Lamberton man of many hats has vast seed sack collection
A man of many passions, Ron Kelsey began noticing cloth seed sacks he liked at auctions and antique shops near his home and began collecting them.
Some of the more interesting sacks featured faces of small children and a person who won the World Corn Husking Championship. Another sack had a cut out of a sailor boy designed to be worn by a youngster. Abe Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s faces are found on seed sacks.
Nowadays, the most coveted seed sacks have American Indians or attractive graphic designs on them.
Growing up in a big family on a farm near Lewisville, Kelsey said there were seed sacks around from two corn companies his dad did business with.
“Seed sacks with double stitching were found to be an improvement over barrels that rusted and broke apart,” Kelsey said. “We even made clothing out of them at home.”
Kelsey has been to the Minnesota State Fair for more than five decades. His seed sacks are on display from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at the fair.
“State fair-goers like to talk to me about my sacks and how they relate to them” Kelsey said. “They often tell me about how they found other uses for them. Other people tell me I should write stories about my sacks.”
Kelsey stores his 950 seed sacks in large plastic containers to avoid them from being faded by light.
“A dirty sack is more valuable than one that has been faded or washed because it has more color,” Kelsey said. “I vacuum them to remove dust.”
He has seen sacks sold for $500. Kelsey has paid up to $100 for a sack, but usually buys them for less at farm sales, auctions and online.
A Madelia High School and University of Minnesota graduate, Kelsey has a busy life. He was Lamberton mayor for 20 years and served on the Red Rock Central School Board for 15 years. In addition, he’s been active with the Lions Club, Commercial Club and the Lamberton Area Historical Society.
He’s written “Kelsey’s Kountry Kolumn” in the Lamberton News weekly newspaper for more than 50 years.
Kelsey is also active in the Lamberton United Methodist Church, on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Committee at Walnut Grove and is a member of United Community Action, a nine-county, non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst for enhancing community health with humanitarian and social relief.