Unsolved murders, poisonings, lynch mobs, hangings, inns of "ill repute" ... These aren't the kinds of things you'd normally associate with small, rural communities like those that dot our local landscape - yet this county's history does have its dark side, says Emily Buermann, programming director for the Becker County Museum in Detroit Lakes.
"This isn't the kind of historical information that we normally share here at our museum," she added.
But this Friday, Oct. 6, the Becker County Historical Society and Detroit Lakes' own Midwest Paranormal Files investigators are teaming up to present "After Dark at the Museum," a special evening event that will include some "frightful tales" from Becker County's history as well as some rarely-shared information about MPF's past paranormal investigations in the area.
"We're going to turn off the lights and give tours of the museum by flashlight," Buermann said, noting that museum staff and MPF investigators will be sharing their "spooky stories" as part of the tours, which will take place at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
The museum will also be opening up its vaults and sharing some rarely-seen photographs and artifacts from historic crime scene investigations, she added.
"Because of the subject matter, we're asking that all participants be at least 14 years old, and that anyone under age 17 be accompanied by an adult," Buermann said, adding, "It's not really intended for kids."
For safety reasons, each tour will be limited to 20 people.
"Space is limited, so tickets need to be purchased in advance," Buermann said, adding that no more than 40 tickets will be sold.
Cost is $5 per person, and museum admission is included as part of the ticket price.
"Each tour will last about an hour," she said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Friday's "spooktacular" evening is just the first part of a busy month for the museum, which will be hosting three other events in October.
Next up is the museum's October installment of the Brown Bag Lunch series, featuring Kelly Blackledge, visitor services manager at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, who will be discussing how lead hunting ammunition is poisoning our native bird population including loons, swans and especially, the bald eagle - as well as what we can do to help. This presentation is scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 11, and will last approximately an hour. Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch, or if you would like to reserve a box lunch ($8 per person), please contact the museum before 10:30 a.m. on the day of the event. There is no cost to attend the presentation.
Saturday, Oct. 21 is Family Day at the museum; from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., museum guests are invited to create their own miniature pumpkin gardens, using moss and other props that can be "spooky" or "sweet." Complete pumpkin gardens are $20 each; some more elaborate decorations will also be available for an additional cost, Buermann said.
Last but by no means least, the museum will be presenting a special encore performance of "Dick Kimmel's History of Bluegrass," with special guest Pamela Longtine, on Friday,Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person; museum members will get a $3 discount on admission.
The Becker County Museum is located at 714 Summit Ave. in Detroit Lakes. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is $5 per person, or free for museum members and children under age 18. For more information about upcoming programs and exhibits, or to purchase tickets to any of the above-mentioned special events, please contact the museum at 218-847-2938.