When the Gilfillan Estate was given to the Redwood County Historical Society, those who were tasked with caring for the site realized it was going to be a lot of work, and upkeep would be expensive.
In an effort to help maintain the grounds and to raise funds for improvements, a group began what is known as the Friends of Gilfillan. That was 20 years ago.
“We set the date for a meeting in the office at Gilfillan, and we had 50 people show up,” said Lorraine Tauer, who, with her late husband Mel, helped to get the Friends group started at Gilfillan.
The original group has changed over the years, as some of the first members have either moved away or died.
“We need more volunteers,” said Maynard Nolting, the current Friends of Gilfillan president. “A lot of us are getting older, and we need some younger people to help us.”
Whether it is maintaining the garden, mowing lawn or even offering tours in the Gilfillan house, those who come to help are going to find something to do, said Nolting.
Over the next three days starting tomorrow, the Friends of Gilfillan are working on one of the biggest fundraisers of the year, as they offer activities and food for Farmfest attendees.
Nolting said people do not have to be there all three days, but even if they could come for a couple of hours one of the days that would really help.
Nolting said one does not have to make a major commitment to volunteering as a member of the Friends of Gilfillan, but there are also ways one can get more involved if that is what they want.
Take, for example, volunteers like John Waidelich, who has been part of the Friends of Gilfillan from the beginning.
He spends time each week working in the garden watering and weeding.
Nolting also got involved with the Friends of Gilfillan through the garden, and he has been involved for about 10 years.
“We have a real gem here,” said Nolting, pointing to the Gilfillan house. “We need to make sure we remember this history. We are losing more of it all of the time (as those who know it pass away).”
Tauer said while anyone of any age is welcome to join the Friends of Gilfillan and to volunteer, the ideal people are those who have recently retired and have time on their hands.
Those who are interested may contact Nolting at (507) 637-3325. The Friends group meets the fourth Thursday of the month at the estate. The fee to be a member is $5 per year.
Gilfillan has a variety of events taking place during the Farmfest show, including free musical entertainment and chances to take a walk through the historic buildings. Tours of the house are also available for a minimal fee.
Page 2 of 2 - The Friends’ famous homemade ice cream is again being offered to those who attend, with lots of other food items also available.
The public is invited and encouraged to visit Gilfillan this week and take in the fun.