Working on history

Boonslick woman prepares trip into the region’s past
Sunday, August 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:47 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The kitchen table is a wonderful place to share ideas.

That’s where Connie Shay and some friends sat in her 159-year-old house two years ago to help create the Boonslick Area Tourism Council.

After several unsuccessful events geared to enhancing tourism in the Boonslick region, Shay is the coordinator of the Boonslick Folk Festival on Labor Day at the Boone’s Lick State Historic Site in Howard County.

Shay, 65, is the fifth generation to live on her family farm, Walnut Hill Farm, in Fayette, eight miles from the Boone’s Lick. Her blue eyes sparkle with pride when she shares historical anecdotes about the farm.

Robert Trimble, Shay’s 41-year-old son and one of her three children, is also fascinated with local history.

“We’re fortunate to live in an area where 10,000 years ago only Indian tribes lived,” Trimble said.

He has a large collection of arrowheads he started when he was only 12 and will be showing it at the Folk Festival on Monday.

The festival will feature a replica of a Conestoga wagon, which Shay calls “the first family SUV,” along with natural ochres, or pigments, used by Indians for face-painting, a blacksmith and other craftspeople and demonstrators.

The Boone’s Lick State Historic Site is 12 miles northwest of Boonville off Missouri 87 on Missouri 187 in Howard County. Site administrator Michael Dickey of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will be at the festival to explain the history of the salt springs. “It’ll be something that families with a little interest in history could come out here and enjoy,” he said.

Shay and her family refer to Boone’s Lick Historic Site fondly as “the park” and are well familiar with the site from all the walks they have taken through it. A 10-minute drive from Walnut Hill Farm, the salt lick reminds Shay and Trimble of how much heritage Boonslick holds.

“You can almost feel the Indians looking at you from behind the trees, so much it hasn’t changed,” Shay said as she walked through the salt lick. A path encircles an area that still has remnants of salt-gathering machines.

Shay loves her heritage and the history of the Boonslick region so much that it is only natural for her to coordinate the festival. “Hopefully it’ll get people to come out here and appreciate our historic site,” she said.

She also looks forward to the music. “I love folk festivals and I love folk A favorite musician of hers, John Knox McCrory, a harmonica player from Columbia, is expected to come with other musicians.

The demonstrators and musicians will all be in period dress. Even her son, although reluctantly, will be wearing a shirt modeled after the 1800s.

After the festival, Shay will return home to dinner with her husband Bill Shay, her kitchen table and a conversation that may include plans for a future Labor Day festival.

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