Katie Ribbens– Staff Writer
It takes a village to move a village. Community members are stepping up to help move the Heritage Village to its new location at Tower Fields.
The Heritage Village has resided in Open Space Park since its founding in 1991. Last spring, the city of Sioux Center decided to build an indoor turf facility on the Village’s site. Since that time, the Heritage Board has been working through emotions of anger, distrust, and disappointment. At the end of the day, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work to secure the Village’s future.
“We had dreams,” Linda Altena said. “At that site, we couldn’t do that. We didn’t have water. We didn’t have plumbing.”
Altena’s love of history prompted her to join the Heritage Board six years ago.
Cheri Hulstein and Larry Te Grotenhuis have each served on the board for more than twenty years.
“We were kind of stifled in what we could do,” Hulstein said.
While the Heritage Board had dreams, the city of Sioux Center restricted their ability to expand. The city hosted an open house for the community to share their opinion when they originally proposed the move. The community pushed for the Village to remain at the original site. Yet, the city proceeded with their plans. Altena wished the city had been upfront and told them the Heritage Village would be moved regardless of community discussions.
Monty Prins joined the Heritage Board three years ago, drawn by his family roots. His parents were involved in building the previous site. Te Grotenhuis said the different ages and interests of board members normally allows them to pursue their passion and continue the work of the Village.
“One of the things that’s been challenging for me is watching passionate people lose their passion for the Village,” Prins said.
Altena loved the trees at the original site and found it difficult to watch them go down. Te Grotenhuis said that the original site felt like home. Christianna Marcy, senior education major at Dordt University, agreed.
“I love just imagining life in a simpler time,” Marcy said. “I often would bring a book and a cup of tea and just sit on the front porch of one of the houses in the rocking chair. And just go there for a break from school.” Marcy is eager to see how the city will rebuild the new site and believes their effort will reveal their level of support for preserving history. Finding potential in the new site and encountering support from the community is helping board members move beyond their disappointment.
“I think we have lost some support, but I think we gained others,” Prins said. “That’s kind of one of the cool things is the different relationships that might be built up.”
Jeremy Hummel, an agriculture professor at Dordt, took his classes to help move perennials. Dordt baseball players helped pick up and clean the village’s brick paths.
Dordt president Erik Hoekstra committed $20,000 to aid in relocating trees and $5,000 to help move the Kuhl house, which was donated by Dordt in 2017, according to Sioux Center News.
The board successfully moved 22 trees from the original site, which addressed a controversy when the city proposed the move. Since many trees were donated in memory of loved ones, the community did not want to lose them. Moving the peg barn also proved challenging, but members were able to take it apart into three sheets.
The sheer amount of time commitment proved so extensive that Te Grotenhuis eventually gave up trying to keep track of volunteer hours.
Hulstein said that seeing people’s work being undone at the original site makes the situation more real. Yet, she is hopeful for the new site. She feels they are no longer landlocked, and the city is supportive of their new plans. The Heritage Board is planning a museum to showcase artifacts and hopes to connect the Heritage Village to the Sioux Center trail system.
Board members plan to have the village somewhat operational by their annual Harvest Festival in September. Marcy loved the Harvest Festivals and appreciated only having to walk across the street to attend.
“Those were just so neat to meet community members who were spinning yarn, doing carvings, doing pottery–just how they would bring out their gifts and share artistic trades,” Marcy said. “To see all ages coming together to learn about the past was just such a fun experience.”
She hopes the village will become more active in the future and can establish deep roots so it will not be moved again. The board encourages Dordt students and local schools to continue visiting the Heritage Village.
“We’re here for education,” Altena said. “We don’t want to lose our heritage.”