BALATON - After three years of planning, countless donations and community effort, the golden ribbon adorning the entrance of the Balaton Area History Center was cut to celebrate the museum's grand opening on Saturday.
Visitors eagerly strolled through the various exhibits, examining the torn fabric of World War II military uniforms and antique church windows. Those in attendance enjoyed root beer floats provided by the Balaton Area Historical Society as they reminisced with friends and relatives.
The opening ceremony of the history center was part of this year's Balaton FunFest and proved to be a valuable event for all those involved.
Photo by Marcela Sanchez-Aizcorbe
Mary Mattson takes in her hard work as one of the coordinators for the Balaton Area History Center grand opening, The history center contains many different exhibits depicting the history of Balaton.
"I just love history. That's why I volunteered to take part," said Mary Mattson, one of the chief organizers for the museum opening. Mattson grew up in Balaton and has read every Balaton newspaper from 1910 and on, consolidating the local events onto an impressive timeline which was featured at the history center.
Trent Baas, another Balaton native, stressed the importance of remembering the past.
"It's nice keeping the history of the town alive. A lot of towns don't have anything like this," Baas said. Baas said his family contributed to the museum by lending the historical society military memorabilia for the opening. Like Baas, many of the Balaton Area History Center visitors shared a connection with something in the museum on Saturday.
The most popular section was the graduation exhibit, a display completed with the high school senior portraits of every Balaton graduating class. Children, parents and grandparents gravitated toward the photos, searching the walls for a familiar face. Not only did the display unite multiple generations, but it also created an atmosphere of small town camaraderie.
"I think the school pictures are the main thing the kids want to see. They want to see their parents' pictures and their grandparents," said Mattson to explain the children's fascination with the school photo exhibit. With the amount of photos and memorabilia on display at the history center, stories were recalled, retold and brought alive once again, allowing the visitors to catch a glimpse into the past of Balaton.
"I grew up here and went to school here. I'm very proud of that museum. They've done a beautiful job, and it really means a lot to me," said Doug Bengston, one of the original 25 members of the historical society formed in 2009.
Bengston is an active participant of FunFest and energetically carried the spirit of the festival on Saturday by dressing up as a clown with his wife, Sharla. The couple handed balloon animals to children and took part in the parade as well.
"I like being in the parade and seeing the kids' smiles when they see a clown," said Sharla Bengston when describing her favorite part of FunFest.