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Old Sleepy Eye draws crowd

Orchid Inn hosts convention

August 2, 2008
By FRITZ BUSCH — Journal Staff Writer

SLEEPY EYE - Despite high gas prices, close to 200 Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club members from as far away as Texas attended the 33rd annual convention this weekend at the Orchid Inn.

Convention-goers included Sleepy Eye native Bill Crouch and his wife Marty from Houston, Texas.

Sleepy Eye native Marlene (Murphy) Pelton and her husband Fred traveled from Ballwin, Mo.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch

Former Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club President Dick Shoesmith of Perry, Iowa looks at a collection of pitchers Friday at the 33rd Annual Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club of America Convention at the Orchid Inn, Sleepy Eye. The event concludes Saturday with an auction at 11 a.m.

Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club President Emeritus Dick Shoesmith of Perry, Iowa was quick to point out how to determine authentic from reproduced Old Sleepy Eye stoneware.

"The handles (and other details) are a little different on authentic pieces," said Shoesmith.

Examples of reproduced Old Sleepy Eye stoneware - worth much less than authentic stoneware - were labeled on a table separate from other antiques.

Fact Box

What: 33rd Annual Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club Convention

When: 8:30 a.m.,

Saturday, Aug. 2

Where: Orchid Inn, Sleepy Eye

Don't expect big chain discount store prices.

A women from Illinois offered to sell a vase with a cattail design for $5,000.

A pitcher was available for $375.

A North Mankato man's collection included pillow tops with Sleepy Eye Milling Co. barrel labels plus steins and vases.

Pitchers, steins, cups, creamers, mugs, flour sacks, barrel heads, vases, plates, post cards, wall plaques and Chief Sleepy Eye portraits were among the most popular collection pieces.

This year's convention commemorative is a sculpted bust of Chief Sleepy Eye, created by Sleepy Eye native Chris Beech Peterson of Blooming Prairie.

Auction registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Auction items can be viewed from 10-11 a.m. The auction starts at 11 a.m.

A buffet dinner begins at 7 p.m. followed by entertainment by the Concord Singers.

The convention began Thursday evening with a cookies and ice cream social at the Holiday Inn, New Ulm.

Seminars on the Jeffers Petroglyphs historical site were held Friday morning and afternoon.

Friday morning and afternoon bus tours included stops at the Church of St. Mary, Del Monte Corp., Old Sleepy Eye Mill and Steffen Brewery site.

The club's annual meeting was held Friday evening. The Novotny Band provided entertainment.

The Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club of America, Inc., a non-profit organization, was formed in 1976 in Monmouth, Ill. - the home of Western Stoneware Co. - where Sleepy Eye pottery was made.

The club is dedicated to collecting and preserving items related to Old Chief Sleepy Eye and the Sleepy Eye MIlling Co. which operated in Sleepy Eye from 1892 to 1921.

The club has 431 members from 35 different states.

For more information, visit

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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