Hiawatha Club offers to donate grounds to PipestonePIPESTONE — In 2008, after 60 years of performances, the Hiawatha Pageant took place for the last time due to declining attendance and difficulties finding crew members.
By: Alyson Buschena, Worthington Daily Globe
PIPESTONE — In 2008, after 60 years of performances, the Hiawatha Pageant took place for the last time due to declining attendance and difficulties finding crew members.
“It was a lot of work, putting on the performances, but it was fun to see people come and enjoy the show,” said Jerry Remund, Hiawatha Club member and Pipestone county commissioner. “But it went on for 60 years, and now it’s a thing of the past.”
After the Hiawatha Pageant’s last season in 2008, the Hiawatha Club continued renting out the approximately 30-acre grounds to groups and families hosting events.
“We do rent it out for weddings or Boy Scouts and every other year, they have the Civil War reenactment,” Remund said.
With the cost of upkeep, insurance and taxes, however, the club has begun exploring options to donate the land to the city of Pipestone or Pipestone County.
“We thought we would consider giving it to them for the people of Pipestone County to use as a park or for activities that have been going on there in the past,” Remund explained.
The Hiawatha Club has now talked with both the city and the county about the possible donation, and Remund said the city has already expressed interest in receiving the property.
“They want to come before (the Hiawatha Club) and make a presentation about receiving the grounds — in May maybe,” he said.
While Remund is glad the city is interested, he admits he would prefer the land go to the county.
“I am a county commissioner and my preference would be to give the land to the county and make it a county park. But there are four other commissioners, and they have to be willing, too — as far as the costs (that come with the land),” said Remund, noting that he brought the matter before the Pipestone County Board during its March 12 meeting.
“The county never responded to our letter so I went and talked at the last meeting. I would like the county to get it so we could make it a county park,” he said.
As part of the proposed donation, the ground could not be re-sold nor could it be used for anything other than what they had been used for in the past.
Current events held on the Hiawatha grounds include the Civil War Days, boy scout and other organizations’ activities, Christmas parties, graduations and weddings.
There has also been discussion about selling the grounds and Remund said that the Pipestone National Monument had showed interest, but he admits that he has reservations about selling the land to a private organization.
“We don’t want to sell it, because we’re afraid of what they would use if for,” he said, adding that if the National Monument were to buy the ground, it would be within their rights to seal off the grounds “and then no one could use it.”
In addition to the approximately 30 acres, the Hiawatha grounds have walking trails, a pond and include several buildings. “Most are in decent shape,” Remund said of the buildings, though he admitted that there are a few that could be taken down.
Some of the buildings are used to store equipment, lighting, chairs and costumes left over from the pageant.
“We have a lot of equipment yet — lighting, costumes, over 5,000 chairs — that we would like to get rid of, but we can’t find anyone interested,” Remund said.
He added that the Hiawatha Club plans to allow the Pipestone County Museum to “come in and take whatever they want. The rest we would like to see sold.”
Moving forward, Remund said the first step will be to find out what the other county commissioners think about the proposed donation.
“If we end up with two parties interested, it will be up to the Club,” he said.
With talks of the project still in the beginning stages, Pipestone County Board Chair Butch Miller said he was unwilling to comment on the possible donation.
Whatever the fate of the Hiawatha grounds, Remund said that he hopes the area will continue to be used by the public.
“It’s a beautiful area and we have lots of wedding and graduations. Even in the winter, some people rent the club house for anniversaries or receptions. It’s a nice place to have and hopefully they can still use it,” he said.
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.