The Forest City Stockade celebrates the life of homesteaders back in 1862, just before the outbreak of the U.S. Dakota War. A project of the Meeker County Historical Society, the stockade was reconstructed in 1976 near the original site where it was hastily built for defense purposes during an attack on the settlers of the region in September of 1862. For the past 30 years, the reconstructed stockade has served as a gathering place for history buffs and regional craftspeople such as flax spinner Julie Hiniker,saddle maker Jerimy Kuhns and soap maker Stacey Neuhaus.
Neuhaus has been making soap at the stockade event since 2009. In this Postcards episode, she demonstrates how she uses 100% buffalo tallow and lye to make her handcrafted soap. “People are trying to get back to what's more natural,” Neuhaus said. “We're growing our own food, we're baking our own bread, we're making our own soap,” she continued. “We're doing what we took for granted and now we're doing it because we want to and we know it's better for us.”
More than 150 volunteers help the stockade event happen in August each year. Postcards interviewed key volunteer and construction supervisor, Chuck Fuller, and Robert Hermann, the Chairman of the Forest City Stockade Committee. Fuller and Herman work to ensure that the exhibits and structures stay true to the 1860’s era. “I think the lessons of history are important, “ said State Representative Dean Urdahl of Grove City. "I like to see the young people being able to see what it was like here 153 years ago. History is alive and we need to remember it and keep the spirit of the past with us today,” he added.
Dana Sikkila is an “installation artist” who loves to transform public spaces with her three dimensional art. She grew up in the Litchfield area but now lives and works in Mankato. The Postcards team caught up with Sikkila and her dog Murphy in Fergus Falls where she was spending a month in the Hinge Artist Residency program sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. “The one thing that really draws me to installation art is it has that factor of the viewer being involved in it” Sikkila said. Her first installation involved an image of her dog Murphy, who she has lived with for 10 years. Now Murphy has become Sikkila’s trademark. “I don't know if I would be making installation art if it wasn't for him,” she added.