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Forecasting a fabulous Fourth: Nobles County's Pioneer Village ready for annual celebration

WORTHINGTON -- The Nobles County Historical Society will once again host its Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration Monday at Pioneer Village.. The event, which goes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., has been taking place for years, and some of its ...

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A tractor recently donated to Pioneer Village stands in the Big Barn at the historic site. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON -- The Nobles County Historical Society will once again host its Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration Monday at Pioneer Village..

The event, which goes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., has been taking place for years, and some of its activities date back three decades.

“It’s one of our big fundraisers,” Nobles County Historical Society President Jacoba Nagel said. “It’s our showcase event of the year. People can look all over the grounds and spend as much time out here as they want.”

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The Prairie Reapers 30th Annual Power Reunion will start the activities with a kids’ tractor pull at 9:30 a.m. Several antique tractors will be on display throughout the day, and their owners will have the chance to compete in a tractor pull at 10:30 a.m..

“The Prairie Reapers are always here,” Nagel said. “They have a tractor pull, and then they display old machinery and tractors. At noon they have a tractor parade, and anyone that brought a tractor drives around the grounds.”

The Historical Society has an additional reason to be excited about the machinery activities this year. It has received two tractors that will become part of Pioneer Village’s permanent display, one of which only 1,089 of its model were ever produced.

The other specific tractor to look out for is a bright green 730 John Deere that was recently repainted by the students of the Worthington High School Ag 12 class.

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Though they aren’t new to the historical celebration, the Prairie Reapers have added a swap meet/flea market to their list of activities to occur outside the gates of Pioneer Village.

The other main attractions at the event are related to music and theater. Jim Krapf will read at two different times from the book “Letters of a German American Farmer.” Also set for a pair of performances will be the 29th annual melodrama in the Big Barn. This year’s presentation is “Babes in Gangland or The Godmother.”

Additional performances include a soloist and a duet.

“At 11:30 in the small church, Barb Atchinson will be on her keyboard playing patriotic songs and hymns,” Nagel said. “And then in the saloon, from 1 to 2, Barb will be on her keyboard and Marv Luinenberg will be be on his accordion playing various patriotic songs.”

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Each year, the village has some guests demonstrating a trade in its various shops. Tom Tracy will be working in the blacksmith shop as he has done in the past, but there is an additional tradesman this year.

“A man named Mark Johnston, a historic design consultant, does woodwork using old-time tools from the 1800s,” Pioneer Village Caregiver Gary Brandt explained. “He will be here in the carpenter shop building a chest that the people of that era would have stored clothes and blankets in.

“He specializes in the method of dovetailing without electric equipment. It’s all by hand,” Brandt added.

Something else for visitors to view is an old item with a fresh look.

“This past year the caboose has been completely renovated, inside and out. They re-sided it, put in new windows, and redid the inside,” Nagel said.

Though Pioneer Village has been open for just over a month, it has already seen visitors from 20 states, as well as Puerto Rico, South Africa and the Netherlands. Brandt and Nagel said that their main goal is to sustain the history of the area and share it with others.

“We can only preserve the physical artifacts here,” Brandt said. “We’re trying to make a call out to the generation that lived in this era.

“We need their stories because that’s really what makes it alive,” he continued. “When they’re gone, it’s gone. We can retrieve some of these artifacts, but the stories that are never told are gone.”

There is an admission for adults, and kids under age 15 can enter for free. Food items for sale will include hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pop, water and root beer floats.


“It’s really a celebration of the Fourth of July, but also a celebration of the history of the life that was,” Nagel said.

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Pioneer Village Caretaker Gary Brandt and NCHS volunteer Marv Luinenburg look over one of the tractors that was recently donated to the historical site. (Submitted photo)

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