A Christmas heritage
eritage is very important to Dale Fier. And so is Christmas. "Heritage is the reason we bought the farm," he said, referring to the farm site that his great-great-grandfather Anton built in 1888.
This piece of family history, located southwest of Taunton, has remained in the family ever since. "And the real reason Christmas is so important is that my parents had eight children and not a lot of money, but they somehow made it a very special time." Fier's father, Erwin, made all the outside decorations on the farm when he and his wife Cecelia lived on it.
"There were lights everywhere," said Fier. "And my mother was an amazing cook. We always had a special Christmas; it was a time of joy and thanks no matter how tough the times were.”
"We had many neighborhood parties and Christmas Eve was always a night of gifts, songs, and family, followed by Mass.
Christmas Day was filled with a big meal and relaxation." That tradition has been passed down to Dale and his wife Heidi and led to them to purchase the unofficial Century Farm in 2005 when they were living in Colorado Springs. "I commuted back and forth to renovate the house and barn and buildings for 10 years," said Fier.
Dale grew up in Taunton and graduated from Minneota High School in 1981. "I would commute about every other week. I put a lot of miles on and went through six vehicles."
Dale is now carrying on the family decorating heritage by making his own bows, wreaths and garland. Seated at a large dining table, Dale reveals how he makes his own red bows into perfect shapes that make store-bought bows look, well, like store-bought bows. "I know I could just go out and buy them, but I like making them; and homemade ones stand up better to the elements," he explained. "I probably make around 300 a year."
Dale's bow-making prowess came about several years ago when an elderly lady taught him how to make them when he was living in Ohio. Heidi admits to having limited talent when it comes to making crafts and is happy to leave that skill to her husband of 31 years.
"I can't make them like he can," she said, smiling. "I'll bet he has made 10,000 of them over the years." During the farm renovation process, Dale also turned the barn and other buildings into an appropriately-named Heritage Event Center, which is now four years old. The house and event center buildings are decorated for the holidays on the outside with white roof/eave lighting, wreaths or teardrop greenery. "The Dance Hall/Man Shack and the old Historic Barn/Chapel Reception Hall are decorated inside to the hilt with centerpieces, candles, bows, garland and more," Dale noted.
"We have for several years had the Minneota Prom dance here, as well as graduations, christenings, class reunions, family reunions, bridal showers, groom suppers, weddings, and corporate meetings."
The Heritage Event Center averages 15 to 20 events per year. Dale also makes many of the wreaths that adorn the home and Heritage Event Center buildings during the holiday season.
"This year, I will have up about 45 wreaths that I made from old (artificial) Christmas trees collected over the years," he said.
"I use quality trees that the lights are out, or from garage sales."
Fier elects to not showcase the farm with an abundance of lights and displays, though, like his father used to do.
"I would rather it has that Hallmark-card type look," he said.
"Not too cluttered." Dale said his father, who passed away in 2006 (his mother passed in 2016), would string lights all over the house, along the driveway and in the trees.
He would construct snowmen out of round hay bales and painted them white. "He also made Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus out of old pig feeders all painted up," he told.
"He made candles from PVC pipes with mason jars with a light in them for the flame."
There was also a large star welded on top of the flag pole with a hand-painted sign that read “Peace on Earth.”
"It was always a neighborhood joke because it stood next to a large homemade cannon that was a yard ornament," Fier said.