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Photo by Brian Hansel A 6-week-old Poland China pig makes a comical figure as it "hams it up" with some green alfalfa Saturday morning during the second annual Barter Fest in Hewitt.

You do not need cash at Barter Fest

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Sometimes credit cards and cash are not necessary to make your dreams come true.

That is the whole idea behind Hewitt's Barter Fest.

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The Barter Fest was organized last year by Michael Dagen of Hewitt. People can barter, or trade, their goods and services at the Barter Fest and they can also do some camping while they listen to live music. Last Saturday's Barter Fest drew 400-500 people to the small Todd County town. Dagen is an audio engineer who has a lot of contacts in the music business which is why more than 15 bands showed up for 12 hours of continuous music. This year's fest drew bands from the upper peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Minnesota.

The Barter Fest takes people back to an earlier time in Minnesota when goods and services were traded because of the scarcity of money.

"It's pretty much their talent or what they have an abundance of," Dagen said. "It's kind of figuring out what the price will be without spending money."

Dagen himself traded some Blue Hubbard squash for a pile of goat manure and a bag of apples. A friend of his bartered their massage talents for some goods. One young man went home with a trumpet which he acquired for a bag of vegetables.

Flea marketers are also part of the Barter Fest.

Louise Behsman's mother lived during the Great Depression so she knew the value of property and she passed it along to her daughter.

For the last 45 years the Verndale woman has been peddling her curiosities and pocketing her profits. It has not put her in Rockefeller's class but it has paid for the groceries.

"It's an affliction," Behsman said matter-of-factly as she spread her goods over several large tables at the Hewitt Barter Fest.

Worse than that, it's an affliction that's catchy.

Derek Shores of St. Croix Falls had a neighboring display of wares that included a surf board and a giant bunnies' head. Shores was up with his friend Sandi Michel and their dog, Lucky. He used to have a landscaping business but his "affliction" now takes up his summer months. He works as a ski lodge in winter.

Down the street were the Prathers of Clarissa with several pens of pigs and rabbits. Their noisy troop of six-week-old Poland China pigs grow to 500-600 pounds. Their rabbits do not grow quite as large but they have good appetites.

Ardis Brisset and Valerie Filbert were passing the time knitting as people passed their wares, which included many plants.

"I'm not going home with anything if I can help it," said Brisset.

Dagen launched the Barter Fest with the help of a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. He is pleased with the way the community and backed it.

"It's a lot of fun," Dagen said, "it's a blast."

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