Community feast hopes to teach, safekeep history

County historical society encourages camaraderie for entire Palouse area



Executive Director Dulce Kersting-Lark discusses the reasons behind hosting the Harvest Dinner Fundraiser and Silent Auction during the event Sunday at the 1912 Center in Moscow.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

The Latah County Historical Society (LCHS) raised money to help support its educational programs and the preservation of Latah County history through its Harvest Dinner on Sunday.

The Harvest Dinner is LCHS’s largest fundraiser and started as a simple potluck for members to get together before the busy holidays, LCHS Board President Nancy Ruth Peterson said. The celebration shifted to a turkey and ham dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving with a different kind of family before it found its way to its current “localvore” state, which focuses on local produce, she said.

The LCHS was formed when the Latah County Pioneer Association and the Moscow Historical Club joined together in 1968, Peterson said.

“Our mission is, and always has been, to preserve the history of Latah County and to educate people about that history,” Peterson said.

LCHS Executive Director Dulce Kersting-Lark finished her master’s degree in public history from WSU in 2013. She has always believed civics and historical education are incredibly important, but they can be skimmed over in some public schools, she said.

“As school systems struggle to get everything that needs to be taught in during the day, local history and civics can fall off the table,” Kersting-Lark said. “We want to provide that content that students aren’t getting, and maybe provide a refresher for people who are out of school.”

At the Harvest Dinner, LCHS members, families and Latah County lovers alike could sit together and enjoy staple food items on the Palouse, like lentil chili and beef and barley soup.

“Now more than ever we need opportunities to find fellowship with our neighbors,” Kersting-Lark said. “There are people here from all different backgrounds sitting together having lunch, having a perfectly pleasant time. Everything doesn’t have to be divisive all the time.”

While they ate, attendees had the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items. Local businesses donated many of the items as did LCHS members, member Vickie Brown said. Attendees could bid on items such as homemade cookies and pies, gourmet coffees donated from local coffee shops and even stationery.

“We’ve branched out more than we have before,” Brown said. “We even have several items from local people that are old family items or paintings that they’re willing to donate so they have deep connections with the group. There are also so many home canned goods, which goes along with the theme of the historical society. They almost seem vintage.”

The Harvest Dinner was not only open to LCHS members, but to many patrons of local food banks as well. LCHS encouraged community members to purchase extra tickets they then donated to places like Family Promise, Sojourners’ Alliance and the Moscow Food Bank. Approximately 50 tickets went to these organizations.

“It’s another way to encourage this cross-community fellowship,” Kersting-Lark said. “No matter how familiar you are with our organization we want you to be able to come and have some good food and celebrate Latah County.”

The LCHS archival, photograph, object collections and research library are housed in its Centennial Annex open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The LCHS museum is located at the McConnell Mansion and is open for tours Tuesday through Friday from 1-4 p.m.

“We believe in the value of history no matter when it happened. We’re not just concerned with the settlers and the pioneers,” Kersting-Lark said. “We believe the more you understand about your community and your local story, the more likely you are to be an engaged member of the community [and] that’s why we do what we do.”