The Winona County Historical Society wants to get people out of the house — and they’re willing to offer a good-sized cash prize to do it.

The world is “so saturated” with virtual events that the society wanted to come up with an outdoor, safe, interactive way to engage history buffs, said Jennifer Weaver, the Winona County Historical Society educator.

The society had done self-guided tours and scavenger hunts in the museum before, so they merely combined the two — and made it competitive.

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Between Aug. 10 and 24, anyone can purchase a map of historical sites from the Winona County Historical Society for $10 during business hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Each outdoor location on the map has a quick write-up, with one missing history fact.

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Drive to the spot in Winona County, read the informational sign posted there, and fill in the fact. Then turn in the completed map at the Winona County Historical Society before Aug. 24 for prizes and acclaim.

Lewiston Auto, the event’s sponsor, has offered a grand prize of $500 for one lucky winner, to be drawn from the pool of completed maps at the end of the contest.

Additionally, the first 10 participants to turn in their maps will win free, yearlong memberships at the Winona County Historical Society. The first 20 will win copies of “City Mouse-Country Mouse,” an illustrated history of Winona.

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“It seemed like a fun, safe thing that people could control how much or how little they want to do,” Weaver said. “All of the sites are outside — you could do it from your car, if you wanted."

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Completing it quickly

There are 15 locations to visit on the map (a mix of businesses, parks, historic sites, homes and churches), with a total drive time of about 2½ hours, Weaver said.

Winona County residents can fill in a few sites one afternoon, then travel to the next few a different day — particularly if they don’t want to compete for the early entry prizes. Some of the historic sites are now open to the public, and could be explored further by intrepid history buffs.

“Some of (the sites) are going to be really recognized, people will be like, ‘Oh, yeah,’ but they may not have thought to visit,” Weaver said. “Some are hidden gems. Some are more modern places that are tied to a history that you might not be aware of.”

However, it’s completely possible to fill out the whole map in a single day, Weaver said — or even a single afternoon.

Either way, Weaver said she hopes participants enjoy their “adventure, away from computer screens.”

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“We just wanted to give the community and even those further out something to look forward to and have fun with,” she said. “You might maybe learn something new about the region.”

If you go

What: The Great Winona County History Hunt

When: Daily, Aug. 10-24

Where: Winona County Historical Society, 160 Johnson St., Winona

Cost: $10 per map; one entry per individual or team

More information: www.winonahistory.org, or call 507-454-2723.