With at least 20
to 30 people dressing up in period
clothes and walking around the
village, Garland Days was more
visible than ever this year. And as
the receipts from the various events
come in, it appears that the West
Salem Historical Society did well
There was only one hitch in the proceedings — the special cancellation stamp that was to be used at the post office never arrived.
“Once it gets here,” said Errol Kindschy, president of the West Salem Historical Society, “the postmaster tells me he’ll be able to use it for 30 days — it was our only failure!”
Kindschy was most excited about the interest shown by children who dressed up for the event. “One fourth grader at the cemetery walk told me that she couldn’t decide who she’d be next year — Ida Tilson, Zulime Garland or Mrs. Leonard,” Kindschy said with a smile.
“It’s so great when we help get kids interested in local history,” he added.
Although communities like Mindoro, Cashton and Pepin had civic celebrations that might have competed with Garland Days for attention, Kindschy said he was more than pleased with the turnout.
“Our silent auction collected the second most amount ever — we took in close to a thousand dollars,” Kindschy said. “And we made more money than ever before from our pioneer stew ($250) at the Garland House.”
Another big plus was the number of participants in the village-wide rummage sale. “We had 54 on the map and I had another 20 or so calling me after the deadline asking to get on the map,” Kindschy said.
Kindschy estimated there were between 70 and 80 rummage sales going on in the village over the weekend and the word he got back from residents was that sales were better than expected. “I even heard we had traffic jams on some streets,” he said.
Attendance at the graveside memorial on Saturday evening was the highest ever and about 35 people turned out Sunday afternoon to listen to author Chad Lewis speak about his books, “Hidden Headlines” and “The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations.”
“He was very, very good,” Kindschy said. “I heard all kinds of wonderful comments about him.”
Later that evening at the society’s annual meeting at the American Legion, actor David Schweitzer gave a talk as author August Derleth, a younger contemporary of Garland and Wisconsin’s most prolific author. That, too, was very well received.
All in all, Kindschy said he was delighted with the increased participation in this year’s Garland Days.
“We don’t have a beer tent,” Kindschy said. “All we’ve got is people who love history and books, but I have to tell you it is so much fun to see other people get involved!”
With a big celebration planned next year — the 150th anniversary of Hamlin Garland’s birth — Kindschy is working on getting those numbers to increase even more.