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Celebrating Sibley State Park: 100th anniversary festivities run throughout the summer

Erica Dischino / Tribune Skip Wright sits outside his camper Wednesday at Sibley State Park in New London.1 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Mount Tom is a special feature of Sibley State Park. One of the highest point in 50 miles, the peak provides a "breathtaking" vista of the park and neighboring lakes and farms. Hiking, biking and horseback riding trails allow visitors to view the park's beauty.2 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune A deer is spotted at Sibley State Park in New London; not an uncommon sight. Various wildlife can be found throughout the park and many of the naturalist programs center around the park's wildlife. 3 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Anaya Ramirez, 6, throws her fishing line into Lake Andrew on a warm evening Wednesday at Sibley State Park in New London.4 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Dandelions shine in the sun Wednesday at Sibley State Park in New London.5 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Campers enjoy a warm evening at Sibley State Park in New London. Sibley State Park features two campgrounds, with a total of 132 drive-in sites, as well as four camper cabins.6 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Sibley State Park in New London turns 100 this year and the park is having multiple celebrations throughout the summer. Situation on nearly 2,500 acres of rolling hills and lakes, the park is said to encompass some of the region's finest glacial topography.7 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Situated on Lake Andrew in northern Kandiyohi County, Sibley State Park offers all the features lakeside camping and day-use, as well as the woodlands.8 / 9
Erica Dischino / Tribune Sibley State Park in New London turns 100 this year and the park is having multiple celebrations throughout the summer. 9 / 9

Sibley State Park is celebrating its 100th birthday this summer. A number of special festivities have scheduled throughout the summer, including four special Saturday events.

Today, the Birthday Bash will include free admission to the park and music by Siama Matuzundidi and his band.

The Forest Foray will be June 22 with forest bathing and music by Jesse Eugene.

The Prairie Party will be June 27 and the Mankato Baltics Vintage baseball team will host a game of 1860-style 'kitten ball' (softball). The park is looking for up to 12 players to play against them. The day will finish with live music by Ava Hanson.

The final Saturday event will be Water Wing Ding on Aug. 24 with a program on beavers and music by Chris Holm, an acoustic folk blues and country musician from the Twin Cities.

A look back

Sibley State Park was created by the state legislature on April 23, 1919. Conservationist Peter Broberg is credited with spearheading the effort to have the area made a state park. The initial land included 368 acres. Access to Lake Andrew and the highpoint on the moraine known as Mount Tom were certainly part of what Broberg and others wanted to see protected.

Broberg was one of only two survivors of the attack on settlers in the Monson Lake area during the Conflict of 1862, and that could very well have had something to do with the choice of honoring Henry Hastings Sibley in naming the park. Sibley had led the state militia during the conflict and was the state's first governor. Broberg was 7 years old at the time of the attack.

The National Park Service sent the Veterans Conservation Corps to improve the park, a project that saw as many as 200 men working from 1935 to 1938.

All veterans of World War I, the VCC'ers went to work to build 11 buildings and structures, including the Mount Tom observatory, along with roads, water and sewer infrastructure. Among the first jobs was the planting of 18,500 trees and shrubs, all of them secured locally for transplanting.

They did all of their work by hand, using broad axes to hew the white oaks they harvested for timbers and swinging 12-pound sledge hammers to break the pink and gray granite quarried for the stones they placed by hand.

The buildings are now on the National Register of Historic Places. For many, the log and stone buildings are the very image of the park.

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Centennial events

All programs are at the Interpretive Center or start at the amphitheater, unless noted. Tick prevention, sun protection and water bottle are all encouraged. The programs are free but a vehicle permit is required to enter the park and they are available at the park office. For programs that require pre-registration call the number 320-354-2002. Event schedules are subject to change.

Birthday bash: June 8, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., free park admission, Sibley has turned 100. Bring a blanket to lounge on and enjoy music, free snacks and beverages on Cedar Hill. Take a voyageur canoe paddle on Lake Andrew with Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center from 9 to 11 a.m. Enjoy a retro game of "kitten ball" (softball) in the Community and Campers Kittenball game from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. There will be rootbeer floats for players and spectators to follow. Siama Matuzundidi and his band will play from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Family and kid friendly activities from 1 to 4 .pm. including facepainting, healthy eating education, fish painting, paper making, drop in 'frog' hole game, special guests the Fish and Wildlife Service and Hawk Creek Animal Shelter and more. A Happy Birthday treat will be served from 3 to 4 p.m.

Full Moon Walk: June 17, 9 to 10 p.m. Join the Naturalist for a walk under the stars. Toe-covered shoes recommended as trail does have periodic poison ivy.

Forest Foray: June 22, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sibley has turned 100. Forest Bathing from 10 to 11:30 a.m., is a slow, methodical stroll in the woods as you experience the natural world with all your senses. Walk about a half-mile on wide mowed grass as well as narrow, hilly dirt trails as we stop and listen and look and feel the forest around us. It starts outside the Interpretive Center and will end sitting together under the shade of trees while enjoying tea and sharing our experiences. The Interpretive Center will have an Animal Live program from noon to 1 p.m. and a wood ducks nature cart from 2 to 3 p.m. Singer/songwriter Jesse Eugene from Little Falls, will perform 'foot stomping blues to lonesome country ballads by the Lake Andrew Campground from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

History Hike, histories mysteries: June 29, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Join the naturalist for a guided hike through the woods on the mowed grass triail to see where an alleged murderer hid and much more.

New Moon Walk: July 2, 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Enjoying the bright night sky without the light of a moon on the .7-mile long dirt trail. Toe-covered shoes recommended as trail does have periodic poison ivy.

Prairie Party: July 27, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Interpretive Center unless noted. Sibley has turned 100. Stroll through the wildflowers of the prairie on a guided hike at 9 a.m., the Mankato Baltics Vintage baseball team will host a game of 1860 style "kitten ball" (softball) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the beach ball diamond. The park is looking for 9-12 players to play against them. If you want to play, call the park. 1919 root beer floats to follow for participants and spectators and a children's kitten ball game. Build a bee box to take home, from 2 and 3 p.m., while supplies last, and finish the day music on the shore by Ava Hanson from 4 to 5:30 p.m., pack a blanket or a chair and a picnic to enjoy on the hill below the Lake Andrew Campground by the fish cleaning building. Parking available by the beach.

History Hike: Aug. 3, 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mammoth, elk and bison are all hoofed animals that once roamed this area. Find out about these animals lives and demise during this guided hike. We will travel around the Pond View Trail, a flat, nearly a mile long, flattened dirt trail.

Full Moon Walk: Aug. 15, 9 to 10 p.m. Join the Naturalist for a walk under the stars. Toe-covered shoes recommended as trail does have periodic poison ivy.

Water Wing Ding: Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Interpretive Center unless noted. Sibley has turned 100. Go for a guided canoe paddle on Lake Andrew from 9 to 11 a.m., children must be 4 or older, life jackets and gear provided, pre-registration required; catch water critters in the pond from noon to 1 p.m., become a Beach Beaver during this naturalist program on Lake Andrew and learn how beavers are adapted for life in the water and in the beaver dam challenge on the beach near the picnic tables. Finish the day live music by Chris Holm, an acoustic folk blues and country musician, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. from Chris Holm, pack a blanket or a chair and a picnic to enjoy on the hill below the Lake Andrew Campground by the fish cleaning building. Parking available by the beach.

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