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Bergeson to speak at Historical Society

The Becker County Historical Society will be hosting its annual meeting and dinner on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom in Detroit Lakes.

Special guest speaker will be Eric Bergeson, published author and Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist.

Bergeson, who makes his home in Fertile, Minn., will be presenting the program for "A Night of History," which gets underway at 6:30 p.m.

Though Bergeson currently runs the family business, Bergeson Nursery, his educational background is in history.

"I enjoyed every history course I ever took, so I just kept taking them until I had a major," says Bergeson. "I didn't get a job right away out of college (as a history teacher), so I went to graduate school and had more fun studying history."

When teaching jobs still proved hard to come by after obtaining his master's degree at the University of North Dakota, Bergeson eventually decided to return to the family business. His grandfather started Bergeson Nursery in 1936, and his parents took over the reins in 1970.

It was then, Bergeson says, that he became his grandfather's "sidekick" at the nursery.

"He still kept very active with planting," Bergeson adds.

His grandfather also wrote a column for the local newspaper, so when he passed away, the editor asked if Bergeson would like to take over.

"I had written a column for the college newspaper at UND," he says.

Though it was supposed to be, at least nominally, about gardening, Bergeson found himself writing more and more about life in rural America. He also published a few books drawn from his column material.

In 1997, Bergeson took over the family business from his parents, and stopped writing the column. But a few years later, he was enticed back into it by former Detroit Lakes Newspapers editor Jamie Marks.

Since then, Bergeson has branched out to write his column for about 20 area newspapers, and will publish his fifth collection of essays later this fall.

He has also discovered a talent for entertaining, and besides his Oct. 22 presentation for the Historical Society, will also be performing for the 40th anniversary celebration of Sons of Norway Vikingland Lodge 495 on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Both programs will include music -- Bergeson said he's looking forward to playing on the grand piano at the Holmes Theatre.

But the Oct. 22 program will, of course, be more focused on history.

"I have a degree in history, and I've taught history (as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota-Crookston), and I'll sort of relish the chance to talk about it," he says.

Bergeson's presentation on Oct. 22 will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. social and 6 p.m. dinner, as well as the introduction of the 2010 Board of Trustees for the Becker County Historical Society.

Tickets are $15 for historical society members and $20 for non-members, and are available at the Becker County Museum, 714 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes (across the parking lot from the Holmes Theatre).

The Becker County Museum, Library and Gift Shop are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is always free.

If you would like to be a member of the historical society, or would like more information about volunteer opportunities at the museum, please contact manager Carrie Johnston at 218-847-2938 or visit the Web site at