Area parks to be featured in Pioneer Public TV program
WORTHINGTON -- The first two episodes of "Great Minnesota Parks" featured highlights from the Minnesota River and western Minnesota.
On May 19, it's southwest Minnesota's turn. "Great Minnesota Park: Southwest" will showcase the best of Pipestone National Monument, Lake Shetek State Park and Jeffers Petroglyphs.
Pioneer Public Television staff visited each of the sites in the fall of 2012. Through interviews and landscape shots, the program will highlight the features that make each site unique.
Producer Andrea Singleton said staff attended the Pipestone National Monument's 75th anniversary celebration and were able to interview members of the Dakota tribe, who share their culture in connection with the Pipestone quarry.
"We saw a lot of the presentations that they gave that day and were able to interview a pipestone carver who has been carving for years ... he said he feels one with the spirit when he's working," Singleton said. "It almost seems like it isn't work for him."
The group also filmed the natural beauty of the area, including "some really majestic waterfalls," Singleton added.
Lake Shetek State Park was also visited for two days, where staff learned about the largest lake in southwest Minnesota and the state park on its shores.
"We even got some shots of kids kneeboarding. I hadn't even heard of it before, so a little 6-year-old had to show us how," Singleton said with a laugh.
Campers, state park interpreters and members of the Friends of Lake Shetek State Park were interviewed.
At Jeffers Petroglyphs, viewers will see the carvings that are estimated to be more than 7,000 years old. The crew was there for most of one day, but Singleton said it wasn't until dusk that it was able to clearly see many of the petroglyphs because of the shadows the sun cast across the rock face.
"We had been there all day, and you couldn't really see them, but we found out that at dusk and dawn you can see a lot that you couldn't see before," Singleton said.
While most people visit the Jeffers Petroglyphs to see the carvings, they also witness the beauty of the natural prairie. Due to the rock beds near the surface of the ground, the area boasts natural prairie that has never been tilled. Wet-land prairie and the more common mesic prairie is also nearby, Jeffers Petroglyphs interpreter Shelly Olson explained.
"While we were there, we captured a lot of the fall prairie wildflowers that were blooming," Singleton added.
While the three parks featured in the production may be off the well-known tourist path, each has something to offer visitors interested in history and the outdoors.
"It's a place that people want to come to and that's a neat part of working there," Olson said of Jeffers Petroglyphs. "The visitors are really nice because they want to be there. If they are curious about it, once they understand it, they are really pleased and happy that they stopped."
Singleton, a Morris native, was visiting the southwest Minnesota area for the first time during filming. She said she was once again surprised by the diversity of the parks in Minnesota --from the large Lake Shetek, to the parables and stories found in the petroglyphs, to watching the intense quarry work that is done to mine the pipestone.
For anyone who can't wait until the show airs, Pioneer Public Television will hosting two preview showings at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the State Theater, Windom, and at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Pipestone Center for the Performing Arts. Social hour will begin at both showings at 6:30 p.m. with complimentary popcorn and refreshments.
"Anyone is welcome to come," Singleton said. "It is open to the public and we encourage anyone who is interested to attend. It's a great way to plan your next summer vacation."
Both showings will also give members of the public a chance to meet with Pioneer staff including Singleton, Communications Director, Rick Freitag and General Manager Les Heen.
"We'll be able to answer any questions that they have about programming, membership information and if they have story ideas, we always like to hear those, too," Singleton said. "At the end, we'll also take comments and suggestions. We always like to get feedback."
Funding for "Great Minnesota Parks: Southwest" is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and locally in part by the Pipestone Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Lake Shetek State Park and Sha-lom Hill Farm.
"Great Minnesota Parks: Southwest" will air on Pioneer Public Television at 7:30 p.m. May 19.
Pioneer Public Television is a viewer-supported educational television station covering more than 45 rural counties in western Minnesota, northwestern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota. Pioneer can be viewed on KSMN Channel 20, Worthington.
To find local Pioneer channels, check with a cable TV provider. For more information about Pioneer Public Television, go to www.pioneer.org.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.