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Opening of fur trade exhibit at museum rescheduled for April 20

The Minnesota Historical Society traveling exhibit, "Fur Trade in Minnesota," will be opening at the Becker County Museum on April 20 — and the museum is looking for historic photos and stories of local fur trappers and traders to display alongside the state exhibit. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
This is one example of some of the interactive displays and activities that will be included with the "Fur Trade in Minnesota" exhibit, which will be on display in Detroit Lakes through June 23. (Submitted photo) 2 / 2

Due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, the opening of the Minnesota Historical Society traveling exhibit on "The Fur Trade in Minnesota" that was scheduled for this Saturday, April 6 at the Becker County Museum in Detroit Lakes has been postponed.

"Our opening date has been bumped to April 20," said Becky Mitchell, director of the Becker County Museum, on Thursday.

When it does officially open, however, the exhibit will include contributions from several local and regional partners, including Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Cormorant Sportsman's Club, Sunram Taxidermy, and the Minnesota Trappers Association — not to mention oral history contributions from local residents who have actually worked in the fur trade, or have a relative who did.

"We've gathered quite a few stories from local trappers," Mitchell said.

School tours of the exhibit are already being scheduled, and there are also multiple events being planned in conjunction with it: On Saturday, April 27, Rick Julian of the Cormorant Sportsman's Club will be giving a fur trapping presentation that is "educational for all ages," Mitchell said; on Saturday, May 11, the museum's Family Day festivities will include a mixed media art activity and presentation focused on the fur-bearing animals that live in this area; and on Thursday, May 16, Fern Belling and Todd Voss will be giving an "Evening of Americana" concert that includes the music of the voyageurs as well as songs from the American Revolution, Civil War and much more, featuring a variety of instruments.

That concert, which starts at 7 p.m., will be a fundraiser for the museum's building project, which is tentatively scheduled to break ground in 2020, with a 2021 move-in date.

Building project update

Speaking of the museum's $6.5 million project to build a new 30,000 square foot facility adjacent to the Historic Holmes Theatre, Mitchell said she, along with Natalie Bly, president of the museum's board of directors, and building committee member Scott Walz made a trip to the State Capitol on March 26 to meet with state legislators and Governor Tim Walz's policy advisor regarding state funding for the project.

Rep. Paul Marquart (D-Dilworth) and Sen. Kent Eken (D-Twin Valley) have each authored bills in the Minnesota House and Senate, respectively, that would appropriate $3 million in state bonding funds for the museum project.

Though the bills were introduced during the 2019 session, Mitchell said both local legislators have indicated that, since this is not a bonding year, they are not likely to be put to a vote until 2020.

In addition to meeting with both Eken and Marquart, the three museum representatives also met with the bonding committee chairs for both the House and Senate — Rep. Nancy Murphy and Sen. David Senjem, respectively — as well as Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston) and Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids).

During their visit, they were also able to meet with Katie Hatt, the policy advisor for Governor Tim Walz.

"We were very well received," Mitchell said of their discussions with the state officials.

Though the state funding picture won't become clear until next year, Mitchell said the museum has secured a $1.1 commitment from Becker County toward the project, and the Detroit Lakes City Council is expected to vote on a proposal to contribute $500,000 at its Tuesday meeting.

"Every community in Becker County has pledged money toward this project, as well as many townships," Mitchell added. "Now, we need the support of local residents."

She said that the campaign to secure the remainder of the $6.5 million total needed is already well underway, and more fundraising events will be planned in the future. For more information on how to contribute, please contact the museum at 218-847-2938, or visit the website at www.beckercountyhistory.org.

April at the Museum

Besides the opening of the fur trade exhibit and all the festivities related to it, there are a few other events coming up at the museum later this month.

The museum's Brown Bag Lunch presentation this Wednesday, April 10 will highlight "The History of the Detroit Lakes Library". To celebrate Library Month in April, join the museum's staff to hear about the 106 years of history of the Detroit Lakes Public Library, a cornerstone of our community. There is no admission fee for the museum during Brown Bag Lunch events. Bring your own lunch or call the Museum at 218-847-2938 to reserve a box lunch for $8.

A second, special Brown Bag Lunch presentation is scheduled for the following Wednesday, April 17. Author Eric Bergeson will be speaking on the topic of "Successful Gardening on the Northern Prairie," which is also the title of his latest book. Both presentations start promptly at noon. There is no admission fee charged during Brown Bag Lunch events; guests can bring their own lunch, or contact the museum at 218-847-2938 to reserve a boxed lunch from La Barista for $8.

Finally, on Saturday, April 20, the staff of the Becker County Museum is hosting a guided tour of the fish hatchery at Dunton Locks, operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tour participants will meet at the museum (714 Summit Ave.) before heading out to the fish hatchery for the afternoon. This April Family Day event is being offered free of charge, but pre-registration is required as space is limited. To sign up, please call the museum at 218-847-2938 anytime during its regular hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Mitchell said that the fish hatchery tour had been postponed one week, but that all those who had signed up for the April 13 date would still be on the list for April 20.

"If you aren't able to attend on the new date, however, please let us know," she said. "We have a waiting list."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454
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