A Groovy Good Cause: Dinner Benefits Museum

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Over 200 people were served dinner at the 47th Annual Benton County Historical Society Benefit Dinner on Saturday night.  Dinner was catered by Great Western Food and Service for members of the Benton County Historical Society as well as other supporters.  Randy Eaton served as the Master of Ceremonies.
After dinner, attendees were entertained by the Morton Sisters, a singing group from Marshall.  Next on the agenda was an auction of donated items along with pies and cakes baked by members of the society.  Warsaw native Heath Karr served as the auctioneer with help from Carter Kinkead and LeRoy Whitaker.
The Benton County Historical Society was founded in 1969, in anticipation of the United States Bicentennial in 1976.
The Benton County Museum opened in 1971 on the “Schoolhouse Hill” in the oldest school building in the county at that time.  Members of the Society requested donations of items for the museum and were overwhelmed with the many family heirlooms which were given to start a museum.
 In 2010, the old schoolhouse collapsed and the archives were placed in storage until the new museum was opened in 2013 in the former Kesl Medical Building.
The museum is operated by volunteers with no paid staff.  There are currently 325 members of the historical society.  There are nine members on the board and many volunteers who serve as greeters at the museum.
The operating costs of the museum are met by 56% annual banquet, 13% grants and donations, 14% raffles, 12% other income including admission fees, 3% new memberships and renewals and 2% gift shop sales.
In 2017, the museum had 702 paid visitors which does not include annual or lifetime members (admitted free of charge).  Of those visitors, 40% were from Benton County, 46% were from Missouri but outside Benton County and 14% were from out of the state.
“We were very pleased with the support from the community,” said Historical Society Board member Marsha Eaton.  “This banquet is the main source of our income so we couldn’t maintain the museum without the help of those who attend.  Everyone who works on this event and everyone who works in the museum does it free of charge.  We have no paid employees. We just want everyone to come up on the hill to see the marvelous displays we have.”