Lakeside Cemetery seeking assistance

FAIRMONT — When we think of our communities, we often think of the unique businesses, attractions and social groups that make them special. But very rarely do we consider our local cemetery.

Often associated with sadness and heartache, cemeteries also serve as an important memorial where we can remember and celebrate those who have gone on before us. Lakeside Cemetery in Fairmont is one of those memorials, well-kept and maintained year round.

Recently, the cemetery acquired a new Bobcat, complete with a bucket, snow blower and turf treads. Carol Madsen, president of the Fairmont Cemetery Association, said the equipment was sorely needed after older equipment finally died. A $60,000 loan was taken out, and now donations are needed more than ever.

“We have 37 acres of land that is currently the cemetery,” Madsen said. “We have some other land that is adjacent to it, but that’s 37 acres of land that needs to be maintained and kept up, which is a lot.”

In order to keep up with that much groundskeeping, Madsen says the association is trying to get an adopt-a-section program going for only the second consecutive year.

“So if a group of neighbors, or a business or just an individual want to adopt a section to help trim, that’s one of our biggest duties during the summer,” she said. “We would put up a sign much like is done with the adopt-a-highway program, thanking people for taking charge of the area. We already have one business group that does it regularly and then we have a couple of individuals, but not many people know about it.

“We do have a general manager and we hire some part time people in the summer to help with trimming and mowing and things like that, but equipment has to be replaced sometimes.”

Madsen notes that another part of the conundrum is tied up in how cemeteries have changed over the years, leading to a reduction in financing and affecting equipment needs.

“It used to be that families would buy 6 to 12 plots,” she said. “But now with cremation, you can get four people in a grave and now they only need one plot. So our finances are way down. Equipment breaks down and old equipment nickels and dimes you, so we definitely depend on donations for that and other things.”

Madsen shared a brief history of the cemetery’s beginnings and how she came to be involved in the work.

“The earliest incorporation that we found was in 1871,” she said. “We have 8,000 burials out there, and records were kept starting in 1926, even though it was incorporated in 1871.

“My husband and I have been cross-referencing different records to make sure our list of burials is as accurate as it can be. We’ve been at that for about three years, and that’s how we got involved because we found out how much work there really is involved out there. Then this past year I was elected president of the association.”

Madsen is nearing completion of a Facebook page, where people can interact and connect simply by searching for Lakeside Cemetery. Those who would like to donate either time or funds may contact the cemetery at P.O. Box 225, Fairmont, MN 56031, or by calling at (507) 236-5247.