Tours & Camps

Overview

Dakota City is a collection of historic buildings from around the Dakota County area, put together to represent a rural Minnesota village in the early 1900s. We are located in Farmington on the Dakota County Fairgrounds. History comes alive for school children and adults can reminisce as our costumed docents lead educational tours that explain rural country life in 1900.

Start times are flexible and determined when you call to schedule your tour. School Tours are offered in the spring (late April – June) and fall (late September – October, weather permitting) and can be customized to enhance your curriculum. Other tours are offered as noted.

For more information or to schedule your tour, call our office at 651-460-8387, or email us at education@dakotacity.org. All tours must be scheduled at least 3 weeks in advance.

Overview

In 1859, a village was platted about a mile northeast of Farmington, Minnesota. This little town, named Dakota City, was positioned on the south bank of the Vermillion River along the stagecoach route now known as Highway 3. When the railroad was laid a mile to the southwest of Dakota City, the town was relocated to be near it, and in 1872 became known as Farmington.

Our village, named Dakota City after the original platted town on the banks of the Vermillion River, was established in 1978 and is located on the Dakota County Fairgrounds. It represents a typical rural Dakota County village of 1900.

Present day Dakota City is a 1900-era agricultural village and museum. Twenty-two buildings, including an operational blacksmith shop, newspaper office, train depot and family home, represent the business and social center of a rural 1900-era community.

Live interpretations and demonstrations can be experienced during living history events held throughout the year. Group tours, Scout tours, special programs, birthday parties and weddings are scheduled by appointment. The museum features exhibits relating to rural life, and an extensive collection of tractors and other agricultural equipment dating before 1950 are displayed during the Dakota County Fair.

Dakota City is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that strives to preserve our heritage for future generations with the help of generous donors and exceptional volunteers.

School Tours

Hands-On History

Grades K-2

The Hands On History Tour is a 90- to 120-minute walking tour through 6 – 9 buildings in the Village with a costumed docent and may include:

– helping with chores at the Harris House

– gathering eggs at the “farm”

– “bartering” at the general store

– touching items at the blacksmith or watching the carpenter at work

– using writing slates and chalk in the one-room school

– hand-dipped ice cream cone at the drugstore

This program can accommodate up to six small groups at one time (minimum 10 students, maximum 70 total – if you have more students, two days may be scheduled). The cost is $7 per person with no charge for one teacher and one aide/para/chaperone per class. Additional adults (parent chaperones) are $7 each. The option is available to bring your own brown bag lunch and have a picnic at the drugstore. We will serve a hand-dipped ice cream cone (or popsicle for those with allergies) from our old-fashioned drugstore (included in the price) for dessert. Depending on the number of students, this will add about 30 – 45 minutes to your tour time.

One-Room School

Grades 2-6

The One-Room School Tour is a 4-hour program that includes:

– two hours in the one-room school with a costumed school marm, doing 1900-era lessons using lesson books they can keep, and slate boards with chalk

– outdoor recess playing an old-fashioned game (weather permitting – indoor games also available)

– eating your picnic lunch (bring your own) outside the drugstore, with a hand-dipped ice cream cone (or popsicle for those with allergies) for dessert

–  a 90-minute guided walking tour with a costumed docent through selected buildings in our Village

This program is limited to two groups (minimum 10 students, maximum 50 total). The cost is $7 per person with no charge for one teacher and one aide/para/chaperone per class. Additional adults (parent chaperones) are $7 each. All school supplies (slate boards, chalk, crayons, pencils, school books, game activity) and hand-dipped ice cream cones are provided.

Village Experience

Grades 3-6

The Village Experience is a 2-hour tour that includes 9 buildings in the Village with a costumed docent. Some hands-on activities may include:

– using the slates and chalk in the one-room school

– touching items at the blacksmith or watching the carpenter at work

– “withdrawing” money at the bank

– “shopping” at the general store

– helping with chores at the Harris House

– hand-dipped ice cream cone at the drugstore

This program can accommodate up to six small groups at one time (minimum 10 students, maximum 70 total – if you have more students, two days may be scheduled). The cost is $7 per person with no charge for one teacher and one aide/para/chaperone per class. Additional adults (parent chaperones) are $7 each. The option is available to bring your own brown bag lunch and have a picnic at the drugstore. We will serve a hand-dipped ice cream cone (or popsicle for those with allergies) from our old-fashioned drugstore (included in the price) for dessert. Depending on the number of students, this will add about 30 – 45 minutes to your tour time.

Home School Tours

Mixed Ages (age 3 and up)

Tours are also available for homeschool groups. These tours are tailored for the ages of the children and length of the tour time, similar to the school tours. The cost is $7 per person. Contact our office to set up the details of your Home School Tour at 651-460-8387 or education@dakotacity.org.

Summer Tours, Adult Tours, and Other Tours

Summer in the Village

Grades K-8

The Summer in the Village Tour is a 2-hour program held in June and July, and is designed to give groups such as daycare centers, home daycare groups, YMCA groups, etc. the experience of what life would have been like in 1900. There are several hands-on opportunities that will help them expand their understanding and appreciation of the past in an exciting and memorable way. Typical activities may include looking through stereoscopes, trying out period chores, playing old-fashioned games, and more.

This program can accommodate up to six small groups at one time (minimum 10 students, maximum 70 total – if you have more students, two days may be scheduled). The cost is $7 per person. The option is available to bring your own bag lunch and have a picnic in the village with a hand-dipped ice cream cone (included in the price) from our old-fashioned drugstore for dessert. Depending on the number of people in your group, this will add 30 – 45 minutes to your total tour time.

Adult and Senior Citizen Tours

Adults can step back in time and reminisce how Grandma and Grandpa used to live in 1900 as they tour historic buildings with a costumed docent. These tours are held Monday through Friday, with flexible start times. See the carpenter or blacksmith at work, visit with the family in a home parlor, exchange information with the local shopkeeper, and more. Tours can be scheduled May, June, July, September and October. There are 3 options for adults:

  • Walking Tour

Walk through the village to 7-8 selected buildings with a costumed docent. This tour is about 2 hours long and can accommodate up to six small groups at one time (minimum 10 people, maximum 70 total – if you have more people, two days may be scheduled). The cost is $7 per person. The option is available to bring your own bag lunch and eat at our picnic tables after a morning tour or before an afternoon tour. We will serve a hand-dipped ice cream cone (or popsicle for those with allergies) from our old-fashioned drugstore (included in the price) for dessert. Staying for lunch will add 30-45 minutes to your total tour time.

  • Riding Tour

The Riding Tour includes the same content as our Walking Tour, except attendees will ride our tractor-pulled trolley through the village to each building. We have two trolleys that can hold up to 25 people each, for a maximum total of 50 people. The cost for this tour is $9 per person.

  • Trolley and Lunch Tour

The Trolley and Lunch Tour includes the Riding Tour and a catered lunch. After a morning exploring the village, sit down at our linen-covered tables in the drugstore for a luncheon with beverage and dessert. This tour is 3-4 hours and costs $20 per person.

Children’s Birthday Party

Ages 6-13

Have an old-fashioned birthday party in our village! Activities could include:

  • dressing up in 1900s-era clothing
  • playing old-fashioned games
  • learning about life in 1900

You bring your birthday cake with candles to eat in the drugstore, and we will provide decorations, plates, napkins, utensils, ice cream, lemonade, and party favors for the birthday child and each guest. Birthday parties can be held in May, June, July, September and October. Please call or email our office for more information and to schedule a party.

Scout Tours

Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts

This 2-hour tour is designed for Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts working on their historical advancements or badges. Walk through selected buildings in the village with a costumed docent and learn about life in the 1900s by doing hands-on activities. Scout tours are generally scheduled after school or on a Sunday afternoon. The cost is $10 per Cub Scout/adult couple ($7 per extra person) with a minimum of 8 participants. A Girl Scout Brownie and Junior Badge Day for local service units is usually held the second weekend in October. Please call or email our office for more information.

Day Camps

At our Day Camps, children can live life through a 1900’s child by learning in a one-room school, doing chores in the family home, dressing in old-fashioned clothes, practicing a trade, and visiting our Village buildings. Our Master Apprentice and Junior Apprentice camps are 4 days long – each day is different, but builds on the knowledge and activities from the previous day. Our Try-It day camp is one full day of sample activities from the Junior Apprentice camp.

The theme for 2022 is “Modern 1900s”. Campers will learn what was new and exciting around the turn of the last century – although 1900 was a long time ago, there were many new inventions and modern gadgets that helped make life easier. Electricity had been around for years, but what were some new uses for it? The automobile was becoming a little more common, there was talk of people traveling in flying machines, and simple everyday items such as tea bags, coffee filters, paper clips, and thumb tacks were all improving people’s lives. New books and toys and even new food items were exciting for children. Always fun are the vintage games to play and hands-on activities to do.

Try-It Day Camp

Children age 5 to 9 will get an introduction to life in 1900 at our one-day Try-It Day Camp. Hands-on activities in historic buildings will help the campers experience a different way of life from long ago, and get a sample of the 4-day camp activities.

In 2022, the Try-It Day Camp will be held on Wednesday, June 22, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the Dakota County Fairgrounds at Dakota City Heritage Village. Each camper must bring their own water bottle and bag lunch. Each camper must also have their own transportation to Dakota City. We will serve a hand-dipped ice cream cone from our old-fashioned drugstore for dessert. All supplies and an afternoon snack will be provided by Dakota City. The cost of this one-day camp is $50 per camper. A registration form and payment must be received in our office to be registered – space is limited and spots are filled as registrations with payment are received. The registration deadline is June 6.

 

Junior Apprentice Day Camp

Junior Apprentice Day Camp is for children age 6 to 12. They will experience life in the 1900s by visiting many of the buildings in our Village. Some activities include learning lessons in a country school, helping with gardening and other household chores, and doing some of the crafts of the time. Campers will also have fun playing vintage games and dressing in old-fashioned clothes of the times from our costume room.

Junior Apprentice Day Camp will be held twice in 2022. Choose either June 27-30 or July 11-14 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the Dakota County Fairgrounds at Dakota City Heritage Village. Each camper must bring their own water bottle and bag lunch each day. Each camper must have their own transportation to Dakota City. All supplies and an afternoon snack will be provided by Dakota City. The cost of this four-day camp is $150 per camper. A registration form and payment must be received in our office to be registered – space is limited and spots are filled as registrations with payment are received. The registration deadline is June 6.

Master Apprentice Day Camp

Master Apprentice Day Camp is for children age 13 and up. This camp continues the learning from the Junior Apprentice Camps. Teens are immersed in village history and life in the early 1900s with more hands-on experience in the buildings by using some of the equipment and artifacts specific to that building. The campers will also learn how to be a volunteer at Dakota City, and will then be able to volunteer with an adult at other Dakota City events including Day Camps and the Fair. To enhance learning the history and life of 1900, we will have more focused hands-on time in the school, blacksmith, print shop, millinery, carpentry shop and general store. We will also have time for cooking our lunch in the Harris House on Wednesday.

In 2022, the Master Apprentice Camp will be held June 13-16, 2022, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the Dakota County Fairgrounds at Dakota City Heritage Village. Each camper must bring their own water bottle and bag lunch each day (except Wednesday). Each camper must have their own transportation to Dakota City. All supplies and an afternoon snack will be provided by Dakota City. The cost of this four-day camp is $150 per camper. A registration form and payment must be received in our office to be registered – space is limited and spots are filled as registrations with payment are received. The registration deadline is June 6.

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