Korsten is retiring as chairperson of Christmas Tour of Homes
By Marilyn Anderson
ZUMBROTA – Evie Korsten has announced that after fourteen years of serving as chairperson of the Zumbrota Area Historical Society’s (ZAHS) Annual Christmas Tour of Homes, she is retiring from the role. She has served as the chairperson of the very successful event, a main fundraiser for ZAHS, since its beginning.
ZAHS, having completed its Articles of Incorporation in August 1999, was a relatively new organization when it organized and hosted its first Tour of Homes in December 2000. Korsten said the idea came about at the suggestion of Rachelle Splittstoesser, who wrote the suggestion on the back of her membership card. Splitts-toesser, along with husband, Scott, owned the Barteau House Bed and Breakfast at the time, an 1895 Victorian Queen Anne style home.
Korsten had already served on the ZAHS board and was an officer when she decided to just be the home tour chairperson. However, she quickly added, “We really haven’t needed a chairperson for many years. Everyone knows what to do.”
Korsten said the group often begins organizing the tour in July or August, but sometimes as early as May. They begin by contacting people about being on the tour that is always held the first Saturday in December. In 2000, there were five homes on tour. But they soon realized, “We will use our houses up too quickly” and switched to four homes. After several years of focusing on homes fifty years or older, there were requests to also see newer homes. Since then the committee has offered a mix of older and newer homes each year, a decision which has gone well.
While it has been relatively easy to identify owners willing to share their homes some years, other years have been difficult. “It is a big commitment,” acknowledged Korsten.
Besides helping to identify homes for the tour, one individual committee member is “in charge” of each home for the tour. Responsibilities include writing up a description of the home for an article in the newspaper and distributing to guests at the home the afternoon of the tour. Another assignment is arranging for hosts at the home during the event.
Though weather has often been good for the tours, it was an issue in 2007 and again just a few years ago when snow and slippery road conditions worsened during the afternoon. While most years all homes on the tour are in the city of Zumbrota, other years, one home is rural. On a couple of occasions, “neighborhood tours” have been done, with all of the homes within a few blocks. A few homes have been on the tour twice.
Korsten said among some of the interesting things occurring with the tours is reviewing the home’s abstracts to identify previous owners of it. Often, previous owners or family members return to visit the homes, sharing stories and memories of special occasions or how the home had looked decades ago.
Certificates of appreciation suitable for framing are given to home owners for hosting the event, along with a one-year membership to ZAHS, a poinsettia plant, two tour tickets, and a copy of the Zumbrota history books.
Korsten has been a resident of Zumbrota since 1961. While she likes antiques in general, she has also acquired a modest collection of framed needlepoint and old hats that she incorporates into her décor.
Korsten, also an active member of her church and Zumbrota Area Arts Council, will continue as an active volunteer of ZAHS, helping with the spring garage and bake sale, another of the organization’s fundraisers. She plans to be involved in future home tours, by helping host at one of the homes. Korsten noted that the fundraisers help with the operating expenses at the History Center, including utilities and insurance.