By Andrew Crivilare
Vendors, graduate students and members of the community alike came together Saturday and Sunday at Lincoln Log Cabins for the historic site’s annual Fall Festival.
The Fall Festival consisted of two days of activities, which ranged from skillet tossing and log sawing to a replication of a 1840s Sunday sermon.
Cathy Grafton, of Pontiac, came dressed in a conservative dress and bonnet for the festival.
“I represent an older style,” Grafton said. “Fashion didn’t change too quickly back then.”
Grafton was one of more than a dozen costumed vendors selling homemade replicas of tools, clothing and toys from the era.
She said it was not uncommon in the 19th century for people to decorate their clothing with intricate patches of embroidery.
“They didn’t decorate their houses like we do today, so they decorated their clothing,” Grafton said. “The amount of skilled people had decorating their clothing was astounding.”
Carl Handel, of Blue Mound, said men, too, would decorate the tools they used in their day-to-day life.
Handel attended the Fall Festival this year as a 19th century farmer and sold powder horns, devices used to load powder in to a muzzle-loading firearm. He said these powder horns were often decorated with calligraphy as a creative channel for those who made them.
“People are people,” he said. “They’ll always want an outlet to express themselves.”
Handel said he is no exception, and the vendors attending the event are not strictly about selling their goods.
“Part of it is our interest in history, our interest to teach,” Handel said. “It’s an outlet for us.”
Emily Irwin, an Eastern graduate student in historical administration, was on site in costume playing a 19th century children’s’ game called Hoops and Graces along with a fellow graduate student and another two girls from the third grade.
Irwin said the goal of the game was to use two sticks to fling a small wooden hoop to the other player, who was expected to catch the hoop on her stick, but she acknowledged a lack of skill in the game compared to her younger counterparts. Playing the game in costume is used as part of Lincoln Log Cabins’ living history exhibition.
“This is a new experience for me,” Irwin said. “I have never done a living history before.”
Living histories can draw attention towards aspects of a historical setting in a way traditional exhibits cannot, Irwin said.
“For kids, this is important,” she said. “They can’t get this experience from looking at a panel in a museum or a history book.”
Phyllis Borris-Meek, of Marshall, said she had been coming to the Lincoln Log Cabins since she was in grade school and was now bringing her family to the Fall Festival.
“I want my niece and nephews to see what life is like out here,” she said. “It’s one thing to be told people used to live like this, it’s another thing to see it.”
Borris-Meek said she enjoys seeing a time when families worked together and were closer, and thinks that this made them stronger.
“It makes you appreciate what you’ve got,” she said. “I’m thankful that places like this still exist.”
Andrew Crivilare can be reached at 581-7942
or at firstname.lastname@example.org.