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2012 Ames Heritage Festival


October 13 was a warm, sunny fall day – perfect weather for the 15th annual Ames Heritage Festival, which drew a huge crowd to the event. “We had around 4,600 in attendance,” said organizer Jamie Evans. The annual Festival demonstrates daily life activities from several eras: Native American culture before Europeans and Africans arrived; the 1800s, especially the Civil War era; farming and manufacturing, stressing self-sufficiency, and many types of folk arts and crafts that were essentials of days gone by. Many of these crafts are seeing a resurgent use in modern times.

Ames hosts two field schools each summer: one studying Native American culture in a prehistoric Ceremonial Center and Village, and the other studying plantation culture of the antebellum period, and the 1840s Andrews Chapel Church. Archeological information from those involved in both field studies was available.

From the Civil War era, a battlefield encampment with field artillery demonstrations shook the grounds as the cannon were fired! Re-enactors wore authentic uniforms, and camped in tents displaying historic equipment that was used in the day. Civil War era clothing was also available for sale. There were displays of civil war artifacts that have been salvaged from the area, too, including Miniéballs and buckles.

Folk Arts from utilitarian lifestyles of the past were demonstrated by numerous crafts people. These modern-day artists showed basket weaving, stenciling, knitting, spinning, weaving, quilting, wood carving, pottery, candle making, stained glass, gourd art, handmade dolls and clothes, leaf pounding to make decorative patterns on cloth, handmade jewelry, bird houses, leatherwork, and much more. In many cases, visitors could learn the crafts and make something of their own to take home.

Farming and manufacturing skills included a cotton plot with cotton picking, ginning, and spinning and a greens plot where visitors could pick their own! There were meat processing demonstrations, woodworking, blacksmithing, logging with horses, antique tractors and steam engines, sewing, broom making, beekeeping, dark fired tobacco production, and moonshine production – “the shady side of our heritage,” wrote Evans.

Sounds of the times were ever present, too, with old time music, bluegrass, and string band music; two dulcimer groups played both mountain and hammered dulcimers, and the Amsdens were on hand to show their handcrafted music instruments: bowed psaltry and hammered dulcimer.

If you missed this year’s festival, make plans for the 2013 Heritage Festival next October. Details can be found at the Ames Plantation website:
Photo cutline: Alan Smith drives his team of 12-year-old Percherons Big Star (left with star) and Kroger. The experienced team have done about everything – from plowing and plowing competitions to logging, parades, hay rides, and, of course, the Ames Heritage Festival where they were unflappable at the boom of the cannon. Big Star weighs in at around 1,870 lbs., and Kroger at 2,000 lbs.

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