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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

History to come alive at Big Oak Tree State Park Saturday

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Those in attendance can see how old-time crafts used to be made

EAST PRAIRIE -- History will come alive on Saturday with an event at Big Oak Tree State Park, where children and their families will get a glimpse into how things are made.

The 19th Annual Living History Day is set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature demonstrations, music, refreshments and entertainment for all ages.

"It's become a family tradition for many," Vicki Jackson, interpretive resource specialist for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks, said of the event. "It's just a relaxing day when you can get out to the park, learn some history and see how a lot of the old-time crafts were made."

Michael Comer, a natural resource manager, agreed. "It's a nice day out, and we have a number of old-time crafts and talents lined up," he said. "It's a good family event and it's free, so you can't beat the price."

Some of the featured demonstrations include loom weaving, candle making, calligraphy and wood carving. A blacksmith will be on hand, a demonstration that hasn't been at Living History Day in a few years. A Civil War cannon will be on display, and it will be fired throughout the day.

"You see a wide variety of crafts that you don't really see anymore," said Comer. "Some of these things are just about lost arts, and you only have a few people that keep them alive."

Jackson admitted that she's actually learned quite a bit through the years, too. "There are a lot of these things you take for granted," she said. "You don't think about how hard candles are to make. And I've never really thought about a basket being made before -- I always go to the store and buy one."

Jackson said seeing the process -- as well as learning about the history surrounding it -- really makes people appreciate those crafts.

One change this year is that organizers are working to make the day more hands-on for kids, to help them learn even more. "They'll get to make a corn shuck doll, walk on stilts and make candles," said Jackson. "I think it will be more well-received. It's a lot more fun if you can actually do it instead of just watch it."

Refreshments will be available for purchase throughout the event. Fried catfish will be prepared and sold by the members of Boy Scout Troop 141 and Cub Scout Pack 141 beginning around 11 a.m. Barbecue, kettle corn and Hawaiian shaved ice will also be available.

Bluegrass music will be provided at the event by groups Bluegrass Revival and No Borders. The two groups will alternate playing through the day.

"We have a lot of people come down who will just east catfish and listen to the music all day," said Comer. "There's something for most everybody."

And organizers are hoping the weather cooperates. "We always keep our fingers crossed on that," said Comer.

But no matter what, it will be an enjoyable day in the park. "I think a lot of people come down because when the weather is nice, it's just a nice day to get out and enjoy yourself," said Comer. "You can enjoy the park, too. The visitor's center will be open and you can go on the boardwalk and kind of see what Big Oak is all about."

The park is located 15 miles south of East Prairie on Highway 102. For more information, call 748-5340 or 1-800-334-6946.