Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline

I think it was back in October, when I was too busy with my mom to even be occasionally on the trail, and was catching up days or weeks after a post was current, that the topic of carousels was raised in a post about something else. Anyway it was too long after the fact for me to comment by the time I read it, but I did have something to say, so here we go. Has anyone been to  Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota?

When we first started going there, I think when my 40-something daughters were a pre- and young teen, the carousel was in process and you could sometimes watch the carver working on the individual animals. They are all hand carved from large hunks of beech-wood, and stained, not painted. The intricacy of the carving is fantastic. When it was being carved, there were informational posters on-site and one of the things I partially remember reading was that Merry-Go-Rounds had only horses and Carousels had many different animals. This one was originally going to have 4 horses, one representing each primary compass direction; North, South, East, and West. I believe by the time the mechanicals were sourced and acquired, some of the carved masterpieces had to be left off the final collection to keep the weight down. I think only one or two horses made the cut, and a moose and several other larger pieces are now displayed in the building, but not on the actual carousel. The horses are beautiful, but the dragon, the goat, the goldfish family, and others are works of an amazing imagination. You could study the goat for an hour and not notice all of the intricacies hidden in it’s depths.

The entire complex is wonderful. There’s a children’s book store; a toy store with a model train running on a long track high up and around the perimeter of the store. Among other wonderful, unique and creative toys, is a huge collection of hand puppets. A Christmas shop, an antique toy museum that has every toy you or your cousins or friends had as a kid, a boomer toy store that carries replicas of many of your old toys, a candy store, an ice cream stand, and a mini golf course in the summer, are all part of the magical experience.

The original owners lived nearby and walked their pot-belly pig (his name was Gip, (Pig backwards)) to the store every morning to take up his supervisory post in a large open home away from home in the building.

The complex changed hands probably about 10 years ago (maybe longer ago, time flies when you’re old) but the current owners seem dedicated of maintaining the original spirit of the experience. Kellogg is south of Wabasha and north of Winona on Highway 61. BiR, you must have been there, possibly even posted about it, and I missed it. This hidden jewel is well worth a day trip with children, grandchildren, or nostalgic boomers. I haven’t been there for several years, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to make the trek soon.

Where do you go for a day trip?


35 thoughts on “Carousel”

  1. sounds wonderful caroline
    thanks for the lead
    i will try to remember

    my day trip days will arrive sometime but not today
    i went to a celebration of life thing last weekend for an old high school buddy who cancer killed in november and was really surprised ( reallycsurprised) at how many of my friends had retired
    the majority hang with grand children and the lucky well healed ones travel
    the way they travel is not the way i would do the day trip idea is interesting because i guess i realize i choose destinations differently
    but i did get interesting insights on how to make most anywhere you are more intriguing simply but doing searches in a 200 mile circle of where you are in search of interesting god bits
    i used to work with a guy who liked to visit museums. he didn’t care what about. just peoples collections of whatever. interesting but not my cup of tea
    there is a meetup that goes to artsy stuff in town run by a woman named linda brown
    she gets backstage tours at the most interesting sounding places
    maybe minneapolis/ st. paul is where i would start with my day trips
    ely is of intrigue
    winona appeals lanesboro too
    golf course and baseball parks could be themes
    art collections
    frank lloyd wright buildings likely in chicago or maybe spring green
    the mountains and back roads in the mountains are more interesting to me than the midwest but it wold be interesting to put together a collection of places exactly along the lines of lark toys to visit
    great idea caroline

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed your appreciation of this carousel, OC. Several years ago I studied carousels as part of an effort to photographically record the Cafesjian Carousel (now housed in Como Park) for the National Carousel Association. I think I can explain the terminology a bit.

    I was told that the word “carousel” applied to all structures with rides whose animals move in a circle. Many carousels feature only horses and are called “horse carousels.” Others feature steeds of several species and those are called “menagerie carousels.” The world of carousels includes many fascinating terms and concepts. I’d be delighted to chat with anyone with an interest in that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Day trips are often spur-of-the-moment events for me. A memorable one was a couple years ago to see the big yellow “Mama Duck” in Duluth when she was there as part of the Tall Ships festival. Didn’t bother with the ships, just the duck. And rousted my cousins out for dinner (I’m in Duluth! Where shall we eat?…). Might have to go looking for your carousel, OC – it sounds fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve stopped at Lark Toys for years, usually as a sub-destination on our way somewhere else. It’s a reliable place to find ice cream. I remember the pot-bellied pig and the carving room. I was not aware that the place had changed hands.

    We frequently take day trips and two-day trips. Duluth and the Wisconsin side of Lake Pepin are favorite destinations if we just want to get out for the day. Robin’s interest in fiber arts and wool production has led us to farm tours and fiber fairs around Minnesota and Wisconsin. Usually I find used bookstores and quirky museums along the way. Robin sources yarn shops. If there are botanical gardens or arboretums we visit those and outsider artist sites, of which Wisconsin has many, as well. If there are locations of genealogical interest, we include those.

    In the last few years we’ve taken day trips to Lanesboro (mostly for the bike ride) and Mantorville (with a side trip to Oxbow Park), to Viroqua, Wisconsin for a visit to the Amish farmer’s market (and the yarn shop and very large used bookstore).

    On overnight trips, we’ve gone to Sheboygan, Wisconsin to visit the John Kohler Museum and to look around the town. We’ve visited Decorah, Iowa for the Vesterheim Museum, with side trips to Spillville, Iowa and east along the northeast corner of Iowa to visit some ancestral sites. While Robin was taking a class at the Jefferson County fiber fair, we stayed overnight in Stoughton, Wisconson, a nice little town. For another fiber fair, we stayed one night in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Mineral Point is an artsy town originally founded by Cornish miners. There are a number of original Cornish-style stone houses in the historic district and also a dedicated arts venue called “Shake Rag Alley”.

    We drove up to Fargo-Moorhead principally to visit the amazing Stave Church but also just to poke around Grant County, one of my ancestral areas, on our way back home.

    Last summer we took an overnight trip to Dubuque, Iowa to visit the arboretum there and also have a look at the town. That’s where we saw the church with about 100 original Tiffany glass windows. Amazing.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. We go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for day trips. Bismarck is a day trip. The Black Hills could be a day trip. There are some intetesting rock formations near Glendive, MT. I must get to this toy store. How fun! It would be more than a day trip for us, though.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. A former friend played TR at that theater, Ben. The big park lies north of I94. Great place to watch wildlife. I thought Medora, which lies south of I94, was separate. But you’re right, it is part of the park (referred to as the South Lobe of the park). The last time I was there I stayed at the Rough Riders Hotel in the room where TR used to stay.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I’m not sure how much the ‘production’ and facilities have changed in the last few years.
          But it used to be it took the right kinda person to put up with the conditions there. Lack of, or spoty wifi was an issue. One person I remember having quite the hissy fit over lack of ethnic foods and the right kinda coffee.
          And, of course, they have to get along with the horse, which proved to be the downfall of another Roosevelt wanna-be.
          My friend Erica is the production designer; I’d love to go work with her, but it’s never fit my spring farming schedule.

          Liked by 2 people

      2. The entrance to the park is right in tge town if Medora. The musical isn’t part if the park. It is ooerated by a private foundation.


        1. Medora von Hoffmann and her husband, the Marquis de Mores, were two of the most colorful people in the West in the 19th century.

          The Marquis was a deadly shot, a handsome dude and a real prick who shot and killed several people. He was always getting into fights. He met Medora, fell in love and then set up a cattle processing plant where the town now is. It died when his wife’s father, a rich banker in New York, pulled out his financing. The Marquis led a wild life that ended violently in Africa where he was trying to mount an army against the British and the Jews.

          Medora was (in my opinion) the most beautiful woman whose story became intertwined with the Old West. She met and married the Marquis, then moved to North Dakota. In the late 1800s it was “a thing” for lovely, rich American girls to marry into European aristocratic families desperate for money. (Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize this story line.) Medora died in France, possibly as a consequence of a wound she suffered while nursing soldiers in the Great War.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Boy, I need to get out more. That looks amazing! My sister and her husband own The Monarch Public House in Fountain City, WI, which is just across the border from Winona, MN. I may have to include a trip to this place while visiting my sister next time.
    BTW, even a stop at the Monarch Public House is worth a trip. Building is over 100 years old, pressed tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, wood floors, carved wooden bar, etc. Even better is that they serve microbrew beers, great Irish food, fabulous pizzas and sandwiches in a beautiful atmosphere.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Last year I did some Minnesota State Parks for day trips: Fort Snelling, Afton, Frontenac, Nerstrand, Interstate, Banning, Jay Cooke. Surprisingly, my favorite of those was the Banning trip: it was such a gorgeous autumn day, and despite the person in the office dourly telling me that it was “past peak” and that I would see “lots of browns” out there, I found it to be a very colorful day. So many beautiful things, including a waterfall, and a nice long hike; it doesn’t get much better than that.

    Closer to home, I often hit parks and nature centers in the metro area. I particularly like Wood Lake Nature Center, Shadow Falls Park, the Quaking Bog, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, Brownie Lake, and the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

    I hope to add more to my list of favorites this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi–
    Driven by it, never stopped. I think when the kids were little, we didn’t want to encourage that many toys! ha–

    course if you’re down that way, make sure you head over the bridge in Wabasha and stop at Nelson for Ice cream.

    A lot of my day trips these days seem to involve parts for some piece of machinery. And I love taking back roads.
    Kelly hates it when I don’t listen to Siri’s directions.

    A trip last fall was back roads to Goodhue for parts, then up to Miesville for burgers, then over to Nelson for cheese curds and ice cream.
    Was a great drive.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a bit longer than most overnight trips, but Bayield, Wisconsin, is close enough to qualify. Lovely town, great beaches, launch trips to the Apostles Islands, good restaurants and (my favorite) the Big Top Chautauqua tent.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I have not heard of Lark Toys, but now that I know.

    While here in AZ, we do day trips or weekend trips to Sedone, AZ, Prescott, AZ, and later this month we will check out Tombstone, AZ and the OK Corral. We have gone twice to Payson AZ, home of Zane Grey. That drive is stunning.

    In MN, Duluth can be a fun day trip. We also like to check out lakes in the area of a day’s drive, or meander down to St. Peter where they have the world’s best co-op and knitting store.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the tip of the Lark Toys. Will have to put that on my list of places worth seeing.

    During the summer months we like to drive to the Pizza Farm in Stockholm, WI. It’s open only on Tuesday evenings, it’s such a beautiful drive, and the pizza is excellent. But don’t dally; they open at 4:30 PM, and they sometimes run out of dough. It’s a long drive only to be turned away because they’ve run out.

    Several of my favorite day trips have already been mentioned by other baboons. I have three favorite cold weather day trips: the Conservatory in Como Park, the Science Museum in downtown St. Paul, and the MIA.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nice, Caroline! Love the photo… I have been to Lark Toys, but not for many years – it’s on my mental list of places to stop en route to Mpls (which is now sometimes my Day Trip). It has put Kellogg, MN on the map. There is also a carousel in Story City, IA, that we used to visit when Joel was little, but it was so loud it scared him.

    There are a lot of places across the river into Wisc. that are potential day trips – Bill mentioned Viroqua, where I haven’t been yet. This Sunday there will be music by “Under Paris Skies” (we know the accordionist) in a bistro setting at a place called Old Main in Galesville, WI… I’ve not been there yet either, so may try to go, as it’s supposed to have excellent acoustics.


  13. Hey all. I have a problem with day trips – it’s the “day” part. It’s so hard for me to find enough hours to do a day trip. I should try harder. I googled both Kellogg, MN and Stockholm, WI and it seems like a day visiting Lark Toys and then heading over for Pizza Night would be a good combination!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It doesn’t really qualify as a day trip, but yesterday I went to the downtown St. Paul library for a concert by the Rose Ensemble. They performed in the magazine room for about an hour and a half. It was delightful. I feel blessed to have so much opportunity so close to home.


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