Following on the heels of a popular 2018 event commemorating the lost Spurrier Hotel, Heritage Group North in Pine River will host an event to commemorate the Land O'Lakes Creamery on July 25 at Bites Grill and Bar.
To help make the event a successful remembrance of days past, Heritage Group North is seeking to borrow Land O'Lakes Creamery memorabilia for display at events as well as firsthand anecdotes and stories that can be shared.
Pine River's creamery was founded June 15, 1909, according to the Pine River Centennial "Logsleds to Snowmobiles" book. It went through various ownership changes, including in 1913 when it was purchased by William Lauritzon, who constructed the creamery's brick buildings in 1916.
The whole operation was purchased in 1926 by the Pine River Cooperative Creamery Association, which had formed that April and was affiliated with the Land O'Lakes Regional Dairy Cooperative. The cooperative hired Fred Carlson, a butter maker from Aitkin.
Even through the Depression the creamery persisted. The creamery incorporated an independent creamery called Sheng-Wak Dairy in 1953.
Large tank trucks eliminated the need for local creamery distribution centers in the 1960s. This spelled the end for the local Land O'Lakes Creamery. Only the Land O'Lakes feed store persisted when "Logsleds to Snowmobiles" was published in 1973.
"The creamery was chosen because last year's Spurrier Hotel Remembered was so well received, we were approached by a couple people requesting such an event for the creamery," Heritage Group North member Patricia Johnson said. "That was how the HGN board decided to make this an ongoing series entitled 'Lost Pine River'."
Like the previous event, this Lost Pine River event will feature recreations from the days of the creamery, specifically, HGN will recreate the format of the creamery's annual meeting, held March 23, 1957. To make the recreation more true to its times, HGN is reaching out to local businesses that existed in 1957, or their modern counterparts, to donate raffle items that were present during the annual meeting. So far, they have gathered the following donations, among many others:
• A one-year subscription from the Echo Journal newspaper.
• An empty Kem-Tone paint can from Craig Anderson, in commemoration of a donation from Anderson Lumber.
• A case of canned corn from John Bueckers in commemoration of a donation from Red Owl.
• A magic can opener from Gary Gardiner in commemoration of a donation from the Marshall Wells store.
• A broom made by the same company as in 1957, donated by Gavin and Sharon Gensmer in commemoration of a broom donated by Hill Hardware.
The event will also feature various guest speakers. Johnson said HGN is seeking a representative of Land O'Lakes as well as dairy farmers from Cass County. The area surrounding Pine River once had many dairy farmers. There was also a creamery in Backus. This event is not only to commemorate Pine River's creamery but also dairy farming as a whole.
"This event is a tribute to Pine River's dairy industry," Johnson said. "I like to say it will be 'A Dairy Special Event'."
To submit a story, or help find creamery memorabilia to lend to the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.