Area historical groups join forces at fair


Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Karen Schlenker, volunteer coordinator for the Milaca Area Historical Society, is pictured with a cutout of a World War I veteran at the Heritage Building of the Mille Lacs County Fairgrounds. The county’s three history museums are working together to present a snapshot of county history during the Mille Lacs County Fair, which runs August 9-13 at the fairgrounds in Princeton.

PRINCETON – By combining forces, three area historical societies have positioned themselves to provide area residents with a number of exciting exhibits and information during the upcoming Mille Lacs County Fair.
Karen Schlenker, who serves as the volunteer coordinator for the Milaca Area Historical Society is working as a committee member for this combined effort.
Milaca members will be joining hands with the Mille Lacs County Historical Society, located in Princeton, and the Mille Lacs Lakes Historical group based in Isle.
Members of the three groups will take turns staffing the building housing historical items beginning Wednesday (Aug. 9) through the five-day run, ending Sunday (Aug. 13).
Schlenker noted that after patrons first enter the front gate of the fair they should turn left and at the end of the driveway they will find the Heritage Building.
This large building serves as a staging area for the historical groups.
With last year being the 125th anniversary of the fair, according to Schlenker, many items from that effort will now be used as “the basis,” for the exhibits at the fair this year.
The focus last year was on dairy farming and barrel making.
Now the focus for the fair will shift to World War I history, observing the fact it has been 100 years since the United States entered the war in 1917.
Bob Snyder, also a committee member, contacted the Camp Ripley Military Museum to secure items on loan from the WWI era to serve as the centerpiece.
Items to be on display include a uniform, cartridge belt, along with a canteen and other items of interest, including a diary of someone who served.
Each of the three groups will add items to the display with local photos, along with a number of items, including photos of the troops departing on the train.
In addition, an item that was presented last year as a part of the dairy focus will return, by popular demand.
Thursday is designated Day Care Day and with a lot of youth at the fair, the day care operators were impressed with the butter-making display.
Thus, being “asked to do it again,” the group will incorporate the butter making into a small dairy exhibit.
Schlenker indicated that along with the butter making a Surge milker cream separator will be displayed, along with a crank-operated butter maker.
Mille Lacs County Surveyor Warren Delles managed to come across some maps and notes, along with highlights of a re-survey that was done of the county in the early 1900s.
Another area of display will deal with a period of time involving the big war in Europe and the movement of goods.
Food was a major issue and at that time the government encouraged individuals to have gardens, to deal with the shortage.
There will be some display items along that line, along with the efforts of the Red Cross to support the troops.