Learning their heritage

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

About 2,800 students expected to attend Big Island Rendezvous

Children and adults are getting a taste of history this week at the Big Island Rendezvous and Festival.

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The festival began Thursday and continues today with Education Days, when about 2,800 students from approximately 50 schools visit the site and view re-enactors such as blacksmiths, woodworkers, farmers, candlemakers, silversmiths, spinners, weavers, hunters and soldiers, among others.

April Kline, a chaperone for Austin Public Schools students, discussed the importance of the event.

“It’s important for the kids to learn about our history in the United States, as well as how rough it was,” she said. “They have it pretty good.”

Kline remembered visiting the Big Island Rendezvous when she was a child, and she said her favorite part of the event is the cannon display.

A speciality of foods will be offered this weekend, including kettle corn, fry bread, homemade root beer, stuffed baked potatoes, pork chop on a stick, Indian tacos, funnel cakes, wild rice soup and smoked turkey legs.

The Big Island Rendezvous and Festival is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Jerry Hewitt of Mason City is re-enacting a member of the Confederate Battery at the festival. He said the event allows students to learn more than what they read about in textbooks.

“There’s a lot of things these kids don’t learn,” he said. “It’s good that they have an opportunity to come and actually learn it and get some hands-on look at how soldiers live, the things they had to endure, things like that. I think it’s great that they have this.”

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for children ages 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and younger. Family passes to cover everyone in a household can be purchased for $25.

Entertainers Sister Tree, Bob Bovee and Pop Wagner, Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, and Strangebyrds, Roe Family Singers and RPR, formerly known as Tanglefoot, will perform Saturday.

On Sunday, Dick Kimmel and Adam Granger, RPR, Roe Family Singers and Strangebyrds will perform.

Organizer Perry Vining said it is important students learn their own heritage to understand what their ancestors did to survive.

“People need to learn their own heritage because it’s something to be proud of,” he said.

To Vining, history goes beyond remembering historical events.

“History doesn’t have to be dates,” he said. “History isn’t memorizing a date or a president’s name, all that. History is saying, ‘Here’s what people did to survive. Here is what it was like to live in the 1600s, or 1700s, or 1800s.’ That’s what’s important.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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