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2016 News Releases

Elves singing at Holiday Dinner

A choir of elves will be singing holiday tunes at the sixth annual Prairie Village Museum Old-Fashioned Holiday Dinner on Dec. 9 at the Rugby Eagles Club.


“We are thrilled to have Santa’s Elf Choir as our featured entertainment,” said museum executive director Cathy Jelsing. In real life, the elves are fifth and sixth grade students at Rugby’s Ely Elementary and Little Flower Catholic School.  


The dinner music starts at 5 p.m. with The Pretzer Family, followed by pianists Bernie Arcand and Barb Lee. Santa’s Elf Choir, directed by Andee Mattson and accompanied by Glenda Mack, will take the stage around 6:30 p.m.


“When we started the Old-Fashioned Holiday Dinner six years ago we wanted to create a kid-friendly, holiday party,” Jelsing said, “We’re happy to say it’s become a successful, multi-generational community event where people enjoy themselves and show their support for the museum.”


Friends of the Museum will begin serving a roast beef dinner at 5 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive around 5:30 to meet and greet kids of all ages. Throughout the evening attendees can shop for baked goods and purchase chances on gift baskets donated by more than 30 local businesses and members of the Geographical Center Historical Society.


Dinner tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids (ages 6 to 12); no charge for preschoolers. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Prepared by museum board member Linda Lysne, the menu includes roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, coleslaw, rolls, bread pudding, lemonade and coffee.


The Old-Fashioned Holiday Dinner is sponsored by Center Mutual Insurance, Envision, Merchants Bank, TBEI-Rugby Manufacturing, Rugby Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, Dave and Caye Bednarz, and Richard and Edie Wurgler.


All proceeds, including historical society memberships sold that night, go to support the Geographical Center Historical Society and Prairie Village Museum.

Gift baskets, baked sale, Santa add to fun Dec. 9

Santa's Elf Choir includes members of the Ely/Little Flower 5th and 6th grade choir which will give its school band and choir concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Tilman Hovland Auditorium.

Mike Jacobs

Mark Trahant

Tom Gerhardt

Prairie Talks celebrating Pulitzer centennial

Prize-worthy journalists taking stage September 11

Prairie Talks marks the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize with a program titled “Pulitzer on the Prairie,” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


Sharing their experiences with the Pulitzer prize will be Mike Jacobs, former editor of the Pulitzer prize-winning Grand Forks Herald, and Pulitzer finalist Mark Trahant, the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. KXMB-TV news director Tom Gerhardt, Bismarck, will serve as moderator.


With Jacobs at the helm, the Grand Forks Herald earned the 1998 Pulitzer for Public Service for its coverage of the 1997 flood that devastated the city. Trahant became a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting as co-author of an Arizona Republic series, “Fraud in Indian Country.” Trahant also served as a Pulitzer jury-pool judge in 2004 and 2005.


Prairie Talks is free and open to the public and attendees may tour Prairie Village Museum free of charge; gates open at noon. Prairie Talks is cosponsored by Friends of Prairie Village Museum and supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council. Donations are welcomed to help defray expenses.


Since it was founded in 2012, Prairie Talks has hosted nine events, attracting more than 500 people and a range of co-sponsoring organizations from the community. Events have featured journalists, authors, human rights advocates, Native American leaders, public health advocates, and artists.


Visit for more information.

Folk/Americana/rock band Wild Hands and champion old-time fiddler Shelby Huston will fill the air with music during 31st annual Village Fair.

Champion fiddler performing at Village Fair

PerfomersPrairie Village Museum comes to life August 14

Sixteen-year-old champion fiddler player Shelby Huston, Minot, will help bring history to life Sunday, Aug. 14, during the Village Fair at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


Now in its 31st year, executive director Cathy Jelsing says the blend of live music, pioneer demonstrations and the setting is what draws people to the fair each year.


“Our museum doesn’t look like much from Highway 2,” Jelsing says, “but when people pass through the doors and discover ‘there’s a whole village out there,’ they are amazed. The Village Fair makes visiting Prairie Village Museum an exciting, memorable experience and it’s what keeps people coming back for more.”


Award-winning singer/songwriter Micah Scott, Rugby, kicks off the stage entertainment at 11 a.m. Huston, top old-time fiddler in North Dakota and Minnesota, performs her first set at 12:15. Minot band Wild Hands follows celebrating life on the prairie with a sound that synthesizes folk, Americana and rock ‘n’ roll.


Rugby native Selmer Moen accompanies Huston on guitar at 2:15 p.m. and at 3:30 slides onto an organ bench to lead a hymn sing-along in the museum’s Zion Lutheran Church. More secular sing-alongs go on throughout the day in the Saloon and at the Drug Store. All stage performers appear twice.


Demonstrations of old-time activities are a big part of what brings the museum to life. Fairgoers strolling the boardwalk will find a preacher preaching in the church (9:15 a.m.), cooks baking in the cook car, butter makers churning in the creamery, blacksmiths hammering in the blacksmith shop, kids tending animals by the livery barn, ladies stitching on the Gronvold House porch, and a school teacher conducting class in Juniata School. Rope making promises to be a popular hands-on demonstration this year and at 1 p.m. young museum camp participants will share what they learned about Being German from Russia.


Visitors can view paintings, watercolors and found-art sculptures by adult and children’s art workshop participants on the second floor of Silva School. And vendors scattered throughout the museum grounds will have handcrafted items for sale.


This year’s featured exhibit in Old Main Gallery, Collections Gone Wild, brings together some of the museum’s most extensive, single-focus collections, including Dale Niewoehner’s 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair memorabilia, Nick Schall’s beer cans, and Earl Loken’s telephones.


Food service begins at 8:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast. Beginning at noon, Friends of Prairie Village Museum will serve tacos in a bag, burgers, hotdogs, pulled pork sandwiches and German potato salad. Visitors also will find a variety of treats, including mini-donuts, juneberry and strawberry-rhubarb ice cream, root beer floats, homemade pie, popcorn, and Norwegian rommegrot and lefse.


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.


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

Volunteer Crystal Grove, left, and collections coordinator Stephanie Steinke, right, make a plan for cataloging and storing the doll collection at Prairie Village Museum.

Rugby hosting collections workshop

Free workshop expected to draw participants statewide

A series of free collections care and emergency preparedness workshops are being offered this August at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby; Sargent County Museum, Forman; and Bonanzaville, West Fargo. The workshops are open to volunteers, board members and staff working in museums, libraries, archives and records management and all interested citizens.


Prairie Village Museum was selected as a workshop site in part because the museum is transitioning from largely “open-storage” display to the more selective exhibition of artifacts. This has created a need for long-term storage. In addition, this spring Prairie Village Museum began transferring the museum’s paper collection records to a PastPerfect electronic database, a goal for many museums around the state.


During the Rugby workshop, Aug. 29 –Sept. 2, conservator Terri Schindel of the Museum Training Network of North Dakota, will cover preventative conservation, care of collections in storage and storage planning.


The Rugby workshop is being offered in a series of afternoon, evening, and morning sessions. “Those attending will learn alongside museum staff what we’ve done right so far, what we can do better, and what we need to do to care for and preserve our collections both in and out of storage,” said Prairie Village Museum director Cathy Jelsing.


Individuals who attend all three workshops will benefit most from this free training opportunity, but Schindel said “attending even one day or part of a day is OK.” Registration is required, but there is no fee and no limit to the number of participants per organization.


Registration contact for “Disaster Preparedness Planning, Response and Drills,” Aug. 15 – 19, at Bonanzaville is Lynsay Flory, 701-282-2822 or


Registration contact for “Collections Care/Preventive Conservation,” Aug. 22-26, at Sargent County Museum is Pat Olofson, 701-724-3194 or


To register for the Rugby workshop, “Preventative Conservation, Care of Collections in Storage and Storage Planning,” call 701-776-6414 or email


Rugby workshop schedule: Aug. 29 – 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 to 8 p.m. (potluck supper); Aug. 30 – 9 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 4 p.m. (lunch on own); Aug. 31 – 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 to 8 p.m. (potluck supper); Sept. 1 – 9 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 4 p.m. (lunch on own); Sept. 2 – 9 a.m. – Noon. Attendees may choose to participate with Prairie Village Museum volunteers and staff in the project wrap up from 1 to 4 p.m.


The collections care workshops are made possible by a grant from the State Historical Society of North Dakota and in-kind contributions from host institutions and workshop participants.

Rev. Phil Leer

Beth Huseth

Mental Health

Suicide next Prairie Talks topic

May 24, 2016

The next Prairie Talks, “Fighting Stigma: Saving Lives,” will explore mental health issues, the related stigma that still exists in our rural communities, and how we can help those who are struggling. Featured speaker will be Beth Huseth, R.N., chair of Community Cares about Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Harvey, N.D., and former North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition board member. Huseth will be joined by the Rev. Phil Leer, a founding member of Community Cares and pastor to Harvey families who have lost loved ones to suicide. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at Prairie Village Museum, 102 Highway 2 SE, Rugby.


In the past three years, five Harvey area residents have committed suicide. “The recent suicides add to a long and troubling history of suicide in the greater Harvey area,” Leer said. Unofficial statistics indicate an average of one Harvey-area resident has taken his or her own life each year in the past 15 years, a trend that may go back as many as 30 years. “The suicides have been both youth and adults, and most if not all have been male,” said Leer, who conducted religious services for three of the most recent suicide victims; two were high school boys who took their lives less than five months apart.


After the second boy’s suicide, community leaders came together and agreed, “We have to do something.” The initial community meeting became the genesis of the “Community Cares” committee. The committee includes people from all walks of life, religious and secular. Chaired by Huseth, Community Cares has spawned a grief support group, a youth mentoring program, Lighting the Darkness suicide survivor events, mental health speakers for the school, Color Dash 5k walk/runs, and a variety of other events.


Prairie Talks events are free and open to the public. Attendees are invited to tour Prairie Village Museum at no cost on the days of Prairie Talks events. Friends of the Museum cosponsor the Talks and donations are welcomed to help defray expenses.


Since it was founded in 2012, Prairie Talks has hosted eight events, attracting more than 500 people and a range of co-sponsoring organizations from the community. Events have featured journalists, authors, human rights advocates, Native American leaders, and those who use art to explore complex issues of our time.


On Sept. 11 Prairie Talks will mark the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize with “Pulitzer on the Prairie,” a talk featuring Mike Jacobs, former editor of the Pulitzer prize-winning Grand Forks Herald, and 1989 Pulitzer finalist Mark Trahant, who is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. Held at Prairie Village Museum, the talk will be moderated by KXMB-TV news director Tom Gerhardt, Bismarck. Visit for more information.

It’s tough deciding which rhubarb treats to sample during Prairie Village Museum’s annual Rhubarb Festival.

Rhubabrb Fest!

Prairie Museum hosting 4th annual Rhubarb Festival

June 20, 2016

Everything will be coming up rhubarb from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 26, during the fourth annual Rhubarb Festival at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


A $5 donation will purchase six tastes of rhubarb-inspired desserts, cakes, pies, cookies, breads and – new this year – rhubarb ice cream. In 2015 more than 200 people attended and festival chair Kathy Blessum is expecting another enthusiastic crowd. “People who love rhubarb, love this event. It’s all about the rhubarb and enjoying an afternoon exploring the museum,” Blessum said.


The festival will take place, rain or shine, in the museum’s Sandven Exhibition Hall. Friends of the Museum will be selling pulled-pork sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs and chips from noon until gone. Coffee comes free with the rhubarb. And rhubarb recipe books will be available for sale for $5.


Entrance fee for the Rhubarb Festival is $5 for adults. Geographical Center Historical Society members, active-duty members of the U.S. military, and kids age 17 and under attend for free.


All proceeds from the Rhubarb Festival 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.

For more information on the Rhubarb Festival, visit or call 701-776-6414.

Kids' Art Workshops planned in July

Young artists will study watercolor & found object sculpture


Children who enjoy art are encouraged to enroll in the Kids' Art Workshops being offered July 11-15 at Prairie Village Museum in Rugby.


Instructor Tanner Lind, an art student at North Dakota State University, is leading two sessions: "Watercolor Painting" for kids ages 7 to 9, from 10am - Noon; and "Found Object Sculpture," for kids ages 10 to 12, from 1-3 p.m. There is a limit of 15 children per session.


The workshop fee is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. Registration is required by July 1. Payment is required at the time of registration.


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

Alaric Skjelver portrays District Judge Asmunder Benson who began his law practice in Bottineau in 1915 and whose office is now part of the museum.

Prairie Village Museum comes to life


The Fairmont Cream Station, Village Square Saloon, Silva School and all of the other historic buildings at Rugby’s Prairie Village Museum will be abuzz with activity when the Museum Comes Alive 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 5.


  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. Blacksmith Dean Hagen, Maddock, will be at work in the blacksmith shop. And Julia Petrovic of Slavic Heritage Farm will demonstrate how to make herbal salves and soap.


 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.

“This is a wonderful time to explore the museum and take a walk through history,” said organizer Pat Bye. “We’ll have costumed interpreters in most buildings and you’ll find townsfolk strolling the boardwalk.”


 Special admission rates are available for families of four or more; admission is free with the purchase of a Geographical Center Historical Society membership. For more information on this and other upcoming events, visit


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

Storytellers taking stage at Spring Kick-Off

Freewill donations for dinner, program

April 1, 2016


What do people do after a good Sunday dinner? They loosen their belts, tip back their chairs, and tell stories. That’s exactly what’s going to happen when Prairie Village Museum serves up its Spring Kick-Off Dinner on Sunday, April 17, at the Rugby Eagles Club.


The freewill community dinner, featuring ham and all the trimmings, will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Minot Story Hour co-founder Travis Gerjets and some Rugby-area storytellers will start telling tales of “The Good-Old, Bad-Old Days” at 1:15 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.


Local storytellers invited to share their stories of “The Good-Old, Bad-Old Days” are: Rugby auctioneer Ron Torgerson; Russian immigrant and Slavic Heritage Farm co-founder Julia Petrovic; longtime educator and farmer’s wife Bonita Lindseth; retired pharmacist and former Baillie’s Drug Store owner Duane Baillie; and Rugby native and artist Terry Jelsing.


As a “story educator,” Gerjets has helped hundreds of people share their own stories in their own words with the aim of building community, deepening empathy and celebrating folk history.


The night before the Spring Kick-Off program, Gerjets will work with the local storytellers to help them develop and refine their stories for the public telling. 

Gerjets served as an associate Lutheran pastor in Waconia, Minn., before he and his wife, the Rev. Brandy Gerjets, moved to Minot, where they are raising their 2-year-old son. Gerjets helped launch the successful Minot Story Hour in February 2015.


 “Gathering stories is something we’d like to do more of as a historical society,” executive director Cathy Jelsing said. “Having Travis here to encourage local folks to share their stories is a perfect way to kick off the museum’s 51st season.”


Individuals interested in renewing or purchasing Geographical Center Historical Society memberships may do so at the Kick-Off. Memberships include season passes to Prairie Village Museum and all museum events.


Kick-off sponsors are Ramsey National Bank, the North Dakota Humanities Council and Thrivent Financial.

Travis Gerjets

All historical society members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting on April 12.

Good news expected at annual meeting

Paula Jelsing, David Bednarz up for election

March 26, 2016


The Geographical Center Historical Society, which manages Prairie Village Museum, will hold its annual meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, at the Rugby Eagles Club.


Members are invited to join the board for dinner at 6 p.m. (dinner is on your own). The business meeting will start at 6:45 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, but only historical society members are eligible to vote.


David Bednarz and Paula Jelsing will be presented as board candidates. Board member Edie Wurgler and vice president Pat Bye are up for reelection. Nominations also will be taken from the floor.


In other business, board members and executive director Cathy Jelsing will give a review of the 2015 season, share financial statements and plans for the coming season. Members will be asked to will vote on a proposed bylaws change.


In addition to those up for reelection, the board includes president Roger Sitter, treasurer Linda Lysne, secretary Dennis Miller, Mildred Rothgarn, Amanda Loughman, Dr. Hubert Seiler and Richard Davidson.


Memberships, which include season passes to the museum, will be available for purchase at the Eagles prior to the annual meeting.

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