By Adelle Whitefoot
The town of Silver Creek sits about 5 miles north of Betty’s Pies on the North Shore, and by Aug. 19 it will have a new music pavilion.
The Silver Creek International Ukulele Carnival has been an annual tradition for the small town for the past five years, but last year it outgrew its space.
“We briefly talked about moving it because we’re outgrowing the town hall,” said Dale Moe, a member of the Two Harbors Ukulele Group (THUG). “But we immediately concluded no, because this is where people want to go. They just think this is the coolest spot and it just is.”
Moe said last year people were hanging in the windows of the town hall to listen to the music.
“The place seats, uncomfortably, about 110 and we were just way over flowing,” he said.Because of the space issue and not wanting to move the event, Moe along with fellow THUG member Al Anderson went to Town Board Supervisor Greg Hull with an idea to open the doors and clean out the old machine shop sitting just a few feet away from the town hall, but the project became so much more.
“What they threw at me originally was just opening up the doors and using the building the way it is,” Hull said. “The project grew from us cleaning it out to taking the doors off and putting up some panelling so people don’t hurt themselves on the metal wall and then they asked for a stage. So the whole thing has just morphed and kept going.”
According to Hull, the building is from the 40’s and back then to change the oil on a machine they would just pull the plug and let it drain out. So after they took the doors off and cleaned out the building, an excavator was brought in and they dug down about 3 feet, removed the material and brought in fresh, clean material. After that, THUG and Silver Creek employees held a work day with volunteers that came from all over the state.
“The volunteers, together with the town of Silver Creek employees, put in a stage and a dance floor,” Moe said. “We provided 30 volunteers that came from all over the state and regrets from those who couldn’t make it. These are people that come up for the ukulele festival and a few from the jam session we had here for a couple of years. Basically, people love music and they love this place and the location of being out in the country.”
In addition to the dance floor and stage, wood panelling was put up on the walls so people wouldn’t brush against the metal walls, and the stage was wired for a sound system and amplifier.
“And we thought people might use this for wedding and reunions so we ran a whole series in the back so people can plug in crockpots and not worry about popping the whole electrical circuit,” Hull said.
Both Hull and Moe are hoping that the Silver Creek Music Pavilion will become a focal point for the community, and that hope may already have started to become a reality. The deadline of Aug. 19 is when this year’s ukulele carnival is schedule. But the weekend after that, there’s already a wedding scheduled for the pavilion and another event possibly in September, Hull said.
“And the catalyst for all this was just a little ukulele,” Moe said.
Still left to do is wire the building for stage lighting, build the screen doors for three of the openings, put in translucent corrugated material in the door opening near the dance floor, add wood flooring to the dance floor and stage, laydown crushed limestone or concrete on the rest of the floor and seal any holes or seams in the roof.
The project has had a little bit of materials and manpower donated, but the majority of the project is being paid for by Silver Creek. According to Hull, the town has been putting away a portion of their taconite relief money each year into a capital improvement fund, and all of the funds going into this project will come out of there. When it’s done the building will be the new Silver Creek Music Pavilion.
“We can’t thank the town of Silver Creek enough for jumping into this,” Moe said.