Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bloomington Historical Society

When Nancy and and I drove up to the Bloomington Old Town Hall History Museum on Saturday to do a program that included my Halloween story, A Farm Country Halloween, we knew the outside activities planned for kids would have to be moved inside. The weather was overcast and sprinkling, though nothing like the really good rain that we needed.
The Old Town Hall, which is the home of the Bloomington Historical Society, is a striking building, with its bright white siding and red trim. Since we forgot to take a photo of it on Saturday when it was raining, we went back Sunday when the sun was shining to snap a picture.

The annual Fall Festival is an event that celebrates the agricultural heritage of Bloomington. At one time there were over 300 farms in what is now Bloomington, and now there are none. The Fall Festival is a way for the Bloomington Historical Society to commemorate the agricultural heritage of the area. The event was scheduled from noon to 4:00 PM on Saturday, and when we arrived at 12:30, kids were busy painting small pumpkins, rolling candles from beeswax, and having their faces painted. All activities were inside the building, which was full of great historical displays. Outdoor activities were held later in the afternoon when the rain ceased.
Painting pumpkins was a popular activity.

I chatted with Mary Vavrosky, above,
 and later she supervised as children and adults rolled beeswax into candles, below.

After she interviewed and briefly videotaped me,  Gina Szafraniec, a writer from an online magazine called The Bloomington Crow, treated us to a terrific smile as she posed by Nancy's Farm Heritage Display. Go to the website to see her video and story.

With all the activities going on, the area was pretty cozy, but the audience was fun and had several questions afterwards. I was really pleased that my former neighbor, Betty (Speiker) Cavenaugh, from the farm neighbor hood where I grew up, attended the show. She is wearing an orange sweatshirt and is seated with her family in the back row. Betty's presence at the program forced me to tell the truth in my fictional story because I actually used to go trick or treating with Betty and her brothers and sisters back in the 1950s.

Several youngsters volunteered to help me demonstrate how a character from my story used a pulley in a trick to scare his young neighbors.
Nancy snapped a photo of a few members of the Bloomington Historical Society as they watched my program. Vonda Kelly, standing on the left, arranged my visit to speak at the museum.Members asked questions after the show, and I was privileged that Larry Granger, (second from right) who is very active in local history, spent time with me telling stories and advising me on possible future writing projects. Seriously, the wisdom among this back row humbles me.

I was again both humbled and gratified when the young lady, pictured above with her two daughters, had me autograph a book for her family. She explained to my wife that the small farm she grew up on in Ukraine was like the one I described in my stories. Farm buildings and equipment were old and barely adequate. She bought the book as a way to connect her two children, who were born in the U.S.,  to the experiences she and her mother had in their homeland. Her mother was at the museum and even though she spoke very little English, she expressed a liking for my books because of the memories they inspired. 
Closing shot of the Old Bloomington Town Hall, located at the intersection of Penn Avenue South and West Old Shakopee Road. I recommend you take your family and visit soon. See the website for scheduled events.

Thanks to everyone at the Bloomington Historical Society for inviting me to do my Farm Heritage Program and my book, A Farm Country Trick or Treat. Thanks to Vonda Kelly for arranging my visit and special thanks to the customers who bought my books. Please read them often and pass them on to future generations.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

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