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Prairie Village Museum closes for the 2015 season on Sept. 15th, so if you haven't been here yet, it's time to plan your visit. We're open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Saturday and Sundays from Noon to 5.

2015 News Releases

Museum hosting gallery talk,
food workshop, improv show

Sept. 1, 2015

Prairie Village Museum in Rugby is presenting a variety of events in September, including a gallery talk, a food preservation workshop, and an improv theater performance. All are free and open to the public.


The closing reception for “Ghosts of Hope,” a photography exhibit featuring old and abandoned buildings in the Rugby area, will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. Wine and cheese will be served. Photographers Tillman Crane, Camden, Maine, and Joe Nash, Baltimore, will give a gallery talk at 7 p.m.


Rip Smith, Martinsburg, W.V., creator of the photography book “Forgotten Places: North Dakota,” will be present at the reception and available for book signing. Also attending will be participants in Crane’s 2015 North Dakota photography workshop. The exhibit curated by photographer and workshop co-instructor Dan Smith, Wolford, N.D., closes Sept. 11.


Preserving the Bounty

Three NDSU Extension Service agents will share information on freezing and dehydrating fruits and vegetables in a free workshop titled “Preserving the Bounty” at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, at Prairie Village Museum.


Callie Johnson, NDSU Extension Service agent for McHenry County, will share information using on freezing foods for later use. Karla Monson of Bottineau County will give tips on drying foods. And Yolanda Schmidt of Pierce County will share ideas for getting the most out of your garden.


“Preserving food for winter is a huge part of local culture and history,” said museum director Cathy Jelsing. “We thought it would be fun to share the latest, best information on preserving the fruits and vegetables without having to haul out grandma’s canning equipment.”


Theater of Public Policy

Prairie Talks presents Minneapolis-based improv troupe The Theater of Public Policy at Prairie Village Museum on Sunday, Sept. 13. The actors will improvise humorous sketches based on presentations/interviews with three North Dakota experts on campaign finance and lobbying.


A pre-show social with cash bar begins at 3 p.m. The free performance starts at 3:30 p.m. The museum will be open for touring from noon to 5 p.m. that day. The event is part of the Prairie Talks humanities series founded by Fillmore, N.D., native Kristi Rendahl.

Sisters by Choice will perform a USO-style show during the Village Fair on Aug. 9th.

Kids always enjoy Prairie Village Museum, but on Village Fair Day they love it.

Village Fair brings museum to life

30th annual fair celebrates history, culture, family

The biggest day of the year at Rugby’s Prairie Village Museum is the day of the Village Fair. On Sunday, Aug. 9, the pioneer village and museum will come to life during the 30th annual Village Fair with music, pioneer demonstrations, Chippewa games, an art show, photography exhibit and more.


For first timers the Village Fair is a whirl of sights, sounds and experiences that harken back to the 1890s. For repeaters the fair is about tradition: Eating cornbread fresh from the cook car, chatting with the blacksmith in his shop, singing songs in the saloon, and sending the kids off to class in Juniata School.


Pancakes, soap-making, Chippewa games

The day kicks off with a pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Pastor Nathan Steen’s all-faiths church service begins at 9:15 a.m. in Zion Lutheran Church. Around mid-morning, ladies will start gathering on the Gronvold House porch to demonstrate soap making, felting and needlework. And after lunch, Museum Camp kids will challenge each other in traditional Chippewa games On the village green.


Taught by Alex DeCoteau, Ojibway language expert and teacher at Turtle Mountain Community School, Belcourt, campers learned and made their own equipment for traditional games including Lacrosse, Spear the Hoop, Fire Keeper, The Hand Game, and Ring and Pin.


Music, music, music

This year’s featured musicians are Sisters by Choice. Dressed in period uniform, Terri Aldrich, Jan Veikley and Pam Hopkins of Minot will present a USO-style show filled with swing-era tunes ala The Andrews Sisters.


Delivering old-time favorites will be 50-year-partners-in-music The Dakota Playboys of New Rockford. Rounding out the program with a mix of folk, contemporary and original tunes will be The Tremors – North Dakota Music Award nominee Micah Scott and Lucas Antonson, Rugby, and Carl Kolbo, Canby. The music starts at 11:30 a.m. and continues on two stages until the gates close at 5 p.m. Each group appears twice.


Art, photography on display

An exhibit of glass-release monoprints by local artists Kathy Blessum, Sheila Craun, Rita Graber, Deb Hoffert, Marilyn Niewoehner, Jackie Skipper and Shirley Voeller will be open for viewing on the second story of Silva School. Ghosts of Hope, a photography exhibit of old and historic farms near Rugby, will be on display in the museum’s Old Main Gallery. Fairgoers also will find artwork by participants in the museum’s first ever Kids’ Art Workshops on display.


Food for every craving

Food is a big deal at the fair and the Friends of Prairie Village Museum will deliver with burgers, hotdogs, tacos in a bag, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and German potato salad. Sweets will include smoothies, root beer floats and Pride Dairy ice cream. In the Sandven Building, The Sons of Norway will have rommegrot and lefse for sale and the Rugby Eagles Auxiliary will be serving pie.


Members, active-duty military free

Admission is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors, veterans and college students; $3 for kids 7-17; free for kids 6 and under. Geographical Center Historical Society members and active-duty military attend for free. For the complete fair schedule go to


Major sponsors

The Village Fair is sponsored in part by the North Dakota Council on the Arts, Pierce County Endowment Fund, and the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

Campers will explore Chippewa way

Time to sign up for Museum Camp in Rugby

Registration is now open for Prairie Village Museum's fifth annual Musuem Camp, "Exploring the Chippewa Way." This year's camp is being led by Ojibway language expert Alex DeCoteau, a teacher at Turtle Mountain Community School, Belcourt.


Campers will learn Chippewa legends and customs and learn several Chippewa games and make their own equipment for the games.   Campers will demonstrate their game playing skills Aug. 9 at the museum's 30th annual Village Fair.


Camp runs Aug. 3-7 and Aug. 9 and is open to children ages 7 to 12. The morning session meets from 9:30 a.m. until noon and the afternoon session meets from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sessions are limited to 15 children and early registration is recommended.


Cost is $40 for Geographical Center Historical Society members and $50 for non-members. A historical society membership, which includes a 2015 season pass to the museum, is $30 per household or $15 for a single membership. Payment is required at the time of registration. Camperships are available based on financial need.


For more information, contact the museum at 776-6414.

Prairie Village Museum is offering kids' art classes in July. Registration deadline is July 6.

Kids' Art Workshops planned in July

Young artists will study painting, collage, drawing


Children who enjoy art are encouraged to enroll in the Kids' Art Workshops being offered July 20-24 at Prairie Village Museum in Rugby.


Instructor Tanner Lind, an art student at North Dakota State University, is leading two sessions: "Painting and Collage," for kids ages 7 to 9, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.; and "Drawing," for kids ages 10 to 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There is a limit of 10 children per session.


The workshop fee is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. All students pay a $20 fee for art supplies. Registration is required by July 6. Payment is required at the time of registration.


For more information, please call the museum at 776-6414.


“Rolette County,” a photograph by “Rip” Smith.

 ‘Ghosts’ photo exhibit featured in new gallery

Photographers focus on Rugby-area buildings

“Ghosts of Hope,” a photographic exhibit of old and historic farms taken near Rugby, opens with a wine and cheese reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby. Photographer and exhibit curator Dan Smith, Rugby, will present a gallery talk at 5:45 p.m.


More than 20 photographers from throughout the United States are featured in the exhibit, which will be on display at the museum through Sept. 8. The opening reception is open to the public free of charge.


The photos are of abandoned farm buildings, churches, homes and other dwellings in the Rugby area captured on film over the past five years by participants in photography workshops led by Tillman Crane of Camden, Maine.


During Crane’s “Spirit of Structure: Abandoned Farms of North Dakota” workshops, participants photograph at least two locations per day around Rugby and Rolette, N.D. “Each spring some new locations are added and some are lost,” Crane said. Structures range from windowless shells to intact buildings containing personal belongings of long-gone occupants.  


Smith, who assists Crane in setting up locations and instructing his North Dakota workshops, mounted the “Ghosts of Hope” exhibit. “We have had many excellent photographers here each year and the work reflects their talent,” Smith said. “‘Ghosts of Hope’ comes from the idea that these structures are what’s left of the hopes and dreams of those who built them.”


In addition to individual photographs, the exhibit includes photo essays of two iconic sites along Highway 2: Tunbridge Church, taken by Joe Nash of Baltimore, and Oppen Park pastel cabins, taken by Dorothea Eiben of Bar Harbor, Maine.


During the closing reception on Sept. 8, Crane and Nash will present a gallery talk and several photographers with images in the exhibit, who are participating in their first fall photo workshop in the Rugby area, will be in attendance.


The opening reception for “Ghosts of Hope” is sponsored by Friends of Prairie Village Museum; Jennifer Zachmeier Photography, Rugby; and the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. For more information on this and other upcoming events, visit, call 776-6414, or email

Prairie Public Radio host Merrill Piepkorn is gathering stories from North Dakota train town residents.

Prairie Public Radio seeking train stories

Museum hosting informal chat July 13


North Dakota Public Radio producer Merrill Piepkorn, Fargo, is gathering people’s stories about life in towns along old passenger rail lines for a project called “North Dakota Rail Towns.” People from Rugby and nearby communities are invited to share their train experiences with Piepkorn at 2 p.m., Monday, July 13, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


“We hope people will make the project a success by spending an afternoon sharing their train memories and experiences with their friends and neighbors,” Piepkorn said. He will follow up on the group conversation by conducting personal interviews and recording individual stories in the Rugby area.


Rugby is one of four communities selected for “North Dakota Rail Towns,” a collaborative project of Prairie Public Radio and Big Shed, a media company specializing in memories.  Many of the edited stories will air on Prairie Public Radio. They’ll also be shared online on the Big Shed and Prairie Public Radio websites.


Refreshments will be served. Museum admission is free to all who participate in the gathering.

Rhubarb lovers this is your lucky day. Choose from 30 rhubarb offerings from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 28.

Rhubarb Festival all about the rhubarb

Six samples of your choice for $5; coffee is FREE


Everything will be coming up rhubarb Sunday, June 28, during the third annual Rhubarb Festival at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby. Friends of the Museum will be serving tastes of rhubarb treats from noon to 4 p.m.


A $5 donation will purchase six tastes of more than 30 rhubarb dishes. Festival chair Kathy Blessum says the majority of rhubarb offerings will be desserts, pies and cakes, “but in past years we’ve also had savory dishes, salsa and punch all made with rhubarb.” Pub burgers, hotdogs and chips will be offered for sale from noon until gone. Coffee comes free with the rhubarb.


The festival will take place, rain or shine, in the museum’s Sandven Exhibition Hall. Rhubarb recipe books will be available for sale for $5. All 30 of the museum’s buildings will be open for touring until 5 p.m.

Special museum admission rate for the festival is $5; free for kids age 17 and under. Museum admission is free for Geographical Center Historical Society members and active-duty military and their families.


All proceeds from the event will go to the museum’s Boost the Caboose campaign to raise money for the repair and restoration of the museum’s 1911 Great Northern Caboose.vFor more information on the Rhubarb Festival, call 701-776-6414.

Steve Stark will be featured speaker at Geographical Center Historical Society dinner April 14, 2013.

Terry Jelsing

Adult Art Workshop starts July 13

Jelsing conducting classes at Prairie Village Museum


Registration deadline is July 3 for an art workshop being offered from 6:30 to 9 p.m. July 13-17 and 23 at Prairie Village Museum. Taught by Terry Jelsing, “Introduction to Acrylic Glass Release Painting” is open to beginning and experienced artists, ages 16 and older.


An artist, teacher and freelance designer, Jelsing resides in Rugby. The workshop will culminate in an exhibit during the museum’s Village Fair on Aug. 9.


The registration fee is $95 for Geographical Center Historical Society members and $110 for non-members (fee includes season pass to museum). Fees must be paid in advance at the museum. A supply list will be provided at the time of registration.


For more information, call Terry Jelsing at 776-7606 or email

Children can experience what school was like in the “olden days” during Museum Comes Alive!

Prairie Village Museum comes to life June 7

Chat with village townsfolk about days gone by


Costumed interpreters will bring Prairie Village Museum to life from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 7, in Rugby.


The museum, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, includes 23 historic buildings arranged around a village square that are furnished as they might have been at the turn of the century. “We’ll have people in costume throughout the village, from the train depot to the church, from the blacksmith shop to the law office,” said event organizer Pat Bye.


Village “residents” will share stories about how people went about their lives in area businesses, homes and schools in the late 1880s and early 20th century. Visitors will also have an opportunity to view the photography exhibit Ghosts of Hope on display in the museum’s new gallery space, explore the museum’s six exhibition halls, and climb aboard the museum’s Great Northern caboose.


Friends of the Museum will have burgers, hot dogs, chips, lemonade and coffee available for sale from noon until gone. Picnic tables will be set up throughout the museum grounds.


Regular museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. Sundays.


Museum Comes Alive! is supported in part by the Friends of the Museum, the Pierce County Endowment Fund, and the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

Lorraine Davis

Bill Thomas

Native American Development Center founder,
Public Radio director featured in ‘Prairie Talks’


Lorraine Davis, founder of the Native American Development Center, Bismarck, and Prairie Public Radio director Bill Thomas, Fargo, will discuss the life-shaping power of stories during a Prairie Talks presentation at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 14, at Prairie Village Museum in Rugby. The event is free.


The museum will open for touring at noon and Friends of the Museum will have hot dogs, burgers and beverages available for purchase from noon until gone. The Friends also will provide bars and coffee after the talk.


A Native American woman, professional, and mother of four, Davis has overcome alcoholism, poverty, homelessness, oppression, and violence. She is collecting stories of resilience from some 50 Native Americans in the Bismarck-Mandan area that Prairie Public Radio will begin airing later this summer. The series also will have a page on the Prairie Public website, where people can listen anytime or download the stories onto cell phones or tablets.


At Prairie Talks, Davis and Thomas will discuss the power of stories to shape the lives of individuals and communities, especially within Native American communities.


Davis founded the Native American Development Center in 2012 to provide a supportive and culturally relevant foundation for Native Americans seeking better lives. An enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, Davis is a descendant of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. She has served as part of the homeless and poverty coalition, a Mandan Public School board member, and advisor to the Mayor of Bismarck to recruit Native American career talent.


Bill Thomas joined Prairie Public in 1999 as the first manager for a new public radio network formed with NDSU and UND. Today Prairie Public Radio reaches homes across North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota, and Canada. Prior to accepting the position in North Dakota, Thomas worked for Nebraska's Public Radio Network and held a variety of positions in Illinois, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.


“When I moved here,” Thomas said,” I knew North Dakota was home to several Indian nations, so I was surprised at how little I heard about them. We have done some things at Prairie Public, but we've done a lot more on Germans from Russia and Scandinavians. This will be a chance for those who are not Native American to get a better, fuller sense of what that's like. And for our listeners who are Native American, a validation of their own struggles in the stories they hear.”


Prairie Talks events are intended to engage, challenge, and inspire. This Prairie Talk is co-sponsored by Prairie Village Museum and is supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council. Donations are welcomed to help defray expenses.


The series was started to connect people in North Central North Dakota with people from around the world. Kristi Rendahl, the founder of the series, was born and raised in Benson County and is a graduate of Rugby High School. Prairie Talks has an advisory council comprised of residents in the Rugby area.

Steve Stark will be featured speaker at Geographical Center Historical Society dinner April 14, 2013.

Steve Stark's Illustrated History presentations are great for all ages and at 1:15 p.m. April 12 his talk on fur trading in Dakota Territory is FREE at the Rugby Eagles.

Museum launching 50th year with dinner, talk

Stark presenting Illustrated History of fur trading

March 2015

Prairie Village Museum will kick off its 2015 season and its 50th year with a meatball and ham dinner and Steve Stark’s Illustrated History program on fur trading, Sunday, April 12, at the Rugby Eagles Club.


The freewill community dinner, featuring homemade meatballs, ham and all the trimmings, will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fargo cartoonist/historian Steve Stark will give his Illustrated History presentation on “Fur Trading on the Dakota Frontier” at 1:15. The program is free and open to the public.


Award-wining cartoonist, actor and writer Steve Stark will illustrate his tales fur trading in Dakota Territory on a 20-foot roll of paper. Known by school children as “Mr. History,” this is Stark’s third appearance in conjunction with Prairie Village Museum’s Spring Kick-off Dinner.


“People enjoy Steve’s presentations so much, the board decided to bring him back again,” said executive director Cathy Jelsing. Stark’s previous illustrated talks were on Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. “This time,” Jelsing said, “Steve will be drawing in his buckskins.”


This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the museum’s Village Fair. The fair will take place on Aug. 9 and will be one of several activities this summer commemorating milestones, celebrating recent improvements, and introducing new programming.


In March 1965 the Geographical Center Historical Society (formerly Pierce County Historical Society) purchased 20 acres of land from Kermit Blessum to establish a pioneer village and museum.  Zion Lutheran Church was moved to the site that year and other historic buildings followed. Construction on Austin Exhibition Hall, now known as Old Main, began in 1968. Over the years, more land was purchased, more exhibit halls were built, and historic buildings were added from as far away as Penn and Bottineau, N.D.


Today Prairie Village Museum consists of six exhibition halls and more than 20 historic and historic-looking structures arranged around a grassy village square. The museum’s collections include a Burlington Northern Caboose, a cook car, dozens of farm implements, automobiles, plus thousands of household items, Native American artifacts, and other objects representative of life on North Dakota’s northern plains.


Sponsors of the Spring Kick-Off Dinner are the North Dakota Humanities Council, Ramsey National Bank, Pierce County Endowment Fund, and the Geographical Center Historical Society, which operates Prairie Village Museum. Historical society vice president Linda Lysne is doing the cooking.

Debra Marquart will present a writing workshop in Rugby on Feb. 8 and 22.

Debra Marquart will present a free writing workshop on Feb. 8 and 22 at Heart of America Library in Rugby.

Marquart presenting free writing workshop

Topic: Our People. Our Places. Our Stories.

January 2015

North Dakota native and author Debra Marquart will present a free writing workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 22, in Heart of America Library, Rugby. The Rugby workshop is one of a series of workshops – “Our People. Our Places. Our Stories.” – Marquart is presenting throughout the state.


Sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council, the free, hands-on workshops are designed for people interested in honing their writing skills and intended for writers at every stage of development. In the first session on Feb. 8, Marquart will discuss researching and writing about family and place, share approaches to essay writing, and lead a few simple writing exercises. Those registered for the second session on Feb. 22, will share their writing with other participants.


Marquart wrote the award-winning memoir about growing up in North Dakota, “The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.” A professor of English at Iowa State University, Ames, she teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment.


Participants may register for the workshop online at Writing samples to be discussed in the workshop can be downloaded from the website. Attendees should bring a notebook and pen. Refreshments will be served by Friends of Prairie Village Museum. Village Arts Inc. is also providing local support along with host institution Heart of America Library.


“The first class is open to the public, so there’s no need to register for that. Anyone can come, listen to the reading, and participate in the writing exercises,” Marquart said. However, only those who register may participate in the second session on Feb. 22, where participants (limit is 8) will share what they’ve written with the group.


“We have to limit the numbers in that second workshop,” Marquart said, “mostly because it takes a certain amount of time for people to read their pieces aloud and for us to respond to them.” If more people are interested in sharing their work, Marquart said she will expand the Feb. 22 session later into the afternoon or add a second session that day. Registered participants will be notified of any changes or additions to the schedule.


A recipient of numerous awards and commendations Marquart, is also the author of two poetry collections – “Everything's a Verb” and “From Sweetness” – and a collection of interrelated short stories, “The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories,” which draws on her experiences as a female road musician. She has released two CDs with her rhythm and blues project, The Bone People, and continues to perform solo as a singer/songwriter. This year New Rivers Press will release her latest book, a poetry collection titled “Small Buried Things.”

2015 News Releases

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