Families turn out to experience the past at Wiegert Prairie

Wiegert had little use for modern things

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Pocahontas County Naturalist Corinne Peterson shows Hailey Dawson, 10, Paul Peterson, 7, and Emma Johnson, 5, the butter they’ve been working to churn at the Wiegert Prairie Fall Fest Sunday afternoon. Paul, Corinne’s grandson, said he had done a lot of the churning himself.

PALMER — The old farm house at the Wiegert Prairie farmstead has something a lot of houses its age are missing.

It’s a small room just off the kitchen — a pantry, but in a size and shape that may make modern guests expect a bathroom.

“A lot of old houses lost their pantry when indoor plumbing came,” said Marge Spear, who was in turn-of-the-century garb to give tours at the Wiegert Prairie Fall Fest Sunday afternoon.

The Wiegert farm never had indoor plumbing, or electricity. A hand pump still stands in one corner of the kitchen, while a bath tub with no taps can be found in the bedroom.

Spear also talks about the ancient pump organ in the living room — not the original, but a very similar antique model.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Hazel Nielsen, 3, of Pocahontas, gets a ride with help of Bailey Vainreb and her horse Louie at the Wiegert Prairie Fall Fest Sunday. Vainreb was around to help out on the old homestead before leaving for college.

Her husband is related to the Wiegert family, she said, though she wasn’t sure what exactly that made her. Perhaps second or third cousins.

“I was here when Harry (Wiegert) was here,” she said. “My husband remembers when there weren’t trees out here.”

Even when the last Wiegert to farm it died in 1980, it was a place frozen in the past.

Harry Wiegert plowed with horses, drew water with a pump from a well, used wood burning stoves to cook and heat and had little use for modern things.

Even as a torrent of rain hit the area Sunday morning, by afternoon families were coming out to visit the old prairie and farm.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Pocahontas County Naturalist Corinne Peterson shows Willow Nielsen, 5, left, Paxton Cundiff, 7, and Hoyt Cundiff, 3, how monarch butterflies are tagged to help track where they go, before releasing this one into the wild.

“We had a pretty good storm this morning. Luckily I was in church,” said Pocahontas County Conservation Naturalist Corinne Peterson.

County Conservation puts on the event, which started this year with an old-fashioned church service at 10:30 a.m.

Even though a few exhibits couldn’t be shown due to weather, kids still got to enjoy horse rides, churning butter, making their own rope, and learning about butterflies.

And young and old alike could relax with a root beer float to the music of Carol Markstrom, Western Singer-Songwriter.

Floyd Raney, and Merle and Judy Franzmeyer, have all been coming to the Fall Fest for years.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Dave Lohff, left, talks with Linda and John Hallgren, of Fort Dodge, about how this end-gate seeder works, at the Wiegert Prairie Fall Festival Sunday.

“Oh, forever,” Judy Franzmeyer said. “My kids came out, and we used to ride the wagon. And I always enjoy the egg coffee.”

Yes, she said, an egg is added to the coffee, taken out once it’s ready, an old farm trick to enhance the flavor.

“That’s why it’s so good,” she said.

Peterson and Spear both thanked the many volunteers who came together to make the day possible.

“It takes a lot of work for those volunteers,” Spear said. “I think it’s wonderful they can still find the volunteers.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Tom Olsen, left, and Bill Voss help Matthew Ahlrich, 9, make a rope the old-fashioned way at the Wiegert Prairie annual fall fest. Making a good rope is like making a good marriage, Olsen said, the tension and friction within the strands hold it together.