Column: How can something so simple be so much fun?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2005

&uot;Autumn In the Village – Goulash Festival.&uot; Goulash, red Jell-O, dill pickles, white mountain rolls, apple pie and ice cream, sarsaparilla and popcorn. Are you hungry yet?

I’m excited about our second annual “Goulash Festival.” On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Freeborn County Historical Museum is again sponsoring this fun fall event that gives visitors a chance to watch demonstrations, to ride in the wooden wagon pulled behind the 1937 John Deere A, and to listen to the mellow putt-putt-putter of the engine.

The tractor’s original purpose was to modernize farming and make work easier for the farmer riding that tractor in the hot sun, hour after hour in the dust and dirt of a scorching summer day. Now when I hear that sound, I feel a touch of nostalgia and I don’t think about the work.

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This festival is the chance for you to experience a bit of history, to meander through all of the village buildings and wonder about the lives of the people who lived or worked in them, to watch a basket weaver build, one strip at a time, a basket that would be a useful item for any household, to visit the school and to write with a quill pen, and to listen to a storyteller weave life experiences into memories.

“Autumn In the Village” will take you back in time, will slow your life down, and will remind you that an afternoon with family and friends is very important. The hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free for museum members, $5 for adults, $1 for ages 12 to 18, and free for 11 and under. We hope you will join us.

And speaking of goulash, did you ever create anything out of macaroni? We thought that since we will be eating it, we should also celebrate macaroni in our lives, although today we seem to use “pasta” instead. I need someone to explain the difference to me. The shape and the color may be different, but it tastes the same. Maybe I just don’t have a “discerning palate.”

If you do not have any macaroni art in your home, maybe left over from a Bible school project when you were a kid, I suggest that you purchase a package of macaroni &045; pasta, cream colored or red or green, whatever, and have some fun with it.

With a bottle of Elmer’s glue, some tooth picks, a box, some wire, maybe some beads or feathers or colored paper, you can create a masterpiece. We win set aside a display case for the sculptures that are brought in, and we can all stand around and admire your creativity. We would appreciate the pieces coming in by August 9, so they can be placed in the case.

We will also be announcing this year’s King and Queen of Goulash. Two very special people will be selected for the honor at 2 p.m. Last year’s royalty, Roger Lonning and Loma Wermedal, were very surprised when they were awarded their crowns.

We’ve learned that we have some very talented chefs on our board of directors, and we’ve also learned that most people don’t make goulash anymore. For many years, it was a staple in our diet. We’ve enjoyed the conversations like, “We always made ours with hamburger, tomatoes, and onion,” and then someone else’s comment like, “Oh, no! You don’t put onion in goulash. You have to use green pepper &045; or corn &045; or kidney beans.” The list goes on.

How can something so simple be so much fun? Maybe, in this crazy world of anger, and uncertainty, and broken lives, we are looking for something that is secure and safe and happy – something that makes sense.

Recently we had a group of kids from a summer school in inner city Saint Paul. Their adult leader said to me, “This is such a wonderful, safe place.” I had never thought about our museum that way, but I know that she is right.

Goulash and spinning wool and square dancing are a part of our heritage, our good memories of a safe place. Please join us for an afternoon of old fashion fun. We’d love to see you there.

(Bev Jackson is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.)