Carousel group hosts first sit-down event

They've been raising money for over a year but on Feb. 10, the Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel will host its first sit-down benefit for the Allan Herschell carousel.

The effort to bring the carousel to Main St. has spanned decades on and off but the latest incarnation of the group tasked with making Judy Cash's dream a reality, has been steadily working for over a year. 

"This event will be the first sit-down event we've had," said Don Williams, member of the Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel Board. "We had a no-show dinner prior but this dinner will be different."

The no-show benefit--marketed as a way to avoid another banquet during Cottage Grove's busy non-profit season by simply writing a check instead of attending an event--was part of an initial campaign by the group to raise funds. 

Currently, the carousel is being stored at the W.O.E. Fairgrounds in Cottage Grove and slowly being restored. Students at Cottage Grove High School have been working on the animals in their advanced art class,  while community members partner with local businesses to work on floor panels and possible improvements to the attraction. 

However, while W.O.E. is playing home for the carousel, it cannot continue to do so if Cash's dream is to be realized.

When Cash moved to Cottage Grove, she remembered thinking to herself that the picturesque town needed something: a carousel on Main St. After years of pining for one of her own, a family friend left Cash a large sum of money. A few months of searching and a trip across the country later, Cash had her carousel. 

Cash passed away late last year.

Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel is hoping to raise funds to complete restoration and lock down a location downtown for the carousel to attract tourists. 

The St. Valentine's Dinner/Dance Benefit is set for Feb. 10. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and festivities scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person or $240 for a table of eight. For tickets, visit the Bookmine, Cottage Grove Sentinel or contact Alice Nowicki at (541) 228-8451.