SAUK RAPIDS (WJON News) -- Sixty-five years ago the state of Minnesota turned 100 years old, and Benton County put together a year-long celebration to commemorate it.

Benton County Historical Society Executive Director Mary Ostby says when the state held its first meeting on the centennial with the individual counties Benton was one of 29 counties out of the 87 total that showed up. Benton County is of course one of the state's original counties. It was reported that when Benton County held its first centennial organizational meeting 176 people showed up and wanted to be a part of it.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society

There were a number of events throughout 1958 but Ostby says one that stood out was the Pioneer Oldster Event where they invited the older residents to a dinner and a pageant.

Ninety-seven participants at this dinner and then a parade took them to the fairgrounds for a pageant.  There were 300 participants in the pageant, so it was huge, they had to have a custom-built stage.

Ostby says the pageant spanned three nights of the county fair that year.

Benton County Historical Society
Benton County Historical Society

Another event was a statewide celebration of sports champions from each county in Minnesota. Ten athletes from Benton County were honored.

They are all the big names of Benton County, everyone will recognize them.  It was interesting all the different levels they were involved not just as athletes but also as coaches.

Eldon 'Rip' Rupulski
Ken Cheeley
George Selke
A.R. Ernst
Jack Conley
Dave Pflepsen
Rev. F.J. First
Ving Trewick
Sev Youso Sr.
Jerry Helgeson

Benton County also created a special button for the centennial.

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Ostby says anyone who remembers the state centennial celebration in Benton County back in 1958 should reach out to the historical society and share their memories.

Once a month, Ostby comes on the News & Noon Show on WJON and talks about the forgotten history of Benton County.


175 Years of Benton County History

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