Cokato Museum to host two big events in January

December 31, 2007

Events include New Year’s Open House and ‘snowmobile’ rally

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The Cokato Historical Society has two big events coming in January including the Finnish New Year tradition of melting tin and the first-ever Upper Midwest Model T Ford Snowmobile Rally.

With its own 1922 Model T Ford Snowmobile still up and running, the Cokato Historical Society will host a “snowmobile” rally featuring the original snowmobiles – Model T Ford vehicles with ski and track attachments.

The Cokato Historical Society belongs to the Model T Ford Snowmobile Club of America, based out of New England, for owners of these original “snowmobiles.”

After seeing the club’s membership roster, Museum Director Mike Worcester realized there were quite a few members in the Upper Midwest who would have to travel a distance for the club’s annual rally in New England.

Although a vast majority of the members live in the New England area, others, like the historical society, are from the Upper Midwest in states like Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota.

Since the club encourages rallies in other parts of the country, Worcester and the historical society have been talking about hosting its own rally in Cokato for three years.

Unfortunately with the lack of snow in past years, the rally has been put off until this year.

The event will be Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 19 and 20 in Peterson Park in downtown Cokato.

The event will be simple, with vehicle demonstrations from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Light refreshments will be served in the Centennial Room.

“We just want it to be a fun weekend for people,” Worcester said.

He is hoping to have five to eight operating vehicles at the rally and that there will be enough interest and participation to make this an annual event.

The original ‘snowmobile’

For most people, when they hear the word “snowmobile” they think of brand name recreational vehicles like Polaris and Arctic Cat. Few may actually know where and how the first snowmobile originated.

It began in 1913, when Virgil D. White built an attachment that would convert a Model T Ford into a snowmobile with skis and mounted tracks.

White received a patent for an attachment kit in 1917, and it was put on the market in 1922, sold exclusively through Ford dealers. White was a Ford dealer himself in Ossipee, N.H., according to the Cokato Historical Society.

These Snowmobiles, named and coined by White as such, were used mostly at first by country doctors and rural mail carriers.

On average, the “snowmobile” reached 18 miles per hour and could travel over two-and-a-half feet of snow.

In 1994, the Cokato Historical Society received a generous donation – former Cokato mailman, Carl Peikert’s 1922 Model T Ford Snowmobile.

In 1962, Peikert sold his “snowmobile” to Benard Bajari, an avid sportsman, for the use of hunting and ice fishing on Lake Mille Lacs.

Bajari and his wife, Beatrice, donated it to the museum in memory of his nephew, Clifford Keskey.

During his ownership, Bajari made several improvements to the “snowmobile” to allow for more power and speed. The museum has since then, restored it to its original look.

Only a handful of these working-model snowmobiles are left in the state, according to Worcester.

This “snowmobile” has appeared three different times in a United States Postal Service exhibit at the Mall of America, Worcester said.

For more information on the first “snowmobile” rally, visit www.cokato.mn.us/cmhs.

Tin melting open house

The Cokato Historical Society invites the public to attend its annual open house featuring the Finnish New Year’s tradition of melting tin Sunday, Jan. 6 in the Centennial Room of the library/museum building.

Participants will have an opportunity to place a small, square piece of high-grade tin into a cast iron ladle and heat it over the stove.

Then, the melted tin is dropped into a pail of cold water and a shape takes form.

The purpose is to, in a light-hearted manner, foretell what the upcoming year will hold for the individual.

Sara and Susie Keskey put on the demonstration and assist in interpreting the shapes. Each shape has a different meaning.

The longer the shape of the tin, the further away from home the person will go or the longer the year will be for him or her, according to Keskey.

Tin shapes that go upward mean that a person will be doing new things, learning and growing in a career or hobby.

Keskey said, many times, a husband and a wife will throw similar shapes.

Predictions are not meant to be taken seriously, Keskey said, they are meant to entertain.

“I think it’s very interesting what can happen with metal when it melts,” Keskey said.

A person has to melt their own tins and many times, people will bring in the previous year’s tin and re-melt it, or they can keep it as a creative piece of art.