial — i.e., 150th birthday — this year, along with the city of Detroit Lakes.

Though the city held its big birthday bash in July, in conjunction with the Becker County Museum, the county is gearing up for a little celebrating of its own this week. Several area organizations and a host of volunteers are joining forces with the local museum to host a series of heritage-themed events, starting Tuesday, Sept. 21, and continuing through Sunday, Sept. 26.

"We wanted to feature people from around the region ... to celebrate our collective heritage and culture," explained Becky Mitchell, the museum's executive director.

The festivities begin Tuesday, Sept. 21, with a 3 p.m. presentation at the Detroit Lakes Public Library. Author Hudda Ibrahim will be discussing her books, "From Somalia to Snow" and "What Color is My Hijab?" Ibrahim's presentation, which is free and open to the public, is being hosted by the library as part of its Legacy programming, with funding from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Then on Wednesday, Sept. 22, the museum will be hosting a Downtown History Tour starting at 11 a.m. Museum programming director Emily Buermann will be offering a guided tour of Washington Avenue, between the Veterans Memorial Park entrance and the library.

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"You need to pre-register at the museum," said Mitchell, noting that space for the tour is limited. Cost is $5 for museum members, and $7 for non-members. Call 218-847-2168 for more information, or to reserve your spot.

Thursday's festivities will include a 7:30 p.m. show at the Historic Holmes Theatre as well as a Community Celebration hosted by the United Way of Becker County at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.

The Holmes Theatre show, titled "What's Going On," will feature songs from the Vietnam War era, as presented by Minnesota's own Fabulous Armadillos. American music icons of the 1960s and '70s including Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana, Janis Joplin, The Animals, Minnesota's own Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will all be highlighted, just to name a few. Cost is $32 for adults and $16 for students. Reserve your seats online at dlccc.org/holmes-theatre.html or call the Holmes Box Office at 218-844-7469.

Prior to the show, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., the United Way of Becker County will be hosting its annual Community Celebration at the Pavilion. There is no cost to attend the event, which will include vendor booths from all of the United Way's 32 partner programs as well as free food, beverages, face painting, blow-up and "rec to go" games, door prize giveaways and a display of local emergency services, a.k.a. "hero" vehicles. More than a dozen free bicycles will also be given away during the celebration. For more information, call the United Way at 218-847-0727 or visit the website at uwbcmn.org.

Also on Thursday, the city of Lake Park will be kicking off its annual Pumpkin Fest celebration with a special "Carve and Cork" event at Lake Park Liquors, starting at 7 p.m. Bring your own gourd and carving tools or use the ones provided to create your entry into this year's Pumpkin Carving Contest, then stay to enjoy a buffet of pumpkin treats including Pumpkin Chili and Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Pumpkin Fest continues on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25, with a car show, corn maze, craft and vendor show, kids' games and more, all leading up to Saturday's parade at 2:30 p.m. Visit the event's Facebook page for details.

Tamarac Refuge to host two-day fall festival

Also this coming weekend, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is gearing up to bring back its annual Fall Festival.

"It's a two-day event this year," said Tamarac Visitor Services Manager Kelly Blackledge, noting that the festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

"We're focusing on art," she added, noting that the Refuge is an official stop on the Park Rapids Art Leap this year as well.

"We will have an art display focusing on nature photography," Blackledge continued, adding that some of the region's best nature photographers would be featured. ""Some of the photographers will be there, along with a few other artists — a wood turner, a water color artist, and some miniature acrylic artwork."

In addition, a piece of three-dimensional artwork from Vergas-area metal sculptor Patrick Shannon that was recently installed on the Refuge grounds will be highlighted. Titled "Soar," the large metallic sculpture features two eagles soaring through the air.

"It's about 12 feet tall," said Blackledge, adding that the artwork is completely handicap accessible due to a short concrete path that was constructed between the Discovery Center and the overlook where the sculpture was installed. "It overlooks a marsh near Flat Lake," Blackledge explained.

In addition, there will be several activity tables set up for kids to create their own nature-themed art to take home with them. "We'll be using pine cones and stones and leaves, things like that," Blackledge said.

There will also be an opportunity for festival attendees to do some writing of their own. "People can share their writing on a wall that we'll provide for them, or upload it (to the Internet) via our new 'Wild Inspired' app," Blackledge said.

Created by a research team from Minnesota State University Moorhead, the new app allows writers, musicians and artists to upload the work they create — whether literary, visual or audio — onto a digital map, which will show where they were on the Refuge when they were inspired to create it.

"We'll also have snacks available, like apples and trail mix and water," Blackledge said.

Though both the Visitor Center and Discovery Center will be open for visitors to explore, most fall festival activities will take place outdoors, she noted. "Our COVID numbers have been going up, and we've been seeing more restrictions, so people will need to wear their masks when indoors," Blackledge added.

For more information, visit the Refuge's Facebook page or call the Visitor Center at 218-847-2641.

Heritage celebration set for Sept. 25-26 at Pavilion

Last but not least, the museum, city of Detroit Lakes, Jaycees, Boys & Girls Club and a host of area artisans will be hosting two days of culturally-inspired festivities, titled "I Am Becker County: A Celebration of Heritage," at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.

From 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, there will be craft demonstrations by area artisans — some of them interactive! — along with music, food, fun and games, all tied to the city and county's joint sesquicentennial.

"We'll have an accordion player, some cloggers, the Detroit Lakes Drum & Dance group, a Buddy Holly tribute and more, all up on the Pavilion stage," Mitchell said.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes will be serving up an "ethnic sampler platter" including Norwegian potato soup, cranberry wild rice bread, brats, bread pudding bites, and German pfeffernuse cookies, along with a bottle of water, to all festival attendees.

"The cost is a free will donation, with proceeds to benefit the Boys & Girls Club," Mitchell said, adding that Boys & Girls Club volunteers would also be hosting family-friendly yard games outside the Pavilion.

Meanwhile, inside the Pavilion, there will be some exhibit panels set up detailing some of the city and county's 150-year history, along with displays of Native American artwork, Norwegian rosemaling, and other ethnic crafts.

"It will be a sampler of cultural skills and talents from across the county," Mitchell said.

At 7 p.m., there will be a gun raffle drawing, then Troubadour will take the Pavilion stage at 8 p.m. "The Jaycees will be hosting a cash bar as well," Mitchell said, noting that admission for the concert will be a free will donation, with proceeds to benefit the musuem.

Then at 9 p.m., the online auctions for two "150 Sails up in DL" sailboat sculptures will close. Bids can be placed anytime from now up until the bids close, at galabid.com/celebrateheritage.

Two 18-inch tabletop sculptures will be up for bid, as follows:

  • "SKOL," by artist Hans Gilsdorf: This Vikings football-themed sculpture is currently on display at Lakes Sport Shop. Proceeds will benefit future public art projects in Detroit Lakes.
  • "Dancing Upon the Water," by artist Emily Buermann: This sculpture, which showcases Native American beadwork, is on display at the Becker County Museum. Proceeds from this auction will benefit the museum.

Then on Sunday, Sept. 26, the Cathy Erickson Polka Band will be performing on the Pavilion stage from noon to 3 p.m. The festivities will also include ice cream treats donated by Essentia Health, and pies provided by the Detroit Lakes High School Freshman Academy. Free will donations will be accepted, both for the performance and for the pie and ice cream, with proceeds to benefit the museum and the DLHS Freshman Academy, respectively.

"We're inviting everyone to dust off those dance shoes, come out and polka with us," Mitchell said. "This week's celebration is all about the community coming together to celebrate each other. We're hoping to turn this into an annual event."