Area Organizations

Updated June 2019

Boy Scouts of America Troop 253

It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people, and, in other ways, to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetimes in achieving their full potential. The values the organization strives to instill are based on those founded in the Scout Oath and Law.

Dassel-Cokato Troop 253 welcomes boys ages 11 to 18. There are currently about 20 members who meet at 7 p.m. the second Monday, and 6 p.m. the fourth Sunday of the month, at St. John’s Education Center. Anyone interested in joining may contact Troop Scoutmaster Terry Gabrelcik at 320-286-3288.

Cokato American Legion Post 209 & Auxiliary

Since its founding in 1919, the American Legion has been an advocate for America’s veterans, a friend of the US military, a sponsor of community-based programs for young people, and a spokesman for patriotic values. Nearly 2.8 million members make it the nation’s largest veterans group, with about 15,000 local posts and six foreign countries. Membership is restricted to men and women who served in the US military during an official period of conflict.

Cokato Post 209 was also founded in 1919. Members meet in the back room of city hall the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m., except in March and December, when there are potluck dinners at the city hall at 6:30 p.m. In July there is no meeting.

Currently, there are 60 members, and new members are always welcome. Contact John Bergmann at 320-286-2711 for membership information.

The Cokato American Legion Post 209 Auxiliary also meets the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. in the main back room of the city hall. Membership is open to anyone whose spouse or other family member has served, or is currently serving in the military. New members are always welcome. Contact Charlotte Paulson at 320-286-2262 for membership information.

Cokato Chamber of Commerce

The Cokato Chamber of Commerce meets the first Tuesday of every month at noon at Cokato City Hall. The Cokato Chamber is a voluntary association of businesspeople working to improve the economic and civic vitality of both their own business/organization and the community at large.

The chamber-sponsored movie in the park, The Lego Movie, takes place Friday, Aug. 9.

Officers for 2019 are Dorene Erickson, president; Jarod Sebring, vice president/treasurer; Johanna Ellison, board member; Judy Mumford-Torrez, board member; Paulie Johnson, past president; and Teresa Martinson, executive secretary. Questions or requests for information may be directed to Teresa Martinson at tmartinson@cokato.mn.us.

Cokato Community Chest

The Cokato Community Chest was founded in 1954, to be a team of representatives for city organizations that conduct one citywide fundraiser per year on Columbus Day. Following fundraising efforts, the board of directors divides collected funds among the social agencies, both local, and state, that have requested funds. Because there is an organization such as the community chest, there is only one door-to-door campaign per year, in October.

The organizers meet at the Cokato City Hall in the spring and fall. Anyone interested in joining may contact Cokato City Hall for further information.

Cokato Cub Scouts

The purpose of the Cub Scouts is to provide educational and recreational activities for kindergarten through fifth-grade boys. There is a focus on citizenship, as well as learning skills that the boys will use throughout life.

The pack is made up of boys in kindergarten to fifth grade. A monthly meeting of the full pack takes place, and this includes a flag ceremony, a lesson, and, of course, a snack.

Each grade level is known as a den, and also meets monthly where they learn things in their own group that are age-appropriate. Some of the great projects the Scouts do each year are the pinewood derby, building and firing rockets, and camping.

This is great preparation for boys to be prepared for Boy Scouts and is also a wonderful way to prepare them for the challenges of the world.

The Scouts also do community service projects and are sponsored by the American Legion.

There is fall recruitment, and information is handed out at the elementary school.

Cokato-Dassel Lions Club

The Cokato-Dassel Lions are a service-driven organization serving both the Cokato and Dassel communities. Part of the largest civic organization in the world, the Lions’ motto is “We Serve.” There currently are 36 members, who meet two times a month. The first Monday of each month is the social meeting, which takes place at the Dassel History Center. The third Tuesday of each month is the business meeting.

Some of the annual events include the Silent Santa program, DC High School Scholarship participation, the Spring Pork Chop Dinner, the pork chop stand at the Corn Carnival, and supporting citizens through random acts of kindness.

Current officers are: President Gordy Erickson, Secretary Brian Abrahamson, and Treasurer Mike Lhotka. For more information, contact any member or visit our Facebook page, Cokato-Dassel Lions Club.

Cokato-Dassel Rotary Club

The Cokato-Dassel Rotary Club was organized in 1960, with 22 charter members. Currently, there are 28 members who believe in Rotary International’s motto, “Service above self,” and its four-way test of ethical standards.

The club meets every Thursday at noon for lunch and a program at Cokato City Hall.

As a service organization, the club participates in several youth endeavors, including the STRIVE high school mentor program, donating bike helmets for the first-grade spring bike rally, and sponsoring students to participate in various Rotary leadership programs.

The 2019-20 officers are: Jackie Wilson, president; Cathy Thisius, treasurer; and Dori Kimball, secretary.

For more information on Rotary, including how to become a member, visit the website at www.cokatodasselrotary.org;
email cdrotaryclub@gmail.com; or find us on Facebook.

Cokato Finnish-American Historical Society

The Cokato Finnish-American Historical Society (CFAHS) was founded in 1896, to preserve historic buildings and artifacts located at Temperance Corner. The corner is located north of Cokato on Co. Rd. 3. The society’s mission is to educate the public and to provide historical information.

CFAHS has more than 200 members and meets quarterly at Temperance Hall. The annual meeting takes place in January, and a program and lunch follow the meeting.

The society has two festivals annually; the first is the Saturday before Memorial Day, and the second is in October. During these events, all buildings are open with historical displays, and lunch is served. There is also a bake sale and raffle, plus a historical program at noon. Midsummer is celebrated in June with a historical program and an evening dessert potluck, followed by a bonfire.

Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) is celebrated the first Saturday in December with candle-lighting at the cemetery in late afternoon, followed by a potluck supper.

All events are open to the public. Memberships are $10 for individuals, and $15 for couples. Donations help the society with its preservation and educational efforts. The society offers scholarships to a Finnish language camp.

Anyone interested in joining, or with questions, may contact Harvey Barberg, president, at 320-286-5823, or email heidibharveyb@gmail.com.

Cokato Historical Society

The Cokato Historical Society board of trustees meets the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Room of the library/museum building (except where noted).

The historical society raises funds to support the operation of the award-winning Cokato Museum and Gust Akerlund Photography Studio, a National Register Historic site. They host regular programs and events, publish a quarterly newsletter, “In the Midst Of,” and provide research services for genealogists or persons interested in local history.

Questions about the historical society, museum, or Akerlund Studio may be directed to the Cokato Museum at 320-286-2427, email cokatomuseum@embarqmail.com, or visit the website: www.cokatomuseum.org; Facebook: Cokato Museum & Akerlund Photo Studio; and Twitter: @CokatoMuseum.

Darwin Community Club

The major function of the Darwin Community Club is the Darwin Museum and Souvenir Gift Shop. It is also a supporter of Twine Ball Days, which take place the second Saturday in August in Darwin.

The Darwin Community Club is always looking for new members interested in the welfare of the Darwin area to join its team. Anyone interested in joining may contact any of the officers.

Darwin Lions Club

The Darwin Lions Club has approximately 40 members. The club meets the first Monday of every month at the Darwin Rod and Gun Club. Throughout the year, the club supports international Lions Club projects, as well as local projects. The Darwin Twine Ball Celebration is the club’s major fundraiser. The club awards scholarships for Dassel-Cokato seniors and Litchfield seniors each year.

The club’s officers are Craig Dullinger, president; Jay Mischke, vice president; Pat Raiber, secretary; and Ryan Severance, treasurer.

Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the organization can contact Josh Johnson at 320-275-3004.

Darwin Rod & Gun Club

The club, one mile east of Darwin on Highway 12, meets the second Wednesday of the month at 8 p.m.

The Darwin Rod and Gun Club is community-minded, with emphasis on hunting, fishing, and conservation. It hosts trap-shooting leagues in the summer and provides a shooting range for members year-round. Several events take place for members and the public each year. Annual dues are $20, or $200 for a lifetime membership.

Dassel Friends of the Library

Dassel Friends of the Library is a group of individuals whose goal is to support, enhance, and promote the many benefits of the library system.

New members are welcome For more information, contact the Dassel Library at 320-275-3756.

Dassel Area Historical Society

Known as the cultural, arts, and historical center of the Dassel area, the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum offers an array of events and exhibits throughout the year.

Located at 901 First St. N. in Dassel, the history center is home to the Dassel Area Historical Society (DAHS), an organization with a mission to bring the past, present, and future together in a way in which all generations can learn and enjoy.

The museum is housed in the Universal Laboratories building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, it was named one of the 25 top preservation projects in the state of Minnesota by the Minnesota Preservation Alliance.

Its main exhibit, Ergot: From Blight to Blessing, showcases what the building was primarily used for – processing ergot. From the early 1940s to the mid-1970s, Universal Laboratories provided raw ergot from the grain fields of the western US and Canada to pharmaceutical companies. Critical drugs were produced from the ergot, saving countless military and civilian lives.

Another exhibit, Seed Corn: From Maize to Amazing, highlights Dassel’s rich seed corn story and how it became known as the Seed Capital of the World.

The history center offers other permanent exhibits, including a Peterson Pharmacy exhibit, featuring donated historical pharmaceutical artifacts; and Magnus Johnson: from Swedish Immigrant Farmer to US Senator, showcasing
the political career of the late Senator from the Kingston area.

In addition, the museum features an assortment of temporary exhibits throughout the year providing artifacts, photos, and historical information.

The Dassel Event Center is located on-site, where special events take place throughout the year. It is also available for rent by the public.

A variety of unique gifts are available for purchase at the museum, including DAHS totes, jewelry, artwork, and prints done by local artists; and historical books by local authors.

The museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and by appointment. There is no admission fee.

For more information about the Dassel History Center, visit the website, www.dasselhistorycenter.org. Questions may be directed to 320-275-3077, or dahs@dassel.com. The mailing address for the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum is PO Box D, Dassel, MN 55325.

Dassel-Cokato Arts Association

The Dassel-Cokato Arts Association’s mission is to nurture the arts by supporting artists and art events in the community.

The DCAA was organized in 2004, during the construction of the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center (PAC), located at the DC High School. Most DCAA events take place in the 800-seat PAC, and past events have included many concerts performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Tonic Sol-fa, Mark Schultz, Peter Yarrow (of the former Peter, Paul & Mary trio), Todd Oliver, and free concerts, such as a performance by the US Army Field Band’s Jazz Ambassadors.

Touring performances, including “Church Basement Ladies,” Children’s Theatre Company productions, Don Shelby as Mark Twain, and a professional national touring production of “A Christmas Carol” have also been presented at the PAC.

Some DCAA events take place in the smaller, more intimate space at the Dassel History Center, such as performances by comedians such as Louie Anderson and a one-woman show entitled “Singing for the Cows.”

The DCAA also sponsors the annual Red Rooster Fine Arts Show during the Memorial Day weekend. Artists of all ages are encouraged to participate in this judged event.

The Dassel-Cokato Arts Association always welcomes new members.

As a non-profit organization, tax-deductible donations to the DCAA help to bring world-class entertainment to our community with extremely affordable ticket prices. Members also have the opportunity to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public.

To become a member, or for more information, contact Executive Director Deborah Moen at 612-236-5137, visit pac.dc.k12.mn.us, or email DCArtsAssn@gmail.com.

Dassel-Cokato Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts Lakes & Pines of MN/Wisc, Troop 3068, meet twice a month, usually the first and third Thursday of the month. The current meeting place is at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Dassel. The members of Troop 3068 complete different projects, go to summer camp and do service activities. Troop 3068 sells cookies once a year, in the spring.

Dassel-Cokato Kinship Caregivers Support Group

This group brings together grandparents and other relatives who are raising their grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. It is a time to discuss struggles and celebrations in a safe, supportive environment.

Discussion is based on current concerns of participants and may include topics such as managing children’s behavior, addressing issues with adult children, frustration with having to alter life plans, and unexpected joys discovered through the journey.

Kinship Caregivers meets monthly (September-May) at Cokato Elementary, and is facilitated by a licensed social worker. Call 320-286-4120 to learn more about this opportunity.

Dassel Lamplighters 4-H Club

The Dassel Lamplighters 4-H Club typically meets the first Sunday of each month at the Dassel Covenant Church (lower level) at 6:30 p.m., unless otherwise scheduled. Special meetings take place at Dassel Lakeside Apartments in June, to assist with planting flowers, and in December for a holiday activity. Club members are encouraged to be involved in county-wide activities, and community service projects. Club members meet annually to clean their section of Adopt-A-Highway. The Dassel Lamplighters currently has 38 members, ranging in age from 5 to 18. New members are welcome to join at any time. For more information, call the Meeker County Extension Office at 320-693-5275.

Dassel-Cokato Early Childhood

Dassel-Cokato Early Childhood is a program of Dassel-Cokato Community Education, specifically designed for families with children ages birth to 5 (not yet in kindergarten).

Dassel Cokato Early Childhood is responsible for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes and special events, School Readiness Play and Learn Preschool and Early Childhood Screening.

Play and Learn Preschool is proud to be a 4-Star Parent Aware-rated program. Classes for 4-year-olds take place at Dassel Elementary and Cokato Elementary. The Early Childhood Center hosts preschool classes​ for ​3-year-olds,​ and ECFE classes for families with children ages birth to 5, not yet in kindergarten​.

The Early Childhood Center, located on the ​northwest corner of the Dassel-Cokato High School/Middle School campus, is home to a beautiful, fenced playground. Families with young children are welcome to enjoy the playground anytime. For more information, visit ​ecfe.dc.k12.mn.us.

Dassel Community Chest

The Dassel Community Chest was founded in 1959, to collect funds and distribute them to local and regional charities. The annual community chest drive is in October each year. There are 12 board members in the organization, which meets in October and January at the Dassel History Center. Anyone interested in becoming a board member or with questions may call 320-275-9205.

Dassel Cub Scouts Pack 253

The aim of Cub Scouting is to help boys grow into good citizens who are strong in character and personally fit. This is why we say that Cub Scouting is “fun with a purpose.” Every Cub Scout is a member of a Cub Scout pack, divided into smaller groups, called dens. Each den has about six to eight boys. All of the Cub Scouts in a den are about the same age. Much of the fun happens right in the den and pack.

The den usually meets one to two times a month, and the pack meets once a month. At den meetings and pack meetings, Cub Scouts do different things for fun and learning. While having fun, Scouts also earn badges and awards. Cub Scouts also participate in summer day camp and resident camp.

Scouts is for boys in kindergarten through fifth grade, or 5 to 11 years old. Dassel Cub Scouts meet at Dassel City Hall.

Dassel American Legion Post 364

The Dassel American Legion, Paul F. Dille Post 364 was originally formed in 1920 and was named in honor of Paul F. Dille, a local man who became the first war-time fatality from Dassel. He was killed at the battle of Bellequ Woods in World War I.

Throughout the 99 years since, the Post has dedicated itself to helping veterans of all of the subsequent wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Our dedication to the needs of veterans includes help in transportation to veteran hospitals and volunteer work in the local community.

Our local involvement includes assisting with an Honor Guard during the funeral services of deceased members of the Armed Services, and conducting old flag disposal. The Legion Post is also actively involved with sponsoring local high school students to both Boys State and Girls State, providing scholarships and assistance with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, an organization that helps veterans within Meeker County who are returning from overseas deployment. In conjunction with the Meeker County Service Office, these veterans are given financial assistance for needs such as housing and utilities, or help in finding jobs. Legion members also collect food for the Dassel Food Shelf.

The Dassel Post 364 meets at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the Dassel Historical Center. All veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces during specified war times are encouraged to join.

For further information about becoming a member, contact Carl Wilkins, commander, at 320-241-8469 or carl_wilkins@hotmail.com; or Dennis Compton, membership officer at 320-275-3760.

Dassel Rod & Gun Club

The Dassel Rod and Gun Club House is located at Sportsmen’s Park on the north side of Lake Washington, 1.5 miles west of Dassel. Monthly meetings take place the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Main fundraisers include the walleye opener breakfast, spring fish fry, and clubhouse rentals. Sportsmen’s Park and many conservation groups are supported with the proceeds raised.

The officers are Chris Hansen, vice president; Lyle Walker, treasurer; and JoAnn Gayner, secretary. Board members include Bill Bull, Tom Gayner, Dan Faust, John Bengtson, John Sandstede, Rick Johnson, and Dean Winter. Tom and JoAnn Gayner are the rental chairs.

Facility rental, boat landing, and archery range are available. For rental information, call 320-275-2253. Membership is $25 a year. Those interested in becoming members may contact Chris Hansen at 320-275-4016; or for rentals, Tom and JoAnn Gayner at 320-275-2253.

Dassel Senior Citizens

The Dassel Senior Citizens meets every Wednesday at the Dassel History Center. Coffee and treats are served from 1 to 4 p.m. The seniors enjoy visiting and playing games such as Rummikub, SkipBo, and dominos.

Dassel Senior Citizens welcome new members and visitors.

Discover Dassel & Farmers Market

Dassel’s Farmers Market, which was founded in 2011, is located in Bandstand Park in downtown Dassel. The market offers fresh fruits, vegetables, and other local fare Friday afternoons from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. during the summer months.     

Discover Dassel sponsors many events during the year, including an art show, and an old-fashioned holiday celebration, with caroling, snacks, and visits with Santa each December.

Discover Dassel meets monthly the third Tuesday of each month. Questions may be directed to 320-275-2454, or check out the website at www.dassel.com.

FOCAL

FOCAL (Friends of the Cokato Area Library) is made up of community members who wish to support their local library with a membership donation of $5, by volunteering as much or as little as possible on various projects, and by being an advocate of the library. A membership form may be obtained by visiting or calling the library. Contact the library at 320-286-5760 for more information.

Kingston Legion Post 483

The Johnson Kelly American Legion Post 483 in Kingston was founded in 1961, with George Saukkola as commander.

The annual Memorial Day program takes place at Kingston Veterans Memorial Park, located at the intersection of CSAH 27 and 19.

Both the Legion and Auxiliary meet the last Tuesday of every month at the Kingston Community Center, near the ball field in Kingston. The Kingston Legion is always accepting new members.

Those interested, or inquiring about the Legion may call 320 420-7025. Those interested in the Auxiliary may call 612-723-7237.

Kingston Lions Club

The Kingston Lions meet the third Thursday of the month, 7 p.m., at the Kingston Community Center. It is a service group of men and women who love to volunteer and help people in the community, as well as nationally and internationally. Those with questions or wanting more information may call 320-693-7438.

Knapp Busy Bees 4-H Club

The Knapp Busy Bees 4-H Club meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Centennial Room of the Cokato Public Library. The club welcomes new members, and participates in fun activities through the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

There are currently around 15 members, and the club is always looking for more to join in the fun. Those interested may call Ann Steinhaus, at 320-286-0181.

Meeker County Horticultural Society

The Meeker County Horticultural Society began in 1989, with 20 members from Dassel, Cokato, Eden Valley, Litchfield, Paynesville, and Watkins.

The club’s objective is to help members learn more about gardening and the outdoors. There are currently 30 members, who meet the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Meeker County Family Services building in Litchfield. (The society does not meet in January, February, July, or August.)

The meetings include informational speakers who share their expertise on trees, shrubs, landscaping, garden design, and attracting birds and butterflies. The group also participates in garden tours throughout the area.

Annual events include the May plant sale; June member picnic and plant swap; and a December party. Proceeds from events go to scholarships, trips, and other activities

The Meeker County Horticultural Society is always looking for new members. The membership fee of $8 includes a monthly newsletter with gardening information and the monthly meetings.

Those interested in joining may call 320-587-3581, or send mail to 69427 CSAH 18, Dassel, MN 55325.

Red Cross Bloodmobile, Cokato

The Red Cross Bloodmobile was founded in 1948, for the purpose of organizing blood drives for Cokato and the surrounding area. The organization meets at the First Baptist Church of Cokato and has three blood drives each year, on the fourth Monday of February, June, and October.

Red Cross Bloodmobile, Dassel

The Red Cross Bloodmobile for Dassel has drives three times a year – April, August, and December. Willing donors can either schedule an appointment or walk-in during the blood drive, which takes place at Dassel Covenant Church. Date and times are announced. The American Red Cross encourages donors to make appointments online at redcrossblood.org.

Sew Friendly Quilt Guild

The Sew Friendly Quilt Guild was founded in 1997, for the purpose of teaching and encouraging people to sew and quilt. There are roughly 55 members in the organization, which meets the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Cokato.

One of the guild’s special projects is making a quilt each year as a group for the annual quilt show. The quilt show is, typically, once a year in Dassel during Red Rooster Days in early September. Many quilts are on display, as well as small, hand-make quilted items.

If anyone is interested in joining, or has more questions, contact Marlene Blunt at 612-816-9660 or Terresa Huselid at 320- 282-2872.

Therapy Dogs International

Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their therapy dogs for visitations to institutions, facilities, and other places where there is a need.

The non-profit organization was founded in 1976, and is headquartered in Flanders, NJ. TDI Chapter 252 includes Meeker, McLeod, Kandiyohi, and Wright Counties, and is based out of Hutchinson. Currently, there are 11 active members in the area including members from Dassel, Cokato, Lester Prairie, Hutchinson, Litchfield, Willmar, Howard Lake, and Stewart. Contacts are Robin Bucholz at 612-655-6053 or robinbucholz@yahoo.com; and Char Gatz at 612-203-7829 ezobedience@gmail.com.

Viewfinders Camera Club

The Viewfinders Camera Club was founded in 1983, to promote the improvement of photography skills by learning from others. The club is open to any method of photography; point-and-shoot, 35-millimeter, or digital.

There are about 25 members in the organization, which meets the first Thursday of the month from August through May, with January off.

During the months of December and May, the club has a photo contest. In October, the club hosts a community photo contest to non-members. Other projects include a shoot-out, monthly traveling trophy subjects, guest speakers, and field trips.

Officers are Faye Kroeger, president; Bob Wilde, vice president; and Heidi Barberg, secretary/treasurer. Yearly elections take place in May. If anyone is interested in joining or has any questions, contact Bob Wilde at (320) 275-3684 or Heidi Barberg at (320) 286-5823.

West Central Christian Seniors

The West Central Christian Seniors was founded in 2003, to provide a forum for senior citizens to fellowship, eat a meal, and hear an interesting program and devotional speaker. There are approximately 200 registered participants who meet for the monthly catered luncheon at First Baptist Church of Cokato’s fellowship hall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month.

Planning committee members are Lucy Haglin, Rod Twitchell, Eleanor Partridge, Estelle Rokala, and Orville and Laverne Peterson. Call Lucy at (320) 963-5452 for more information, or Estelle Rokala at (320) 286-6771.