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Students to walk into city’s past

May 8, 2008
Kylie Saari — Staff Writer
FAIRMONT — On Friday, area fifth-graders will get a rare opportunity to speak with men from days gone by, men whose names they may be familiar with, such as Frank Day, Frank Wade and Henry Rippe — or at least the actors who will portray them.

Wade, Day and Rippe are just three of the seven Fairmont historical figures who will be portrayed on a Downtown Plaza walking tour sponsored by Martin County Historical Society. Local actors have volunteered to dress up in period clothes, learn about their characters and spend a Friday interacting with fifth-graders about the history of Fairmont’s Downtown Plaza and its importance to the town.

Students will start at the former post office and walk their way up the street and back, stopping at historical locations to hear about what Fairmont used to be like.

“The actors will stand outside the buildings and talk with the students,” said Dustin Heckman, curator of Pioneer Museum. Two of the actors will perform a small skit, portraying the parts of the police chief and a concerned citizen.

“They will be interacting with (the students),” Heckman said, “telling them about things like prohibition.” Other volunteers, mostly retired teachers, will escort the students and point out important landmarks along the way.

Heckman organized this event in conjunction with Minnesota’s sesquicentennial this year. The state asked groups to have an event honoring statehood week, he said, and historical society members invited area fifth-graders to be part of it.

Determining whom to portray on the tour proved to be a difficult process, according to Heckman.

“Many know about Wade and Day,” he said. “From there we picked out major businesses on Downtown Plaza.” The process was helped along by last summer’s ghost tour event. Heckman said he found a brochure detailing the event and called up the actors involved, asking them if they were interested in reprising their roles.

Heckman said if the event is a success, they will consider opening it up to other grades and the general public in the future.

“We have many school programs,” he said. “This is just one more added to the programs.”

Heckman hopes the students will enjoy learning about their town.

“I want them to have a greater appreciation of what a downtown is for in a town of our size,” he said.

Article Photos

Photo of Frank Day courtesy of Martin County Historical Society.



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