Historic Forestville changing its tour model

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Visitors to Historic Forestville this summer will experience a more modern model of tours through the historic site, the first time since the 1990s that the program has changed.

Staff members of Historic Forestville were informed of the upcoming program changes the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) is instating for the 2018 touring season when they returned to the site for the annual spring training on Thursday, April 19. Acting Site Manager Paula Ruesink and Acting Site Supervisor Aaron Potter have been working alongside the MNHS program development team to come up with a new style of tour that fits the ever-changing needs of the audience.

Most Historic Forestville regulars have grown accustomed to seeing the living citizens of the past dressed in their 1890s attire while showcasing antique technology, but with the program changes, tour guides will be wearing MNHS issued uniforms as they lead guests through time. Guides will be able to speak with guests in third person rather than first person, which permits them to speak about Historic Forestville’s entire history rather than a specific time frame, such as the year 1899, which they did in the past.

That’s not to say MNHS is completely ridding the site of its history actors, however. Guests will still get to see some of their favorite historical characters in their natural state as they walk through the site. Also still available is the historic garden and some of the special events that make Historic Forestville so memorable.

The first event, the “They Built This Town Cemetery Tour”, takes place on Saturday, May 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and entails a story-packed journey to the Zumbro Hill Cemetery. The next event, the “Independence Day Celebration”, occurs on July 4 from noon to 4 p.m. and is crammed full of fun activities for people of all ages, including an 1899-esque baseball game and a pie eating contest. The third event, “By the Light of the Lantern”, transpires on Sept. 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and involves the residents of Forestville partaking in a favorite evening activity of dancing in the barn. The last event of the season, “Apple Cider Pressing/Apple Butter Day”, occurs on Saturday, Oct. 20, and allows people of all ages to help staff use antique apple-peeling devices to peel and core apples for homemade apple cider, apple butter and apple pie.

Historic Forestville is currently only open for school tours during the week but is open every Saturday in May for the public. The regular season will officially begin on May 26, when the site will be open Thursday through Sunday. The first tour of the day starts at 10 a.m. and the last tour leaves at 4 p.m., though the office is open until 5 p.m. For more information, visit Historic Forestville’s new website at www.mnhs.org/forestville or call the site at 507-765-2785.