Shopping opener brings hundreds to Gag house

NEW ULM – An estimated 200 people toured the Wanda Gag house over the weekend. The historic home opened for free tours during the shopping opener which attracted dozens of tourists and those shopping for antiques.

Wanda Gag’s childhood home served as the 19th stop on the GnomeMade Market tour. The New Ulm Community Market and Cooperative used space in the historic home to sell seasonal products. Roughly 11 artists and craftworkers were featured in the Gag House alongside drawings and paintings from both Wanda and Anton Gag.

“During craft sales we have tour guides on hand because there are a lot of people who want to look at the home,” Barb Becker said. She served as tour guide for the home on Sunday. Saturday, two guides were needed to keep up with the traffic. The vendors strongly benefited from the free tours.

Craftsman Troy Sorensen of Faribault was one of the vendors helping Sunday morning. For the last six years Sorensen has been making handcrafted wood bowls. All of the bowls are made from natural wood and finished with food-safe mineral oil and beeswax. The wood itself is harvested from recently cut branches or trees.

“I’ve always been interested in wood working,” he said. After taking a specialty class on bowl turning, he became hooked and began making them and selling them on Etsy.com in the last three years.

In many craft workers like Sorenson, the annual shopping opener is a once-a-year chance to sell their wares directly to the public, and 2016 has been a big year.

On Minnesota Street, the Grapevine Divas had a lot of walk-through traffic all weekend long. The Grapevine Divas is has been run by Lois Bode and Heidi Halvorson for the last three years during the GnomeMade Market, but this was their first time on Minnesota Street.

Bode said the foot traffic coming into their temporary store was wonderful. Saturday was extremely busy, and customers continued to come through on Sunday.

“Who can blame people with this weather,” Halvorson said.

Temperatures on both Saturday and Sunday hung around 70 degrees for most of the day, drawing people outside and into downtown shops.

The shopping opener will continue next weekend starting on Thursday, Nov. 10 and running through Sunday, Nov. 13. Sunday was the last day the Wanda Gag House held regular tour hours. During the winter months, tours are offered by appointment.