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Preston Lions Club visits Historic Forestville

Fri, May 17th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

Lions Club members say the Pledge of Allegiance before starting their meeting at Historic Forestville. Photo by Barb Jeffers

The Preston Lions Club met at Historic Forestville on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. to spend an enjoyable evening in a peaceful setting. The Lions members were met by Sandy Scheevel, Site Manager, and John Grabko, Site Supervisor. The event began with a delicious catered meal by the Gateway Inn of Wykoff, Minn. The dinner bell was rung by John Grabko and the club members filed into the kitchen of the Meighen home where they filled their plates and returned outside to eat at tables in the back yard.

Following the meal the Lions held their regular meeting. President Ken Stager called the meeting to order then reviewed old business and approved the minutes of the last meeting. Ongoing business was discussed as well as future plans for the group. The Lions Club held a breakfast during Trout Days and arrangements were made for who would be able to help with the task.

One particularly exciting moment of the evening occurred when the members bought and received their First Annual Commemorative Trout Days pins. This was eventful because “only one hundred pins were made and then the cast was broken so no more can be made,” explained Ken Stager. Each pin is numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The annual pins will highlight a different type of trout each year with the first year featuring a brook trout. Each pin also has the Lions logo and the Preston Lions Club name on it.

The pins were being sold during Trout Days 2013 for eight dollars each and will continue to be sold until gone. The Lions Club presented John Grabko and this visiting reporter each a Trout Days pin which was an honor for each of us. Anyone wishing to purchase a Trout Days pin can contact President Ken Stager at (507) 765-5299 or any Lions member.

The Lions Club is a charitable organization that serves the local and world communities. The Lions Motto is “We Serve - our youth, our community, our world.” The Preston Lions Club has 28 members who are active with many programs to help those in need. One priority of the Lions Club is to assist the blind and visually impaired and there are many programs included in their efforts. The Lions Club holds fundraisers throughout the year to provide and support these programs.

A few of the programs the Lions offer to youth are college scholarships, eye exams and eye glass purchases, as well as International Youth Exchange. Some of the many ways the Lions Club serves the community are Disaster Relief efforts, Breakfast with Santa, and parking at the Fillmore County Fair each year. The Lions Club serves the world by sponsoring or contributing to used eyeglass and hearing aid collection, Leader Dogs for the blind, Special Olympics, and many additional programs.

The Preston Lions Club meets on the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the F&M Community Banks conference room located in the basement. The Club is looking for new members so if you would like to join this fine group of people contact Ken Stager.

Following the Lions Club meeting at Historic Forestville the group was fortunate to receive a tour of the grounds and buildings from John Grabko who shared his knowledge with the group. The tour included the Meighen home and store among other buildings. The Visitors Center was also open for Lions Club members to tour.

Forestville was settled in 1853 and grew quickly. By 1860 the town included over 150 people and twenty homes. The bustling town also included a school, a blacksmith shop, two hotels, a distillery, two sawmills, a gristmill, a cabinetry shop, and a store.

In 1868 the Southern Minnesota Railroad bypassed Forestville and instead went through area towns including Preston, Wykoff, and Spring Valley, Minn. Little by little the town disappeared with the Meighen Store being the last business to close in 1910.

The Meighen Store is still set up as it was when it closed with aisles and shelves fully stocked with sundries, clothing, and almost anything else a person needed in 1910. There are several buildings on the property that are all preserved the way they were when the town was full of residents.

There are many educational programs and tours available in Historic Forestville which gives visitors a sense of what it was like to live in the late 1800’s including interpreters dressed in costume doing household chores and garden work.

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park includes Mystery Cave which, according to the brochure from the park, is “the longest cave in Minnesota with over 13 miles of natural passages” and maintains a constant temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit so a visit to the cave on a hot Summer day would be refreshing for visitors.

Historic Forestville and Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is an excellent educational opportunity for school groups from the area to spend a day understanding what life was like many years ago and to get students out to enjoy nature while learning at the same time. According to Sandy Scheevel the size of this State Park is “over 4,000 acres” which gives guests plenty of room to roam whether staying for the day or camping for a weekend. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center Nature Store before you leave to pick up souvenirs from your visit including hats, bonnets, educational products, and more.

On Saturday, June 1, 2013 Historic Forestville, along with the Prairie Island Indian Community, will present Dakota Drum & Dance - A Mini Pow Wow which will be an exciting learning experience with all of the different sights and sounds that will be in Historic Forestville on that day. Admission for the Pow Wow will be $7.00 - Adults, $6.00 - Seniors, $5.00 - Children, and five years and under will have free admission. Minnesota Historical Society members will receive a discount. The admission price includes a Historic Site Tour. A $5.00 Daily State Park Permit will also be required.

For additional information on the Pow Wow or any of the programs available at Historic Forestville call (507) 765-2785 or visit The address of Historic Forestville is 21899 County Road 118, Preston, Minn. Historic Forestville is open Memorial Day Saturday thru Labor Day Monday. Look for special event postings after these dates. Hours are Thursday through Saturday 10:00 am. to 5:00 p.m.  Sunday- Noon to 5:00 p.m.

The evening of May 13 was not only an educational one for the Preston Lions Club members but was also an enjoyable night spent with friends.

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