'Days of Yesteryear' brings farming's past to life

"Days of Yesteryear," the History Center of Olmsted County's annual celebration of the area's farm heritage, will take place on a far bigger stage than it has in the past.

Up to 46 acres of the history center's grounds will be devoted to showcasing life as it was lived by Olmsted County rural residents in 1880, twice the acreage used in previous events.

By doubling the size, organizers plan many more exhibits, shows and opportunities to learn about the area's history. In the process, they hope to reach a wider audience to the two-day event, which runs Aug. 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"We've got a lot of new residents who aren't really aware of what the history is here. Maybe they wouldn't come to see a threshing machine, but they might come for a musical event," said Melody Hanson, the center's resource development coordinator.

The hope is also to create more of a festival experience, with a large craft sale, theater performances on two stages, musical entertainment and dancing, including clogging and square and round dancing.


There will also be a 1900s carnival for kids, and people dressed in period costume will roam the grounds, re-enacting life as it was lived then and interacting with the crowd. Storyteller Jack Pearson, a medicine show featuring a barker hawking his magic elixirs, and musical entertainment will also be featured.

More than 200 volunteers will be involved in bringing that era to life.

"We've really expanded into more of the entertainment side of it," Hanson said.

Tickets will cost $7 at the gate, $5 in advance. Those under the age of 16 are allowed in free.

Having doubled the size of the event, organizers anticipate doubling the number of people who will attend the festival, to as many as 3,500 people. Once they arrive, the hope is that some families will make it an all-day event. Even church services — one Catholic, the other Protestant — will be offered.

"If they want to spend the whole day here and have sweet rolls and go to church, they can do that," Hanson said.

This is the 36th year that the history center will host "Days of Yesteryear." The new attractions and the event's expanded scope are an outgrowth of the history center's revised and more ambitious mission statement to inform residents of the area's history.

One of the center's goals is to show that the area's history is made up of more than Mayo Clinic and IBM. Agriculture and immigration also played significant roles in shape the area.


"If we're going to do an expansion, we want to do it in a big way," Hanson said. "We want to make this very memorable for people."

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