Museum Exhibit to Focus on Folk

Does anyone in Valley City remember the tale of the trucker who, when traveling east on I-94 through a snowstorm, gave a ride to the ghost of a dead girl who died in a blizzard?

Or can anyone in Fort Ransom recall the tale of “Beaver the Hermit,” who was framed for a murder he did not commit but managed to elude the Sheriff and his posse by hiding out in the Sheyenne River Valley?

These are just two tales in the award-winning book “Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains.” An exhibit based on the book will begin showing at the Barnes County Museum today.

“The book is an interesting synopsis of North Dakota Culture,” said museum curator Wes Anderson. “The exhibit is arranged somewhat as it is here (in the book).”

The book, a 352 page compilation that took 30 years to complete, was published by the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) last year and has won the North Dakota Library Association’s 2011 Notable Document Award.

The book’s 10 chapters focus on ghost stories and strange tales; old and new legends; blizzard stories; weather lore; proverbs, folk expressions and folk speech; folk beliefs; folk medicine; holiday celebrations and other observances; hunting fishing and trapping traditions; and miscellaneous folk lore. The majority of the 1,000-plus entries in the book are from North Dakota, with a scattered handful of entries from surrounding states and provinces. Every North Dakota county is represented.

The 32-panel exhibit features items from all 10 chapters and the exhibit is sponsored by the NDCA. Admission is free, and the exhibit runs from Sept. 1 to Sept. 16.