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Wander Minnesota: Historic Events

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Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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The state’s biggest festival season may be behind us for 2012, but there are still plenty of ways to explore and celebrate the upcoming seasons. One of my favorite organizations, the Minnesota Historical Society, has a full slate of fun events coming up. One of the things I love about the MNHS is that they do an excellent job of blending education with fun.

The State Capitol is home this fall to a most unique display: the State Capitol built in LEGOS. It’s on display daily through 12/29. Bring your inner LEGO enthusiast to see the more than 75,000 bricks it took to construct the capitol.

Saturday and Sunday on Summit Avenue in St. Paul are the F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tours. These 75-minute guided tours will visit places Fitzgerald lived and wrote and will discuss his literary legacy. Reservations required.

Like wild rice? Learn how it’s processed at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum on 9/22 and 9/29. Visitors will be able to watch the entire process of getting wild rice from raw to finished.

Another food-themed event involves learning how prairie sugar is made at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River, 9/29-30 and 10/6-7. “Prairie sugar” is also known as sorghum molasses. This is a hands-on event, allowing participants the chance to strip down the sorghum canes. But don’t worry—your labor will be rewarded with molasses-sweetened treats.

Historic Forestville in southern Minnesota takes a look at 19th-century farming and harvesting techniques on Harvest Day on 10/6.There will be hands-on components here too, and visitors will learn about cider pressing, corn shelling, grain fanning, and best of all, apple pie baking.

Halloween brings out some additional programming creativity. An adults-only event is the History Happy Hour at the Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul on 10/25. The theme for this happy hour is Vintage Photography: Tintypes and Hidden Mothers. Spooky! Registration required.

Not far from the Ramsey House, the James J. Hill House tips its hat to Halloween with Victorian Ghost Stories, which features costumed actors reading ghost stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, and the Brothers Grimm, among others. Reservations recommended; not recommended for children under 8.

The North West Company Fur Post in Pine City hosts Nancy Drew and the Secret at the Old Post on 10/26. Nancy Drew will be on hand and needing help from participants as she tries to figure out what strange things are behind the events scaring away visitors. Reservations recommended.

And, as it happens every year on 11/10, Split Rock Lighthouse will have the Annual Beacon Lighting Commemorating the Edmund Fitzgerald. This is the only time of year that visitors can climb to the top of the tower and see the beacon lit and revolving.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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