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Pioneer Village to ‘Refresh the Fest’

The date is fast approaching for Perham’s 45-year-old Pioneer Festival, coming up Aug. 16 at Pioneer Village.

Under new management by the History, Arts and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County, the public now has new opportunities to participate in this year’s event and give input on future festivals.

The revival effort has been coined ‘Refresh the Fest,’ and anyone who gets involved now will be considered an important part of the effort.

“We’ve condensed what was a weekend-long history, arts and cultural festival to one great day,” said Darla Ellingson, the association’s CEO. “We’ll have many of the fun activities that people enjoyed before, and are opening the door to new ones.”

 Some scheduled activities will include a kids’ tractor pull, music at the outdoor band shell, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and other food and beer for sale, a classic car show, petting zoo, art demonstrations and historic tours.

Adjacent black powder shooting demonstrations will be ongoing throughout the day, and a concert will take place inside the ballroom.

Local businesses, clubs and organizations with a product or cause to promote are invited to participate at no cost, and may keep their own sales proceeds.

The association is especially encouraging those who want to do a demonstration of arts or activities highlighting the area’s diverse cultural heritage, including music, theatrical performances or food sampling.

With community input, the group hopes that Pioneer Fest will grow again in future years.

 Pioneer Village is on 25 scenic acres within a 100-acre parcel bordered by the Perham Municipal Golf Course, baseball fields, a bike path and other recreational areas. The village includes historic buildings and artifacts including Westby House, an authentic settler’s cabin. Indoor and outdoor venues can be leased on a first-come, first-served basis for weddings, reunions and other events.

The nonprofit History, Arts and Cultural Association of East Otter Tail County took over management of the grounds April 1, and held its first behind-the-scenes review of the property’s resources for the public at the end of April during “Idea Day.”

While the assessment and input period runs until fall, those participating in this year’s Refresh the Fest will have priority consideration for future festivals. Artists, musicians, theatrical performers and volunteers who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact the association. 

Pioneer Fest 2014 will have free admission, other than a nominal fee for the evening concert and dance.

To sign up for Pioneer Fest, volunteer or offer sponsorship, contact Darla Ellingson at Mail should be directed to 230 1st Ave N, Perham, MN 56573.