More than 70 Coon Valley area residents attended History Alive Project’s first annual Coon Valley “Picture This” Open House held from at the Coon Valley Village Hall on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Both long time avid historical area photo collectors and history buffs, Dave Amundson of Westby and Ray Ihle of Coon Valley organized and hosted the first time event. Linda Pederson, owner of the Stockyard Grill and Pub, generously provided coffee and cookies for the entire day.

The event was free and organizers Ihle and Amundson had no clue how many people to expect, if any. Instead they were overwhelmed by the wonderful turnout which was promoted on Facebook, with flyers and in the Westby Times.

“We didn’t charge an admission, simply set up our chairs, tables and displays and asked for Coon Valley folks to bring in their treasured pictures and tell us,” Ihle said. “We hoped for a couple dozen people in all and we ended up with almost 70. It was wonderful. We really enjoyed the images they brought and couldn’t believe how very willing people were to share their stories,” Ihle added.

Coon Valley residents Betty Nelson and Elnor Haugen were two of the many residents who enjoyed swapping stories about life before technology. Nelson recalled delivering milk in bottles from house-to-house, with her father using a horse-drawn cart, and Haugen, age 95, told of his immigrant parent’s trip from Norway to America.

Amundson said they can’t wait to host another event like this in Coon Valley and added that plans are already being made to host a similar event in Westby and maybe other areas, in the near future.

“This was so much fun that we’ve been asked to do another open house in Coon Valley. We can’t wait to get started putting it together and hopefully organizing even more open houses in other area communities where people want to keep History Alive,” Amundson said.

The History Alive Project Inc. was the brain child of David and Ruth Amundson and is now headquartered in a house they purchased and remodeled on Main Street in Westby. They work closely with freshman students and educators at Westby Area High School to teach young people the importance of history, as well as working with the elderly and area organizations gathering memorabilia and memories of days gone by.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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