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Museum’s March speaker series aims to cure cabin fever

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 25, 2020


ROCHESTER HILLS — The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is offering a month of historical programs designed to keep cabin fever at bay.

The museum’s annual Cabin Fever series celebrates history with a collection of presentations at 7 p.m. each Friday in March at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm Calf Barn.

“When winter rolls around, a lot of people think it’s a slow time, but we are still rockin’ and rollin’. This is a way for people to get out and stay local, but still be active and stretch and expand their minds,” said Cathy Fitzpatrick, the museum’s program coordinator.

Pat McKay, the museum’s manager, said the communities surrounding the museum are filled with a host of well-educated early retirees, and the series aims to please them, along with anyone else interested.

“The initial idea was to come up with something so there was something to do on a Friday night,” he said. “Our little tagline on it is, it’s an event for those who don’t go to Florida.”

The series, according to Fitzpatrick, is a great way to expand the mind this winter.

“We try and get local Michigan historians, genealogists, professors, so not only is it a way to explore a new topic, but it connects people to their new communities and the different histories and stories that they have to tell as well,” she said.

Now in its sixth year, the Cabin Fever series will kick off March 6 with “The 19th Century Evolution of Football: From Town Football to Rugby, Soccer and American Football,” presented by local historian Jim Craft.

“It’s about how football came to be, from all the other European sports, and how American football turned into what it is today,” McKay said.

On March 13, people can escape from their homes to learn about “The Long War: America’s Struggle for Equal Voting Rights,” presented by Bruce Zellers, an Oakland University professor, in collaboration with the Rochester-Avon Historical Society.

“He’s exploring the battles fought in the war for equal voting rights. He goes all the way back to the time of the founding fathers and the Revolutionary (War) era and picks key turning points,” Fitzpatrick explained.

McKay said Zellers is an exceptional speaker who is very knowledgeable on the topic.

“He will answer the questions to how did we survive as a country when 50% of our population could not vote? Our newspapers in the Rochester area were talking about it in 1880, and why did it take until 1920 until they could finally pull it all together?” he said.

Additional presentations include “The Millerites and a Private Second Coming,” by Maureen Thalmann, on March 20; and “Modern Interpretation of Native Americans,” by Eric Hemenway, of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, on March 27.

The series, according to McKay, is casual but informative.

“It’s a social opportunity for people to get together, and it’s a chance for the museum to show that we’re still out there,” he said. “A lot of people know us for our summer events and carving pumpkins and all that, but we would like people to know that we’re here year-round. Even in January and February, we’re still doing programs.”

All programs are free to museum members and cost $5 per session for nonmembers. To pre-register, visit, email or call (248) 656-4663.