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Sonshine: Willmar man uses farming skills to volunteer

Dan Friedlein, 84, of Willmar builds a gate in front of the Willmar Civic Center Tuesday afternoon for the Sonshine Festival. Tribune photo by TJ Jerke

Update 11 a.m.

At the age of 84, Willmar-native Don Friedlein continues to put his farming skills to use.

Raised 15 miles west of Willmar, Friedlein grew up on the farm working in the barns and fields with crops, animals and mending fences.

The fence work instilled in him as a youth has given him the opportunity to volunteer at the Sonshine Festival this week.

As volunteers poured into the Willmar Civic Center Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the four-day event beginning tonight, Friedlein could be seen making gates along the mesh fence for volunteers and festival crews to walk in and out of.

"This is a mission project," he said.

With a small red tool box sitting on the back of his truck, Friedlein boasted a smile on his face as he worked in front of the civic center Tuesday afternoon.

Having volunteered since the festival moved to the civic center grounds in 1987, Friedlein said the event has grown into "quite the promotion."

Friedlein got involved through his wife, Donna, who works with the Youth for Christ offices in Willmar.