Heritage Festival offers 'something for everyone'

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | 5:36 p.m. CDT; updated 5:42 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Haskell Native American dancer Charley Lewis, representing the Bishop Paiute tribe, performs the mens' chicken dance. He and three to four other dancers will perform at the 31st Annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show at Nifong Park on Saturday and Sunday.

COLUMBIA - The Haskell Native American dancers, second-year performers at the Annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show, dance to educate people about misconceptions about Native American tribes.

"Maybe if you see what we do you can better understand a culture," said Manny King, registrar for Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. "You have to attend (a dance) to visualize it."


WHAT: 31st Annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show

WHERE: Nifong Park, 2900 E. Nifong

WHEN: From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday


OTHER INFORMATION: For a full schedule of performances, visit, type Heritage Festival into the search box and click on GoHeritageFestival. There will be parking on site and a lot at Nifong and Grindstone Parkway with a shuttle.



Four or five student dancers from Haskell will be performing dances related to their individual tribes this weekend at the 31st Annual Heritage Festival and Craft Show at Nifong Park. They usuallytravel to various events with several more performers, but rising travel costs and free performances make it less feasible to bring large groups, King said.

The dancers wear full dance regalia from their tribe, which includes a dance bustle, an armband and head robe and tell a little about themselves prior to dancing. Singers accompanying the dancers sit around a drum and sing songs, King said.

"You hear things on TV that are deceiving as far as what dance portrays," King said. "The more we can educate people, the better. These are all students who appreciate sharing their culture."

The Haskell Native American dancers are among several performers, entertainers and exhibits featured at the festival. With an estimated 15,000 attendees per year, the festival is in line with other big events in Columbia, festival coordinator Karen Ramey said.

"There is a wide mix of community members (who attend) and quite a few from out of town," Ramey said.

Three stages will offer music, dancing and storytelling.

The Maplewood Barn stage features Johnny Lonestar, a trick roper, gun spinner and whip cracker. Lonestar, a Wild West performer, was in the top 20 of 100,000 contestants on season two of "America's Got Talent." He performs with fellow Branson variety show performers country singer Clay Cooper and comedian Matt Gumm.

"If you're into Wild West, you'll probably like me; if you like country music, you'll probably like Clay; and if you like comedy, you'll like Matt," Lonestar said. "There's a little bit of something for everyone."

Other attractions include Jim "Two Crows" Wallen reenacting a mountain man and an expanded Lewis and Clark village with re-enactors in period attire showing trunk items that Lewis and Clark might have had in their travels. Singers include the local bluegrass band Ironweed, Cajun band Swampweed and Americana folk singers Jim and Kim Lansford, who, "someone said has the prettiest voice ever heard," Ramey said.

"We try to mix up and have something for everyone," Ramey said. "From old-time string band to jazz."



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