Source: Faith BemissThe Shortleaf Duet plays at the 36th annual Warsaw Heritage Days, Oct. 15, 2016.
WARSAW — The lives and crafts of men and women in the period dating 1760 to 1900 were brought to life Saturday and Sunday at the 36th annual Warsaw Pioneer Heritage Days, in an event that often draws 8,000 to 10,000 people.
With the scent of wood fires wafting on fall the breeze and the sound of mountain music in the air, soap and broom makers, tin and copper smiths, and women making pioneer rag dolls and spinning wool, plus many other period craftsmen drew bus loads of crowds to the Truman Visitor’s Center in Warsaw this weekend.
The event called a “living history experience” by the Kaysinger Bluff Pioneer Heritage Association offered two locations. Pioneer activities sponsored by the KBPHA were located at the Harry S. Truman Visitor’s Center and modern day crafts and vendors, sponsored by Warsaw Area Chamber of Commerce, were located at Drake Harbor in downtown Warsaw.
“It seems like the crowds down a little from our biggest years,” Harry S. Truman State Park Ranger Erin Cordrey said Saturday. “I think 8,000 to 10,000 is a lot of people for the weekend and that’s just our event up here not the one downtown.
“Everything’s going really, really well,” she added. “We had a good turnout of exhibitors this year and everybody seems just thrilled with what they are seeing, there’s a lot to offer.”
On the south area of Kaysinger bluff the event exhibited a mountain man and civil war encampment. To the north of the Visitor’s Center, on the Hooper House Trail, there were a myriad of period exhibitors and also the Northern Cherokee Nation.
“The thing about this event is the Kaysinger Bluff Pioneer Heritage Association insists on period,” Cordrey noted. “They want everyone in costume, they are pretty insistent on that. That makes it kind of neat I think.”
“I think its going really well, ” Kathy Long, who is on the KBPHA board of directors, said. “We’ve got some new demonstrators, some new musicians and the turnout looks great. The weather is beautiful and I think everything’s going well.”
New this year was the Northern Cherokee Nation, a new copper smith and a horse demonstration.
“It talks about the different breeds that came over and how horses were used in the pioneer life,” Long said of the demonstration.
She said she thought the number of visitors may be up this year because so many people were “coming through.”
Tim Lunceford, a tinsmith from Independence, and his wife Angela Lunceford and son Michael were demonstrating at the event. The Luncefords often participate in period events at Missouri Town 1855 in Blue Springs. This is their third year to attend Heritage Days.
For the Luncefords, like many other demonstrators, the event is a family affair.
“We really enjoy it,” Angela said as her husband worked stoking a campfire. “We have a lot of family that is out here. His baby brother has the oxen, his mother does the wool dyeing, and his dad does weaving (and) his sister’s in the shop up there.”
Angela noted that her husband makes the pieces not to sell, but to show others what life was like in the 1800s.
“He’s been doing metal work pretty much since he got out of high school,” she said. “He decided he wanted to do something that was more historically based. Not for profit, just for demonstration and teaching. So that’s how he started the tinsmithing.”
Some of the pieces Tim makes are unfamiliar to others.
“For instance a Betty Lamp (circa 1800s),” she said holding up the lamp. “It was German … and you use lard and a cotton wick. It burns about as bright as a candle. What dated before that, was the cruse lamp (circa 1600-1700) and it was also animal fat and either a cotton wick or a reed.”
Angela said the family plans one additional event this year. They will participate at Missouri Town 1855’s Christmas Celebration Dec. 10.
On the opposite end of Kaysinger Bluff, Jayna Buck, of Hurdland, was busy at the Civil War encampment spinning wool and talking to visitors.
She and her husband Chris Buck are members of the Landis’ Missouri Artillery Battery, a Confederate Civil War reenactment cannon battalion.
“Landis Battery was an original battery out of Missouri, out of St. Joe,” she noted.
Buck makes all of her period clothing and said this was her third year to participate in reenactments, and her second to attend Heritage Days.
“My husband’s been doing this for five years,” she added. “The only reason why I started doing this is because I didn’t want to sit around camp. I thought well I can bring my spinning wheel, it is period.”
She also purchased a period drum carder (circa 1848) to card the wool.
“They were for sale in 1848, but they were $200 to $400 a piece,” she said.
Michael Fraser and Tenley Hansen, the Shortleaf Duet, took time strolling the grounds singing and playing traditional Missouri mountain music. The duet hailing from Rogersville, near Springfield, played soft ballads and fiddle tunes.
“We do primarily traditional Ozark, the music the settlers that came into this country played, and brought with them from the Appalachian,” Fraser said. “I just got interested in the Ozark culture, the old culture, and part of that was the music. I was already a musician and then when I started finding out about this culture I wanted to learn the old music.”
He added that they have been performing together for about 10 years.
They were both happy to be part of Warsaw Heritage Days.
“All the people who run this are so nice,” Hansen added.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.