Ride in a horse-drawn wagon over the prairie, skip over the grass to a polka, join in a sing along — it’s time for the annual Valley Grove Country Social.
Traditional Nordic music, and old time pleasures on a living prairie are the heart of the annual Valley Grove Country Social that will be held this year from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15 at the Valley Grove churches’ historic site.
Chris Brunelle, assistant professor of classics and musical accompanist at St. Olaf College, will lead a singalong at 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the 1892 church.
Hutenanny, a Northfield-based traditional Nordic music group comprised of fiddles, mandolins, bass, guitar, and recorders, will perform outdoors at 2:30, weather permitting.
Throughout the afternoon, horseman Bob Matthies and his team of percherons will give wagon rides on the prairie with photogenic views over Valley Grove’s prairie, which adjoins Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.
A variety of ecology experts will highlight the plants and wildlife of the restored prairie: monarch butterfly educator Nancy Schumacher will have a display and sale of favorite plants for pollinators. An expert from the Blue Bird Recovery Program will be on hand to consult on blue bird housing and habitat. Children get a chance to try traditional rope making throughout the afternoon. And Valley Grove Preservation Society board members will lead walks on the restored prairie.
Coffee and cake will be served. Admission is free, and tax-deductible donations to the Valley Grove Preservation Society are encouraged.
Valley Grove is an historic 19th century Norwegian Lutheran immigrant site featuring two churches set on a hilltop amid restored prairie. The white clapboard church dating to 1894 and the stone church built in 1862 are being restored through the Valley Grove Preservation Society, sponsors of the annual country social. Valley Grove is famed for its association with B.J. Muus, founder of St. Olaf College, and with economist Thorstein Veblen and Carleton College.