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Paynesville Press - August 6, 2003

Two-day festival planned at historic Salem Church

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Salem ChurchWhile the historic Salem Church has been closed for over 35 years, the church will open its doors for a two-day event on Saturday, Aug. 9, and on Sunday, Aug. 10.

Salem Church is located five miles north of Paynesville on 220th Street. From Highway 23, take Co. Rd. 33 about five miles north to 220th Street, a gravel road.

On Saturday night, the public is invited to an ice cream social from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The menu will feature barbeques, hotdogs, baked beans, potato salad, and homemade fruit pies with ice cream. A freewill offering will benefit the restoration of the church.

On Sunday, the church will host the annual Salem Fest potluck lunch at 12 noon. A wide assortment of hot dishes and salads will be offered, followed by an afternoon service at 2 p.m. This event has a longstanding tradition with friends and former members gathering for over three decades to enjoy the potluck lunch and afternoon service.

The Salem Cookbook will be available at both events. It features nearly 400 recipes gathered by former members and friends of the Salem congregation. The cookbook continues to be one of the best examples of the church's 132-year history.

While the church has been closed for over 35 years, former members and friends have taken the church through a restoration project that has included tuck-pointing the yellow brick exterior, refinishing the basement, installation of two furnaces, and the repair of the stained glass windows.

This year's freewill offering from both events will fund the restoration of the church's curved, 17-foot-long wooden pews. The carved pews are unique in design and can seat several families. While the pews have seen a lifetime of use, they remain a "treasure" for visitors who come to see the historic church.

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