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Changes are in store for Grand History event

It's not always easy to get something new out of an old place like Dakota City Heritage Village, but the folks out there are giving it a shot this month.

Instead of offering the Grand History Day program Dakota City has held for the better part of two decades, this year, they're trying something new: the Harvest Moon Festival.

"We're trying some different things," said Dakota City president Gary Smith. "We call it a Harvest Moon Festival because it is. It's that time of year when the farmers come to town with their harvests."

Somewhere along the line, attendance at Grand History Days started to drop. But organizers believe the program is important because it offers a time for families to do things together, and there are certain educational values to it. Members of the Dakota City board of directors didn't want to lose the activity. So, they chose to tweak it a bit.

The dates will be the same as before - Grand History Days were always held during the Minnesota Educators Association break for kids - and quite a few of the activities will be the same, too. Visitors will still be able to grind coffee, make rope, peel apples and make cornhusk dolls, but vice president Mary Hendricks said there are a whole lot of new activities being planned, too.

The Harvest Moon Festival will feature old time skits, candle dipping, face painting and even a fortune teller.

"That was big in the day," Hendricks said. "That was just what all of these parties would be about, who your mate would be and that sort of thing."

Speaking of parties, on Friday, Oct.22, starting at 6 p.m., there will be an old-fashioned barn dance with live music in the fire hall.

But Friday's barn dance isn't the only thing that will happen in the evenings. The folks at Dakota City have extended the hours so visitors can go on haunted hayrides with costumed characters along the way. All of the buildings will be decorated with a Halloween-theme - even the jail will have one prisoner who has been there just a little too long.

"We'll have a skeleton in the jail cell," Hendricks said.

When families arrive, kids will get a list of the activities to do at Dakota City. If they go to each of the stations around the village and complete the activities there, they will have lots of goodies to take home, and they'll get a free pass to the Christmas in the Village event in December.

But since this year's Harvest Moon Festival is taking on a Halloween feel, kids are also invited to wear their Halloween costumes and participate in costume parades through the village. Those parades will be held at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., each day of the festival.

The Harvest Moon Festival will be held Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. Admission is $2 for students, $3 for adults.

Hendricks says the folks at Dakota City are looking for a few additional helpers for the weekend's activities. Anyone interested in volunteering at the stations around the village should call to Dakota City, 651-460-8050.

"If high school students want to come out and join us, it's usually a good learning experience for them," Hendricks said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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