Find history, food, and a Festival of Trees at the Pine County History Museum
The Pine County History Museum in Askov, Minn., has been described as a hidden gem. Not only are there many rooms filled with historical items, but there is also event space, the Little Mermaid Cafe, and more.
“There’s 55,000 square feet full of stuff,” Arla Budd, who has volunteered at the museum for decades, said. “It takes a good 2-3 hours to get all the way through.”
One of the highlights is the train room. Todd Liljedahl has spent many hours volunteering there.
“What it does is represent all the communities in Pine County that had train tracks running through it,” he said. “There were two major lines between the Twin Cities and the Twin Ports, and one was the Northern Pacific, and one was the Great Northern.”
When someone walks into the room, the motion triggers the trains to start moving around tracks that fill the space.
“The railroads really started everything,” Liljedahl said. “Everything was shipped by train. People came by train.”
The museum’s building used to be a school. And there’s still a library where people can research their family history or land in Pine County.
And if you get hungry after all the learning, The Little Mermaid Cafe is right inside the front doors. Budd explained that it got its name because of the Danish settlers who built a school in Askov.
“The school was named after the Danes’ most famous author, who has Hans Christian Andersen,” she said. “He wrote the fairytale called The Little Mermaid. However, when we get a lot of little kids in here, they think it’s Walt Disney.”
The Pine County History Museum will host one of its biggest fundraisers of the year this weekend with the Festival of Trees.
“It started out on a really small scale,” Loretta Swanson, another volunteer said. “We just had our tea in the banquet room.”
They had around 50 people turn up in 2013. This year, they expect the tea to sell out with more than 250 people in attendance. They also host a vendor show in the event space. A silent auction is open now through Dec. 2.
“It’s really kind of a nice, pampering type of setting where people come in, and they’ll sit down, and they’ll be able to get served a nice little light meal and tea if they want to drink tea. It’s just a really special, festive occasion for people to do,” Jan Ashmore said.
The “tree ladies,” many of whom are in their 80s, decorate 44 different Christmas trees that are placed around the building, and Swanson said the event wouldn’t be possible without them.