Due to continued high COVID-19 cases in our area the Winona County Historical Society (WCHS) is postponing the Christmas House Tour and Family Christmas Festival another year. The Winona County Christmas Gift Buckets were a huge hit last year, selling out within a week.

Buckets are $50 each (over $100 value) and are available at the History Center starting December 6 for WCHS members and then for the public December 13 until gone. The History Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WCHS has a new bucket filled with a different variety of Winona favorites and iconic goods all wrapped up and ready to gift, donate or keep. The 2021 Holiday Gift Bucket includes a Behrens 5 quart metal pail donated by Behrens Manufacturing, custom stickers to decorate your bucket or more donated by the Fastenal Sign Shop, and a pair of Minnesota Mittens (size medium) sponsored by WCHS board members, two ticket vouchers to a Frozen River Film Festival film set thanks to an anonymous sponsor and donation by the Frozen River Film Festival, a custom Winona mug with hot cocoa and candy sponsored by Willet Hauser, a boxed set of nine Winona holiday cards with envelopes featuring images from the WCHS collections of winter fun in Winona from 1935 through the 1950s sponsored by Winona Health, the local youth chapter book “Junkyard Tough" by Jenny Baertsch signed by the author and illustrator and sponsored by WNB Financial, Watkins Dip Mix donated by Watkins, a Minnesota colorful glass ornament sponsored by Wenonah Canoe, and a 2022 WCHS calendar.

For many years, Winona Knitting Mills manufactured Winona Mittens from the excess fabric left over from their sweater production. Once the Winona Knitting Mills closed, many people thought they would not have an opportunity to purchase these mittens any longer. Much to everyone’s delight, Minnesota Mittens Inc. was founded in 2001, keeping the mittens, which were commonly referred to as Winona Mittens, tradition alive. Today Minnesota Mittens fabric is still knit in the USA from yarn manufactured in the USA. The fabrics are then washed at a Regional Rehabilitation Center and carefully hand crafted by Rehabilitation Centers or by other centers in our area. 

“Junkyard Tough: A 'Tail’ of Bravery” is the tale of a cat named Boots Meowington and his journey to understanding bravery. While all ages will enjoy the message in this chapter book, it’s easy reading for children ages 7–10 years old. Author Jenny Baertsch and her family live in Winona with a cat named Boots — a small kitten with a big story. Her cat’s real-life adventures are woven into this fictional story, leaving readers with an unforgettable lesson of bravery. The book was also illustrated and designed by Winona artist Sara Pientok and printed locally. 

This holiday fundraiser supports the Winona County Historical Society but can do more. These gift buckets make wonderful gifts for friends, family, clients, board members, staff and more. Also, consider buying a bucket to donate to a family in need. For most of us, the holidays are a joyous time but for some of the children, families and adults using Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center services, the holidays can be extremely stressful and very isolating. Through community support, we can all positively impact mental health by being able to help the families that do not have the funds to purchase gifts for their children and loved ones. Also, we can help bring joy to the individuals living alone or celebrating the holidays alone this year. WCHS will transport any donated buckets to the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center. 

Find the Winona County Historical Society online at www.winonahistory.org or call 507-454-2723 for more information.