When the historical tribute becomes history

Katie Ribbens— Staff Writer 

Photo Credit: Katie Ribbens

I once walked Dordt University’s campus and existed in my little sphere without thought to what lay on the other side of the street. And now, the little gem just down the road from Dordt, is losing its chance of discovery.

The Heritage Village in Sioux Center recently celebrated its final annual Heritage Festival. The festival drew members of all generations from the community. The village used it as an opportunity to engage school children and feature agricultural activities specific to Sioux Center. 

The quaint historical site began in 1990 and has grown ever since. It now boasts many salvaged historical buildings, some of which stand as reminders from 1886.  Their apple and pear trees are weighed down by the delicious fruit that the village graciously shares with the community at their festival each year. It also features a garden and a tree walk. There are over 70 varieties of trees, many of which were donated in memory of a lost loved one. 

Now, the buildings, trees, and other mementos from years past are in jeopardy. Following a heated debate in March 2021, the city of Sioux Center requested the village move to a new location in Towers Field. Tension escalated between the village and Dordt. They felt betrayed by us, their neighbors, since Dordt is a substantial part of the reason the village is getting pushed out of their abode. President Erik Hoekstra supported the building of the American State Bank Sport Complex, which is to be built on the land the village currently occupies. 

The Heritage Village board members fear the move’s impact on the survival of their buildings and their trees. The village had difficulty moving these buildings to their present location and fear they will not survive another move. Their distinct barn, for example, is held together by pegs. 

Nonetheless, the village is trying to find the silver lining in the move. They hope to adopt additional buildings, incorporate the trail system, and make use of the acreage to simulate a farm, according to Sioux Center News. 

The choice of building a new sports facility over maintaining the city’s historical site makes me fear our priorities. I am not anti-sports, nor am I an obsessed history nut. I am simply a student at Dordt that is going to miss one of my favorite hangout places. As someone who is not overly involved in traditional sports, it can sometimes feel isolating in an area that boasts of so much athletic talent. 

I enjoyed having a place so close to campus that supported some of my interests. I love taking walks through nature or taking out my camera to snap some photos. I enjoyed getting to interact with the animals that appeared at the village for their annual festival. I felt privileged to walk in someone else’s shoes, at least for the time it took to tour the buildings. I got to see the city as my father and grandparents saw it through the photographs of the old downtown pinned in the peg barn. 

Now, I know the village is not disappearing forever. Their move to Towers Field may even present them with new opportunities that will support their future. The new sports dome also has merit. However, the added distance makes the village feel less accessible. It will take more than just a walk across the street to access the area. When I look around, I see many athletic facilities within walking distance of campus. I do not see any reminders of our history. So, until the village is moved to its new location, I will soak in every moment. I will enjoy the sunsets behind the barns, reflect on the living memorials, and enjoy seeing the colors change. I’m glad I had the opportunity to live in such close proximity to the village, but I am disappointed for the sake of all the students who come after me that may never know what used to occupy the land beneath their new sports complex. 

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