With 2023 marking 125 years since the construction of the Smoky Valley Roller Mills in 1898, this year’s annual Millfest on May 6 is looking to be the best it’s ever been.
Held the first Saturday every May, Millfest is the one time every year that the Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum turns on the antique machinery across the four floors of the mill and opens it up for guided tours.
Lenora Lynam, the museum Executive Director, said it’s a rare sight, especially since the Old Mill is the only working mill using 19th century roller mill technology in the Midwest.
“It’s noisy, the floors rumble, and the machines, gears, and belts spin, rattle, and shake at an unbelievable rate,” she said. “It really must be seen to be believed.”
In this milestone 125th anniversary year, most of the planned events to mark the occasion will be taking place during Millfest. In addition to music, food, and artistic demonstrations there will also be a special anniversary ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on the front porch of the museum.
The ceremony will begin with Soderstrom Elementary School students singing the unofficial “anthem” of Lindsborg – “Kära Lindsborg Mitt Hem” (Dear Lindsborg My Home)
Following will be comments from the museum Board of Directors, a descendant of a historical mill owner, government representatives in attendance, the President of the Smoky Valley Historical Association, and Executive Director Lynam.
There will then be a drawing for a special artwork (donated by the Main Street Galleria and Studio in Lindsborg) from among the guests who take paid for a tour of the mill in action. Closing the ceremony will be the Mayor of Lindsborg reading a special proclamation naming May 6 “Lindsborg Smoky Valley Roller Mills 125th Anniversary Day.”
Of course, the main attraction of the day will be guided tours of the Old Mill in action throughout the open hours of the museum during Millfest – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours costs $10 per person during Millfest, but all other museum attractions will be available by-donation. For safety reasons, tours are restricted to those 13 years old or older.
Music entertainment will be available on the museum front porch starting at 10 a.m. and running through 3 p.m. Folk musician Nile Johnson will perform at 10 a.m. and noon, while local group the Front Porch Pickers will take the porch stage at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. – following the special anniversary ceremony.
Otherwise, guests can enjoy activities throughout the day included in the “by-donation” admission. Starting at 10 a.m., guests can decorate their own Dala Horse – a traditional Swedish symbol and the most notable symbol of Lindsborg – as long as supplies last. Traditional stick-and-hoop races as well as other old-time games will be on the common area lawn of Heritage Square.
A quilt show from the McPherson Quilt Guild will be among the day’s 20 or more free demonstrations, as well as vendors with handmade items for sale – the most ever at Millfest! Watch hand-carving demonstrations, see how rope was traditionally made, talk with representatives of The Land Institute about perennial grains and agriculture, purchase a wide variety of original artwork, and more!
When it’s time for lunch, guests can purchase “smashburgers,” casseroles, soups, and more meal options from Smash N Stuff Grill and Catering out of Hutchinson or pick up a snack or WheatSnax or Dala gummy candy from the museum gift shop.
While in the gift shop, that’s also a great opportunity to pick up a memento of the special milestone day. In addition to the large selection of books, T-shirts, toys, handmade gifts, and souvenirs, the 125th anniversary also brings two special new items.
First, there will be a FREE “Est. 1898” vinyl sticker for each guest during Millfest, with a special 125th anniversary Old Mill design featured! (Available while supplies last.)
Millfest will also mark the first time that anyone will be able to pre-order the Old Mill 125th Anniversary commemorative coffee table book. This will be a full-color paperback book featuring a new narrative of the mill’s history as well as both historic and modern pictures of the mill and surrounding area. Measuring 6” by 9” and printed on high-quality 70-80 pound paper, it will have at least 64 pages and may end up being up to 128 pages in the final design.
As a special thank-you, anyone who orders during Millfest will also receive a collectible wooden bookmark with a wood-burned design, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Old Mill (similar to the stickers, these will only be available while supplies last). Also, anyone who pre-orders before August 31, 2023 will receive a special discounted price of just $30! (After the pre-order period, the commemorative book will cost $35.)
Finally, Millfest will also be opening weekend for a new temporary exhibition in the main gallery of the museum. “Old Mill, New Life: Celebrating 125 Years of Lindsborg’s Historic Landmark” will follow the timeline of all historical mills on the museum site – going back to a grist mill built in 1872 – and their owners, as well as rare historical photos and narratives to read.
“There’s so much to do at this historic Millfest and for all kinds of interests,” Lynam said. “We really hope that our friends in the Smoky Valley, Kansas, and beyond come join us on May 6. We have so much to celebrate!”
Millfest 2023 – 125-Year Old Mill Celebration
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 6
Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum
120 E. Mill St., Lindsborg
$10 / person tours of the Old Mill in operation (ages 13+).
Admission by donation to all other museum attractions.
Food for purchase from Smash N Stuff Grill and Catering from Hutchinson
Smashburgers, casseroles, soups and more!
Confirmed arts and crafts vendors and demonstrators:
- Art Prints by Acacia Pracht
- Basketweaving by Janie Tubbs
- Blacksmithing by Josh Womelsdorf
- Chainmail Jewelry & Decorative Objects by Amethyst Sankey
- Clay Pot Animals by Gwen’s Crafts (Gwen Brecheisen)
- Drawings by Pam Petico
- Goat Milk Soap & Lotion by Wind River Farms (Angela Price)
- Greenwood Spoon & Bowl Carving by Jerry & Ruperta Hammerton
- Hand-carving by Salina Area Woodcarvers
- The Land Institute
- Oil Paintings & Cards by Bill Brassea
- Origami Models by Eian Pracht
- Quilt Show by McPherson Quilt Guild
- Ropemaking by Dean Gripe
- Scrimshaw (bone engraving & carving) by Debra Duntz
- Vintage Tote Bags by Lori Rodgers
- Wichita Spinning Guild
- Woodturning by Roy Hosie
- Wool Spinning by Anna Erickson & Laura Hultquist