Go back in time at the Gathering


By Deb Shiverdecker

Darke County Parks

For several years the Darke County Parks has hosted a living history encampment to support the Gathering at Garst which is one of the museum’s best fundraising events. This is one of my responsibilities that I enjoy each year different from my financial duties. A loyal group of period re-enactors assist me in keeping this event alive each year. Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that hopes to give participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not always seek to reenact a specific event in history, living history is similar to, and sometimes incorporates, historical reenactment. Living history is an educational medium used by different groups to educate the public or their own members in particular areas of history, such as clothing styles, pastimes and handicrafts, or to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history.

The encampment at the Gathering at Garst portrays a timeline of history from early Native American cultures to the Civil War Period. The participants have spent many years or a lifetime studying history and learning how to do historical crafts, skills or just storytelling to teach about history. They are an amazing group of people who want to share their knowledge with you!

This base committee has been working together for a while now on this project and most also help with other history programs for the Park District. They purchase or make their own clothing, research on their own and locate to purchase or handmake many of the everyday tools and such that add to their story telling. If someone is interested in what they do, they help them get started. All you have to do is ask! The Park District is very lucky to have this group in support of the historical part of its mission statement. They not only volunteer their time but their talents, skills and knowledge as well.

The Gathering this year will have a rat catcher, a pioneer medicine woman, scoundrels, gun makers, rope makers, fire makers, storytellers, music, knife makers, long hunters, soldiers, cannons, and much, much more to entertain you and hopefully teach some history as well. You will be able to see a 1783 handmade hot air balloon, find out how you would have survived if you were the poorest of the poor in America in the past, shoot a muzzleloader, see a wigwam being built, throw a tomahawk or knife to see how accurate you can be, learn how to fire a cannon, learn about blacksmithing, see how medical care was provided before modern pharmaceuticals, just to name a few.

This month the Park District is recognizing our Gathering volunteer committee as Volunteers in the Spotlight: Dudley and Barbie Hansbarger, Lee Wise, Andy Kenworthy, Gary Moore, Bob Besecker, Larry Young, Tom Smith, Diana Kozuh, Pam Brown, John & Karen Burkett. I know they would tell you to come and visit them at the Gathering to “LEARN YOUR HISTORY (OR YOU ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT)” and they would invite you to join them in their quest to teach history in an exciting and innovative way! Being at least 200 years old or more, they are all tired and looking for young pioneer replacements! They love to talk history. The Gathering at Garst is on July 29-30, 2023 across from the museum. Join us for a step back in time Saturday, July 29 10:00 am to 10:00 pm & Sunday, July 30 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For more information about Gathering at Garst, visit https://www.garstmuseum.org/post/the-gathering-at-garst-2021

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