New Heritage Village hosts annual festival

Tabetha DeGroot — Staff Writer

The Sioux Center Heritage Village will host its annual Harvest Festival at its new Tower Fields location Sept. 16 and 17 with a variety of things to see, do, and taste, from sipping apple cider to watching a blacksmith pound horseshoes.

The 16th is reserved for school groups from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then open to the public from 2 to 5 p.m. On the 17th, the village and actives will be open to all from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“There’s a lot of things on the docket,” John Scholten, Heritage Village board member, said. “It has been a very busy year, so come out and see all the work that we have done, because there’s a lot of it.”

Features and activities will include century home displays, a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, a working sawmill, oat threshing, butter churning, rug weaving and sheep shearing, and more. The Heritage Village will have around 13 historical and replica buildings fully decorated and stalked like they would have been a century ago, and demonstrations throughout the grounds.

“It’s a little trimmed down this year because we’re still rebuilding, but it’s almost the full slate that we had before,” Scholten said.

The move of Heritage Village from the Sioux County fairgrounds to Tower Fields began last summer, while cleaning began even before last year’s Harvest Festival. Some buildings were… …transported to the new grounds while others are being rebuilt.

“The move has gone very well,” Scholten said. “It was never meant to be done in one year. We moved a lot of buildings and will need to rebuild some things like the sod hut and gazebo.”

A few buildings will still be under construction during the Harvest Festival this year, but the project has made progress. The shell is in place for Doc’s Cafe, a hardware store, and plans are in place for other features.

“There’s always improvements that could be made on other buildings like lean-tos,” Scholten said. “We got plenty of work to do.”

Scholten guessed around 100 volunteers helped with the move and are continuing to help the Heritage Village come together.

“There has been a tremendous volunteer base,” Scholten said. “They all realized how big of a task it was going to be and the town really rallied around us. There’s always the faithful, but there’s also been first timers that came out. Many hands make light work.”

Many groups from elementary schools in the surrounding area will attend the school tour day. Scholten expects at least 500 third graders, as well as students from other grades. These students will learn about the practices of pioneers who settled in this area as well as farming from the demonstrations.

“This used to be a very rural community and now it’s more suburban, so kids don’t see how farms work anymore -small family farms aren’t there anymore,” Scholten said. “Children get a chance to see how things are done at the Harvest Festival, like where milk and lumber come from.”

The Heritage Village has been a part of the community since 1990, and it seeks to educate residents about the history of those who came before.

“It’s always the little things like when you show a little kid how something is made and they’re just blown away,” Scholten said.

Not only do they seek to educate about Sioux Center’s history, but they also seek to preserve it by making that history interactive and real.

“It’s about preserving the heritage of our forefathers and the pioneers who came before us,” Scholten said. “The thing about the Heritage Village and especially the Harvest Festival is we try to bring that past to life and show how things were actually done. We want to show the resourcefulness of our forebears.”

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