Cole Camp is set to kick off its annual Oktoberfest this Saturday with a multitude of activities including German singing, food, beer and vendors, plus tours of local prairies and stargazing.
Cole Camp Chamber of Commerce President Sam Cole said there will also be many fall festival foods such as caramel apples, salted pretzels, kettle corn and pork rinds.
“It’s a fall-feel kind of festival, to usher in fall,” Cole said.
A small festive parade will take place at 12:30 p.m. Following the parade, the FestBaum, a 35-foot-tall festival tree, will be raised by members of the Cole Camp Maennerchor.
“The FestBaum is unique for Cole Camp,” Cole said. “There’s not a lot of places around that do that. If nobody’s seen that done, that in itself is a unique experience. It’s all done the original way with poles.”
Cole added that there would also be antique tractors and gas engines on display during the day.
“They set them up, display them and they run them,” she added.
Prairie Days will also be running in conjunction with Oktoberfest.
“That’s always a cool thing,” Cole said. “We have a group here that runs it, and they have tours of the Hi Lonesome Prairie. They do wagon tours and then at night they do stargazing. So, that’s all interesting.”
Prairie Days will start at 10 a.m. and those wanting to attend only need to follow the signs once they enter Cole Camp.
“We are going to have a lot going on,” said Roxanne Stockdall, a member of the Hi Lonesome Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalist Program and chair of the Prairie Days Committee. “Downtown, we’ll have our photography contest and we’ll also have a table where we will be selling raffle tickets. We’ll have a number of items they’ll be able to choose from.”
While downtown, visitors may also sign up for guided tours of local prairies to be given at 1 and 3 p.m. with Donnie Nichols. During the day, a whole series of activities will be taking place at a privately-owned prairie.
“Out on Morton’s Prairie we’re going to be having woodworking … people can build a bird feeder or birdhouse and take it home,” Stockdall said. “We’re going to have hay rides around the prairie out there.”
Those visiting the prairie will find primitive artisans; flint knapping or arrowhead making, bow making, Dutch oven cooking, basketry, spinning, weaving and carving. Participants may even wish to throw an “atlatl.”
“People can try and throw the atlatl, which is an ancient spear,” Stockdall said. “There will also be cordage, we have someone who can make ropes and cordage from native plants.”
The Missouri River Bird Observatory will be on hand in the afternoon. They will hang up mist nets to catch birds for banding.
“Anyone who goes down to see what they are doing, they will explain how they do it,” she added.
Stockdall’s daughter, Elizabeth Stockdall, will have live reptiles at Prairie Days for children to observe.
“Around 4:30 p.m. the Missouri Prairie Foundation will have a short meeting and then they will have a reception,” Stockdall said. “There’s free wine and cheese. In the past there’s been music.
“You get to see the prairie and learn a little bit about the prairie and of course the stargazers will be there,” she added.
Visitors will be able to do some stargazing with the Kansas City and Camden County Astronomy Associations.
“As long as the weather cooperates, they will be out there in the afternoon,” she said. “They have special scopes for for looking at the sun. Then they’ll be there into the night.”
Stockdall added that Prairie Days is a free event and is perfect for families with children. Camping on the prairie during the event is also free.
Cole Camp Oktoberfest begins at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Cole Camp; Prairie Days begins a 10 a.m. at Hi Lonesome Prairie and Klink Road in Cole Camp. Additional information about Prairie Days can be found at extension.missouri.edu/masternaturalist/colecamp. To learn more about Cole Camp, visit www.colecampmissouri.com.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.