Actors, historians re-enact the past at the Heritage Festival and Crafts Show

Saturday, September 15, 2012 | 9:37 p.m. CDT; updated 2:48 a.m. CDT, Sunday, September 16, 2012
Visitors enjoy traditions of the past with handmade craft vendors and traditional artisans Saturday at the Heritage Festival in Nifong Park.

COLUMBIA – Two women wearing pointed hats shopped in the Easley Country Store on Saturday morning. Over in the Gordon-Collins Log Cabin, a man in suspenders entertained visitors with stories of his 15 children. They were all playing the part of people who lived long ago.

Historical re-enactors brought famous Boone County citizens from the 19th and 20th centuries back to life for the Heritage Festival and Crafts Show. The festival started Saturday and continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nifong Park.

Charlie Wilkerson, an actor with the Maplewood Barn Theatre, impersonated 19th century Boone County pioneer David Gordon.

Wilkerson said re-enacting has a lot to do with involving the audience.

"It's interaction with people who come in and explaining to them as much history as they can deal with," he said.

The partnership between the Maplewood Barn Theatre and the Boone County Historical Society started in 2009.

"(The actors) bring that theatrical experience our volunteers don't have," said Jenifer Flink, executive director and curator of the Boone County Historical Society.

The theater brought 20 re-enactors to the festival to populate Boone Junction, a group of historical buildings preserved by the Historical Society. This is the first year the Ryland Farm House and the McQuitty Shotgun House, which were acquired in 2008, are open to the public.

In the Ryland House, Donna Powers, vice president of Kansas City's CrossEyed Lacers, threw bobbins to demonstrate how to make a lace pattern for attendees of the festival. The lace art lost its popularity after the Civil War, when the Industrial Revolution mechanized the process.

"Our goal is to keep this art alive," she said.

It takes one hour to weave two inches of the lace pattern in the piece she was working on. Despite this, Powers said lace-making isn't difficult "as long as you know how to count to four and know your left hand from your right."

For some attendees, the festival was nostalgic. 

One man remembered his grandmother living in something similar to the shotgun house, Flink said.

The shotgun house is portraying the 1920s, which were "an exciting time for black Americans. They were coming into their own as fully fledged citizens," Flink said. 

Visitors appreciated the historical emphasis of the festival. First-time festival attendees Philip and Cindy Brackett drove up from Lake of the Ozarks to buy alpaca wool. However, Philip Brackett also enjoyed touring the Maplewood Home.

"It had a nice touch of the olden times," he said.

Supervising editor is Simina Mistreanu.

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John M. Nowell, III September 16, 2012 | 7:28 a.m.

The Historic Nifong Park is one of Columbia's best kept secrets. The Heritage Festival is just one good example. Kudos to Parks and Rec. for organizing it each year!!

The Walter's-Boone County Museum and Galleries building is also located in Nifong Park, and has Mid-Missouri's largest art gallery. Normal hours are Thursday-Sunday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 7th. from noon-4:00 p.m. there will be a car show in Nifong Park hosted by the Old Wheels Collector Car Club. It will be our 38th. annual show, and our first in beautiful Nifong Park. We hope to have over 100 cars on display. Please stop by and have a look!

For more information about the car show, vist our Facebook page:

If the link doesn't work, just search on Facebook for "Old Wheels Car Club.

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