Celebrating our outdoors history

NEW LONDON -- Even though Sibley State Park has only been around since the 1930s, it will join in Minnesota's Sesquecentennial celebration during its Open House Saturday, Sept. 6.

NEW LONDON -- Even though Sibley State Park has only been around since the 1930s, it will join in Minnesota's Sesquecentennial celebration during its Open House Saturday, Sept. 6.

The annual open house will be held in conjunction with Prairie Pothole Day, the main fundraiser for the Prairie Pothole chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association. Parking is free for both and no passes will be needed to enter the state park.

Sibley park manager Paul Otto said planning this year's open house took a lot more time and effort.

"We actually started over a year ago. A lot of the work has been done by the Sibley State Park Improvement Association," he said. "They have done a lot of the contacting and scheduling."

The association, also known as a "Friends of the Park" group, secured a micro-grant from the State of Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission Grants Program to expand the opportunities for the open house.


Otto said the plan is to tie the programs in with the historical celebration of 150 years of statehood.

"Don Miller is going to be talking about Kandiyohi County history," he noted. "We've got Sam Nelson from Ridgewater College, who did an oral history of the park a couple of years ago, and he'll be doing a program on that."

Park Naturalist Dick Clayton will also have a program on the Civilian Conservation Corps, which helped build the park, and other parks across the nation, during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The staples of the yearly open house still remain, with pontoon rides on Lake Andrew thanks to Let's Go Fishing -- there will be two pontoons this year -- and three bus tours of the park.

Expanding the programs to include the gaining diversity of Kandiyohi County's residents is also an important theme this year. Otto said there will be an Hispanic dance group, the Pueblo Lindo Dancers, performing, and food vendors will serve Norwegian, German and Mexican fare.

"We wanted to have a mix of the different cultures that are in the county," said Otto.

Music is always a crowd pleaser at Sibley, and this year people will get a great dose of it. The Coffee Shop Fiddlers, a mainstay at the park this summer, will be performing with clogger Nick Ventrella, Brian and Sherry Pearson of New London will perform vocal duets and the brass band Off The Cuff will also play.

Get ready to improve your duck and goose calling as world team champion and three-time state champ Scott Threinen returns to Prairie Pothole Day and highlight's this year's programs.


Threinen, who will do two seminars and has a DVD out entitled "Bad Grammer", has won 30 major calling titles.

"That is main reason why we brought him in," said Troy Heck, Prairie Pothole chapter president. "It's also the opening day of early goose season, so we thought that it was the best thing to have at Prairie Pothole Day."

There will also be plenty of food, vendors and activities for family members young and old. But Heck said it's getting a little tougher to get everything together.

"It gets harder because it gets bigger," he explained "You run into the problem of getting 10 people who have been here for years and it's hard to say no to one and yes to another."

He also said the downturn in the economy has hurt donations.

Prairie Pothole will also branch out from hunting with some other demonstrations and vendors. Bruce Hoaglund, an antique decoy maker, will also bring out his antique fishing lures

The success of the two events has given area residents a day to look forward to each year to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Each group benefits, too.

"We work hand-in-hand with the Prairie Pothole chapter. We need each other to survive the day," Otto said. "They draw 3,000-4,000 people and we always hope to draw some of those people as well and with what we are offering, we think we will be successful at that."

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