Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Memories from “A Night at the Museum” October 5, 2015

Museum, 90 family photo outside church

 

ON THE FRONT STEPS of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, a family posed for photos.

 

A boy feigns mock injuries for the living history event in Faribault.

A boy feigns mock injuries for a living history event in Faribault on Saturday.

Under a Red Cross tent, nurses tended a young boy kicked in the head by a horse.

The one-room Pleasant Valley School quickly filled with students as the teacher led his class in songs.

The one-room Pleasant Valley School quickly filled with students as the teacher led his class in songs.

Inside Pleasant Valley School, students sang “If you’re happy and you know it…” along with their accordion-playing teacher.

Every time this little guy poked the duck hunter, a duck call emitted. Eventually, he figured out that a real man, Brian Schmidt, was under all that garb. This is the moment Brian revealed himself.

Every time this little guy poked the duck hunter, a duck call emitted. Eventually, he figured out that a real man, Brian Schmidt, was under all that garb. This is the moment Brian revealed himself.

Inside Harvest and Heritage Hall, a boy poked at a duck hunter, wondering whether the camouflaged man was mannequin or real.

Mrs. Morris takes a break from making applesauce.

Mrs. Morris takes a break from making applesauce.

I love photographing moments like this of people connecting.

I love photographing moments like this of people connecting, here outside the Morris “home” in the Harvest/Heritage Hall.

Next to Mrs. Morris’ front porch, a trio of men visited while the lady of the house peeled apples in her kitchen.

Participants in "A Night at the Museum" file into the Harvest and Heritage Hall.

Participants in “A Night at the Museum” file into the Harvest and Heritage Hall.

Scenes. Some part of living history activities. Others authentic, in the moment. But all part of the Rice County Historical Society’s annual “A Night at the Museum.”

Many kids were dressed in period costume.

Many kids dressed in period costume.

A near perfect Saturday in October brought families and others to the museum grounds in Faribault to participate in this living history program that seems to grow in popularity every year. It’s an engaging event that includes a local history quest game for kids and plenty of learning and reminiscing opportunities for the adults.

Horse-drawn wagon rides around the Rice County Fairgrounds were popular.

Horse-drawn wagon rides around the Rice County Fairgrounds proved popular.

And mixed in with all the education and fun is the building of memories. I expect kids will remember riding in the horse-pulled wagon, searching for the Bruce Smith display to determine the year the Faribault native and University of Minnesota football player won the Heismann Trophy (1941), struggling to walk on stilts and more. One boy may even remember answering an old crank phone to the question, “Would you like to order a pizza?”, posed by my husband on the other end.

Old books were laid out on school desks.

Old books were laid out on school desks.

I’ll remember, not so pleasantly, the stressed mom who yanked and yelled at her daughter and how I tried to comfort the young girl cowering behind the schoolhouse door. Sometimes life’s moments hurt. But I delighted in finding a scythe I will return to photograph for an author writing a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I was impressed by Gunnar, the friendly and confident elementary-aged boy who informed me that I was landscaping. He was right. I was photographing landscape (horizontal) images with my camera.

I expect this young girl will remember being pushed around in a wheelchair by a Red Cross nurse during this historical reenactment.

I expect this young girl will remember being pushed around in a wheelchair by a Red Cross nurse during this historical reenactment.

Aside from the unsettling incident I witnessed, I observed moments to savor. Moments that become part of an individual’s history, a family’s history, a couple’s history—remember that night we went to the museum…

BONUS PHOTOS:

A scene photographed looking from the outside into the historic log cabin.

A scene photographed looking from the outside into the historic log cabin.

Ready to iron outside the log cabin.

Ready to iron outside the log cabin.

Math class is underway inside the one-room Pleasant Valley School.

Math class is underway inside the one-room Pleasant Valley School.

Art in a classroom window.

Art in a classroom window.

A student reenactor sings along with her class.

A student reenactor in class.

Inside the main museum building, I studied a map with a magnifying glass. Minnesota was spelled with one "n."

Inside the main museum building, I studied an 1849 map with a magnifying glass. Minnesota was spelled with one “n.” And the Minnesota River was labeled the St. Peter River.

Mike and Pat Fuchs brought their horses and wagon for free rides.

Mike and Pat Fuchs brought their horses and wagon for free rides.

The beautiful horses.

The beautiful horses.

Driving through the fairgrounds.

Driving through the fairgrounds.

Stacked inside the Harvest and Heritage Halls are these crates from Fleckenstein, which brewed beer and made soda in Faribault.

Stacked inside the Harvest and Heritage Halls are these crates from Fleckenstein, which brewed beer and made soda in Faribault.

A high school reenactor reads a book in the museum barbershop.

A high school reenactor reads a book in the museum barbershop.

Behind the historic church, I walked through the graveyard.

Behind the historic church, I walked through the graveyard.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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24 Responses to “Memories from “A Night at the Museum””

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I love the last photograph, Audrey. The day looked to be full of great memories being re enacted and many made.

    • I’m not sure the graveyard was even part of the event as the words on most “tombstones” seemed more geared toward a Halloween activity than “A Night at the Museum.” But since the fake gravestones were set up behind the church, I photographed them.

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    It is wonderful that kids get to experience a room schoolhouse. It is amazing how many people in southern Minnesota attended them. My brother-in-law got to burn down the one room school he attended. It was rotted and was unsafe, so being located on his farm he elected to take it down. I wonder how many kids would relish that idea.

  3. How much FUN – Beautiful Captures – that last photo is pretty cool, especially with it being October! Thanks so much for sharing – Happy Week – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Wow, there was a lot to take in, wasn’t there? And what a fabulous way to engage kids in history. Love your husband’s, “Would you like to order a pizza?” line to the kid on the old phone.

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    My fave is the duck hunter!!!! The look of anticipation on the boy’s face is priceless!!! That ironing board is identical to the one I use daily in my quilt room! It was Tom’s mom’s and it is solid!!!! Love the girls’ braids…….

    • Several years ago the duck hunter scared the you know what out of me by quacking his duck call as I walked by. Yeah, that boy was enamored with the hunter as every time he poked, the duck call quacked. It was a great moment seeing that reaction.

      Quite cool that you use a vintage ironing board in your quilt room. Think of all the cloth that has passed under an iron on that board.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    I am not sure I can pick a favorite photograph this time! I love the robin art work, and the candid “people” shots. Are those draft horses? Not many people keep those old beauties anymore. We attend the Stuhr Museum Christmas Past and Present in Grand Island, NE each winter that we go back for the holidays. Folks wear period clothing and the little “town” carries on business and home life as it would have been back in the day. We always get tickled while visiting the church as it is carried on with strict manners! It’s common to be called out by the minister for wearing a cap or if kids are too noisy! It’s all in fun, and we really get a taste of life back in the late 1800’s.

  7. estremdj Says:

    Wonderful story!

  8. The little boy is too precious!!! Great photos

  9. Jackie Says:

    What a fun event. I love the photo’s of the children dressed up, playing the parts of long ago, especially the girl in the blue dress…love it!


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