Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gathering at Five Medals

This is the second time we've been to the Gathering at Five Medals. It is held in River Preserve County Park, with parking at the nearby Benton Elementary School. This year the cost was $4/adult, $2/child. There are food vendors as you enter and various items for sale at varying booths. And, there is nature, in many forms!

This is a nice outdoor setting for the event. As we walked up to the entrance, my son found a seed pod. He shook it, "Mom, this makes noise." He suspected there were seeds inside. We found the tree (honey locust), checked out the leaves, and left nature in its place. Just a little while later (when someone wasn't happy to be walking), the boy discovered all the milkweed, "Mom, there is a lot of milkweed!" He was excited to see a few with seeds poking out, ready to be carried by the wind. 


There is also the spillway which is a great place to check out water. We saw a family down by the river, picking up leaves, turning over rocks and limbs, and just EXPLORING! My type of people! :-) While we enjoyed these aspects of nature, nature was also interwoven in each of the camps, as we looked at horses, furs, natural fibers, spinning, trading, shelter, and more. 

Various tradesmen were busy with their skills. 

The blacksmith was set up and working hard. A fair lady was making lunch. It was interesting to see these hand-crafted processes. We are often quite removed from our purchases as we can order online or get our silverware in plastic packages at the store. Yet, someone/thing is behind making it. We could see up close what it took to make a fire without the ease of matches or lighters. There were also several styles of fires, which was interesting to see.


Wares were for sale. There were a couple of wood carvers making beautiful bowls and spoons. Hint to my husband--I would love some of these wooden creations. :-)

The rain and cold did put a damper on things as some fingers were having a hard time working in the cold weather. We were grateful it subsided as soon as we got there, yet many didn't have as many things out and breaking down camp later on would be more cumbersome. Still, they gladly came to portray life long ago.

While it was neat for us to see all the portrayals, it was also a gathering place for the reenactors. They visit with one another, trade stories and items, and learn from each other. 

In Five Medals' village, we saw a double conical hunting lodge. The bark and cattail keep the structure dry. There is a fire inside with a sheltered vent at the top to let the smoke out. 

Talking to these gentlemen, the topic turned to hunting. One still hunts in very traditional ways. He has to know the characteristics of the animals up close. He uses traditional methods in an effective way. Other spots showed food preserved for winter, baskets, gourds, and more made from natural materials. 

This area showed the intermingling between the French and Native People. Some families were blended, using methods of each culture. I was curious about the corn cobs with the feathers, but didn't get a chance to ask. Herbs are drying in the background. 

The French traders came with their items for sale. 

They greeted one another in peace. Five Medals explained some customs and values to the crowd.

The whole community gathered. Furs were piled out by the Native People while mirrors, fabric, buttons, and cast iron were brought forth by the French.

They mentioned that mirrors were popular with Native men. This man below explained how the men would often be the most decorated with the feathers, paint, etc. This would draw attention if the village was attacked and the women could escape with less notice. 

In the background, we kept hearing the cannons shooting off in the distance. Experience that with this video of the canon with information from the time period. Here is another video portraying many of the reenactors. 

Food was being gathered for the winter. Tools can be seen in the background. In other camps, lunch was almost ready. 

This family lives in Goshen and has only been in the reenactment scene for about a year. They portrayed a family around 1750 with their styles and way of living. We looked at different types of mortars and pestles and how they might be used. We had just seen a huge one at the Five Medals' Village used for corn. She brought out the sugar nippers and showed the blocks of sugar. Small bits were cut off and my son was able to try grinding cinnamon sugar. The cinnamon also needed to be grated and comes from the bark of a tree. There was also a metal mortar and pestle used for more heavy duty items, like peppercorns.

As a side note, with my travels throughout the world, I've collected various mortars and pestles as they are a common tool to help people thrive. About 15 years ago, I saw people in the Dominican Republic using one of the large wooden ones still to get the hulls off their rice. I was invited to try it. Sometimes, I find it is easy for us to waste our food or to let it spoil. When I've been more involved with the production of my food, I can see how grateful we are for our food. Less might be wasted as we know how much work goes into putting food on our tables. The mortar and pestle is a basic tool still being used today. 

My phone died about this place, yet we still meandered through the military encampments. We met French traders, saw replica birch bark canoes, and explored various furs and trinkets. Several scheduled activities happened throughout the day, such as the trading and other gatherings. I found the more we asked questions, the more people shared with us. I would almost create a scavenger hunt or reflective piece for my children looking at the many similarities and differences between the time portrayed and our lives today; however, we had those conversations throughout the day. My son said this was the best part of his day. One of the others was a little cold (and therefore not as happy), but as soon as the sun came out, he was fine exploring the villages. He was apprehensive at times, hiding behind the trees as we approached the Native village. He said, "Mom, he's staring at me." However, little by little he came out and stood next to me as I talked to the men that scared him momentarily. Sometimes, we just need that introduction and someone to be nearby as we experience new things.