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Pioneer Village to open for 49th season this weekend

WORTHINGTON -- Referred as "Gem on the Prairie," Worthington's Pioneer Village is set to welcome visitors for its 49th season this weekend. The village will open its grounds for the first time this season on Saturday. Regular hours through Labor ...

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Pioneer Village will open for its 49th season this weekend. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Referred as “Gem on the Prairie,” Worthington’s Pioneer Village is set to welcome visitors for its 49th season this weekend.

The village will open its grounds for the first time this season on Saturday. Regular hours through Labor Day are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Regular hours will be in effect for Saturday’s season-opener and Memorial Day.

After tallying visitors from 28 states and five foreign countries during the 2017 season, the village is set to welcome the next wave of new and returning visitors with some new activities.

“The third Friday of each month we’ll have a family night,” said Pioneer Village Committee Chair Jacoba Nagel, who also serves as a board member of the Nobles County Historical Society.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17 families - regardless of size - can enter for one fee and participate in period special activities.

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The village’s kid-favorite caboose will also be open again this season since recently undergoing a restoration.  

“The kids really like climbing up and looking out the cupola,” said fourth-year Pioneer Village Groundskeeper Gary Brandt.

Brandt said the village is a great resource to witness some of the happenings from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s.

“It’s an amazing place to see the transition from manual labor to mechanical assisted labor,” Brandt said.

Brandt is passionate about allowing individuals, particularly youths, to experience the period with hands-on activities, something he calls more than just a living history.

“To actually experience it is more meaningful,” he said.

Therefore, the village would like to find more volunteers to lead activities. Accomplishing this would not take a lot of scripting to get visitors engaged, he added.

Youths from Minnesota, northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota are just a sampling of those that experience the hands-on activities by visiting the village with their classmates for year-end field trips.

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The village, Nagel said, will host field trips all this week.

Nagel and Brandt said the village is grateful for the help received from community businesses, organizations and members to get the grounds ready for the school field trips and Saturday’s opener.

Winter maintenance projects included new windows and door on the village’s General Store. The new door does boast one original element - a decorative carving spruced up to life with a colorful design. The General Store projects and rebuild of the outhouse were completed by a mixture of individuals with Rock Nobles Community Corrections, Brandt said.

Bedford Technology also stepped up monetarily and physically with its maintenance crew, which rebuilt steps and boardwalks where needed. The crew also helped unwinterize sections of the village, Brandt said.

Nagel said other general cleaning projects were completed by Newport Labs, Early Risers Kiwanis, members of Pioneer Village Committee, Danelle Klassen and daughter Jenna, and Jesse Liepold.  

As has been tradition, the village will again host a Fourth of July event, Nagel said.

The village will be closed June 30 for a company’s private party.  

The grounds may be rented to large-group functions.

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For more information about ground rentals or how to help with ongoing needs of the village, contact the Nobles County Historical Society at 376-4431 or Nagel at 370-3727.

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