Mary Meighensifts flour in her kitchen in FOrestville.
Mary Meighensifts flour in her kitchen in FOrestville.
A Dakota Drum and Dance powwow is set to take place Saturday, June 1, on the grounds of Historic Forestville, the vintage village operated by the Minnesota Historical Society inside Forestville-Mystery Cave State park.

"It's going to be a grand spectacle of an event in a lot of ways - the color, the costumes, the pageantry, the fact that it's being interpreted...at other powwows, you could come and not know what's going on. We'll have someone from the community telling what the dance is about, the songs, why the spiritual nature is what it is about it, and it'll be an educational experience along with the entertainment," said Historic Forestville Site Supervisor John Grabko.

The powwow, a presentation of the Prairie Island Dakota, is a unique experience to behold, according to Grabko, who stated, "The powwow is a cultural event that is, in some ways, long overdue. The Dakota were moved off this land in 1851 or 1852, and we've had some events with Native Americans here, but this is the first time we've had a cultural event with the meaning of their heritage shared. This is the first powwow here - it's sacred. There hasn't been a powwow on this ground for at least 150 years."

The Historic Forestville interpretive staff will welcome the members of the Prairie Island Dakota powwow presenters and enjoy the observation at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1. Grabko invited visitors to stop in at the site from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"People can come for one powwow or stay for both," he said. "It's a really great day. They can tour the historical site too - it's included in the price."

Program this Saturday

Also, Thomas Meighen's hometown returns to life at the official opening of the interpretative season with South Forestville in Territorial Times this Saturday, May 25, as his great-grandson, Blake, drives a team of Percheron horses and takes visitors around South Forestville, the part of town that no longer exists but was actually a booming, bustling heart of the village; there was more than one general store, and Thomas Meighen didn't own it because it was in South Forestville, close to the distillery, the hotel, lumber yard, blacksmith shop, livery and other commercial establishments that were to serve the people who were meant to occupy 22 blocks of residential lots, of which only 11 sold.

A self-guided walking tour brochure maps out the sites as they stood in the late 19th century, beginning with Main Street, platted by Forest Henry and William Renslow in 1855, the Marsh Hotel owned by John Marsh in 1858, the blacksmith shop which served more than one blacksmith, the public square, a story-and-a-half residence built by Major Flynn, the distillery opened in 1856 by Robert Douglas, Reuben Odell and Felix Meighen, the Luedtke & Meighen Saw and Roller Mill opened by Thomas Meighen and Herman Luedtke in 1892, the overlook of the township road, and the water-powered Henry & Renslow Grist Mill, opened by Forest Henry and William Renslow in 1857.

South Forestville in Territorial Times is set for this Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to take the tour of the Meighen Store and the house, wander through the farmyard and also hitch a ride with Blake and his children, one of them aptly named Thomas.

Regular events scheduled for the summer, in addition to South Forestville in Territorial Times include Bread and Butter Day, the annual Fourth of July celebration, Pickle It, By the Light of the Lantern, Harvest Day and Apple Butter Day. Special events on the Historic Forestville calendar, after Dakota Drum and Dance, include Movies on the Barn, New Shoes for Horses, Historic Forestville's Civil War Encampment and Gettysburg Address and Defining State Lines in the 1850s.

Admission to Historic Forestville and its events is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children, and those 5 and under are admitted for free. There is a $1 discount for Minnesota Historical Society members. A state park permit is required for admission to the park. Historic Forestville is located inside Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, 21899 County Road 118, Preston, MN, 55965. For more information on programs and events at Historic Forestville, call (507) 765-2785.