Learning life on the frontier

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 1999

With 14 additional schools signed on this year, the Big Island Rendezvous and Festival’s Education Days are as successful as ever, said Perry Vining, festival coordinator.

Friday, October 01, 1999

With 14 additional schools signed on this year, the Big Island Rendezvous and Festival’s Education Days are as successful as ever, said Perry Vining, festival coordinator.

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Vining said between 4,400 and 4,500 students came to Bancroft Bay Park to participate in the event. Students from as far north as Stillwater, Minn. got a glimpse into the past era of life on the frontier.

&uot;This is really cool,&uot; said Kelsey Daly, 11, a student from Willow Creek School in Owatonna. &uot;It’s awesome to learn some of this stuff and how people lived.&uot;

Her classmates were also having a good time at the festival.

&uot;My favorite part is the village,&uot; said Amanda Do, 11. &uot;It’s more hands-on. We get to see what they’re doing and how the people used to live.&uot;

The girls said they’ve been learning about fur traders and voyagers, and they liked discovering how the rest of the settlers lived life on the frontier.

In addition to learning about the skills and trades of people of the time, the girls also learned about the society and culture.

&uot;I had no idea that they had slaves then,&uot; said Daly. &uot;I was surprised about that.&uot;

And learning the differences between the past and present is a lesson exhibitor John Kavanagh-Beltman hopes to drive home with both the children during education days and the other festival goers on Saturday and Sunday.

&uot;I’m trying to get across to the children the differences in the way they live now and the way people used to live,&uot; he said.

Kavanagh-Beltman makes wooden chairs at the festival using authentic tools of the era.

&uot;People here (in the village) try to be as accurate as possible in everything that we do here,&uot; he said.

From the way they dress to the way they cook their evening meal, those who camp and lead demonstrations at Rendezvous forego the luxuries of modern life. Tents become their homes for several days while they cook over an open fire.

It’s a time that forges camaraderie within the village, Kavanagh-Beltman said.

&uot;I like the opportunity to camp with people I don’t get to see any other time of the year,&uot; he said.

While students on one end of the park learned about weaving, making soap, candles and furniture, children on the other side of the park learned of another lifestyle.

With Robert Wallace of the Royal Highland Regiment barking marching orders at students, Duncan MacDougall prepared a demonstration of the period’s weapons.

Elsewhere, students were learning how to throw tomahawks and perform traditional dances.

&uot;Things are going really well this year,&uot; Vining said. &uot;We really need to thank the community for their support.&uot;

Saturday and Sunday are opened to the public. And there’ll be plenty of new things to see, as well as the old favorites.

&uot;There’s about 260 tents, up a bit from last year,&uot; Vining said.

There are also a couple new music acts.

Tanglefoot, a quartet from Canada, plays a mixture of Celtic, French-Canadian and Maritime, combining music with Canadian folklore and storytelling.

Also new is Faire Wynds, a duo that specializes in music and tales of the fur-trade era.

Returning are the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, Blackhawk, Greenwood Tree, Bob Bovee and Gail Heil, Adam Granger and Dick Kimmel & Co. All performers can be found at the stage in the food area.

Demonstrations from the Clann Tartan and Highland Regiment will take place throughout the weekend.

The Clann Tartan will demonstrate their military drills, while music, spinning, black smithing and craft work can be seen throughout the day.

The Highland Regiment will start their day with bagpipes and continue on with military drills, and demonstrations of cooking, clothing, medical and other historical demonstrations.