Family-friendly event attracts people from all over
EAST PRAIRIE -- Families looking for some good, old-fashioned fun can head out to Big Oak Tree State Park's 14th annual Living History Day Saturday, where children can churn butter or spin a button, and parents can enjoy demonstrations and old-time music.
"It's family-friendly," Event Coordinator Silvey Barker said. "It's a fun experience along with a learning experience. It's a good way to spend a day with the family."
The event attracts people from all over. Barker said there are exhibitors from Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois who seek to bring history alive through demonstrations, programs, re-enactments and musical entertainment.
Perhaps the highlight of the one-day event will be the Lewis and Clark re-enactors. The re-enactors are scheduled to demonstrate the making of a pirogue, a boat used by the travelers in 1803 on their journey along the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
"We're very excited about the pirogue. It's a large boat Lewis and Clark used to navigate. It's not a canoe -- it's very large. I think they're having to bring the boat in on an 18-wheeler," Barker said.
It's estimated the 14-year average attendance is about 2,000 people, although the event has seen as many as 3,500 at one time.
Weather plays an instrumental role in the number of attendees each year. Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate so tents are set up in case of rain.
"I just hope we have good weather this year, and I hope we have a good crowd." Barker said.
One aspect Barker stressed is that people of all ages can see how things worked years ago by attending History Day. "Each year we focus on consistency in the quality of the event. We try to provide new interests and educational opportunities for the public," she said.
During the day a variety of skills and crafts are demonstrated from blacksmithing and basketry to quilting, weaving and woodcarving.
Representatives form the Missouri Department of Conservation will exhibit a collection of Missouri Furs and present a program on wild edibles.
Another highlight is the musical entertainment. Barker said the event's entertainment always come with a few credentials. For example, The Hammer Sisters were inducted into the Old-Time Hall of Music Fame in 2001.
The Hammer Sisters from Neosho will entertain with picking and yodeling as they perform folk and gospel tunes. Their performances are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Max Davidson and The Soggy Mountain Gang will perform throughout the day playing traditional foot-tapping bluegrass. From 2 to 3 p.m., a jam session will be held and the public is invited to participate.
"Anyone who wants to play can bring their instrument and join in with the others," Barker urged.
The James Bayou Catfish Cookers are cooking for the event and serving will begin at 11 a.m. Other concessions will be provided by Charles Byassee, Kettle Korn by Manley and the First Assembly of God. Polish sausage, hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches and chicken and hamburgers are among the food that will be available Saturday.
The event is held each year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second Saturday in September. "We invite everyone to spend the day at the park," Barker said. "They can bring lawn chairs or spread a quilt -- or they can walk around and enjoy all of the displays."
Admission and parking are free. Missouri Department of Natural Resource's vans will be available for transporting visitors to and from parking areas to the event area.
Handicapped parking will also be available.
The event is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Big Oak Tree State Park is located off Missouri Highway 102, approximately 15 miles south of East Prairie.