Young volunteers help bring history to life at Dakota CityNext time you’re out at Dakota City Heritage Village, take a good look around at the volunteers you encounter. Most of them are dressed in old fashioned clothing, but chances are pretty good not all of those volunteers will actually be … old.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Next time you’re out at Dakota City Heritage Village, take a good look around at the volunteers you encounter. Most of them are dressed in old fashioned clothing, but chances are pretty good not all of those volunteers will actually be … old.
There are quite a few teenagers, even some grade school kids, who help to bring Dakota City to life every time there is a special event. They might be running around the schoolyard or demonstrating how to walk on wooden stilts. They might be apprenticing in the blacksmith shop. Or, they might simply be wandering along the gravel roads, looking like something straight out of “Little House on the Prairie.”
Farmington sisters Meredith and Marie Gulsvig can often be found out there, dressed in period-appropriate clothing and getting into their roles, whatever roles those might be at the time.
Now in her second year of college, Meredith started volunteering at Dakota City when she was a freshman at Farmington High School. A letter went out around the school that year, asking students to consider volunteering at an event. It was the Victorian Tea, a fundraising event for Dakota City. She signed up.
She got dressed up in the long skirts and petticoats. Went around and poured tea. Decided it wasn’t too bad. Pretty soon, she was showing up more and more to volunteer.
“I think it’s super fun,” Meredith said. “You get so into the time period, when you have to leave, you don’t want to. So many people say, ‘this is going to be dumb,’ or they’re like, ‘no way.’ But it’s just so much fun if you get into it.”
Marie agrees the enthusiasm is contagious.
“Everybody else gets so into it, too, so it’s kind of like you have no choice,” Marie said.
At age 15, Marie has already spent a couple of years volunteering at Dakota City. Getting dressed up in the 1900s-style clothing is one of her favorite parts of doing what she does out there — only these days, those skirts are getting a little short, so her mother is making new ones for her.
Marie didn’t actually wait to get the letter looking for volunteers to get started at Dakota City. Rather, when Meredith was asked to volunteer one time, Marie offered to get in on the fun, too.
“I had actually wanted to do it from when I was little,” Marie said. “I’m kind of a big history nerd.”
Meredith doesn’t have plans to be out at Dakota City over the next couple of weekends during the Christmas in the Village event, but Marie is scheduled for two shifts — one, this Sunday, the other next Saturday.
Marie’s not really sure where she’ll end up working. She’s been out there so often, she kind of knows the ropes in several buildings. That’s part of what she does — she floats around, gives breaks to other volunteers. Picks up a little bit of knowledge along the way.
She will also perform out there one day as part of the FHS New Dimension choir. Marie said she likes to do that, as well. Last year, after their concert in the church building, the choir decided to go out and do a little caroling, as well.
There are about a dozen local teens that volunteer at Dakota City on a regular basis. The reason?
“It’s just fun to be out there,” Meredith said. “It’s volunteering, but I don’t even think of it as volunteering.”