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Afton Fest is Aug. 11

Even though the Afton Historical Society and the Afton Museum have been around for over three decades, some people still don't know much about either.

"For so long the museum has been this kind of little autonomous organization that people in the community didn't know much about," Afton Museum President Stan Ross said. "There's a lot of really fun things to see at the museum."

Ross said Afton Historical Society is hoping to change that and he feels that the museum's annual fundraiser, Afton Fest, is a way to do that.

Afton Fest will be Aug. 11 in Town Square Park and will include live music and dancing.

"We're trying to make the museum more and more visible and a part of the community so that people realize that there is a museum," he said. "We really feel that it's important for the museum to become an integral part of the village and of Afton and we felt that putting on this event was a great way to achieve that."

Now in its third year, Afton Fest will take on a bit of a different look this year since it will be a free event, whereas in the past the museum charged.

Afton Fest was started as a fundraiser for the museum, which is a nonprofit organization, to raise funds to cover its operating costs such as electricity, heat, insurance and other utility costs.

"We keep a pretty lean ship down there - we don't have a large expense," Ross said, "but it adds up."

The cost for admission to Afton Fest was $5.

However, Ross said Afton Historical Society board members decided to make Afton Fest a free event this year because not only did they feel it would help make the museum a stronger part of the community by giving back, but it also seemed the most practical way to do things.

In order to host a private event, where admission is sold, Afton Historical Society had to not only gate off the park, but hire security and hire people to take admission.

"The cost benefit just was not there," Ross said. "It was costing us as much as we were collecting.

"So, we're doing a lot of experimenting trying to come up with the right concept."

In the past Afton Fest brought in the most funds from its beer, wine and food sales and that will be what Afton Historical Society will be relying on this year.

Music, dancing in the park

This year's Afton Fest will run from 6:30-10:30 p.m. and will include live music from the Zebra Mussels, a local band that primarily plays cover songs.

"It's just intended to be dancing and music in the park," Ross said.

Ross said he developed the concept of Afton Fest around an event held when he was growing up.

In the early 1960s Afton would host free movies in the park and Ross said that he always wanted to bring back an event similar to that.

"That was something that has always been in the back of my mind," he said. "I wanted to find some way of recreating that.

"We're trying to maintain that whole Afton theme - a small community event that's not real flashy but something that people will have a lot of fun at."

Ross said Afton Historical Society doesn't have a set amount of money to raise this year. He just hopes a lot of people come out for the event and enjoy themselves.

"We will take what we get," he said. "This is primarily a fundraiser for the museum, but also we feel real strongly about trying to become a real part of the community - I'm hoping it has that sense of what Afton is all about."

Afton Fest will be held from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Aug. 11 in Afton's Town Square Park and includes live music and dancing. The event will also be selling food, beer and wine.

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.

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