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Family Time: Imagine a time before Mayo, IBM

August 9, 2018

Get a hands-on feel for how things used to be at the Days of Yesteryear. Hosted by the Mechanical History Roundtable and held at the History Center of Olmsted County, the annual event is designed to take families back in time.

“It’s really, really important for people to understand the history of our community,” said Marlys Ohnstad, MHRT member and DOY volunteer. “In the 1850s and ’60s, people didn’t come to live in Rochester because of Mayo or IBM — because they weren’t here. They came to farm.”

With dozens of demonstrations, classes and activities, families are invited to head inside for a lesson in the 1880s Hadley Valley one-room schoolhouse, a tour of the 1860s William Dee log home and a copy of the Days of Yesteryear scavenger hunt inside the general store.

“Families can also head to the summer kitchen where volunteers will be churning butter by hand,” said Ohnstad. “Back in the day, before air conditioning, families would build a separate building, the summer kitchen, to do their cooking — and not heat up the entire house.”

Then head outside for a broom-making demonstration, digging in the potato patch and a visit to the shingle mill to watch shingles being made.

“Stop outside the summer kitchen where people will be washing clothes the old fashioned way,” said Ohnstad. “You get them wet in the wash tub, scrub them clean on the scrub board, then put them through the wringer to get the water out. Kids love helping with it. It’s always hot, and they always get wet.”

Held rain or shine, admission is $10 for a button at the gate ($5 in advance at the History Center). Kids 15 and younger are free with an adult. Families get into the History Center museum for free with Days of Yesteryear buttons. Free parking is available in the on-site hay field. Tractor-pulled wagon rides will be available to take participants around the History Center grounds.

“The first thing you’ll want to do is get a schedule of events,” said Ohnstad, noting it is available at the gate. “There’s so much going on: Belle the plywood cow you can milk, games for kids in the wood shop, a petting zoo on Saturday, people dressed in period clothes, old fashioned games, rope making, rock crushing. It’s really fun for kids and families.”

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