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It takes a Village…

The response to our membership drive has been awesome. Thanks to everyone who sent something towards supporting the Historical Village.  Of course it is not too late if your form happens to be still sitting on the kitchen table/desk.  Just put it in an envelope with your donation, add our address (Tobacco Valley Board of History at PO Box 1452  Eureka, MT 59917), a stamp and you are good to go.  IMG_2672

Hopefully you have seen the Great Northern caboose in the Village. Kenny Westbrook just finished the renovation.  It is so beautiful – and much more sturdy then it was before.  Children are going to thoroughly enjoy climbing on it this summer.  And a few lucky adults will get to sit on the caboose steps to watch Shakespeare in the Parks.

The Village quilters stopped meeting on Fridays for the summer but some of their lovely handwork will be available at the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 4.  Of course there are other quilts available for sale at the museum gift shop all summer.  If you are searching for a unique wedding gift or something special for yourself, you might consider one of the tied quilts which are the perfect combination of beautiful, warm and affordable.  Yes, here in northwest Montana, one often needs a quilt on chilly summer nights.

 

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Thank you Eureka!

This past Friday it snowed. A lot. And it didn’t look good. It wasn’t just the fact that most of us are tired of winter by this point, but the concern that bad roads might hamper people coming to the fundraiser in Trego on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday though dawned better with a bit of sun and so our anticipation became more optimistic.  But you never know do you with these community events if there will be enough people, if its possible to even make the costs of putting the thing on let alone raise funds to help support the Historical Village?  On top of the weather and other unknowns, there were questions about the event itself. We hadn’t really done anything quite like this before. A concert with a band from out of the area (actually The Wardens are from Canada so out of the country!) with a potluck and community jam to follow.  We had decided to do it in Trego because the hall there is so nice with great acoustics and a large kitchen, plus enough space if we did get a real turn out.  But would we? Would people drive from Eureka on snowy roads to support the Historical Village and enjoy this potentially great event?IMG_2226

Al went out early that day to get a fire going so the hall would be warm.  He also plowed the parking lot (thank you so much!).  The band arrived around 1:30 to start setting up.  Quilters and John Linn came a little later to hang quilts and set up tables for selling some handmade items.  With the concert scheduled to begin at 4:00pm, one might hope people would start to show up at 3:30ish but it started very slow.  Finally around 3:45 cars began to pull in and then more cars.  We had to set up extra chairs.  When people were still coming through the door at 4:00, the band decided to start a few minutes late.  What a fabulous turnout!  Over seventy people came to listen to great music, potluck with neighbors and then hang a bit for the jam.  Some people played music, some danced, some talked with friends, some met new people, some tried new foods (Dawn’s outrageous Bhutan momos).

It isn’t only the wonderful turn out but the energy people brought to the event that made it such a great evening.  Lots of laughter and hugs.  We sold a quilt and a box of Mary Louise’s homemade chocolates.  Some folks generously wrote checks to support the Historical Village.  Others asked for information to learn more about the Tobacco Valley Board of History.  And the help that made this all possible!  From John climbing his 10′ ladder to hang quilts to Mike washing dishes and Mircea mopping the floor.  Everyone pitched in to set up chairs and then at the end of the evening, to put chairs away.  Ray got the jam circle going, Ed helped the band carry their things out to the van, Patty and Darrell took trash bags to the dumpsters.  What a special evening…what a special community.  Thank you, Eureka!

Thank you

Are there enough hours in the day to thank everyone who helps in this community? We held our annual fundraiser for the Historical Village last Saturday.  A lovely five course dinner with a Spanish theme served at a private residence on Dickey Lake.  A cellist played during the evening, some volunteers prepared the food while others served it.  As part of the event, a small speech was made later during the meal to thank those who bought tickets, to those who provided the wine, prepared the meal, those who set out tables and chairs for forty people.  At an earlier pointIMG_1320 in the evening, before the first guests appeared, I took a photo of those wonderful women who served the dinner and helped sell tickets prior to the event.

If I count everyone including the couple who helped move the tables, the man who cleaned the terrace, the woman who brought over forty chairs, the next door neighbor who lent us use of  her oven, the owners of the house where the dinner was held, the friend who gave us green beans from her garden for the paella, it would be over seventy people who participated in some way to make this event successful.  And really this is a fraction of all those who help maintain the Historical Village throughout the year.

We might take it for granted that people help out in a small town.  How else can we maintain the museum and the park, run the Scout troop and Little League, do storytime at the local library and walk dogs at the animal shelter? So much that makes this valley great depends on volunteers. And we realize not all small towns have this wealth.  We are fortunate to have people in this valley who truly care.

Recently there was a wild fire near Eureka.  Some people were required to evacuate their homes.  Neighbors offered housing, storage, and pasture for animals for those who had to evacuate. Others donated water and food for the fire fighters.  There was so much donated that the surplus was given to the local food bank.  For all of this, the generosity offered during the fire as well as the generosity shown towards the fundraising dinner – we offer thanks.

Teetering on Summer

The current quilt is nearly done.  Last week four women sewed on it while others prepared for the rummage sale that happens on May 19th.  The week following that we convert the space we quilted in all winter back into the museum that it will be during the summer.  From Memorial Day until Labor Day, people can tour the buildings at the Historical Village – the old church, the school house, the first cabin and the various other ones.  The lawn’s rich greenness will beckon children to roll around and young people to sit and talk about life.  Families will gather at the picnic tables and tIMG_0953he cyclists camping in Riverside Park will come over to walk around the grounds.

Yes, this time of year is a clear reminder of why we quilt. To raise funds to keep these buildings and the grounds in good condition so they can be enjoyed and so that locals as well as tourists can learn about the history of our valley.  During the winter it sometimes feels we quilt for our own pleasure as its such a treat to sit around the quilting frame talking quietly with the other women, laughing over Bev’s jokes or smiling when Bonnie arrives with her banana bread.  We are there together on Fridays because it is the ideal place to be for those of us who show up.  But now in late spring when we transition the place we quilt in back into the museum space, its a reminder.  We are quilting to maintain the buildings and the history.  The fact that we enjoy the quilting so much, is really just a perk.

Its finding a balance some of us look for in life.  Giving to make our community (however we define that) the best possible place and at the same time taking pleasure in what we do.  I see Scout leaders in our community give time to do projects and go camping with the boys.  Or the group of people who organize the weekly community soup night, finish up Tuesdays at 7:30pm exhausted.  But these individuals as well as the women quilting, also enjoy aspects of what they give.  The women savor Fridays’ quilting.  The Scout leaders appreciate their time in the forests hiking with the young people.  I watch the soup night volunteers smile at the families and older folks who come through to eat on Tuesdays.  It is giving in a way that also brings pleasure to those who give.  It isn’t drudgery although of course there might be touches.  The Scout leader finding enough other adults to go on camping trips; the soup night volunteers getting enough donations to cover the cost of ingredients.  And for the quilters, there are also harder moments.  How much will it cost to get the old library building painted this year?  Who will chink the first cabin? But in general, these individuals nurture our community and themselves at the same time.

another fabulous dinner

The Dinner on the Lake was over the top fabulous this year. If you didn’t attend, I am sorry but perhaps you can grab a ticket for next year.  Cathy did a spectacular job with the food and I would be hard pressed to say which was my favorite course as they were all delicious.  The setting is always lovely thanks to Rick and Lynn opening their home. Elena and Ruth provided beautiful music on violin and harp. Dawn and Niko served so graciously that everyone who attended felt cared for. Tickets were sold out for the event which meant the Tobacco Valley Board of History made much needed funds to keep the Historical Village going for another year.  The weather and the bees cooperated.

Now as summer winds down, all the volunteers who help with the Historical Village including quilters, docents and the board will celebrate another successful season with a potluck on August 16.  I very much enjoy this event. It doesn’t have the haute cuisine of the Dinner on the Lake nor the lovely music, but the volunteers are a special group and it is a wonderful time to join them for hamburgers and pie, to talk about the summer and to look forward to quilting starting up again in the fall.

The women who gave their time to work the Dinner on the Lake along with all the other volunteers who attend the August potluck have one thing in common. None of them are spring chickens.  This is a concern as we look down the road and wonder who will continue maintaining the Historical Village, help with fundraising events, tell visitors about our valley. We know there are individuals out there who can find time for this. It might require doing a bit less social media or perhaps turning off the television, but you can give Lynda Young a call to say, “Yes I would like to help. What can I do?”  Thank you.

That time of year

Where does summer go? It seemed we just finished quilting in May and now we are already sliding into August.  The volunteers at the museum are busIMG_4520y every afternoon greeting visitors and telling them about the history of this valley.  Other volunteers did some work on the playground so the area under the swings and slide won’t get so muddy in the future.  It is temporarily fenced off but will be available soon for all the children who enjoy playing there. Last week four of us got together in the morning to give all the buildings in the Village a good dusting and sweeping so they continue to look their best for the summer season. And of course other Historical Village fans are busy planning the annual Dinner on the Lake.  The lovely fundraiser for the Tobacco Valley Board of History is always a treat for the forty people who attend.  This year’s menu includes a four-course meal featuring French cuisine and wine. Imagine eating this scrumptious meal while looking out over Dickey Lake in the evening on August 13th. Tickets are already sold out but Carol does have a waiting list if you are tempted. Call her at 889-3427.

As always, I am astounded by the time and energy people give to maintaining the Historical Village.  They recognize that this is not just a museum but our heritage.  It contains the history of the people who settled here, the lives that created this community and those who give it their heart to continue.  Perhaps you will have time this summer to stop by and amble through the buildings, or give Carol a call to attend the Dinner on the Lake, or maybe think about how you can help to make the Tobacco Valley Board of History even stronger. Thanks.

 

 

And now it is summer

The Historical Village is open for visitors.  Tourists wander through the buildings. Children play on the swings.  Couples sit in the shade at picnic tables talking.  kathy (2)Occasionally in the mornings, deer graze on the lawn.  The Tobacco River has a sensible flow near by.  You can hear teenagers shouting as they wade in at Riverside Park.  It is summer and that is for sure. The quilters are busy doing other things at the moment so aren’t meeting on Fridays.  The quilting frames are put away for the season.

We still think about the Village when we meet up by chance at the farmers market or run into each other at the museum. The list of things to do seems never ending: repair caboose roof, fix some slats on Baney House, trim some trees which have gotten out of control.  There is the list which Lynda tries to parcel out to various volunteers. And there is the cost of these repairs and upkeep.  So we are in the planning stage of our annual Dinner on the Lake.  An utterly delicious four-course meal served with wine at the perfect location on Dickey Lake. Live classical music will accompany the meal.  It really is the ideal way to spend a summer’s evening.  This year’s event is August 13th.  Tickets go quickly as there are only forty spaces available.  Call Carol for tickets at 406-889-3427 to get yours soon.  What a delightful way to support the Historical Village.