EAST PRAIRIE - Get your umbrellas ready: With a 50 percent chance of rain forecast for Saturday, it looks like history may repeat itself with yet another wet Living History Day at Big Oak Tree State Park.
But just like previous years, that won't stop them from having a good time bringing history alive. "It's still going to go rain or shine," said Denise Dowling, superintendent of Big Oak Tree State Park. "We'll be here regardless."
The park's 14th Annual Living History Day is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. "I think we've got a pretty good turnout that's going to be here and a pretty good lineup - I'm excited about it," said Dowling.
In addition to the park's permanent shelter, there will be three tents for visitors to take cover under, Dowling said.
Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the event is free to the public and features traditional crafters demonstrating "what kind of skills you had to have just for daily life in the early 1700s through the early 1900s," Dowling said, such as blacksmithing, woodcarving, weaving and spinning and many more.
The Children's Area, sponsored by the Mississippi County's Retired Senior Program, will once again provide all ages with the opportunity to actually try some of the old skills and tasks out, such as churning butter or washing on a washboard.
Keeping in the flavor of the approaching anniversary of Lewis and Clark's expedition of 1803, a surveyor will be dressed in period clothing and will show surveying tools and techniques from when Missouri was first surveyed, including a chain used to measure distances.
Representatives from the Missouri Department of Conservation will be on hand to demonstrate the making of a pirogue. "It's basically like a dugout canoe," said Dowling. "It's a replica of what they would have used."
Music remains a big part of the event this year as well. "Bands are always playing, all the time," Dowling said. "One of the new things this year is we actually have a stage for performers." A portable stage will be provided by DNR, Dowling said.
Bull Harman and the Bull's Eye Band of Florissant will play bluegrass, and the No Borders Band's performance will include an instrument not often seen on the stage: "He's going to use an autoharp," Dowling said.
And for those who like to join in, the tradition of "open jam" sessions continues this year. "We will have an open mic session," Dowling confirmed.
Food and beverages will be available beginning at 11 a.m.
The James Bayou Cookers will be back serving their catfish and chicken with all the trimmings. The Byassee Cookers will be serving barbecued chicken and barbecue sandwiches. Other food booths will include homemade hot tamales with chili and cheese, hamburgers, Polish sausage and hot dogs by Jayne Dill-Reno, and Manley's Kettle Korn.
Missouri Department of Natural Resource's vans will be available to transport visitors to and from parking areas and handicapped parking will be available.
Big Oak Tree State Park is located approximately 15 miles south of East Prairie off State Highway 102.
For more information about the event, call the park office at 649-3149.