For the first time ever, cultural institutions in Door County are coming together to celebrate the peninsula’s history and heritage with Door County History Days.
The week-long celebration features events and programs from 14 institutions across the county June 20-26. From the Belgian Heritage Center in Southern Door County to Jacobsen Museum on Washington Island, history will be on display for all to discover. Cody Schreck, curator at the Ephraim Historical Foundation and chair of the Heritage Alliance of Door County, said he hopes the event sheds a new light on the work local historical institutions do.
“We hope this brings awareness to the role the organizations play in their communities, in tourism, and as keepers of our history,” Schreck said. “We are all independent with different missions and different constituents. But I think there’s a growing trend to want to get together and advocate for ourselves and each other, and to draw visitors to our programs and centers.”
“Part of the reason the Heritage Alliance really wanted to work with Destination Door County on this is because a lot of people come to Door County because it has a culture to it, and we are the keepers of that culture,” he said.
But the effort isn’t just about visitors. The members of the Heritage Alliance also hope it spurs more residents to engage with their local historical organizations. Stephanie Burke, president of the Liberty Grove Historical Society, said learning about local history helps to inform decisions today.
“When you get involved you find out what your village is really all about,” she said. “It’s one thing to be a transplant to the area like I am, but by learning about what happened in the past you inform the present and who we are now.”
Burke worked a summer job at The Viking Grill and was pulled into the fledgling LGHS by some regular customers. She said it changed how she saw her role in the community.
“Once I joined the historical society I felt I had a vested interest in that area,” she said. “My allegiance to Liberty Grove is immense, even though I live in Jacksonport.”
Information about participating institutions, special programs, and more can be found on the alliance’s Facebook page at facebook.com/heritageallianceofdoorcounty.
The official start of Door County History Days will be commemorated with a kickoff event at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay on Monday, June 20. Representatives from participating organizations throughout Door County, members of the media, and other stakeholders will gather for a meet and greet, the debut of the Door County Heritage Map, and remarks by Heritage Alliance of Door County Chair Cody Schreck, Destination Door County CEO Julie Gilbert, and Wisconsin Historical Society Director Christian Øverland.