A holiday tradition took place in Minot Saturday afternoon as the Taube Museum held its 18th annual Holiday Tour of Homes.
Nancy Walter, executive director of the Taube, said the fundraiser is held the first Saturday in December and has always been popular.
"It's an opportunity for some of the homeowners in our community to share what they do with their homes for the holidays," Walter said.
Janet Dammen stands by the Christmas tree and fireplace in the living room of her home Saturday. Dammen’s home was one of five residences, plus The Arlene Theater, that were part of the Holiday Tour of Homes this year.
Tour attendees can go to the homes in any order they wish and are free to visit with the homeowner about the decorations and other aspects of the house.
"It's just a fun atmosphere event for people to attend," Walter said. "And it's also an opportunity for us to raise a little bit of much-needed money to help us keep the doors open and follow our mission of enriching lives through the visual arts and inviting artists in for exhibitions."
The Holiday Tour of Homes is one of many annual fundraisers for the Taube. Walter said the museum's mission is to exhibit artworks from local, regional and national artists. The money garnered from fundraisers like the tour of homes helps to bring that artwork in to be shared with the community. In addition, the Taube also has a very extensive education program that runs year-round.
"We also have a gift shop that is open during normal business hours," Walter said.
She noted the museum also uses memberships as another way to raise money for its various programs. The Taube is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the homes on the tour is owned by Andy and Dani Solsvig, who were flooded in 2011. Last year the Solsvigs had their FEMA trailer on the tour, and this year they followed that up with their newly-rebuilt home.
Walter said the Solsvig home was popular with many tour participants and gives some tangible evidence that Minot is indeed successfully coming back from the Souris River flood.
"It's been a comment that we've heard today, that people have liked to see the transition from the FEMA trailer to their home," Walter said.
In addition to tours of five Minot homes and The Arlene Theater, home of the Mouse River Players, the Taube was also open throughout the afternoon. There were doorprizes provided by many local businesses and local artist Kelly Hendershot was on hand to create a piece of artwork as people watched. A piece of Hendershot's artwork was also one of the doorprizes.
"And we have gift baskets that we have put together if somebody's looking for a quick gift," Walter said, noting the gift baskets include personal items like bathworks and perfumes, soups, hot chocolate and coffee.
Bead Unique from Velva was also selling hand-crafted jewelry as part of the fundraiser and was giving a percentage of its sales back to the Taube.
The Taube is also holding its annual Festival of the Season art sale, which runs through Dec. 21.
"It's artwork from local artists, and it's cash and carry. People can pay for it and take it home the same day, which is not our norm," Walter said. "Normally the artwork has to stay (throughout the exhibit)."
Walter said she had heard many positive comments throughout the day from visitors who came into the Taube after touring the homes. For the first time this year tour participants were being asked to vote for their favorite home. Walter said the winner will get a gift certificate of some sort.
"It should be interesting to see what the people who have attended have to say," Walter said.
Having the Holiday Tour of Homes at the beginning of December helps people kick off the season in a festive manner, Walter said, and it also allows the Taube to get the word out about what it does and how people can enjoy the visual arts.
She noted one of the most important parts of the event is the people who help put it on. Without them, Walter said, it would be impossible to hold this or any other fundraiser to keep the Taube's doors open.
"This is an event that is put on strictly by volunteers," Walter said. "We have a volunteer committee, and they give hundreds of hours to put this together for everybody."
Kaylene Reddig of Minot participated in the tour for the first time this year, and said she really had a good time at all the various homes.
"They were very interesting and enjoyable," Reddig said.
All the homes were nice in their own unique ways, Reddig said, but she enjoyed the Larry and Tami Schafer home the most.
"It was really (nice)," Reddig said. "I felt warm and homey."
Reddig might not have toured the homes this year had it not been for a girlfriend who was going and invited her along. While she wasn't originally planning to go, Reddig is glad she did.
"It thought it was very good and I enjoyed it a lot," Reddig said. "You get a lot of ideas."
Janet and Ken Dammen showed their home on the tour for the first time this year. Janet Dammen said she has shown her garden three times previously.
Dammen credited her daughter, Taube gallery manager Wendy Kimble, with convincing her to open her home's doors this year.
Dammen makes all her own decorations, from wreaths to bows to wall hangings. She loves color and it shows in the many decorations she has on display in her home.
"We're all very creative in our family, every one of us," Dammen said. "We're very blessed with creativity."
To get everything up in time for Christmas, Dammen said she started the week before Halloween.
Family and friends on hand to help out with the tour said many people commented on how wonderful and vibrant the colors are, while "gorgeous" and "beautiful" were two other words commonly heard from visitors. More than a few people asked Dammen to come and decorate their own home, while others asked if Dammen could teach them how to make their own decorations.
Looking around the home, it's hard to blame them for asking.
"The scent of pine and lots of color is me. This is very me," Dammen said. "I love color and I love being creative and I love sharing it."