Skip to content

This Rural South Dakota Town is Home to the International Vinegar Museum 

by Mandy Shunnarah

A way of revitalizing the town of less than 200 people, the Museum welcomes a large community to Roslyn every summer.

The Midwest loves its food fests. While you can enjoy the International Vinegar Museum in Roslyn, South Dakota, anytime during its open season (Thursday to Saturday from early June to Labor Day every year) to sample various kinds of vinegar, see paper and ceramic art made from vinegar, and learn how vinegar is made and the many uses for vinegar, the perfect time to visit is during the annual Vinegar Festival!  

Saturday, June 17, 2023, is this year’s Vinegar Day, where you can see Roslyn and its many vinegar enthusiasts in all their glory. With a festival featuring a parade, live music and dance, a tractor pull, a scavenger hunt, the coronation of the Vinegar Queen, a bean bag tournament, a petting zoo, craft vendors, lefse making demonstrations (Norwegian potato flatbread) and more, there’s an activity for everyone in the family. The South Dakota State University Ice Cream Truck will be present, which is said to be the best ice cream around. Try a spritz of balsamic or tequila-lime vinegar on your scoop to really eat like a local.

“They [residents and leaders in Roslyn] realized they needed to do something with the resources they had, and something that was totally different from anything any other town was doing.”

A historic red brick building with a signage that reads "The International Vinegar Museum" above its more modern-looking glass door.
Photo Credit: International Vinegar Museum
The International Vinegar Museum is located in the historic Roslyn Auditorium, a project completed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936.

The International Vinegar Museum is one of a kind: the world’s first and the only museum in North America dedicated to vinegar. (Another vinegar museum opened in Zhenjiang, China, in 2010.) It was started by Lawrence Diggs, who founded the group Vinegar Connoisseurs International and has written several books, including “Vinegar: The User-Friendly Standard Text Reference and Guide to Appreciating, Making, and Enjoying Vinegar.” Lovingly called “The Vinegar Man,” Diggs has dedicated his life’s work to sharing the sour power wonders of vinegar.  

Diggs started the museum with materials from his personal collection and the museum has since grown to house more than 350 vinegars from around the world. Because so many different flavors and substances can be added to vinegar, the museum goes beyond the typical white, apple cider, rice, and red wine vinegars common to kitchens and includes more unexpected flavors like blueberry, pecan, and more. If you enjoy sampling the wares, you’ll be able to take a bottle home—the gift shop sells many locally made varieties.

Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the International Vinegar Museum, as it’s located in the historic Roslyn Auditorium, a project completed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936in the midst of the Depression. The building was originally erected as a community gathering place, which still holds true today since the vinegar museum was created as a way of revitalizing Roslyn and inviting the larger community to the town.

“They [residents and leaders in Roslyn] realized they needed to do something with the resources they had, and something that was totally different from anything any other town was doing,” a Washington Post article said of the museum, which draws upwards of a thousand visitors a year to the town of fewer than 200 residents. Those who make the trek to the museum find the travel just that: a trek. Roslyn is far from any highway and hours away from any large metro areas. Being in such a rural place has made the International Vinegar Museum central to the local economya testament to the creativity of the people who call Roslyn home. 

The article went on to detail how Fran Rougemont, a local who works at the International Vinegar Museum, “recounts a time she was riding her bike to pick up her mail from the post office, and a family in a big RV asked if they could get a tour. ‘I told them I just needed to run home and grab my key.’” While Diggs is the person who’s most passionate about vinegar in Roslyn, local museum workers received a hands-on vinegar education from him, which made them passionate about the sour concoction too. 

Since its opening in 1999, people from around the world have visited the International Vinegar Museum. You can be one of them this summer!  

  • Headshot of a smiling person of light skin tone and short brown hair slicked to the side, wearing earrings and a necklace with gold accents, and a tan shirt under a black blazer with two small pins in the shape of an airplane and a book.

    Contributing Writer

    Mandy Shunnarah (they/them) is an Alabama-born, Palestinian-American writer who calls Columbus, Ohio, home. Their essays, poetry, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, The Columbus Anthology from Belt Publishing, and more. Their first book, Midwest Shreds: Skating Through America’s Heartland, is forthcoming from Belt. Read more at mandyshunnarah.com.

Sign up for our newsletter

I am interested in...
Please confirm that you'd like to hear from Arts Midwest. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We promise never to sell or share the information you provide to us on this form.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.