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The fourth annual Afton Fest, a fundraiser for the Afton Historical Museum, will be Aug. 10 from 6:30-10:30 p.m. in Afton's Town Square Park and will include live music, dancing, food, beer, wine and margaritas. Submitted photo.

Annual Afton Fest to fund major museum repairs

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What started out as a beautiful day in Afton's Old Village celebrating the city's new event, Strawberry Festival, turned into one with devastating consequences for the Afton Historical Museum.

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The museum, run by the Afton Historical Society, fell prey to severe weather on June 22 when a tree fell into the building.

"It punched a bunch of big old holes into the museum and punched out two windows," said Stan Ross, president of the museum. "Luckily there was no damage to artifacts."

"We're restoring the windows though because they are 1850s windows."

In total, Ross said he estimates about $30,000 in damage was inflicted, which insurance won't entirely cover.

Ross and the Afton Historical Society will be turning to the community to help rebuild the museum next month during its annual fundraiser, Afton Fest.

"We'll hopefully be using our vast proceeds to help rebuild," Ross said.

The fourth annual event will be held Aug. 10 from 6:30-10:30 p.m. in Afton's Town Square Park.

Music in the park

Afton Fest will include live music from the Zebra Mussells, complete with dancing, as well as food, beer and wine.

New this year, the museum staff will also be selling margaritas during the event.

"We're hoping that people have good food and lots and lots of beer and wine," Ross said.

The entire event is free.

"Our feeling is, by doing it for free we give back to the community," Ross said.

Last year's Afton Fest attracted between 300 and 400 people and brought in about $4,000.

An Afton mainstay

Even though raising money for the museum is the primary goal of Afton Fest, a secondary goal is to help make the museum more visual in the community, Ross said.

"We're trying to be more and more a part of the community," he said. "By becoming more and more of a mainstay in the community, I believe in my heart that we get more support."

In the past, the Afton Historical Museum flew somewhat under the radar in terms of visibility.

"It was a different mind set before," Ross said. "There wasn't really a lot of emphasis on community events."

However, in recent years the museum has become more prominent within the Afton community through such events as Afton's Village Holiday, the Fourth of July parade, a haunted house that is set up for Halloween and its historic Mount Hope Cemetery tour.

"We've shifted from being a passive entity to getting out there and proactively becoming a part of the community," Ross said. "We have a lot of very, very interesting information about Afton and as people learn about the history of Afton, they became more appreciative of Afton."

Ross said he is hoping for great weather and a great turnout for this year's Afton Fest.

"We want lots and lots of people to come and enjoy it," he said. "It's a nice environment down in the park.

"Come, sit, listen to the music, dance and drink. We're inviting everyone to have a really enjoyable night in the park."

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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